Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Darkling Sea by James Cambias

Science Fiction

From Goodreads:

"On the planet Ilmatar, under a roof of ice a kilometer thick, a team of deep-sea diving scientists investigates the blind alien race that lives below. The Terran explorers have made an uneasy truce with the Sholen, their first extraterrestrial contact: so long as they don’t disturb the Ilmataran habitat, they’re free to conduct their missions in peace.

But when Henri Kerlerec, media personality and reckless adventurer, ends up sliced open by curious Ilmatarans, tensions between Terran and Sholen erupt, leading to a diplomatic disaster that threatens to escalate to war.

Against the backdrop of deep-sea guerrilla conflict, a new age of human exploration begins as alien cultures collide. Both sides seek the aid of the newly enlightened Ilmatarans. But what this struggle means for the natives—and the future of human exploration—is anything but certain, in A Darkling Sea by James Cambias."

I hesitated before I requested A Darkling Sea.  I love Science Fiction but when I read that it all took place on one planet and under the ice I was afraid it would not match my reading tastes.  I was very wrong.  A Darkling Sea is everything Science Fiction should be.

There are aliens and not just one group but two.  When you add in the humans you have three different races mixed into a very interesting and dangerous adventure. 

Cambias came up with some very interesting aliens.  The native Ilmatarans seem to be the least like us.  They have no idea there is anything above the ice.  They have no eyes and communicate by sonar and sound.  They live in the water and in very cold water at that.  The Sholens on the other hand are mammals like us, live in a similar atmosphere and have space travel.  On the minus side the Sholens are so war like they have almost destroyed their planet several times and have now decided to save everyone else from their mistakes.  As they try to control the humans everything spins out of control.   As the three races are thrown together under the ice things new alliances are made and old ones are broken.

Humans and Ilmararans find a lot in common.  Humans and Sholens do not agree on anything.  Tension builds, people die, and it looks like war will break out.

The world building in A Darkling Sea is complex.  This is a world shut off from the outside.  By the end of the book I had a clear picture of both the Ilmararans and their world.

There is a large cast of characters in A Darkling Sea.  The viewpoint switches between characters from each race and that keep the plot moving.  Action more than character building was the important thing in the story.

There is a lot to the plot.  A Darkling Sea looks to be book one in a series.  A lot of the action helps  the world building.  It also develops the characters and the differences between the three races.  While a lot is solved the action also seems to lead to the next book.  Look for a real surprise at the end as something shows up that changes the big picture. 

A Darkling Sea is a great addition to anyone’s Science Fiction library.  Pick it up for a great read.

Tor published A Darkling Sea by James Cambias in 2014.

I received an ARC of A Darkling Sea from Netgalley.

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