Bizarre quakes are rumbling over the long-dormant tectonic plates of the planet, disrupting its trillion-dollar mining operations and driving scientists past the edges of theory and reason. However, when rocks shake off their ancient dust and begin to roll—seemingly of their own volition—carving canals as they converge to form a towering structure amid the ruddy terrain, Lt. Jain and her JSC team realize that their routine geological survey of a Martian cave system is anything but. The only clues they have stem from the emissions of a mysterious blue radiation, and a 300-year-old journal that is writing itself.
Lt. Thomas Weatherby of His Majesty’s Royal Navy is an honest 18th-century man of modest beginnings, doing his part for King and Country aboard the HMS Daedalus, a frigate sailing the high seas between continents…and the immense Void between the Known Worlds.
With the aid of his fierce captain, a drug-addled alchemist, and a servant girl with a remarkable past, Weatherby must track a great and powerful mystic, who has embarked upon a sinister quest to upset the balance of the planets—the consequences of which may reach far beyond the Solar System, threatening the very fabric of space itself.
I’m a father and writer living the dream in the Golden State. I’ve spent nearly 20 years as a professional writer and journalist, including stints at The Associated Press and ABCNEWS.com. After telling other people’s stories for the bulk of my career, I’m happy that I can now be telling a few of my own creation.
When not being a parent or writer, I enjoy beer and homebrewing, cooking and eating, the outdoors and travel.
This was a great book, giving science-fiction fans the best of both worlds.
On one hand we have the year 1779. The British Royal Navy is sailing - in big ships with sails - around the solar system. They go from Earth to Venus to Mercury to Saturn. They fly/sail on solar winds. The ships are run on alchemy. Women have no rights. The British colonies are just starting to try and free themselves from British rule. Benjamin Franklin is a powerful alchemist fighting for freedom against the British. Thomas Weatherby is a lieutenant in His Majesty's Royal Navy. He's on board the HMS Daedalus . He's only 19, and he's writing a journal to send to his father about his adventures...
On the other hand we have a human colony on Mars in the year 2132. Mars is being mined and stripped for minerals. Women and men are leaders. Corporations are greedily wrecking the solar systems in their quest for minerals. Shaila Jain is a lieutenant who is trying to keep her science team and soldiers together after some mysteries things start happening on Mars. Rocks are rolling uphill and building walls. Canals are appearing. Things are changing rapidly. Also, in a cave she discovered a leather-bound journal from a man called Weatherby...
This book was wonderful. It starts off slowly, and some people complain about that, but I loved the way Martinez introduced every puzzle piece and started slowing putting them together. Each chapter is divided into two sections: a section with Weatherby and a section with Jain. It's fascinating to see what is happening in each "area" and how events in both timelines merge and affect each other. The book is carefully crafted.
I also liked the character developments. Martinez does a good job of making people who started out one way end up in a totally different place by the end of the book. The changes are subtle and slow. I enjoyed seeing some different layers to the characters and watching them grow.
It's also interesting to see historical characters such as Benjamin Franklin and Benedict Arnold in a completely different setting. Benjamin Franklin is a powerful alchemist who is fighting for independence from the British. Benedict Arnold appears as a general in this conflict. It's funny and neat to see these well-known historical figures in such a strange context - a world full of sailing ships flying through space; a world in which alchemy is a powerful science that can bring back the dead; a world in which each planet is populated with alien life forms. This plays more to the "fantasy" crowd.
For the "science-fiction" crowd, you have a colony on Mars. Blue skies on Mars; canals on Mars; pyramids and lost civilizations on Mars. So exciting to me, as I was raised on things like Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. We have a strong but not clichéd female character in Lt. Jain and a mystery as to why there are "earthquakes" on Mars. This is fun, futuristic, and more "science-y" than the other half of the story which is more like pulp science-fiction from the 1950s.
Tl;dr - A great book. A slow book, it takes its time, but I loved the slow-burn and the mystery coming together. A little bit of happiness for any kind of science-fiction fan. I enjoyed it a lot.
P.S. Shaila Jain is Hindu/Indian. This is great, as so much sci-fi I read is completely white.
Being a type A personality and stickler for organization, I employ the use of many different shelves to sort my books on Goodreads. Anyway, just to give you an idea of the kind of book we're talking about here, these are just some of the ones I've tagged for The Daedalus Incident: Action-Adventure. Aliens. Alternate History. Fantasy. Magic. Science Fiction. Time Travel. Oh and I almost forgot, Pirates, too.
