The Farthest City by Daniel P Swenson (book review).

An enjoyable enough book to read, here we have ‘The Furthest City’, a space opera by the Californian author, Daniel P Swenson. This is a self-published novel which immediately rings alarm bells because the thought comes to mind that it isn’t good enough to attract a commercial publishing house but, we all know how difficult it is to get anywhere in the literary world these days, so it shouldn’t put you off. Sometimes the only way to get anywhere is to do it yourself!


At over 100,000 words, it’s not overly long but there’s plenty of time to get acquainted with the characters, the first being Kellan, a weird artist who has an affinity for machines. At first, we don’t know why he is like that but it becomes clear as we read. The scenario states that, in the distant past, the planet Earth was virtually destroyed by mankind’s own inhumanity but they received help from machines, man’s own creation, who put them back on the right path. With time, the memory of the machines had gone into folklore and, now called Chines, they are but a dim and distant memory. After saving the Earth, they packed up and disappeared somewhere else in the galaxy to live their own lives, doing whatever they do.

Along come the Hexi. They are a disgusting alien race intent on the eradication of all humans. A bit predictable to say the least and it’s something we have heard in many other Science Fiction stories before. The battle against them is a losing one and, slowly but surely, humanity is on the face of extinction again. The only way to save them is by finding the Chines to enlist their help in the battle but where are they? Do they exist? Kellan and three others, fighting soldiers including a woman, take up this difficult quest and with no apparent answer. Surprisingly, the machines are to be located much closer than they think.

Once the connection is made, then it’s up to them all to do battle. However, there are many ups and downs on the way and everything isn’t straightforward. Revealing much more would spoil the story for readers but it can be said that it’s a good story which is well worth the effort of turning the pages and, that said, you will want to turn the pages.

Okay, what we have here is a space opera and the story, while exciting, isn’t terribly original but what stands out is its characterisation. Swenson has created believable and three-dimensional characters with positive identities, distinct and original from each other. They are human characters and not cardboard cut-outs. In doing this, he has displayed a good degree of writing ability.

I think this is a splendid story which is well worth buying. I don’t believe it will be the last in the series and expect he will be writing further books in the future, not just in this scenario but in others as well. In a very competitive market with few openings, I hope he is successful and gets a decent return for his effort. Self-publishing is a brave venture and many don’t succeed and fall by the wayside, not through being incompetent but for commercial and marketing reasons. Getting through this barrier is difficult to say the least but let’s hope Swenson gets some reward for his endeavours. This is a novel to be recommended.

Rod MacDonald

January 2016

(pub: CreateSpace, 2015 486 page paperback. Price: £ 9.82 (UK). ISBN: 978-1518871436. Kindle £2.61

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