In David C. Jeffrey’s THROUGH A FOREST OF STARS, Aiden Macallan works for mega-conglomerate Terra Corp and is tasked with exploring other planets for resources urgently needed on Earth, which is a critically dying planet in the early 22nd century. The competition for these resources is destabilizing the political landscape between entities such as Terra Corp, the United Earth Domain (UED), and Allied Republic of Mars (ARM). Money and profit versus what’s truly best for the continuation of humans and other life forms is the underlying conflict here. (The CEO of Terra Corp is ironically named Farthing). Aiden is a loner, but has an AI named “Hutton;” this entity is part of a controversial 21st century program of AI beings. This relationship is the most engaging in the novel as Hutton becomes more and more sentient to the surprise of both Aiden and the AI; “perception takes precedence over logic,” as the AI begins to self-interpret data and memory. Their amusing conversations about jazz music and other esoteric subjects add great perspective on the possibilities of AI.
Details of Earth’s recent history are cleverly related at the start of several chapters through quotes from a text book dated 2212. We learn early on about the Die Back, a cataclysmic event resulting in the death of more than half the Earth’s population. Out of this has grown the Gaian movement, founded by preservationists and naturalists dedicated to the Gaia – a complex, living organism that constantly evolves as it strives to achieve a perfect ecological balance. Dr. Skye Landon, Aiden’s romantic partner, belongs to this group, and she finds herself plunged into the conflict surrounding a remarkable discovery. During the exploration of other worlds for needed resources, the various political and financial factions have long hoped to find “another Earth.” Such a discovery would be the ultimate solution for human survival. So when such a planet is found – named Silvanus – the fierce race between rival factions begins. Here is humanity’s opportunity for “a second chance at the Garden of Eden” and Terra Corp, more powerful than even the UED, will stop at nothing to achieve not accept defeat. (CEO Farthing rants at his staff “I don’t like these facts, I want alternative facts. Dreams are the most profitable commodity known to mankind”). Aiden and his allies must risk all for the future of Silvanus.
David C. Jeffrey’s inventive, intricate plots and world creation in THROUGH A FOREST OF STARS are definitely worth exploration in this first series volume, as the characters and plots are both complex and fascinating.
~Kathleen Kenney Peterson for IndieReader