Book Review: The Enceladus Crisis by Michael J. Martinez

enceladus crisisNot only are there oceans on Enceladus, but there could be evidence of an ancient alien race that is not that interested in humanity’s future survival.

The Enceladus Crisis by Michael J. Martinez is the second book in his Daedalus series. The series focus on the conflict against an ancient evil attempting to conquer two parallel universes. One is set in a 22nd century with a history not far off from our own likely future, where humans have begun colonizing and exploring the Solar System. The other, however, works a bit differently. In their universe it is still the 18th century where alchemy is real, the Solar System is full of habitable worlds with diverse alien life and humans travel through space on sailing ships.

Following the events of The Daedalus Incident (and stay with me because the time difference can’t get a little confusing), the characters in the future timeline (where only a couple of years of passed) have formed a new cover organization called Project DAEDALUS, which is investigating dimensional incursions so they can prepare a defense for any future invasions. As part of their mission, Lieutenant Commander Shaila Jain is on the first manned voyage to Saturn to investigate any evidence of advanced alien races (although the cover story is to stake a claim to potential resources on Titan). Unbeknownst to her the Chinese have also launched their own secret expedition to Saturn’s moons and someone back Earthside is trying to break through the dimensional barrier to see what is on the other side.

Back in the past timeline (where almost two decades have gone by), Thomas Weatherby is now captain of his own ship Fortitude and is now chasing after a French ship to the far regions of the Known Worlds. Meanwhile, alchemist Andrew Finch turns spy for the English in Egypt to discover what an army of French savants is doing deep in the Sahara desert. They slowly learn that there is grand French conspiracy to uncover ancient alchemical knowledge…or at least that is what they hope. The truth is far more dangerous.

The Enceladus Crisis, and the Daedalus series as a whole, is a great book for those who enjoy either hard or soft science fiction. I also felt Martinez’s writing style improved dramatically since the last book and I look forward to seeing how it will continue to evolve in the next book. That being said, I do believe the future timeline could have been more flushed out. Despite a century of technological advancement, complete with space colonization, global warming and powerful conglomerates thumbing their noses at world governments, socially it is not too different from the present. You would expect, for example, for there to be a more fluid definition of sexuality or even some transhumans popping up at this point. Perhaps they do exist in this universe, but their omission was noticed.

Nevertheless, I really did enjoy The Enceladus Crisis. It was a great adventure tale that combined elements of a spy thriller with that of a space opera, with a bittersweet ending reminiscent to The Empire Strikes Back. I recommend Enceladus, and the series as a whole, and look forward to the next book, The Venusian Solution.

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