As you can see, this is a novel that mixes elements from many genres. We're talking about some pretty wild stuff here, like 18th-century ships sailing between planets, or famous historical figures like Benjamin Franklin being one of the most skilled alchemists to ever come out of the American colonies. And that's just in one timeline. Another story thread takes place in 2132 in a whole other universe, where the personnel team on a trillion-dollar mining operations taking place on Mars has been experiencing some strange things lately -- things like a 300-year-old journal that is writing itself, or like a giant pyramid forming itself out of the desolate terrain.
What do these two disparate timelines have to do with each other, you ask? Now that's the million dollar question of the day. The answer is a journey that will take you beyond the limits of time and space, introducing you great characters you'll care about and fantastic new worlds to boot.
It did take a short period of adjustment, but once I got into the rhythm of jumping between the two different story lines, I started having a lot of fun. Admittedly, the 18th-century timeline was the one that held a greater appeal, featuring a world that was more interesting with its alchemical-powered ships, alien races living on different planets, and the explosive clashes against space pirates. In some ways, it read much like a high fantasy plot line done up in a different package, so you get things like planets instead of faraway kingdoms, alchemical artifacts instead of treasures troves, ancient alien forces instead of an evil demonic adversary, etc. No doubt my usual preference for the "historical" over the "futuristic" probably has something to do with it as well.
On the other hand, the 2132 Mars storyline started losing me around the halfway point -- though to be fair, I'm thinking that it's not the book. It's me. Start throwing around terms like "non-ionized radiation" or "particle physics" and you might as well be spraying your book with a big dose of anti-Mogsy repellent. I can't help it; my eyes seem predisposed to glaze over whenever they wander too close to hard sci-fi territory. I'm really more of a life sciences kind of person, whereas the more complex workings of the physical sciences tend to go over my head.
Nonetheless, I very much enjoyed the characters -- in both timelines. I love the immersive quality of Lt. Thomas Weatherby's voice, which sounds convincing coming from a man of his time period in the 1700s. There were a lot of memorable characters in that alternate universe, including Dr. Finch and Anne Baker. In the future Mars timeline, I liked following the central character of Lt. Shaila Jain, mostly because of all the different relationships she has to juggle while trying to keep things from falling apart at the mining base. And don't even get me started on that critical moment when the characters from both worlds finally meet -- oh come on, you had to have known that they would at some point! Anyway, it was definitely a scene worth waiting for, not to mention the full scope of the events that follow.
It's true that this one had its ups and downs, depending on where I was in the story, but I have to say the overall premise is unquestionable unique. I would recommend this to fans of cross-genre fiction or anyone looking to check out a book that blends fantasy and science fiction in an innovative way.
I'll be honest. I heard "Mars" and "Female protagonist" and I bought the book. If I had read the back of the book, I might not have bought it because - mixing fantasy and scifi? Not in my house, mister. The book flips between a future Martian mining base and an alternate history steampunky fantasy world. I started reading only the future Martian bit. It was SO GOOD. SO good I went back and read the fantasy bits. This book unreservedly kicked ass. I thought the author did a great job writing women. Excellent plotting and a story that kept me up past my bedtime reading.
Refreshing mix of fantasy, science fiction, mystery and history.
Two time lines with interesting characters, a kind of time traveland other travels, alchemy, sailing-ships, spaceships, aliens and and and ...
Due to certain circumstances I promised the author to post my review not before end of May 2013.
THE STORY BEHIND In December 2012 I came in contact with author Michael J. Martinez. He told me that his debut novel will be published in May 2013. The author has been so kind to add me to his reviewer list. End of March 2013 I received a digital review copy of The Daedalus Incident. As you may know the publisher of the book - Night Shade Books - went down. As a result the publishing date of The Daedalus Incident went down the drain and Michael J. Martinez asked me to postpone the review of the book. Of course I said yes. On June 13 you could read following post on the author's site: Buy The Daedalus Incident on Kindle NOW! With this news in the back I got the GO for my review of The Daedalus Incident. For the release date of the paperback please follow the updates on the author's site.
THE TRAVEL DIARY A warm welcome to my first travel diary. The ticket promised a two time lines journey which will lead me to the planet Mars in a possible future set in the year 2132 and back to an alternate history of the 18th century set in1779.
One need to be prepared for such extraordinary voyages. I took countermeasures against the possible suffer from sea, space and time travel.
On the way to Mars I got a brief introduction before I met Lt. Shaila Jain member of the Joint Space Command for the first time. By the way the JSC is the security force for all EU/US space missions. She is a straightforward woman, who is neither a friend of military hierarchy nor of conventions. By first sight I knew should would cause trouble.
Mars in 2132 is a raw-material supplier without atmosphere. Mining on Mars is no walk in the park and the appearance of quakes on the red planet was like the seed for riots.caused . I met some more people but I do not want to bother you with names. All in all there is group of people - miners, scientists, security, administration - with relationsbetween each other on several levels.
