Humanity is at a pivotal point in history on many fronts – first contact with an alien species, unfathomable technological advances, and society in a delicate balance between corporations that practically own everything and the essentially ornamental government that still exists in the Federated Systems of Humanity.
In David M. Kuszmar’s debut novel, Halcyon (Humanity Book 1), readers are immediately immersed into what civilization could be like in the future from five different perspectives – a top secret research scientist on the forefront of miraculous technological advancement, a naval officer pilot on the front lines of a devastating war in space, a corporate executive living among the elite, a highly skilled mercenary, and a marine who ends up in two front lines – on the ground with the enemies and in front of the press for the marines..
Haanta – a scientist whose years of research and development in a top secret government project has finally come to fruition. She and her colleagues in project Wraith have been tasked to create the ultimate weapons for infiltration, surveillance, and espionage. Among a smattering of highly sophisticated ingenius devices, the crowning achievement of the groups work, is a state of the art body suit with mind blowing capabilities and an AI assistant that makes Tony Stark’s Jarvis look like Bender from Futurama.
Liish – a Lieuatenant Commander in the Federated Systems Navy as a combat pilot aboard the carrier ship Yellow Flower Tiger. Earning a spot as a flight leader in her own squadron, the Red Raiders, by taking down a warship on her own, Liish’s ability to detach herself from personal safety concerns and focus only on being the deadliest weapon possible gives her a dangerous advantage over her friends and foes.
Herun – Executive Vice President of Research Development for Archeon Systems Intersolar. Born into the almost unheard-of middle class, Alan Herun worked his way up the socio-economic ladder with disappointing ease. He mastered the calculated art of the expected norms in social interaction among the elite from delivering the perfect pitch and tone of voice for whatever the occasion called for to an overly strategic method of who to meet at social functions, in what order, even down to what talking points would be discussed. Nothing surprised Herun, it was more than just his job to succeed in the business world, it was everything he ever wanted and being prepared for everything was essential to him.
Belios – a lifelong mercenary. Between the genetic augmentation and his extensive experience, he’s considered to be one of the best in the business. Practical, professional, and a no-nonsense type, he knows the mercenary business in and out, which makes him the perfect candidate to run a group of mercenaries on a secret mission to set up an unauthorized colony. What Belios hasn’t had experience with is being a mercenary in a war-stricken world against an alien civilization.
Tye – a Private in the Federated Systems Navy Marine Corps. Graduating top of her class at all levels, excelling in soccer and parkour, she was born into a family too poor to send her to the academic environment she seemed to be destined for. Instead she took to the marine corps to get the kind of genetic enhancements and deadly training a civilian of her stature could only dream of.
Halycon is a very promising first installment of what is set to be a three-part series, with room for expansion beyond that within the universe, according to the author. The varied perspectives help the reader see the multiple sides of a large scale space war while keeping the story progression engaging and interesting.
As a first-time reader, I had a difficult time distinguishing Liish and Tye for their first few chapters. While presented as very different personalities – Liish the instinctual, carnal woman vs. Tye the more goody-two-shoes type, the military parts blended together a bit in the unfamiliar universe. Upon venturing further into the book, the extremely detailed world began to help differentiate the two and one could not make the same mistake a second time around.
The book itself is filled with details and descriptions that, at times, make it a bit of a slower read to fully grasp what the author is trying to convey. However, Kuszmar masterfully uses the details to enhance each story line to fully utilize all of his characters and bring the Halcyon world into a complete picture, rather than having snippets of an unfinished universe.
The characters themselves are wonderfully complex and grow throughout story, twisting and turning through the plot twists thrown at them by Kuszmar. Haanta is bound to be a favorite, as she was mine, with her strikingly balanced persona between inquisitive science nerd and introverted leader of her group of introverted scientists. The spy missions and ultimately her role as an ambassador of sorts are infinitely intriguing with a twist at the end of the book that leaves you begging for answers.
A fairly short novel at just under 250 pages, Halcyon is a great sci-fi read with a wonderfully compelling story that will leave you eager to devour more of the intricate world Kuszmar has crafted. A page-turner at its worst, the first of the Humanity series gets a9/10 from this instant fan. You can download it on Amazon for Kindle and Barnes & Noble for the Nook. Kuszmar is currently working on Halcyon’s sequel: Sunder.