4 out of 4 stars
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The Earth is doomed. Let's merely take our head out of the sand and realize it is just a matter of time before we blow ourselves up in a grand finale more impressive than any fireworks show we have ever seen. Science fiction has attacked this topic throughout the ages, but still, SEEDS by Cary Allen Stone delivers something very unique to the table. Whereas most novels focus on either the apocalypse itself or the aftermath from the Earth destroying event, Stone covers the time before, during, and after a select group of scientists try to ensure the continuity of the human race.
Dr. Bryan Neumeister and Dr. Paul Bates, predicting the direction the Earth was headed ever since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, took it upon themselves to found the Strategic Extra-Earth Development Site (SEEDS). The goal of their company was to recruit the best and brightest from all scientific fields in order to prepare a ship of colonists for life away from the instability of Earth. Originally destined for Mars, we are quickly introduced to the key scientists in the organization, some of the extraordinary technological advances that are being made, and their aggressive recruitment campaign for additional brilliant minds. As the political climate (and the risk of nuclear holocaust) worsens, the timeline for SEEDS to become operational is drastically shortened. In addition, China and Russia are developing similar programs destined for Mars and the leadership of SEEDS may have to reconsider their final destination for their colonists. Will the U.S.S. SEEDS–2025 succeed in launching before the human race is obliterated into a pile of radioactive waste? Where will the ship fly? Can the colonists survive the journey and their destination? All this and more is revealed to the reader when they inevitably consume SEEDS by Cary Allen Stone.
As an avid reader of science fiction, apocalyptic fiction, and survival stories, this book was immediately appealing to me. There was a good deal to appreciate in Stone's work. First, and what I liked the most, was the research and attention to technical detail that the author took towards the scientific aspects of the novel. Many novels like this brush over the technology involved in planning for space travel, the engineering of propulsion systems or the defense of a ship against space debris. Stone, however, embraces the complexity entirely and conveys the difficult topics to the reader with ease. This is especially impressive as this book is Stone's first foray into science fiction. As alluded to above, I also enjoyed the fact that SEEDS covered a wider time span than a traditional novel would attack - prior to, during, and after humanity's crises. Next, I really enjoyed how this book forces the reader to consider topics rarely addressed in this kind of work. For example, Stone allows his characters to realize that they have been concentrating on the scientific details of their endeavor and had yet to put any thought into how their new colony would be run politically. This compels the reader to consider that, although it is understandable to criticize the current political climate, a group of humans starting over must set things up so that they don't reach the same eventual fate. Finally, although it had little overall effect on the story, I enjoyed the author's cheeky nature and how that comes out in his writing. At one point during the novel he actually refers to himself. One of his characters reads a book by his favorite author, C.A. Stone.
There were only a couple of minor criticisms I had with this book. The first criticism, and what I disliked the most about this novel, is the same thing that is never addressed in books like these. SEEDS is a massive enterprise with the best technology, research, and personnel that money can buy. It really is never discussed from where that money, however, comes. Little is impossible with unlimited funding, but getting that funding is always the trick. Second, the book ended too soon in my opinion. There was considerable detail at the beginning concerning SEEDS' preparation for the departure from Earth, but nowhere near enough detail on the back end of the novel. As this is the first in the trilogy, however, I hope the second book in the series goes into the detail I crave. Finally, although there was consistently something going on, I could have used a bit more action/suspense in the book. The tense situations throughout the novel were usually short and quickly concluded. I think the author would have the reader hanging off their seats if he could just convey a bit more tension to his readers.
All things considered, this book was a joy to read. It was able to satisfy my craving for a science fiction story, a tale about the upcoming apocalypse, and for survival epics. Without hesitation, I give this book a full 4 out of 4 stars. It kept the reader engaged throughout and genuinely concerned about the SEEDS program, the U.S.S. SEEDS–2025, and all of the crew and colonists aboard. Considering the ending of this book and the hook added for the second novel in the series, I will be more than eager to read the sequel to SEEDS when it is available!
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