There was nothing extraordinary regarding the place and the people except the quakes. I decided to continue my travel on the future time line.
A blink of an eye later I switched to the 18th century time line. I looked over the shoulder of Lt. Thomas Weatherby and read a letter to his father. I was on board a sailing vessel named HMS Daedalus. I don't know if this is a coincidence but when you look back into the history of the Royal Navy, you will easily detect the launch of a 32-gun frigate named HMS Daedalus in 1780. Anyway I missed something. There was no motion of the sea. We went on deck and there I stood agape and dumbfounded. There was no water! The HMS Daedalus sailed through space! What an unforgettable moment. Sailing through space on a 18th century sailing vessel with gravity and oxygen. Unbelievable! A magic word reached my ears: ALCHEMY!!
This alternate version of the 18th century bewitched me every minute again. As much as I would like to go into details I can't do that because I will not spoil the party. But it is not forbidden to lure you. I met historical persons like CENSORED, CENSORED and CENSORED. Imagine everything you know from Treasure Island, Horatio Hornblower, Francis Drake and move it from Earth to space. Islands turn into planets and space is the equivalent to the seven seas. Be part of a three dimensional sailing vessel battle. Feel the pressure of conventions and hierarchy on a HMS ship. Discover the world of Alchemy with the reluctant Alchemist Dr Finch. Follow Lt Thomas Weatherby on his adventurous travel to discover mesmerising mysteries and secrets. Accompany the former housekeeper Anne Baker on her way to burst through the 18th century rules and conventions to blossom as an anchor in case of relationship and as an eye-opener for Lt. Weatherby.
I think you can imagine which time line I preferred. But the contrast between the two story lines is like the salt in the soup. Like a pendulum the story switches between the two story lines. Wherever you are you can't wait to change the time line in order to follow what is going on in the other century. The chapter wise change give the story a certain base speed. But Michael J. Martinez delivers a lot of action on both story lines. Sometimes you feel like some waiting for his next adrenalin injection. The time between action is far beyond to be a holiday. All the character development and interaction need some time and is most welcomed.
I see the question on your your forehead: Is there a connection between the two time lines? The long answer is .... go, grab your copy of The Daedalus Incident and read it. The short answer is indeed very short and consists of the word YES. And yes, the The Daedalus Incident has a real end but it should be no problem for the author to write a sequel.
I hope my words reflect that I liked this travel a lot. Any criticism? I would not say it is criticism. I would call it more a remark. I think it is quite difficult to write a climax for a story which paced along on a high level. From my point of view there is no big difference between the story and the climax. The 18th century story line is excellent, extraordinary and vibrant. That does not mean that the future story line is bad. But two story lines like the 18th century story line would have been the cherry on the cake.
Now the time has come to reveal the last passage of my travel diary.
When I returned home from this extraordinary travel I felt very satisfied. This amazing mix of alternate history, science fiction and mystery is highly entertaining and stands out like a lighthouse in the fog of books.
With The Daedalus Incident author Michael J. Martinez satisfies an unsaid longing for books delivering an enjoyable and infatuate adventure which takes you on travel which is limited by the power of your imagination only.
Since the year is wrapping up, I decided it was a good time to read the book since it will likely be up for award nominations. So I started reading. I was hooked. There are two very diverse parallel worlds that intersect in the novel: future Mars where earthquakes and weird things are happening that should not, and an alternate 1779 where the British Navy uses alchemy to fly schooners through space and battles against rebels on Ganymede. Then I reached page 138 of my book. It skipped to page 187. I screamed to myself and skimmed ahead, finding that 50 pages later, it again started at 187 and flowed through the end from there.
I was desperate enough to know what happened that I bought the Kindle version, and switched between electronic and print to finish the book. I can definitely say that the book is worth the purchase price in both money and eaten bugs.
The Daedalus Incident is just plain fun. It mixes scifi with magic. The characters are fantastic. Lt. Jain is a tough cookie, using her wits to survive the improbable on Mars. Lt. Weatherby is definitely easier to relate to within his own perspective, because as a man of his time period, he certainly has particular ideas about the roles of women. That was okay by me, because he felt true to his time period. It was also a delight to see other historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin. I love a good alt history, and dropping the Revolutionary War into deep space is something I have not seen done before. I really enjoyed both parts of the book for very different reasons, and I'm impressed at how Martinez spaced out the events and tension.
There is a major deus ex machina in the form of Weatherby's journal. In the end, the device is a bit corny and convenient, but I was having so much fun with the whole book that I found the device to be quite forgivable, though I can see other readers getting irked by it.
