Book Title: The Lazarus Protocol: A Sci-Fi Corporate Technothriller – The SynCorp Saga, Book 1
Publication Date: Sept. 11, 2018
Available on: Amazon as an eBook, a paperback and as an audiobook
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Earth is falling apart. Tidal waves erode shorelines, massive hurricanes crop up out of nowhere, sandstorms bury entire towns, wildfires blaze, earthquakes ravage and resources continue to dwindle. Even major coastal cities have been completely destroyed. Unfortunately, humanity did this to ourselves and is now stuck in reacting to each crisis as it develops. In the United States, the Disaster Mitigation Corps does it best to help its citizens but it is overwhelmed. Earth is slowly self-destructing – can anything be done to stop it?
With this compelling scenario, we see it unfold from various perspectives. Each one gives a unique viewpoint on the situation and how it affects the plot of the novel going forward.
Remy Cade is a soldier who was disgraced for something he didn’t do and given a bad rap. William Graves is a disaster relief officer trying to help out American citizens each time an environmental calamity befalls them. Together, they show the military side of what happening here.
Ming Qinlao is the daughter of a Chinese business magnate living on the Moon when her family and her destiny have other plans for her future. But this is far more than she ever expected and she has to take a tremendous burden on her shoulders. Anthony Taulke is a billionaire who’s been unsuccessful in attempting to save Earth in the past. As a result, he plans to terraform Mars as a way to escape Earth and her plight.
Together, when presented with an opportunity to save the Earth once and for all, they all play a part in the grand plan. Though with the many surprising twists and turns in the story, things do not go as you might expect. All the different characters bring a different piece of the puzzle to the table that when put together, I saw the larger picture that much more clearly. When I did, the entire scope of the novel was laid bare and it was well executed and exhilarating.
I liked how the military side of the story with Cade and Graves put a real human face on each catastrophe Earth must deal with, along with all the death and casualties. It really placed me in their shoes and made me sad and feel for the plight of each death I saw very keenly. Cade’s story was probably the more fascinating of the two because he travels far in the novel in his beliefs and in what he becomes caught up in. His path is also the most unexpected because of where he ends up, who he’s with and how it impacts the entire plot of the story.
Taulke is your typical entrepreneur who has a flair for showmanship and a desire to create lasting change in the world. His family problems with his lazy son bring a more personal side to his troubles. But he’s caught up in the politics of the situation with the United States government and the ramifications of the deal he strikes with them continued to reverberate for the rest of the novel.
But Qinlao’s journey probably was the most tragic, as she has the most to lose, so much to learn in her new role and changes the most drastically. Her path was also the most interesting to me. The corporate world becomes her battlefield and it is filled with treacherous obstacles in her desire to change things for the better.
Corporate politics and shenanigans in the boardroom can be dry and boring to me but it’s imbued with such personality and emotional peril here that I couldn’t help but be invested in her fate and her story. Overall, all of the characters were richly drawn as a real person that I could relate to and become emotionally invested in.
The action moved along briskly as I got to know each character and their unique situation. Placed in the larger backdrop of the plot, the entire novel was seamlessly drawn together. This can be especially difficult when you have two authors writing a novel together, but the reading experience was a solid one and I could not tell who wrote which part of the story. This indicates to me that there is a wonderful complementarity there and the novel is stronger for it.
I really enjoyed how all the different narrative threads coalesced together. It made the final part of the novel a suspenseful, edge-of-my-seat experience that I could not put down as I read the final machinations of the plot and its aftermath.
There’s a lot of innovative ideas presented here that add to the story. The science is realistic for a science fiction novel and the different cultures and relationships between characters are well-drawn. For example, the technology of the data glasses that feed information to its wearer is thought-provoking, forward-thinking and can be used in many different ways, adding to the futuristic setting here.
This also impacts the YourVoice network where opinions are collected instantly, and a politician can see how well (or not well) they are serving the public that elected them. This was a nice element and affected the novel in ways I could not foresee. Crowdsourcing politics and its impact on the government affected the plot more than I would have imagined.
Each character is different, and their journey kept me glued to the pages to see what would happen next. This novel series has grand ambitions here and the first novel has a lot of world-building to set up for the SynCorp Saga. It tells the first act of the larger story and is complete while also dangling some narrative threads to expand on the tale in future novels. It succeeds mightily in that endeavor, expertly telling its tale while setting up an entire universe of storytelling possibilities.
A lot of thought was put into this SynCorp Saga the authors are putting together and its epic scope plays out on a large canvas that I want to discover more about. I’ve read really enjoyed stories from both of these authors before, which is what interested me in reading this one. If this novel is any indication, it looks to be filled with absorbing reading, unpredictable intrigue, and colorful characters while the fate of Earth hangs in the balance. The stakes don’t get much higher than that. Bring on the second book in the series!
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories by David Bruns & Chris Pourteau include the other novels in The SynCorp Saga: “Serpent’s Fury“, “Masada’s Gate“, “Valhalla Station“. Other reviews for their stories included in anthologies are “It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane!: A Superhero Anthology“, “World Domination: A Supervillain Anthology“, “Beyond the Stars – Unimagined Realms: a space opera anthology” and “Bridge Across the Stars – A Sci-Fi Bridge Original Anthology.”