Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Del Rey
Neuvel’s first installment of the Themis Files, Walking Gods, made quite stir with its intricate plot, case file structure and mysterious protagonist. Now he has returned with the second book about the giant robot and those who are affected by it.
Many years after the discovery of several giant robotic body parts strewn across and the subsequent construction of these into the giant robot Themis another one shows up in London. Larger and with more functions it at first appears to be non threatening, but when Themis confronts it a battle ensues. With the latter victorious a new phase in the situation with the robots is entered. Especially when there are human like aliens found inside. At the same time the mysterious return of the dead Rose Franklin yields even more information, illegal egg harvesting and secret offspring. That ends upp being the least of humanity’s problem when thirteen new robots appear out of the blue and Themis vanishes in the process. The robots kill the population of several major cities and it looks as if man might just become a footnote in the history books.
Neuval continues with the case file form he began in Sleeping Giants and it is a structure that works well. He takes a story that to many may have some familiarity; the alien threat coupled with political and scientific secrecy and relates it in a very innovative style. The narrative consists of a variety of interviews conducted by the mysterious friend, news reports and other various recordings. Very much like the previous books it keeps the reader interested and it keeps a very nice and quick pace to a story that might otherwise be quite heavy on words and difficult to get through. Neuval is brilliant in that he has the ability to capture ones interest with quite meager means. We are not informed of the appearances of any of the characters or their outer goals other than what they might reveal in discussions with each other and this is fine. It creates a tension and interest in the story itself and the events that may come to pass, as well as what the consequences humanity might have to deal with once we come in contact with alien worlds. The question poised at the center of the Themis Files is still where the robots come from and whether they have left more than hardware behind. The plot truly thickens throughout this book and the story becomes more tragic than before.
It is easy to become enamored by Neuvel’s writing and his story of humanity playing with new toys that they do not quite understand, but this second book might answer some of the questions from the first one and leaves you with so many more that it is almost impossible to wait for the next installment.
Publisher: Del Rey
When Dr. Rose Franklin was a child she fell into a hole and found a large metal hand. This would influence the rest of her life and lead her into a career in the scientific field. This also lead her back to the giant hand she found as a child. Heading a secret government team she is tasked to find the other parts of what might just be a gigantic robot, apparently buried all around the world. Her movement and progress is tracked by a nameless figure who is constantly recording everything said in the matter. The gathering of body parts ends up being more difficult to perform and harder to keep secret than they first imagined and the method they choose devastates several inhabited areas, causing other nations to take notice.
At the same time the team is trying to figure out how to control the giant machine, that appears to be some form of weapon, and also deciphering the language associated with it. As outer forces try to control the project, among others the American government, the team is also plagued by inner turmoil, jealousy as well as betrayal and as the nameless leader tries to keep control of the situation it seems as if it is all heading towards certain doom.
There are many interesting aspects to Sleeping Giants, both in the way the story is told, but also the content. As mentioned the story moves forward through a series of interviews held by a nameless person. It is through this person’s questions as well as the odd military report and diary entry that the reader is let into the minds of the characters. Just like earlier authors like Samuel Richardson (Pamela) and Bram Stoker (Dracula) Neuvel adds a fair amount of credibility to the tale, as well as quick pace to the events as it excludes pondering as well as unnecessary background stories.
Neuvel’s characters are all at first glance sympathetic with a common goal to delve into the mystery of the robotic pieces, but as it all develops it becomes clearer that they are all conniving, egotistical, underhanded, in short; human. As they strive understand what they are dealing with and are being pushed or pulled from various angles they risk losing sight of the true goal.
Sleeping Giants manages to be an original Science-Fiction story and that is quite unusual today. It is both philosophical, historical and political in the same vein as Kornbluth and Pohl’s Space Merchants, exciting and at the same time with a subtle warning about the here and now.
The novel is classified as the first installment of a series called the Themis Files and if this is what the reader will be treated to in the premier book, then we are all in for a treat.