I will keep this book in mind when nominating for awards in the coming year and already have the sequel on my wish list.... though I might just check to make sure all the pages are there first thing.
Martinez has managed to blend the swash buckling ways of 1779 and the hard science and action of working on Mars in 2132 that makes both relavent.
And in fact this great mash up of time lines results in the collision of these two time lines in the exciting conclusion to the story.
In 1779 we have the almost “steampunk” like activity of sailing between the stars with a literal sea going ship. This is accomplished through lodestones that have been treated by an Alchemist to support the gravity and air needed by men. And by men, I mean sailors of the Royal Navy no less. Our hero is Tom Weatherby on her majesties ship Daedalus who is on a routine voyage to rout out any French ships.
Tom and the rest of the men on Daedalus are soon on a trip across the known worlds chasing a mad alchemist who is stealing the essence of the known worlds. Why he is doing this is not known. All that is known is that he must be stopped before he gets all the known worlds essences.
In our 2132 timeline on Mars our main characters are US Air Force personnel and scientists exploring Mars along with a group of rough necks mining for precious materials under the surface of Mars.
But something is wrong as there are injuries involved when several earth quakes (oops mars quakes) occur with no apparent reason. Soon both the military staff and scientists are investigating other strange occurrences.
The author is true to the mannerisms, terminology, attitudes and perspectives of each time line as we go back and forth in time. Which is outstanding as you can see the different perspectives of each group.
As you may have guessed the two time lines collide at the end of the book with an epic battle; and both groups of characters being exposed to the other’s perspective.
A wonderful romp that combines both science fiction and fantasy attributes that will please both groups.
Shadowhawk reviews an upcoming debut novel from Night Shade Books.
“In a time of SFF that is often serious and cerebral, The Daedalus Incident takes a step back to focus on the most important reason any reader picks up a book – to read a story that is plain good fun and adventure and that does not get bogged down into complexities of the world. A highly recommended debut.” ~The Founding Fields
Before I get into the review, it would be remiss of me to not mention Night Shade Books’ ongoing troubles. The publisher has had a rough few years with respect to being able to pay its authors, editors, cover artists, etc and it was recently announced that the owners were looking into selling off the company rather than declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The terms of the “sale” have been discussed back and forth by the industry for close to 2 weeks now, and the future for almost all of Night Shade’s authors and other creators is very uncertain. In light of that, I wanted to make a request to all the readers of this site: if there is a Night Shade author you love, then spread the word about their books, whether by word of mouth or otherwise however you deem fit. Every sale is going to help the authors, the editors, the cover artists, etc and it is going to make their transitioning period that much more secure. IIRC, the deal about Night Shade’s IP assets (the books) being sold off to Skyhorse Publishing is supposed to be finalised this coming week, and the fallout of this is going to have a huge impact for everybody involved. You can read more about it here and here. One way or another, it will all be over this week, so show your support for these people, and spread the word.
Now, on to the review itself.
The Daedalus Incident is yet another novel from my “51 Most Anticipated Releases of 2013” list. As I said in that post, I’m a sucker for space opera and Lt. Weatherby’s “magical” arc had a very high appeal for me. The premise of the novel hinted at a merging of SF and fantasy in the story, and going in, that is what I expected to be up front and center. Which, as it turns out, it very much was.
There are two narratives in the novel. The first of these is from the point of view of Lt. Shaila Jain of the Joint Space Command, a pseudo military-police force that provides security for all US/EU space missions. Shaila Jain’s arc is set in our own timeline, that is, her story is in what you can consider to be our own far future when global space programmes are actually viable and productive and mankind has taken to mining on Mars.
The second narrative is from the point of view of Lt. Weatherby, a young officer in His Majesty’s Navy, in a timeline that is as divergent from ours as it could have been: through the powers of occultism and alchemy, the imperial nations have established empires throughout the solar system. Also, there is no such thing as the United States of America anymore, there is the rebellious political entity known as the United States of Ganymede, engaged in direct conflict with England. So the human race has well and truly spread out to the stars, traversing space in alchemically-powered sail-ships and has encountered alien races on Venus and the moons of Saturn. Bloody exciting stuff!
Suffice to say, The Daedalus Incident proves to be a highly engaging novel from the get go, given the uniqueness of Weatherby’s arc, and the interweaving of it with Lt. Jain’s arc.
