The visionary Dr. Evan McMillon has been working on Midway Island in the Pacific, with little oversight, for the American military. Will his project in human-dolphin communications produce a new, ingenious weapon? An ocean away, at a swim-with-the-dolphins resort on Tortola, Jasmine Summers, believing McMillon dead, has been raising their son, the unusually gifted Hanau. As Dr. McMillon’s military program reaches its culmination, Han undertakes the search for a father who may or may not be alive. Han, Jasmine, Evan, and a set of well-drawn secondary characters, are inexorably drawn into a suspenseful web of good intentions, unintended consequences, and grave implications.
In 1959, Robert A. Heinlein defined science fiction as “Realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method.” Kip Koelsch’s DELPHYS RISING stands as an exemplar of Heinlein’s definition, and, even better, as darn good storytelling.
One of Koelsch’s strengths rests in the creation of intellectually, emotionally and psychologically credible characters. By showing enough without telling too much, he also allows the characters unpredictability. As a result, we don’t know what choices they will make; this, in turn, amplifies the story’s dynamism. While young Han reads emotionally as a few years older than he is, overall Koelsch creates characters with a presence and believability, reminiscent of Philip Pullman’s work. Most satisfying, Koelsch manages the unspoken between characters deftly, especially between McMillon and Commander Ramirez, and, to great effect, between Admiral Collins, Director Shaw and Secretary Hulme.
Koelsch’s times his revelations carefully. His restraint is one of several pillars that support this novel. While this is not the first fictional exploration that draws on the allure of human-dolphin communications, strong storytelling, excellent pacing and a highly original plot make the work stand out. The story turns unexpectedly, building gradually and well. Underlying themes of free will, the nature of communications, and the power of relationship are carried along briskly in a story that sharpens in intensity, gravity, and the sense of danger as it goes along.
While Kip Koelsch’s novel DELPHYS RISING, the follow up to Wendall’s Lullaby, is not the first fictional exploration on the allure of human-dolphin communications, strong storytelling, excellent pacing and a highly original plot make the work stand out as an exemplar of the thriller/sci-fi genres.
~Ellen Graham for IndieReader