3 out of 4 stars
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Thirty-six years from now, the world is a bleak place to live. Global warming and ocean acidification have changed Earth’s climate and weather patterns. The human population is now over 10 billion, and there are not enough resources to go around. Automation and AI have made most jobs obsolete. Without a source of income, most people are now barely clinging to life. In addition, strange mutilations of cattle and humans have been reported, as well as incidents of UFO sightings and alien abductions. These claims have largely been ignored by the government. To make matters worse, a mysterious organization known as the Yuendi seems intent on wreaking havoc on the already stressed populace. Its dealings range from simple pranks, such as hacking traffic systems to create citywide traffic jams, to much more sinister acts.
It is in this setting that Willy Morro, a former marine and special agent, is recalled from his retirement to investigate the gruesome murders of two agents attempting to track the Yuendi. Assigned to work with him is Bill McAlister, a “by the book” agent who isn’t exactly thrilled to be stuck with Morro, who is known for his surly manner and unorthodox methods. Together the two men follow the clues down strange and dangerous paths, eventually teaming up with Mary Jamison, a microbiology post-grad at the University of Washington, as well as a whole team of people dedicated to getting to the bottom of the Yuendi and its possible connection to a predatory alien race.
The Golden Cord of Arram is the first book in a trilogy by Walt Runkis. The unique concept and multiple twists and turns made it difficult for me to put the book down, as I never knew what would happen next. The novel was told in the third-person narrative, and it switched back and forth between several different characters, including some of the antagonists. The book ended with a cliffhanger that left me itching to get my hands on the second book in the series.
In addition to the engaging and exciting plot of the story, I really enjoyed the characters. The main characters were all well fleshed out. Although they all had some quirks, I found all of them likable in their own ways. The secondary characters each contributed something to the story as well. I also enjoyed the near-future setting. The author explained how climate change and overpopulation had changed the world landscape in very realistic ways. Some interesting technological advances made the book fun to read, such as the SilentSync helmets that allowed Bill and Morro to be able to talk without being overheard, even by those with listening devices.
This is a science fiction story with a unique blend of science and religious elements. As the author himself is a scientist, it comes as no surprise that scientists and scientific theories feature heavily in his story. The book also compares the possible alien attack on our world to the end times referenced in the Bible. These areas are not ones that I am particularly familiar with, so I found myself having to stop reading to research things from time to time. I personally didn’t mind learning something new while reading the book, but for those who are not interested in hard sciences or religion, this might be offputting.
The only major issue that detracted from the book was the number of errors I found. None of the errors were excessively distracting, but I did find more than ten, which forces me to rate The Golden Cord of Arram 3 out of 4 stars. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am eagerly awaiting the second book in the trilogy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys lots of action and a heavy dose of science in their science fiction novels.
Golden Cord of Arram
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