There are a few things going for Lt. Jain in terms of her character that I found really likable. One, she is not the typical white character I would have expected for a novel such as this – she is an Indian. When was the last time that an Indian space-naut (or an Indian character in general) was in as high-profile a position as her within a science fiction novel? I can’t recall a single one from my experience. Second, she is a …. well, woman, and she drives a lot of the action and intrigue within her story arc. Strong and powerful characters such as her are usually not found in a novel like this in my experience, or what I’ve heard from people over the years. In recent memory, only Captain Prudence from M. C. Planck’s debut novel (from Tor), The Kassa Gambit, comes to mind. Third, she is never sexualised or treated as somehow inferior because of her gender by her male counterparts within the novel. And that speaks to the state of the women in the novel in general, as far as her arc is concerned at least, since Martinez never draws any lines between either gender and he treats all his characters fairly in that respect. Fourth and final, we both share the same last name, so go us!
The Publisher Says: Bizarre earthquakes are rumbling over the long-dormant tectonic plates of the planet, disrupting its trillion-dollar mining operations and driving scientists past the edges of theory and reason. However, when rocks shake off their ancient dust and begin to roll—seemingly of their own volition—carving canals as they converge to form a towering structure amid the ruddy terrain, Lt. Jain and her JSC team realize that their routine geological survey of a Martian cave system is anything but. The only clues they have stem from the emissions of a mysterious blue radiation, and a 300-year-old journal that is writing itself.
Lt. Thomas Weatherby of His Majesty’s Royal Navy is an honest 18th-century man of modest beginnings, doing his part for King and Country aboard the HMS Daedalus, a frigate sailing the high seas between continents . . . and the immense Void between the Known Worlds. Across the Solar System and among its colonies—rife with plunder and alien slave trade—through dire battles fraught with strange alchemy, nothing much can shake his resolve. But events are transpiring to change all that.
With the aid of his fierce captain, a drug-addled alchemist, and a servant girl with a remarkable past, Weatherby must track a great and powerful mystic, who has embarked upon a sinister quest to upset the balance of the planets—the consequences of which may reach far beyond the Solar System, threatening the very fabric of space itself.
Set sail among the stars with this uncanny tale, where adventure awaits, and dimensions collide!
My Review: Swashbuckling naval battles against heinous French pirates! In space!! Benjamin Franklin on an inhabitable Ganymede, and an alchemist to boot!
Manned permanent habitations on Mars! Greedy corporate slimebuckets causing havoc and costing people their lives! Space bureaucracies throttling (or doing their best to, anyway) any initiative in their subordinates!
Either one of those makes a darn good yarn, a familiar-enough plot to keep the pages turning and still, in Martinez's capable hands, the yawns at bay. Both together gave me the geekgasm of a lifetime. Lt. Shaila Jain, RN, is the kind of kickass leader and quick thinker that gives young women today a chance to develop a sense of agency, owning their own power and future. It doesn't hurt that she falls for a handsome man with a French accent, and then spends the books trying to keep him safe from his own inexperience and lack of fighting ability.
Makes a nice counterpoint to 3Lt. Thomas Weatherby, RN, whose career in the 1779 Navy also takes him into space. Now the fun begins, as the alchemical nature of manned space flight in this era is revealed by the number of ways it can and does go wrong. One of those ways leads poor Weatherby to a space equivalent of the Caribbean pirate port, Port Royal, Jamaica. And there Weatherby finds a drunken alchemist who becomes his best friend and a serving wench (in more than one sense of the word) who becomes his One True Love. Unlike Jain's French paramour, though, Weatherby's is perfectly capable of kicking ass and taking names by herownself. Bit shocking to a stodgy middle-class tradesman's son who has bought himself into the higher status of the officer corps.
Among our delicious surprises is the existence of a bona fide intra-solar system alien species, the Xan of Saturn. Their colonial outpost is Callisto, again an inhabitable world unlike in our own just as amazing solar system. The Xan and their intra-solar system rivals based on Mars had the kind of war that our paltry timeline threw itself in WWI, leaving devastation on Mars, an exploded fifth planet called Phaeton (now called the Rocky Main, to our blah asteroid belt), and one Martian survivor who, for his evils, is imprisoned in interdimensional space.
Throw all this into the pressure cooker, turn the fire up high, and let 'er rip. The resulting explosive action propels every character onto a course not entirely predictable, and as the pieces of hot story fly around, a lot of painful damage gets done. But like the "self-building" pyramid on Mars, the story reassembles itself into a satisfying similar-but-different shape. If the tale isn't to your taste ::side-eye:: the resolution as it is will be good enough to leave the book as finished and whole in your mind.
Me, I want more. Now. Ahoy, Second Chance! One to board, please!2
A split narrative story with one storyline in an alternative universe analogous to Earth’s eighteenth century (with several notable differences) and the other in the supposed twenty-second century of this Earth. The eighteenth century is easier to believe. The other seems very twenty first century. Both exhibit a high school understanding of physics and politics. Reads as if written ten years ago. Both heroes are pigheaded idiots, and danger to life and mission, and should have been removed from duty.
