Jason Kessler doesn’t fit in the society of Nocturnia, the sole colony that survived the Earth’s destruction – between the colony’s dedication to a distorted vision of mid-twentieth century Americana, its sexually repressive culture, and the expectation that his most important duty is marriage and children. Jason rebels, throwing himself into an illicit and dangerous affair with Pamela Guest, but Pamela harbors a secret. Soon the lovers are engaged in a lethal game of cat and mouse with the colony’s underworld head and the secrets Jason unlocks upend everything he knew, exposing dangers far beyond Nocturnia and its obsessions.
Vulcan’s Forge is a sci-fi book about a future where Earth no longer exists, and humans have colonized another planet. This new government is obsessed with creating a society where decency is favored above all, and marriage and procreation is a goal forced on its citizens, Jason’s job is to screen movies from the past to make recommendations to the committee as to which movies should be allowed based on content and theme. Jason gets entangled in a crazy web of secrets and lies when he becomes enthralled with a mysterious woman who seems ready to give up everything to be with him. This affair opens Jason up to a whole new underground world he never knew existed, and he has to deal with the consequences of his actions.
This plot is actually different than I thought it would be. Based on the short synopsis I read originally, I was expecting a book about an all-knowing computer that was threatening to destroy the world. Centering the story around Jason, his job, and how his decisions affect society (and vice-versa) was an interesting take on this type of story. It allows the author to be more granular; the reader gets to experience this direct effect of the intertwining of technology and policy on people’s lives as opposed to just society in the aggregate.
And it is a good story. The lead up to the main story was well-written and intriguing, and once the plot begins in earnest it is pretty much nonstop action from there. The author pulled me in with good writing tension, and intrigue and kept me there with the action. The best aspect of this story was that I had no idea how it was going to end. I could not put it down until I found out how everything turned out.
Speaking of the end, I really liked the way things ended up. I do not want to give it away, but I spent much of the story telling myself it cannot finish with a super-happy ending because that is not the tone of the book, and it would break too many literary rules for a book such as this. Taking those items into account, I thought the ending was fitting.
The book does have its flaws. I always wonder with books like this why the focus from people of future is often about the times we live in. Why not 100 years from now? Or 200 even? The answer is easy: that would be too difficult to write, but it is something that was on my mind and took me out of the story at times. Also, I questioned the logic of some of the decision-making by the characters.
Overall, I enjoyed reading Vulcan’s Forge. Robert Mitchell Evans has written a story full of intrigue, and I really like the writing. This book scratched my sci-fi itch, and I recommend it for fans of the genre.
Thank you to Anne Cater and Flame Tree Press for inviting me to take place in this blog tour.