© 2532 Jonathan Michael Erickson

Reviews

From Midwest Book Review


Relics of Andromeda is Volume 1 in the Song of the Ancients series about the colonists of Andromeda, who discovered dangerous time-bending relics long before the story's protagonist, Anka, was born.

The uncovering of relics with the power to mess with human psychology and perception led to chaos. Now Anka is tasked with the dangerous mission of carrying a relic on her person to deposit it elsewhere: a relic known for speaking to humans and luring them with heart's desires and emotion-twisting power.

The history and basic premise of the relics is set forth in just a few succinct, informative pages...then the real action begins. It turns out that Anka's mission is far more deadly then even she thinks, because time travel, tricks of the mind, the abandonment of traditional ways of dealing with the relics, and subterfuge mark her task and teach her and her companions that the mission involves more than they'd been led to believe.

Their efforts involve a reassessment of the power and meaning of the relics which have been carefully regulated and controlled since humanity stumbled upon them, and Anka winds up at the heart of a conflict that swirls around the relics, their meaning, and their management.

What gives Relics of Andromeda such a unique, compelling flavor is its interactions between people, machines, high technology, and aliens. Anka's exploration delves into perceptions of self and others even as she faces some difficult truths about the meaning, power, and impact of the relics on all their lives.

As political clashes and battles take over Anka's life, she finds herself struggling with a tradition that dictates she must passively wait for the situation to worsen as forces on different sides gather power in preparation for battle. There's also romance in the wind, as Anka had chosen fellow tribesman Trevor to be her mate, and jealousy and strife emerge from this decision, as well.

It should be cautioned that Relics of Andromeda is no light read. A lexicon at book's end defines and explains history, characters, and politics, and should ideally be reviewed before reading begins. The advantage of this lexicon is twofold: it provides and synthesizes background information key to understanding setting, history, and events; and it condenses this background information into its own area so that the story line can flow seamlessly without the need for injecting constant explanations throughout.

This allows for a smoother reading of the story, which is free to focus on Anka's dilemmas, choices, actions, and impact without having to constantly divert into necessary background history.

Readers will find Relics of Andromeda a multifaceted production indeed. It pairs military clashes, cultural and technological struggles with a young woman's mission and experiences with power beyond her experience, and a tribal history of a legend that of necessity requires revision. The result is a thoroughly engrossing, unpredictable first contact story about a young female warrior facing grief, courage, endings and new beginnings.

Without spoilers, suffice it to say that the crescendo of action leads to a conclusion out of left field that is a satisfyingly gripping approach, injecting the story's growing sense of mystery and the unexpected into the reader's experience.

Relics of Andromeda's powerful action is well worth the read and lingers in the mind long after its final, vivid conclusion.

 - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, March 6, 2019

From The Book Review Directory

 

Anka Aelgon hears her name called in the distance. When she follows the voice, she finds something that can change the future of the galaxy. In Relics of Andromeda, Anka’s discovery of an ancient piece of technology forces her to embark on a grueling journey across the world away from the comfort of her tribe’s village. Anka’s strength, will, and faith are tested as she navigates the unknown and confronts the truth behind the powerful, dangerous object.

 

Few people are strong enough to resist the sensual temptations from relics–ancient, indestructible pieces of technology found in the Andromeda galaxy whose abilities defy the known laws of physics and can even manipulate human thought. When Anka is called to a relic, she knows she must tread carefully. 

Anka struggles to resist the relic’s power as she heads to the city of Ankharra, the planet’s technology hub where the relics are safely contained and cannot harm anyone. But when she successfully arrives, changes have been made to the city’s handling of relics and Anka isn’t sure who to trust anymore. 

The novel opens with a prelude that tells the cautionary tale about the first account of human contact with a relic on Andromeda. Intriguing and engaging, the prelude skillfully sets up the rest of the novel by providing important background information while also teasing readers with an alluring first look at the adventures ahead.

Trevor and Tamreh, Anka’s childhood friends who accompany her to Ankharra, have their own stories that are seamlessly embedded between Anka’s. Well-developed and entertaining, Trevor and Tamreh add excitement to the novel that will keep readers on their toes. Their drastically different personalities create tension and drama that is refreshing against the technical details of the novel and makes their stories more emotional and personal.