Quibbles: 22nd century personal devices “might double as a radio transmitter”? Most devices do that today. A space ship which lands on its main engines will not be “recoverable.” Moderns are distinguished by their profanity. By 2136, space meals will probably be gourmet quality, not “scrambled tofu.” “All the whistles and bells” is twentieth century jargon. A space ship in the midst of atmospheric braking is unlikely to be hit “midsection.” Would people performing said atmospheric braking be wandering around their ship or in their pressure suits strapped down in the safest part of the ship?
I'm not sure if it's just that I've picked up a lot of books that are going along the "two plots are seemingly unrelated, but end up intertwining in unpredictable and interesting ways" theme, but we can add The Daedalus Incident to that list regardless
On one hand, you have an alternate late-1700s where spacebound pirate/merchant ships exist and there's a lot of political and interstellar strife. On the other, you have the future 400 years later regarding a Mars expedition that has a lot of mysteries happening on the uninhabited red planet.
As usually happens with these books, I felt really invested in the future story while finding the alternate history lacking until things started to make sense. With that said, the payoff was such where I didn't feel my time in the story I was less into was a waste. There's a lot of fun elements in all areas here, and the ending was really interesting.
This won't be for everyone, but it's worth your time if you're looking for something a little different.
The Daedalus Incident by Michael J. Martinez offers two separate and wildly different storylines. The first one takes place in 2132, when a seemingly impossible earthquake on Mars sets off a chain of even stranger events. The second one is set in 1779 on the HMS Daedalus, which is just departing Portsmouth on a course set for Jupiter, where it will assist in the blockade of the Ganymedean city New York.
Guess which one of those two storylines drew my attention, when I saw a plot summary of this novel?
Dual story lines, when done well, can really drive narrative, and this is what Martinez has done here. Two very different story lines that do, eventually, meet up. Both were populated with interesting characters that I cared about, and the stakes were higher than I at first thought.
Also, I'm ridiculously happy by O'Brien style seafarers...in space.
Off the bat, the Sci-Fi sections of the audiobook I listened to were somewhat stilted and artificial during narration, which made those sections far less engaging than they ought to be. There is a good mix of sci-fi and 18th-century swashbuckler in space fantasy, the latter being far better than I would have expected from that description alone. While the Sci-Fi sections were good, and only got more interesting as it went on, the fantasy sections were great from the start and were the instant hook that kept me reading, while the Sci-Fi sections were more of a slow burn. When the two halves of the book came together, it was in a way that was unexpected and helped to skyrocket the intrigue in both, culminating in an exciting and satisfying conclusion.
But in this action-adventure science fantasy by Michael J. Martinez, it most certainly isn’t, and Lt. Shaila Jain (part of the Mars mining base in 2132) soon finds herself in a bit of hot water as quakes rattle the planet, carving unnatural structures on the surface of Mars. Meanwhile, in an alternate 1779, Lt. Thomas Weatherby of the British Royal Navy sails through the solar system in an attempt to recover something stolen – and discovers something more sinister than theft along the way.
Military sci-fi has always been difficult for me to get into, but when I picked up THE DAEDALUS INCIDENT, the initial reservations I had about trying a new genre were put on hold. Though I’d been worried the military language of both the future astronauts and alt-history sailors would be daunting, the writing style was accessible and straightforward, with both parties being clever and funny enough to feel like real people.
The plot of DAEDALUS is a bit lengthy and involved; it would make a great rainy-day read, since the large and diverse cast of characters can be a bit much to manage when reading over the course of several days. I definitely enjoyed reading, though, and getting to know each character – my favorite, aside from Shaila, was probably Finch, the alchemist on Weatherby’s alternate British frigate.
Speaking of alchemy, I found the explanations of both universes pretty interesting in and of themselves. I love sci-fi for the world-building, and both the mining base on Mars and the alternate history ships are fascinating. In the alternate history, alchemy develops rather than science as a means to travel, allowing ships to sail through “the Void” between Earth, the moon, and various planets, including a British colony on the Jupiter moon of Ganymede and interactions with denizens of other planets.
The twists and turns of the plot drew to a conclusion I didn’t expect on a path I DEFINITELY didn’t expect, and it was the sort of action-driven plot that keeps a reader engaged. The actual alchemy and science parts aren’t confusing, though as I mentioned before, the characters can get a bit confusing – I found the historic British characters more confusing, since they weren’t exactly diverse in most aspects, though I did like the alchemist a lot.
