Interstellar travel is possible in the early 22nd century thanks to a much-desired element that one company controls and others will go to great lengths to take in this debut sci-fi adventure.
TV production assistant Mandisa "Mandi" Nkosi may have a story for her network, courtesy of an anonymous source. Someone's contacted her with pertinent information about uranium (surrounding a terror plot). Mandi meets Anonymous, who tells of a possible conspiracy that includes the idea that the uranium didn't originate on Earth but rather Eridani. That planet is where Applied Interstellar Corporation is establishing its headquarters. AIC first discovered hyperium on Saturn's moon, Hyperion. The element is capable of opening wormholes for traversing star systems. CEO Jans Mikel's moved AIC to Eridani to put distance between the company and Earth's Euramerican Coalition government, which wants its shady hands on hyperium. In the last year, five of AIC's ships have inexplicably vanished, but an emergency jump pod from the most recent vessel suggests a deliberate attack. Back on Earth, someone, it seems, tries to kill Mandi, likely wanting the data chip from her source. She's saved by Grae Raymus of AIC Security and tags along on the return flight to Eridani, where trouble's brewing. A sinister group may be targeting Helios, a moon richer in hyperium than Hyperion and which Jans has been keeping secret. Beyer opens his series with a punch, establishing his prospective universe while simultaneously delivering sci-fi action. A chase sequence on Earth and an explosive confrontation on Eridani are exhilarating, but dirty politicking of the future proves most engrossing, particularly Coalition Assemblyman/former Tech Standard Incorporated CEO Gregory Andrews. He's clearly manipulating the Euramerican president like a puppet, while his suggestion of an ACI-TSI merger may be legitimate. Copious subplots are left unresolved, not the least of which is Mandi's parents: a father who's a mystery to her and mom Gisela, who abandoned her as a child but whom everyone, even Grae, apparently knows. There is, however, an unmistakable antagonist threatening Jans and AIC by the end, as well as a big reveal that demands a sequel.
Nefarious bigwigs, collusion, and galactic jumps against a cosmic backdrop; readers should definitely want to come back for more.
Casimir Bridge: A Science Fiction Thriller -Book Pleasures Review
I'm not embarrassed to admit it. I hadn't read very far into Casimir Bridge, the debut novel from newcomer Darren Beyer, before I realized I'd just found my newest favorite sci-fi author.
Such elation doesn't happen very often for me. In this case, I had been drawn into a very fast-paced, richly described, and multi-layered saga with vividly sketched and engaging characters. In particular, we meet three pivotal characters whose parallel trajectories are juxtaposed against each other throughout the story.
There's Jans Mikel, the CEO of a vast interplanetary corporation that's found the ways to make inter-Steller flight much faster. There's Mandi Nkosi, a reporter who becomes aware of a conspiracy that involves a rival corporation and a not surprisingly corrupt government. It's willing to use nuclear terrorists to instill fear in earth's population. The leader of that conspiracy is Gregory Andrews, a classic villain willing to pay any cost to take away a rare element from Mikel and gain the power to literally rule the universe. Along the way, there's no shortage of important secondary characters that provide depth and key moving parts in the environs of Mikel, Nkosi, and Andrews.
Yes, there are many aspects of the book that qualify it as a thriller. At the same time, the yarn is infused with many aspects that put it in the realm of "hard science fiction." That shouldn't be surprising as the author is a former space shuttle engineer who worked on numerous Shuttle missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope. In addition, Beyer claims he conducted many interviews with fellow experts to make the details as realistic as possible. The only noticeable omission in this realism is any explanation of the element Hyperion, the magic ingredient that everyone seeks to control.
For those who like comparisons with established authors, I was reminded of the equally complex series by Jack McDevitt and Kristine Kathryn Rush. I have only one complaint. The cliff-hanger ending is so abrupt I cursed to realize I was going to have to wait awhile to see what will happen next.
Casimir Bridge is the first of a trilogy set in 2108, and I fear it might feel like 2108 before I get my next dose. Welcome to my new addiction. If you like intelligent, well-crafted sci-fi, it may become yours as well.