Genre: Futuristic Sci-Fi Adventure
Publisher: New Age Literary Press
Release Date: 24 April 2020
Star Rating: 5
I received a free copy of this book
He Might Be Still On Mars is a thriller set in the latter years of the 26th Century. Mankind has spread out into the rocky planets of the Solar System and the rocky moons of the Gas Giants such as Jupiter and Saturn. Despite light speed and near light speed travel, the number of people emigrating to these new worlds is in the doldrums.
This lack of enthusiasm is driven primarily by the savagery of raids by pirate chief, Wilson Black. Powerful politician and scientist, Stella Ling, sends Owen Bone and his Synthetic partner Sandi Shaw on a manhunt for an absconded husband, Freddie Ling. This is camouflage for a plan to eliminate Wilson Black. Owen and Sandi are subject to terrifying injuries and stresses that test what it means to be human and Synth. In overcoming these challenges, they find help in the most unlikely places, leading to a showdown with Black in the frozen remote taiga forest of Siberia.
‘He Might Be Still On Mars’ is the latest novel from the pen of Hawaiian-based author, Paul Dalzell. The story is told in the past tense and the first person. There is a useful guide to who’s who at the beginning which saves a lot of time when trying to remember a substantial cast list.
This time, we journey to the 26th Century to meet Owen Bone, a reserve colonel in Earth’s Space Marines, who now works as a galactic bounty-hunter. For the right fee, he will travel the galaxy to track, kill or capture all manner of miscreants.
We join the story as he and his ‘unlocked’ synthetic partner, Sandi, are in the middle of a daring and dangerous, yet ultimately successful, rescue mission. Upon his return to base, Owen is set another commission but is everything as it seems or does his new employer, Chinese Government official, Stella Ling, have an ulterior motive for sending Bone and Sandi to find her errant husband, Freddie?
We then embark on fast-moving adventure which takes us to Mars. After an attempted hijack on the way, our heroes arrive and quickly add the services of Major ‘Charley’ Charlesworth, from the Mars police service, along with Stella’s personal assistant, Evelyn, to their team. We find that the Freddie Ling angle is a cunning ruse and the real target is the devilish space pirate, Wilson Black, who has been terrorising far-flung colonies for two decades. Can Bone, et al, stop him, or will Black succeed in his plan to eliminate those tasked with destroying his reign of terror.
Paul Dalzell has clearly spent a great deal of time devising this futuristic universe and drip-feeding bits of backstory to help us understand how this society evolved. He found an ingenious way of bringing Sandi and Bone together and has given them both a warmth and depth of character which encourages the reader to keep turning the pages.
Dalzell’s use of a variety of literary devices has enabled him to deliver his tale in a colourful and light-hearted way. The structure is focused and he touches on areas of prejudice, inequality and repression which sadly seem as relevant five centuries into the future, as they are today. He has rather depressingly decided that in spite of huge technological and scientific advances, human nature has changed little. I particularly like his use of metaphors and similes and his detailed descriptions paint a vivid backdrop for his cast. His use of ironic humour to counterbalance the dire situations in which Bone finds himself, also enhances this multi-layered plot.
I don’t find the title particularly catchy and I’m not sure it really does this entertaining story justice. Nonetheless, I found this book very easy to read and believe it will definitely appeal to sci-fi fans. I think the way may have been left open for another adventure for Owen Bone LLC and I would be happy to read it, if the author so wishes. I award a full five stars.
About the Author
Paul Dalzell is English, married to a New Guinea lady and lives in Hawaii. Dalzell is a retiree, meaning there is no excuse for shirking and failure to write more novels. In his former day job, Dalzell was a fisheries scientist and manager, working from SE Asia to the Pacific Islands. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.