Reviewed by Eric Wilson
A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz
"This novel is further proof that, in the right hands, any genre can be used as an entertaining means of exploring deeper truths."
With a stark cover and intriguing title, Kerry Nietz's storyline sealed my interest in this sci-fi novel. Although I'm not the usual sci-fi reader, I do appreciate movies based on Philip K. Dick stories and the modern science-based thrillers by the late Michael Crichton, so I decided to give this a try.
"A Star Curiously Singing" plunges us into a distant future, dated 2000 AH (and we get a reference point, when Einstein is dated to the 1300s). Servbots and nanotechnology are standard items, the world is run by sharia law with clear allusions to Islam, and free will is a nebulous thing for debuggers such as Sandfly--human, yet altered by science. Nietz's own work with databases and Microsoft give him a foundation for this setting that springs to life, despite its robotic aspects. He impresses with his world-building, while never overwhelming us with too many details. He gives us enough to believe, and believe fully.
The story takes some time introducing us to Sandfly, a memorable character, especially in light of the subdued emotional traits that match his debugging skills. He is sent on a mission to discover the cause behind a servbot's destruction on a structure in space, and that mission raises increasing questions about the ruling class, the nature of man and machine, and the wonders that lie beyond the stars.
Creativity springs to life through Sandfly and his female interest, HardCandy. We are given some philosophical and spiritual ideas in light-handed fashion. And, in glimpsing a dismal future, we find rays of hope. I think the Islam slant sometimes distracted me from the futuristic aspects of the story, and will eventually date it as Christians move on to other things to fear (as is our sad history), but overall Nietz tries to show that not all the Abduls, as they are called, are evil. He does a nice job of pinpointing some of the weaknesses in the Islamic beliefs, without letting those things crowd out the book's plot.
This novel is further proof that, in the right hands, any genre can
be used as an entertaining means of exploring deeper truths. And Marcher
Lord Press is on the forefront of that, turning out topnotch books that
defy the odds.
Eric Wilson is the author of twelve novels that explore Earth's tension between heaven and hell, the latest of which is One Step Away, a twist on the story of Job. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two daughters. Visit him online at his website.