4 out of 4 stars
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30th Century: Escape by Mark Kingston Levin, PhD is a science fiction and romance novel that begins in the 30th Century and continues, backwards in time, into the 21st Century. The tale begins with Captain Jennifer Hero, who is engaged with a secret project to transport a team of humans back to the 27th Century to prevent humanity from being exterminated by an engineered breed of advanced human beings. These advanced humans were first created in the 27th Century to colonise the planets of distant solar systems, but have achieved dominance over normal human beings, and plan to eliminate them.
Jennifer’s partner and lover, the brilliant Zexton Ho, has been assassinated, and she is left alone to implement their plan to save humanity. The plan involves sending a team back in time to alter the genetic structure of the advanced humans, when they are first created, to make them more benevolently disposed towards humanity. However, Jennifer is still devastated by the loss of her lover and formulates a plan to abandon her team and to send herself further back to the 21st Century where she hopes she can begin a new life.
Her plan is successful, but she is left alone and marooned on a Polynesian island in the South Pacific. This particular island, Moruroa, is still radioactive from tests of atomic bombs that were conducted from 1966 to 1990 by the French government. Fortunately for her, her own human body contains artificial enhancements that allow her to resist the radiation and to survive on the island. After spending a period of four months alone on the island, she is discovered and rescued by a scientific research team headed by Dr Marty Zitonick.
Marty, himself, is recovering from an unsavoury divorce and he and Jennifer are initially attracted to each other and soon begin to develop a romantic relationship. Both of their experiences in life are a challenge for this relationship and Jennifer is also faced with the problem of having to conceal her true origins and her enhanced strength and abilities. This strange romance takes place against the beautiful background of the islands and proves to be an interesting adventure for both of the scientists. Jennifer struggles to accept her situation, which includes a new world and a new lover, but their romance develops unexpectedly against these odds, as the two of them get to know each other.
The book is illustrated with beautiful pictures and maps of the islands. These add to the pleasure of reading, and, of being informative to the reader. Several concepts from speculative, and from actual science, are introduced and described with great technical authority by the author. In particular, the paradoxes that would result from time travel form an integral part of the plot.
Apart from the scientific details in the book, the author also provides detailed descriptions of the islands and the animals that populate them. There are heart-warming scenes of the interactions between the characters and the animals. It is obvious that the author knows these islands well.
The story also includes scenes that take place on some other nearby islands. The Polynesians, who live there, as well as their culture and their history, are well described. This is not only interesting to read but also adds detail to the plot. Maps of the islands that are provided at the end of the book are useful for following the sequence of events that take place. There are also some scenes, further on in the book which take place in Canada, however, these are not described with the same loving detail as the islands.
The developing personalities of the two main characters are well described, and it is interesting to read about how Jennifer copes with her new life and accepting the idea of a new romantic partner. Her uncertainty about whether this is possible for her is interesting to read and to discover her eventual decision. Marty, on the other hand, appears to open up and become more trusting of others. This developing relationship is handled convincingly by the author.
Sex and relationships are apparently somewhat different in the 30th Century and Jennifer is liberal regarding both of these issues. She is also not afraid to encourage promiscuous behaviour. Consequently, there are many scenes of an intimate nature, which are included in the plot. These are not confined to monogamous relationships and involve activities of group sex, of up to four partners participating together. As these scenes are numerous and explicit, readers of a sensitive nature may be offended by them. Clearly, this book is only recommended for adult readers.
Although the story begins dramatically in the 30th Century, the emphasis shifts further on in the book, and concentrates on the romantic affair between Jennifer and Marty, in the 21st Century. This may be disappointing for readers who are expecting a science fiction tale focussed on more epic proportions.
The developing relationship between Jennifer and Marty is described poignantly, and the beauty of the islands adds to the atmosphere and the flavour of the reading experience. Jennifer and her character are developed skilfully as she is shown to be uniquely human and vulnerable to the effects of her emotions. Her interactions with both human beings, and with the animals of the island, are touching and memorable. This is in stark contrast to the almost two-dimensional character she is portrayed as, at the beginning of the novel.
Although this is a science fiction story which includes several novel scientific concepts, it is also a touching romance set in a beautiful but a tragic portion of the world. There were some grammatical errors I noticed, however, these did not detract from the overall reading experience. I have given this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars.
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