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BOOK
Sauria

Author: Arrand Pritchard
Etchelon Press
RRP 4.99
ISBN 0 95496200 1
Available 02 February 2005


Returning from an unsuccessful three hundred year voyage to terra form planets for their over populated home world, the crew of the
Fe-Nix discover that their world had changed beyond recognition. Where they envisioned a hero's welcome, from a more advanced society, they find a hostile and sparsely populated planet where advanced technology has ceased to exist. Fleeing their depleted and dying ship the crew abandon their Captain to a faulty stasis chamber, but faults have a way of working themselves out and Captain Rand awakens to a ghost ship, a desolate planet and many unanswered questions...

Sauria is quite a small book at only one hundred and twenty-one pages, and its biggest two faults are one and the same. The book is too short for the author to spend time on describing the physical changes to the planet and its population as well as the psychological impact that this has on the crew. A sense of strange wonder that could have existed, as we followed the hero's journey through the ravaged wasteland that was his home, is just lost in an over paced narrative that does not stick around long enough to smell the flowers. Conversely what could have made a good short story feels needlessly stretched, though a shorter version of it would have betrayed too many similarities to the Planet of the Apes film: Crew comes back to discover that human technology has destroyed a once proud society, leaving only a changed climate and barbarism.

There are an awful lot of plot inconsistencies, not least of which is the revelation that the human population of Sauria is not indigenous but part of an on going human expansion into the cosmos. If that were the case, where was the ships and technology that had brought them to this planet and why did they have to send the Fe-nix out at all, did they just loose the star maps of the surrounding systems along with their ability to move populations? Also, its mentioned that the planetary change had been brought about by a faster than light ship accident, the only such accident to happen, the implication here is that there were many such flights, so if they had ships faster than the Fe-nix and communications technology why not just send them a message not to go home, or even just intercept them, the list could go on and on.

I guess the main problem, in the end, is that the book borrows many ideas but has little original of its own to say. It's not that it is written particularly badly, though the overall sensation is that of a much better, longer novel that never quite made it leaving behind a fairly bland piece of work.

Charles Packer

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