3 out of 4 stars
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What Lurks Below by Donald G. Firesmith is a science fiction novel, the first in the Hell Holes series, which investigates the mysterious holes that have appeared in the Arctic Circle. First in Siberia, then eventually in Alaska, holes in the frozen tundra have appeared without explanation. Alaskan scientists have been brought in by the Oil Companies to ensure the safety of the enterprise, but no one is prepared for the events that follow their initial investigation. This work starts off in an extremely scientific manner, using both logic and science to address the problems at hand. As the situation gets both dire and complicated, the true nature of the situation reveals itself. Some of the members of the research party are more than they present themselves to be and even others may not last the duration of the study.
I thoroughly enjoyed the scientific research that has gone into the beginning of this novel. An author that has done their homework, but still writes science fiction, allowing the line between the two to maintain its foggy nature, is extremely attractive to a reader. I loved how I actually learned something about Alaskan geography and geology throughout the first part of this novel. In addition to this, I thoroughly enjoyed knowing that at some point during this work, everything was going to change. I knew that it was a “science-fiction” novel and not simply a “mystery” and therefore was waiting with extreme anticipation for the ball to drop. I was not disappointed. I best like that the science presented in the book was real and the author entirely did his homework beforehand.
In my opinion, the book itself was unfortunately too short. Perhaps this was the intention of the author and was fully intended, but I found that it did not make it to a logical conclusion. If I did not know that the stories had an entire (or intended) series, there would be no reason to end the book on the cliffhanger that it did. I understand the intent of novellas and an intentional series of short books, but I find that this book would have better been represented as one entire book rather than a group of short novellas.
I have given this book 3 out of 4 stars because I was completely amused by the books story line and the premise of the book/narrative itself, but could not bring myself to give it top marks. I love the idea of the story and think that it is another great addition to the apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic genre, but some of the narrative and the text itself seems forced. It doesn’t flow as well as some of the masters of the day, but I can’t necessarily hold this against Mr. Firesmith. I enjoyed it, but could definitely see room for improvement.
This book is ideal for those that are a fan of the apocalyptic/science-fiction/fantasy genre and are willing to read any and all of the newest stories within this genre. As well, and going hand in hand with that above, survival story enthusiasts will also be amused. Finally, those that appreciate when an author has done their research and presents real science in their works will find a gem with What Lurks Below. Those that find an abrupt switch to religious/science-fiction/fantasy work in the midst of a relatively serious story will not enjoy the premise of the book. I remind all reading this that at the base it is a science-fiction/fantasy work and that logical (as we know them today) explanations for all occurrences will not be maintained throughout the work. If this is no problem, you may still enjoy this well presented book.
Hell Holes: What Lurks Below
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