James A. Zarzana’s dystopian series, The Marsco Saga, continues in book two: Marsco Triumphant. In this series, Earth and its surrounding space is controlled by Marsco, an Earth-based corporation that took power in the chaotic post-apocalyptic mid-21st century. Earth is a sparsely populated, war-ravaged planet on which the government has segregated the disadvantaged and disease is rampant. Marsco wields power in an Orwellian manner, using surveillance and state control of all aspects of life in the name of humanitarian aid.
Book two of the Marsco series begins with both Marsco and the dissident factions regrouping to gain control of the planet and its people. One such group, led by Martin Herriff, plans to pilot the newly built ship, The Sirius II, into unknown space rather than risk having the advanced technology they have perfected subsumed by the Marsco corporate machine to be used to their own greedy ends. The novel follows the internal struggle of these scientists as they consider the ramifications of their journey into an uncharted space and time, as well as the trials these people must endure to ensure that their ship and its real mission is not discovered by Marsco.
This is science fiction/fantasy at its most readable and enjoyable. The dialogue-heavy novel never devolves into jargon or suffers from being mired down in the typical gruesome details like many novels about war. The author also adds a very helpful glossary in the back of the book to help the reader with the slang of his created universe. However, it is Zarzana’s characters that set his work apart. Each is well rounded and emotionally deep, and we can’t help but become drawn into their lives. Even when we dislike a character, we are also forced to understand his/her actions because we have been made privy to what has made them what they have become.
If Zarzana’s second installment in The Marsco Saga is an indication of things to come, we have much to look forward to.
James A. Zarzana