Marc reviews ‘Zenith’ (Interscission Project 1) by Arshad Ahsanuddin. This book was published by the author on March 10th, 2014 and is about 350 pages long. The audiobook version of this book was published on April 1st, 2016, narrated by Jake Wallen Jr. and is 9 hrs and 23 mins long.
Why I read this book: ‘Zenith’ has been on my TBR for a long time, especially after reading Laura’s review (on of the first reviews on the RGR blog) and after loving ‘Sunset‘ so much, which is the first book in the author’s other series (Pact Aranum). I do not know why it took me so long to get to this book, knowing how much I enjoyed the author’s writing, but I am glad I finally did.
Grounded after a rescue attempt in Earth orbit goes bad, Commander Martin Atkins of the Confederation Navy is approached by the Interscission Project, a consortium of civilian corporations on the verge of perfecting the technology to travel to another star. Despite his misgivings, the chance to get back in the pilot’s seat is too much to pass up, and he convinces his best friend and crewmate, Charles Davenport, to leave the military temporarily and join him as part of the crew of the Zenith, humanity’s first starship.
Edward Harlen is a brilliant young engineer, and a key player in the construction of the Zenith to take advantage of the untested technology of foldspace drive. But Edward has his own agenda in joining the project, and a bitterly personal score to settle with his boss, Trevor Sutton, a vendetta of which Trevor is entirely ignorant. But when Edward’s sister Stella enters the picture and manages to secure a position on the project, all of Edward’s careful plotting is upset, and she might spell the downfall not only of his plans for revenge, but of the entire Zenith mission.
The spark of attraction between Edward and Martin is a complication that Edward can’t afford, but of which he can’t let go. For Edward knows the secret at the heart of the Interscission Project, the hidden potential of the technology that in the wrong hands could become the ultimate assassin’s weapon: the ability to rewrite history, not just once, but many times. As an unseen enemy moves to destroy them, and the body count multiplies in their wake, Martin and Edward must choose whether they will allow the possibility of love to challenge their destinies, or will they instead take up arms in a war to control the most ancient and terrible power in the universe.
I listened to the audiobook version of this story and loved it. While I have quite a few other audiobooks queued up, I had to buy, download and start the next in the series directly after finishing book one. If you love audiobooks, you will know that the right narrator is key. I did not know the narrator from this audiobook before starting it, but while a great narrator I love can attract me to an audiobook and make me more likely to buy it, a narrator I do not know does not make me less likely to buy the audiobook. Before buying a new audiobook, you can listen to the audio sample and determine if the narration seems like a good fit. That is why I never listened to the old audiobooks of the author’s ‘Pact Arcanum’ series (the narration did not call to me), but was happy to get this one. The narrator does a fantastic job with this book and the entire series. Thankfully, Greg Tremblay has been hired to create a new version of the Pact Arcanum series and it sounds fantastic, so I will have to check those out soon as well!
There is a lot of cool technology to marvel about in this book. It is clear the author has done a lot of research and/or has a lot of knowledge in this field and has used it to create mindbending ideas that seem realistic, even as they challenge our view of the world. The union of Science and Fiction is the very core of the scifi genre and is done brilliantly here.
I must admit, it took me a bit to get into the story, as the cast is quite big and it felt hard in the beginning to dfferentiate between the characters. That does not mean that the narrator does not differentiate between the characters well; I always knew which person spoke, just not what their relationship to the other characters was. It took me a while to understand who everyone was, but as soon as it made click for me, everything fell into place and I was hopelessly captivated. The characters are very interesting and well-crafted and once I understood the connections between them, the exchanges between the characters became far more enlightening and intriguing. I soon started to really care for the wonderful ensemble of characters the author has created and loved all the twists and turns the story had in store for them.
The story is full of suspense and wonder and I loved the complex characters that brought the story to life on page. It was also great that in this author’s vision of the future, gay relationships are as ‘normal’ as they should be. There is a certain fluidity to the MCs’ sexuality and a wonderfully casual acceptance of same-sex attraction.
While romance certainly is not the main focus of this story, there IS romance and it is a very important aspect of the book. The book is non-explicit.
I love well-written science fiction stories and this is one of the best I have read in quite a while; I can highly recommend this story. The sequel is even better, though, and I must forewarn you that you will not be able to stop after just this first book. You will need to get the entire story and what the author has in store for you is a wild and wonderful ride 😉
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
Arshad Ahsanuddin is a practicing hematopathologist, a physician specializing in the diagnosis of diseases of blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes using laboratory data and microscopic evaluation of tissue biopsies. He is also the author of the Pact Arcanum Saga, a science fiction gay vampire romance series. Yes, he’s a blood doctor who wrote a series of vampire novels. The irony isn’t lost on him. If you enjoyed this story, or if you have questions about The Interscission Project, check out his website at http://pactarcanum.com and leave him some feedback.