Verdict: At 500 pages, TELONAUT struggles to condense its world-building and dialogue-driven digressions into the proportional components of a greater story. However, adept suspense building, imaginative scene setting, and several heartfelt passages may leave many ready for the next installment.
Humanity has progressed to a future where interstellar travel is possible. However, back on Earth, funding is still an issue. Enter the “Telonaut” program: adept travelers are “beamed” via higher dimensional folding to distant planetary human colonies, where their bodies are reconstructed and their neural information configured exactly the way they had been on Earth. Telonauts are filmed and report their detailed memories back to Earth, where the general populace watches their adventures through NV (NeuroVision) and are, hopefully, motivated to fund further exploration.
Convoluted? Yes, and perhaps objectionable—I was left puzzled over the ethics of killing a body in one spot and recreating an exact double in another. Might this not be just murder plus very accurate cloning? In TELONAUT, author Matt Tyson spends nearly a third of his 500 pages explaining components of this very subject. Admittedly, much of this explication is central to the plot; however, nearly all of it begs to be streamlined.
The book’s protagonists, Sero and Minnus, are presented with a host of problems. Sero, the telonaut, arrives on a planet that seems to be a utopia, but soon reveals itself as home to a sinister society. Back on Earth, Minnus, pioneer of the telonaut program and its technology, must work not only to keep the program alive, but also to bring Sero (and his newfound purpose for life: a young girl named Prid) home safely.
By turns heartfelt, suspenseful, and imaginative, TELONAUT still falls prey to several sci-fi clichés and other adventure story tropes, which may turn off some readers. Slips into passive voice and the occasional typo make the current draft seem less than polished. The prose itself is often punctuated by italicized interjections from inside the protagonists’ heads. While adding welcome psychological insights at times, these interjections never vary from a single short, choppy style and become cumbersome after several occurrences per page. Some, such as “Wow! Look how much my praise means to her.” and “Why are women always my weakness?” read awkwardly and practically advocate for their own editor. As a hefty first installment with a substantial need for streamlining and prose polishing, TELONAUT is undoubtedly a page turner—just not always for the right reasons.
Though full of inventive and emotional bright spots, TELONAUT ultimately suffers due to swollen scientific explanations, digressing dialogue, and unpolished prose amid unnecessary sections. Like the telonauts of his story, Tyson should have perhaps considered folding his prose through a higher dimension, where, in a more readable alternate reality, TELONAUT takes the reader from start to finish in 350 pages not 500.
~Kade Ashmore for IndieReader