Book Cover
Title Champion of Mars
Series ---
Author Guy Haley
Cover Art Dominick Saponaro
Publisher Solaris Books - 2012
First Printing Solaris Books - 2012
Category Science Fiction
Warnings None

Main Characters

Yoechakenon, Kaibeli, Dr. Holland, and many others

Main Elements Mars, evolution, artificial intelligence

In the far future, Mars is dying a second time. The Final War of men and spirits is beginning. In the last bid for peace, disgraced champion Yoechakenon Val Mora and his spirit lover Kaibeli are set free from the Arena to find the long-missing Librarian of Mars, the only hope to save mankind.

In the near future, Dr. Holland, a scientist running from a painful past, joins the Mars colonisation effort, cataloguing the remnants of Mars' biosphere before it is swept away by the terraforming programme.

When an artefact is discovered deep in the caverns of the red planet, the company Holland works for interferes, leading to tragedy. The consequences ripple throughout time, affecting HOlland's present, the distant days of Yoechakanon, and the the eras that bridge the aeons between.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book, especially given the rather well endowed woman on the cover (probably a bunch of guys in spaceships blowing each other up and hanging out with weird alien females?) but that certainly wasn't what I got, much to my relief.

What I got was one of the most complex and engrossing narratives I've ever read. You begin in the far future, ten's of thousands of years from now. In the next chapter you find yourself in the near future, maybe only a century away. And then the third chapter is somewhere in-between. And the cycle continues, bit by bit tying the past, the present and the future together. Even the writing style differs between chapters, making the far future feel more alien (well, guess I should say "evolved" since we're still talking humans here).

I must admit there were times I was thoroughly confused, particularly about the Stone Kin, because each moment of time takes certain things for granted, and only snippets of information are given out to the reader. Like mystery, you need to piece all those pieces together, and you can only really do that by reading the entire book. And it was fascinating to see how the world evolved, from the names of places, to the events of the past that go from fact, to legend, to outright forgotten. To me one of the most important aspects of a scifi or fantasy book is the world building, and Haley's imagination, and ability to get it across, was without bounds.

So I got my science, eleven dimensional beings which are frankly bizarre to behold using our four dimensional senses, omnipresent but not omniscent AI, and the ability for a person's "soul" to be stored in a library and be reborn again and again. But unlike some science fiction that tries to use nothing more than cool technology to keep the reader interested, this novel is really built around characters, a pair of characters really, a unique love story spanning millenia.

I can't give away much more because the pleasure of reading this book is piecing it together.

Posted: January 2015


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