Overall, I’d recommend THE DAEDALUS INCIDENT for people who enjoy both science fiction AND fantasy, accessible language that’s not pretentious, and action-driven stories with interesting and relatable characters. (4 out of 5 stars)
This book popped up on my library ebook lending page and the title and the cover looked interesting. Then I read the little blurb, Mars and ye olde wooden sailing ships 'sailing' between the planets, and I thought it could be really good or really bad. Turns out it's really good! =)
I guess it could be classified as steampunk, but it's very light on the steampunk. I'd classify it more as magic with a side of steampunk.
There are two timelines and the author does a good job of switching between the two. Each one gets just the right about amount of time, not too short and not too long, devoted to it before switching. And it's a nice long book, there's no rush to reach the point where the two timelines inevitably meet.
I gave up after 120 pages. The concept is good; however, the colonial-era space fantasy, which would probably have been brilliant 50 years ago, feels a little too sad-puppy nostalgia for my taste, and the rest plods.
I may try the author's other series, if he can pick up the pace a little and avoid normalizing the slave trade.
Martinez has put together a neat little parallel worlds sci/fi story, stitching together two seemingly unrelated stories across time, space, and actual universes. Half of the book is the story of 2Lt Weatherby, serving in the Royal Navy in 1779 in an alternate universe where alchemy works and the solar system is much more amicable to life, where the great empires traverse the void between worlds on sailing ships. In an interesting parallel, he is actually being sent (aboard the HMS Daedalus) to help blockade the rebellious colonists in the Jovian moons and their upstart United States of Ganymede. However, the Daedalus is diverted onto quite another mission when it stumbles into the murder of a prominent alchemist and the theft of a valuable essence that could dramatically change the balance of power in space. The prudish (but well-meaning) Lt. Weatherby and the Daedalus are sent on a madcap quest across the solar system to seek the perpetrator of the theft, enlisting the aid of various personalities (including the rebel Ganymede alchemist Benjamin Franklin), while dealing with a foppish new ship's alchemist and a singularly distracting female passenger. The other half of the story follows Lt. Shaila Jain (also Royal Navy), serving at McAuliffe Base on Mars in the mid-22nd century as part of a U.S./EU detachment to babysit a mining facility; a crap job for washouts and burnouts (like Jain). Then, for no apparent reason, they begin to suffer a series of Mars-quakes, threatening to destabilize the entire region. However, although the quakes are concerning for their impact on the mining operations, far more disturbing is the unnatural way that the quakes seem to be causing the region to transform, and the strange Cherenkov radiation they leave in their wake. Suddenly, Lt. Jain finds herself tasked with the unenviable job of making sense of events that defy everything that is known of Mars' geology and physics itself. What first drew me to this book was Weatherby's story, as its setting reminded me forcibly of Philip Reeves' Larklight series (and to a lesser extent Jay Lake's Mainspring novels) of YA steampunk novels (though without their tongue in cheek attitude); however, thankfully Martinez nicely balances the two and then pulls them together (with surprising effectiveness). Weatherby's story is action and derring-do, intrigue and strange alien worlds (as I said, very much a serious counterpart to Reeve's Larklight) while Jain's story is more of a science-weirdness mystery, somewhat along the lines of Arthur C. Clarke or Michael Crichton's works. I make these comparison points only for reference as Martinez's story and setting are all his own and I look forward to seeing what strange new worlds and cross-time emergencies Martinez conjures up next.
One might ask, when picking up science fiction, whether one wants a steely-hard realistic near-future novel about a techy mining base on Mars -- or an extravagant planetary romance where alchemical galleons swan around the Solar system, firing cannons at each other.
Or, as the author of this book, one might say "Ha ha! I will do *both at the same time*! Mua ha ha ha!"
(The "mua ha ha" is not attested, but I am morally certain that's how he said it.)
The chapters flip back and forth between 2132 and alt-1779. On one side, inexplicable marsquakes threaten the mining operation; a gritty but slightly career-shadowed lieutenant attempts to investigate. On the flip side, the HMS Daedalus catches wind of alchemical pirates off Mercury, and (a different) lieutenant draws extra duty in the chase.
This is amusing -- and it would make a flashy TV miniseries -- but there's not all that much to it. The characters are all pretty much what you see on the surface; they do their thing and good triumphs. With sequel hook. Yay. A couple of charactery twists appear and are quickly disposed of. Also, the author isn't quite as hard-science as he thinks he is. (The dialogue has that overexplained tone that means the writer has just read a lot of articles. Also: "ionizing radiation", not "ionized".)
The alternate history pulls the cameo gag. Ben Franklin, the learned alchemist of the rebellious colonies on Ganymede, would have been enough. Throwing in Benedict Arnold, John Jay, Horatio "Hang-a-Lantern-On-It" Nelson, and a couple of spoilery other historical figures is too much.
