By Douglas Richards
I’ve spent most of the last few months on a fantasy binge, and so wanted to make sure to add some sci-fi to the blog before too long. Enter Seeker, by Douglas Richards.
Richards is a former biotech executive, thinker and all-around science guy. He’s by no means a bad writer, but I get the sense that he’s definitely a science guy first, and a novelist second. The characters in Seeker tend to be pretty one-dimensional, and people spend a lot of time standing around and lecturing each other about human evolution, etc. With that said, even if the characters are pretty 2-D, the plot definitely isn’t, which is the book’s saving grace.
Richards begins Seeker with a big of a headfake: our protagonist, scientist Ben Kagan, is captured by the last remnants of ISIS who are intent on forcing him to help weaponize a fleet of driver-less vehicles. Fast forward through some plot, however, and we come to the real story: an alien probe has landed in the middle of the Amazon, and engineered a “Hunger Games”-style competition between nation states to see who can capture the probe first. Throw in some bionic and robotic methods of Enhanced Human Operation (EHO), the possibility of interstellar war, and some fascinating speculation about next-gen technology, and you’ve pretty much got a sense of the novel.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed the book, even if it did have some shortcomings (2-D characters, campy writing at times). The book hits its stride about half-way through, as what up until that point seemed like a rather trite story line gets fleshed out in a much more satisfying way. I also very much enjoyed the coda at the end of the book, where Richards discusses how each technological improvement featured in the book might actually take place (and when).
So to recap: this is a good choice if you’re looking for slightly more “hard” sci-fi, but with an adventure twist! It’s by no means perfect, but it’s a satisfying, if occasionally stilted, sci-fi read.
Rating: 2 – Recommended with Reservations
If you liked this, you may enjoy: All Systems Red, Old Man’s War.