Not for the light reader, this hefty book is best for science fiction lovers who will appreciate the intricate details of the worlds Erickson has created. At times, descriptions and dialogue are lengthy. Though helpful in providing context, sometimes elements of the plot are drowned out by the abundance of information given at one time and these sections read as a bit long-winded and wordy.

Rich in color, character, and culture, the worlds in Andromeda will enchant and transport readers. Erickson creates species and societies that are imaginative and fascinating with their multifaceted, fully developed histories and customs. With vivid imagery and focus on sensory details webbed into the descriptions, the novel is connective and immersive.

One of the most captivating species in the novel are the ethereal Shoal, a shapeshifting species that primarily lives underwater. Scenes focusing on the Shoal’s complex spiritual traditions are some of the most creative elements of the Andromeda galaxy. Dream-like meditations and innovative technology prove Erickson’s talents in building fantastical worlds. 

With imagination at its core, Relics of Andromeda is an adventure tale with all the excitement readers crave from their science-fiction favorites. Erickson’s whimsical creatures and tech-filled worlds are as enchanting as the mysterious relics they harbor. This adventurous beast of a novel will give sci-fi lovers their fill of exploration, action, emotion, and fantasy.

 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Reader Reviews

"For me this was definitely a page turner that I was saddened to see come to an end. Mr. Erickson does an excellent job of world building and character development. You are drawn into lives and minds of his characters and keeps you there wanting more. I look forward to the next in the series. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a great Sci-fi world and story."

- Brenda Butler

"One of the things I loved most about this story was the pacing. There was never a lull because even in the more expository moments, the world-building was so rich and vibrant that I felt entirely absorbed. Then, without any indication we’re thrust into another thrilling passage.  I also loved the relationships and how they developed over time. There was such a beautiful, truthful human-ness to one particular relationship arc that I haven’t been able to shake.  Eagerly anticipating the next volume!"

- Jake Hull

"I am a very picky sci-fi reader. Not just for a good story with well developed characters that stretch my imagination, but I love and crave depth. Relics of Andromeda offered all of these. I found the story relevant to our technological times and appreciated the inclusion of non-binary and more than human characters. It was refreshing. I read an advanced copy and was left eager for the next book in the series."

- Sarah Juniper Green

"As a queer person, I found this book incredibly refreshing. Queer characters are given the freedom to live their own story, outside of any coming out narrative. I loved the dynamic between the three main characters. Each has their own voice and perspective, and they feel very real.
The world was well fleshed out, full of drama and high stakes, and I loved seeing the various alien civilizations. I eagerly await the next installment."

- Gracetopher Kirk

"The next time one of my library patrons asks what the best new Science Fiction is, this is the title I will recommend. Beautiful writing, excellent characterization, gripping action, and thoughtful insights stimulate the imagination and will have them eagerly awaiting the next installment in Erickson's series." - Mary Stark

"A sci-fi adventure that looks in to what it means to share a connection with another, what changes can happen with that connection, and what we can do about those changes. While the you can enjoy the book for its overall story, i'd encourage you to critically think about the relationships that happen within the story. As I read I am experiencing interpersonal relationships the characters have with each other as well as their grapple with the changes that they are going through personally. I enjoy how their ideas about the world, relationships they have, and the "self" changes. I like that there is personal growth, and a spiritual side to it all. The adventure, fantastical technologies, and other worldliness adds to the flavor. Give it a read!"

- Frank Brislawn

"I'm not a Science Fiction reader (or haven't been to date), but was given a free copy of this book and found myself engaged, moved, and uplifted. It is written with intellingetn suspense, and sensitivity towards individuals and a high reverence for our complexities as beings.... definitely opened my mind."

- Jenny Buchannan

"I'm so happy to see this phenomenal book finally released. I'm a very slow reader and often get distracted from novels, but when I received an advance copy of this book I could not put it down and just tore through it. The story is at once grounded and intimate, but also epic and expansive with the edges of its beautifully rendered universe always just out of sight making it that much more real. The scale of the story starts very intimate with a simple trek across a desert, but we slowly become aware of the enormous significance of this journey as the contours of Erickson's wildly imaginative vision comes into focus. I'm often overwhelmed by complex sci-fi worlds with seemingly tangential details only of interest to the author. Here each new revelation builds on the last and you never feel the world-building has overshadowed the storytelling. This novel explores all manner of things outside our every-day experience, but we experience it through characters that I quickly grew to love, making even the wildest sci-fi fantasies seem completely accessible. Get ready for an incredible ride."

- Greg Emetaz