There's probably something to say about the planetary romance trope, which is even more blatantly colonial here than in Burroughs. It's leavened by the lurking presence of the Saturnite race, who are as far ahead of 1700s humanity as humanity is ahead of the poor primitive Venusians, but the Saturn folks are isolationist (a Prime Directive?) and so the tables aren't really turned. And then the author falls into the erase-the-American-continent trap, which I suppose closes the topic for anybody who was interested in the first place.
It's a fun read. It's neither outstanding or broken. That's about all I can say.
(Yes, I picked this book up because I'm working on an age-of-alchemical-sail-in-space game. Fortunately the author has a completely different take on it than me. I would have been tempted to steal his moons-of-Jupiter gimmick if I'd seen it a couple of years ago, Ah well, my design is long since nailed down...)
A stunningly s-l-o-w mash-up of steam punk/space opera/alternate history/pirate adventure, with lots of extraneous exposition. Oh - and the "surprise ending" is obvious by the middle of the book. Predictable. Meh.
Two Earths – Two Different Times. That is the premise of The Daedalus Incident.
I loved the world building. While one Earth is set in 2132 with science that matches ours the other is set in 1779 and the science is nothing like ours. In fact it allows sailing ships to travel in space used alchemy to keep gravity and air as they sail the Void. The first two chapters introduce both worlds and as the story progresses those worlds begin to interact and not in a good way.
The two main characters for each world have to match their time. They have one thing in common. Both are members of the British Royal Navy. Lt. Jain from 2132 is female and a pilot. Lt. Weatherby has the attitudes from 1779 and does not think females are the equal of males. It is fun when they finally meet.
While there are similar plots around what makes this book unique is the setting. Lt. Jain is faced with events that make no sense. The danger Lt. Weatherby faces is revealed early in the book. Both are related. It takes a long journey for Jain to realize what is going on. Weatherby also faces a long journey to stop the danger to both worlds. It does take characters from both worlds working together in the end
Martinez dishes out clues in very small doses. There was just enough in each chapter to keep the story going. I found that once I started reading I did not want to stop. There is a solution at the end but that solution leaves a big problem for the next book in the series, The Enceladus Crisis. Book three, The Venusian Gambit will be released in May this year. There is also a novella, The Gravity Affair.
This is a great book for Science Fiction lovers but will also satisfy Alternate History fans.
Night Shade Books published The Daedalus Incident by Michael J. Martinex in 2013.
Pretty good, considering there's two competing narratives that don't really tie into each other until a good way into the book. One world is much more fleshed out than the other, so I'm hoping we'll get a better look at Jain's universe in the sequels.
Science and alternative history combine to give us a story that echoes classic Science Fiction literature. The reader bounces back and forth from the years 2132 and 1779, and even though these stories are separated by 353 years, the characters will need to combine their efforts to save the universe. In 2132 we follow Lt. Jain and her JSC team as they realize that their routine geological survey of a Martian cave system is anything but. Mars-quakes and rocks that roll up hill are just a hint of the mystery that the team needs to solve. In 1779 Lt. Thomas Weatherby of His Majesty’s Royal Navy sails aboard the HMS Daedalus but not on the sea as we think of it. Along with his captain, alchemist, and a servant girl with a remarkable past, Weatherby must track a great and powerful mystic, who has embarked upon a sinister quest to upset the balance of the planets.
Martinez expertly weaves his narrative giving the reader an entertaining story that is hard to put down.
Two books shoved together in alternating chapters: a story of miners on Mars dealing with bizarre phenomena, and a steampunk pulp SF Age of Sail thing about tall ships swooping around the solar system via the power of alchemy. Naturally, these universes end up colliding eventually.
The Age of Sail stuff was honestly the only reason I kept reading, because there the worldbuilding and characters were at least marginally interesting; no one on the Martian side of the story was, at all, and by the end of the story apparently I was supposed to care what happened to them and I really, really didn't.
Yeah, so, not really my favorite book ever, but if you really like Age of Sail and SF, you might give it a try. I am definitely not picking up the obvious sequel set up at the end.
The Daedalus Incident is Michael Martinez's masterful alternate history SciFi thriller. It's a brilliant story that is predominately told from two perspectives: Second Lt. Thomas Weatherby of HMS Daedalus in 1779 (typically from his journal) and Lt. Shaila Jain, Joint Space Command (JSC) in 2132 assigned to Mars. Both are dedicated Royal Navy officers who handle themselves well (overall). A nice synopsis is given on Amazon. The book drew me into The Zone, that place where I simply find myself immersed in the worlds, the action and the people. The words simply disappeared and I am in the midst of it. For the full review: http://wp.me/p2XCwQ-j6