Tuesday, August 6, 2013

'The Omega Project' by Steve Alten

Damn.  Where do I start?  It's been just shy of two years since Steve Alten has released a book, but if 'Omega Project' is the end result of two years of research and work, then I sincerely hope he takes another two years before he puts his next one out. 

GEEZ-US this was a good got-dam book!  And a surprisingly short one for Alten.   'Shell Game' came in at 534 pages, 'Grim Reaper' at 672, and 'Meg: Hell's Aquarium at 512.  This one is only 329.  I wondered how Steve was going to fit this mammoth of a story into only 300+ pages but he did.  And he did it by not putting in any fluff.  Every word matters and every sentence holds meaning.  None of that trick that we all did in high school.  You know the one, adding a few extra "very" and "and" to add to increase our word count.  Steve doesn’t have any useless embellishment, no wasteful back-story. 

Everything that went in mattered.

'Omega Project' is the type of novel my dreams are based on.  It takes place in the past, it takes place in the future, and it takes place in the ummm... super future.  One of my dreams has always been to go back in time and see Mother Earth before man screwed her up.  And I mean waaayyyy back when dinosaurs roamed, when the Amazon was beautiful, lush and deadly, and the only thing more pure than a mountain stream was another mountain stream.  Oh how I dream.  My other dream (nightmare) is that I would love to see the end of the world.  Morbid, I know and I fully embrace that.  But I love reading end of the world novels and this one is a big fat juicy bite of that.

This story opens with what we’ve grown used to… mankind being lied to about an extremely dire situation.  The next chapter is the residue of that ignorance.  And thus begins our story…

Our planet has gone through one hell of a change.  One so radical that even Noah would say “no fuc*ing way”.  Our main boy, Ike, has been selected for a mission that would greatly increase mankind’s chance for survival.  Oh yeah, he also created GOLEM.  What is a GOLEM you say?  Think of a supercomputer on “X”.  Now multiply that by about a thousand, add a few strands of DNA, the ability to learn before things happen, and a severe God complex.  THAT’S GOLEM. 

Ike’s mission is simple; secretly evaluate the crew on a practice run to make sure that they are the right people chosen to make the real trip to Jupiter to mine for helium-3.  There are twelve of them, six men, six women, and (oh yeah) Ike.  Of course this is a Steve Alten novel so NOTHING goes as it should.  Absolutely frikking nothing. 

I mentioned earlier that Steve doesn’t waste words with this book.  That is appreciated even more with the interacting between the characters.  There is (sorry if this sounds cheesy) character magic with these people.  The emotion, the banter, the sexual tension, the intellect, even the conflict worked to propel this story into something extraordinary.  So something happens on this mission and our boy Ike is thrust into a world that I have only dreamed about.  And I suppose him as well.  But while my dream world is full of nature in all its beauty and majesty, Ike’s real world is anything but. 

Nature has… evolved. 

But not into unicorns and sparkling ponies.  No, she’s evolved into something frighteningly scary, and Ike has about two minutes to figure this out or she’ll make him into history.  This is where this story REALLY gets good.  Remember GOLEM?  Well he (she/it) plays a very interesting roll in the creation of this new world.  All of Steve’s books make you question your beliefs and this one is no different.  Without giving away any spoilers you wonder what God is, who God is, and how far would he allow things to go before stepping in.  Or would he step in at all?  You also wonder will mankind learn anything from our past. 

But it’s weird… even after two pages I don’t feel that I’ve done a good job telling you what this book is about.  I’ve left out so many things that make this such a wonderful read.  I didn’t tell you about ABE, good lord how could I not tell you about ABE?  I didn’t tell you about all the exceedingly smart and extremely good looking and pre-nymph women, I didn’t tell you about the mind-bending technology, some pretty cool “Easter eggs” which I rather enjoyed, the science, and the granddaddy of them all… the story. 

Steve is a writer and this man can tell a damn story.  I know I sound like a broken record because every time I read one of Steve’s stories I say that.  But I can’t help it.  Talking about one of Steve’s books and leaving out how great the storyline is like telling a blind man that PaulaPatton is standing naked in front of him.  What good is it if you keep it to yourself? 

Ok back to the things I forgot to tell you about; (did I mention the women?)… I think… oh yeah one more… Steve alluded to this twist in the book trailer but I almost wish he hadn’t because I think it’s a bit of a spoiler.  Not a large one but I admit to thinking “what the hell” when I watched it. 
As per classic Steve this book plows through and you don’t know how the hell things will turn out until the very last page.  And I sincerely mean the very. last.  page.  This is an apocalyptic thriller with heavy emphasis on the ‘apocalyptic’ and ‘thriller’.  There are a few veiled (not really) political jabs thrown in because that’s just how Steve is, as well as humor in just the right places.  There are majestic creatures, scary creatures, and creatures that are like us. 

And madness.

But it’s not a madness that you can, nor will you want, to escape.  So don’t.  Don’t even bother trying.  Providing I’m blessed to live a long life, I have already started a “re-read” list.  Steve is already on there with ‘Grim Reaper’ and ‘Meg’.  Now I have one more to add.

(Side note: if anyone would like to discuss this book please eMail me.  I want to make sure that my brain isn’t pulling a Gabrielle Douglas with some of the revelations book).  OK, that’s it… go read!

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