“Scavenged” by Scott Arbuckle

This is top-notch Science Fiction. More-than-human characters stride across well-conceived and artfully described post-apocalyptic landscape: former humans enhanced and augmented in various ways by enigmatic aliens who are mankind’s saviours or destroyers; it’s uncertain which.

There is conflict on internal, interpersonal, external, environmental and galactic levels, all tied together by two main characters whose love has a lot of transcending to do if it’s ever going to work. 

deus ex machina element permeates this story, because every time important characters get hurt badly enough, the aliens scoop them up and save them. However, that’s a mixed blessing; the aliens always send them back in a modified version. 

For the Ancient Greeks, this function was placed in the drama to glorify the gods and show humans that we needed their help. In this story the message is the opposite; our heroes wish these deities would go away and leave us alone, although there is a faction that feels humans were messing up their environment and needed help. It’s a complex problem that touches on the present state of the world, and this story gives us a chance to think about it. 

A word of warning to the writer: the down side of deus ex machina. As the characters gain more and more abilities, it becomes more and more difficult to create decent suspense, because after a while we get the feeling that whatever the problem is, somebody will suddenly develop a psionic talent to solve it. 

Oh, yes, and don’t overdo the thesaurus. “Buoyant and light” is redundant. “…an inexorable harbinger rising sharply in voltage…” is just plain overdone. And watch your technology. A carbine is a type of rifle. “Carbine rifle” is redundant. Also, check what it does to gravity when you’re in a vessel that is falling to earth. I believe there isn’t any. 

Warning to readers: this is the first book in a series. Don’t expect a happily-ever-after ending. Some threads are tied up, but there’s plenty of conflict left unsolved for the next novel.

Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction with a good balance of ideas, actions, and characters. Highly recommended.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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