People Of The Sun by Jason Parent (book review).

‘People Of The Sun’ by Jason Parent tells the story of four aliens from Symoria. They are part of a desperate mission to travel to another world to find food. Their world is dying with most of the available food consumed and their civilisation just an echo of what it once was.

Sending a spaceship from Symoria is not a trivial affair as it is a world embedded in the sun. It does not go without incident and may have had disastrous consequences for the remaining inhabitants of Symoria. Only four of the original team survive the trip to Earth and subsequent crash-landing in the USA. New Hampshire’s Second Connecticut Lake to be precise, where Doctor Conner Gaudreau is enlisted by State Trooper Matthew Simpson to investigate.

The crash-landing into the lake has caused a very thick fog to form around the crash-site. It’s lucky that Trooper Simpson knows the area well as he’s able to lead the good doctor directly to the crash-site. Unfortunately, the initial meeting with the surviving aliens does not go well. One of the aliens touches Trooper Simpsons skin causing a reaction which burns the Troopers skin, starting at the point of the touch it eventually renders the Trooper into a pile of ash.

One of the odd things to happen to the aliens occurs when they encounter Earth’s water. Not only does it give them invulnerable skin, it heals any medical problems and allows them to connect telepathically with nearby humans. The aliens already had a latent ability to teleport themselves to known locations, but the contact with water supercharges this ability.

I can’t disclose too much more of the plot without providing spoilers although I can say that their meeting with the President of the USA did not go to well and they become fugitives. Disagreements amongst the aliens also surface putting pressure on the surviving team members.

This should have been the type of story I really enjoy as it has aliens and some novel ideas. However, it just didn’t work for me. Firstly, if a civilisation is so technically advanced that it can build a habitable realm inside the sun but then degenerates to such a level that it can barely scrape up the design of a spaceship is a bit too farfetched for me. Especially so, when you consider that their single source of food was nearing depletion. So for me the story is setting off from a shaky start and while the Symoria civilisation is undoubtedly different from what we have here on Earth, the aliens quickly become humanised and the novelty evaporates. There’s also the question of the magical effect of water on the alien’s, in particular, the invulnerable skin it gives them. One alien is apparently killed when they are shot in the mouth but what’s so different about the skin in their mouth? Where does the skin stop being invulnerable and starts being vulnerable?

The telepathy aspect also seems to be not thought out. Surely this would allow the aliens to know what the humans are planning on doing? Would this make it impossible for the aliens to be surprised or tricked by the puny humans? I might be getting pedantic here but coming back to the invulnerable skin, I get the idea that knives can’t cut it and bullets can’t penetrate it. But if you think of a bullet as a packet of inertial energy travelling at high speed, when it hits something that energy has to go somewhere. It could turn to heat or it could be transmitted through the skin to the internal organs. Apart from just knocking the aliens over, bullets could do a lot of internal damage to them. I know Superman gets away with it but that’s because he’s been around for so long everyone just accepts it.

Staying with the pedantic theme for a while longer, have you ever considered what would be the effect of instant teleportation? When a person suddenly disappears, it creates a person-shaped vacuum which results in an implosion as the air violently rushes in to fill the void. These can be just as damaging as explosions. As the transported person appears at their destination they must displace the air, water or whatever else was there. In effect, causing an explosion.

At several moments, the expedition leader seems to be completely unsuited to team leading. This is despite him being screened and selected by the foremost Symorians for the very qualities that is needed. I suppose I’m just listing the reasons why I can’t buy into the plot. It’s billed as a Science Fiction story but to me a lot of it seems to rely on magic to make it work. It’s another reason why the story didn’t work for me. Perhaps I got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning.

Andy Whitaker

May 2017

(pub: Sinister Grin Press. 246 page book. Enlarged paperback: Price: £13.95 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-94404-452-7. Kindle ebook: Price: £ 0.99 (UK). ASIN: B06WWLBJJG)

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I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties. My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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