Series: Procyon #1
Published by Future House Publishing on April 14th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
Amazon • Amazon UK
In the midst of an interstellar conflict, mechanic Landry Stanton is shipwrecked on a remote outpost planet, stranded along with a hostile alien that wants him dead.
All Landry wants is to forget the woman he left back on Earth, but now he finds that much bigger issues are at stake: the creature, belonging to a species known as the Argoni, may hold the key to turning the tide in the entire war, assuming Landry can live long enough to tell anyone about it.
Pitched into a life and death struggle against the brutal environment and the Argoni itself, Landry is forced to challenge everything he thought he knew about the war, the aliens and even himself.
In the not-too-distant future, humans will invent the fold engine, making it possible to head out across star systems. Almost as soon as they start heading out, they are followed back by a strange race of space travelers. These creatures are called the Argoni by the humans, and they immediately attack Earth without provocation or warning. A war begins, and the humans continue to spread among the stars, establishing bases on far planets to catch incoming Argoni attacks as they fold through space.
Dawn of Procyon is about one such base on the world of Proc-One, but it is actually a dual story between Landry, a Op-tech supervisor, and one of his staff, Cait. When Landry finds himself stranded away from the base, he has to try everything he can to signal for help. There’s an Argoni (not-so-affectionately known as ‘Toads’ by the Marines) hanging around, and Landry’s not really sure what it wants, or why it hasn’t killed him already. Meanwhile, Cait is happy to step into the job of supervisor, but she has a feeling that something isn’t quite right with Landry’s disappearance.
This was a really interesting story about trying to keep a foothold on a world that is foreign to two separate races. Nothing is known about the biology of the Argoni, as their bodies break down quickly when they are captured or killed. I love hard sci-fi involving properly alien races, where every interaction is totally unknown. It makes for such a nail-biting story!
Each of the characters have excellent back stories that make them feel very realistic. It’s the details that make it, like the workers in the maintenance section who mention that they’re going out for a drink to honour the lost pilot, Gus. The flashbacks Landry has to the time before he left Earth are heartbreaking, but outside of the flashbacks I did love HAIRI, the AI module with added personality. Some of those conversations had me giggling to myself on the train.
I only had one issue with the way the ending played out. I’ll try not to be spoilery here, but a discovery is made late in the story that reveals a lot of the Argoni’s motivation. It helped the story to move along, but it did have a touch of deus ex machina about it. In any case, the ending was satisfying. I feel there is plenty more to come, involving the outpost, the ‘illegals’ and if course, the war with the Argoni.
In all, a great hard sci-fi thriller. I’ll be looking out for more of Brisbane-based Mark Healy’s work.
I received a copy of Dawn of Procyon from Future House Publishing in exchange for an unbiased review.