Mania Grade: A-
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- Author: Jane Lindskold
- Publisher: Tor Publishing
- Book Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
- Format: Hardback, 304 pages
Book Review: Artemis Awakening
History became legend. Legend became myth.
By Chuck Francisco
June 05, 2014
Often are the instances where I have to choose between descriptive flights of fantasy or imaginative science fiction thought puzzles to open book reviews. New York Times bestselling author Jane Lindskold (Through Wolf's Eyes, Wolf's Blood) affords the chance to combine the two with her new book, Artemis Awakening, released last week by Tor Books. Yet the first thought which illuminates my frontal cortex upon finishing out the last chapter is a nostalgic recollection of Cate Blanchet's opening voice over from Fellowship of the Ring. She serenely recounts the last alliance of elves and men, and sternly admonishes "And somethings that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth." It's from the original Tolkien source material, but my mind now firmly associates that line with Blanchet's voice (just as you very likely read it that way in you mind). The implication is fascinating: time is such a formidable foe that it can transform the most epic and important facts into the braggadocios inconsistency of mythology.
By teasing out this idea and building around it, Lindskold home cooks a transcendent new playground which succinctly melds science fiction and fantasy into a superb little package for genre fans to enjoy. Artemis Awakening centers on the innocuous world of Artemis, which to all outward appearances would seem like an idyllic paradise at a technological level akin to that of an early agricultural society. However teeming just below the surface veneer is an unseen world of technological wonderment, the likes of which have been lost to the galaxy for a thousand years. Artemis is a planet literally fashioned from the core outward to serve as a pleasure destination for the absurdly opulent members of a galactic empire centuries ago. The animal and human inhabitants where genetically bred to serve vacationers, and all traces of technological ecosystem management where disguised as everyday objects.
Then a cataclysmic civil war plunged humanity into the space faring equivalent of the dark ages. The location of Artemis was lost, and centuries later humanity has still yet to regain the high-tech prowess which nearly destroyed it. Griffin Dane, an able archeologist hungry to mint his name in platinum, discovers the formerly opulent retreat. He becomes stranded when his shuttle craft is disabled by remnant nanites from the galactic civil war, which rob all technology above movable gears of their functionality. Now Griffin must survive with the help of Adara the huntress and her telepathically linked partner puma, Sand Shadow. Together they set off across Artemis in a quest for answers, though the implications may be significantly more far reaching than either of them could imagine.
As I alluded to earlier, Artemis Awakening manages a cocksure balance of science fiction and fantasy, and manages to pull it off. Why do I sound surprised? Consider all of those quirky, low budget 80s films which attempt to marry these concepts, to marginal success. This isn't to lambast those films; long time Shock-O-Rama readers know that I've got a gushy soft spot for them. But consider where the failing lies. Most of those film's slip and fall is budgetary in nature, but they also succumb to a concept that simply isn't robustly fleshed out. Books don't need to worry about funding special effects, since we provide those in our minds. Artemis Awakening stands up to shout on the Olympian vigor of a resoundingly fascinating concept, which is deep, intriguing, and enthralling. Readers will be gripped by Griffin and Adara's legendary discoveries, then enthralled at each new revelation. Lindskold expertly teases out these threads of mystery, building a superb beginning a unique new series. Maniacs need to add this book to their libraries, as it will quickly become a classic of two genres.
Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold is available now from Tor Books for $24.99. Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.