Prophets by S. Andrew Swann
Prophets: Apotheosis: Book One
Genetic engineering is a hot-button topic. Should we alter our plants for higher yield? Should we use stem cells for research? Should we “play God” and create new life forms?
Science fiction reveals the negative consequences of messing with nature, and Prophets takes place in a universe where the nonhuman is an abomination.
Two hundred years after the Confederacy’s collapse, several groups are jockeying for positions of power. It doesn’t look like any single group has a clear advantage, but that may change.
Mysterious transmissions are received from a remote corner of human-occupied space, and people move to determine what’s behind the sudden contact. Father Mallory, a former Marine turned priest, is recruited by the Catholic church to go undercover to the planet in question, Xi Virginis.
Mallory earns a spot as a mercenary guarding a science expedition, accompanied by a tiger moreau (tiger-human hybrid), a couple of true humans, an alien and a woman who only looks human.
As everyone races to Xi Virginis, trying to gain an edge over the others, plots within plots unfold.
What they find at journey’s end may be more than anybody can handle.
Upon beginning Prophets, I discovered that it’s the first book of a sequel trilogy: It draws heavily on Swann’s previous Hostile Takeover books. Not having read that first trilogy, I undoubtedly missed out on a lot of the history being referenced in this new book. The story isn’t hard to follow, but it would have been richer with the necessary background.
Swann has done a lot with the human-animal hybrid concept, something he also explored in earlier novels. The moreaus occupy an interesting niche: not human, but bred to act like them and understand them. I really like Nickolai, the story’s tiger hybrid, and I hope the author continues to introduce similar characters.
Although the original trilogy’s background would have been nice, Prophets still delivers a solid tale all on its own.
Be prepared for intriguing characters and complex machinations.
This review appeared in the Davis Enterprise on June 18, 2009.