Omnipotence: Odyssey Book I by Geoff Gaywood

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Omnipotence: Odyssey Book I by Geoff Gaywood

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A gripping drama and character study that takes science fiction themes and binds them together to form a fascinating and compelling plot that excites and entertains as it pilots the reader towards a thrilling climax.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: January 2017
Publisher: Matador
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1785899188

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Against a backdrop of relentless global warming and deepening social conflict on Earth, an expedition sets out to secure a foothold on a distant planet thought suitable for human habitation. Almost immediately, the crew are sorely tested by a violent internal conspiracy, alien aggression and simmering emotional tensions. They complete a spectacular transition to a remote solar system where they find that their goal, as dangerous as it is exotic, already has the ominous attention of another civilisation. Moreover, a series of perplexing events suggest that their mission may be subordinate to a much greater power with its own strategic agenda.

Geoff Gaywood graduated as a chemical engineer, before working across Europe, the Far East and Africa for an American multinational. Rising to CEO of a global public company, he turned his back on that career to pursue a passion for writing, and admits to a fascination for physics and philosophy.

Those fascinations are put to excellent use in Omnipotence – a book which takes on complicated science fiction themes, whilst also examining closely the people through whose adventures the themes come to light. Science Fiction can quite often be a difficult genre for a book to work in – settings have to be established and science themes have to be explained, yet all these things have to be established whilst also crafting a plot which grips the reader. Pulling these elements together can't be easy, but author Geoff Gaywood has done so in a clever, thrilling way.

Setting half the book on the journey to a mission is a very smart move – allowing the reader ample time to get to know the diverse and varied cast which Gaywood has collated. No caricatures here – each are swiftly drawn with deft characterisation, and the reader fast develops a sense of familiarity with them, as Gaywood explores the cast as they socialise, flirt, chat, argue, and investigate strange happenings amongst them… One thing I found rather nice is the emphasis Gaywood places on the strong female characters within his group. The fact that they're female is dealt with matter of factly – they're the best people for the job and that's that, but it is excellent to see females take the lead in a genre which has traditionally been very testosterone driven.

Back to the plot though, and just as the book hits midway, the mission begins in earnest and things really escalate – with betrayal hitting the group heavily and bringing things to a thrilling climax. The book reminded me well of things like the TV show Firefly - concentrating on creating a lively and compelling cast whose interactions are endlessly enjoyable, but then weaving in intricate ideas and themes. Heavy exposition isn't needed here, as Gaywood uses his characters to convey and discuss his ideas, rather than beating the reader round the head with them, and it works very well indeed. Paced well, intricately plotted and with a definite grasp of character voice, Geoff Gaywood has begun his Odyssey trilogy on an incredibly strong note. I'd definitely recommend that people pick it up, and I'm looking forward to part two! Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.

For further reading I recommend The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber – a beautiful book that considers themes of both science fiction and spirituality through fascinating characters.

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