Genre: Science Fiction
A bog may be Earth’s undoing, but it will be a gift to Mars.
Digging up bog bodies and analyzing corpses are the last things archaeology graduate student Felicity Cratchett wants to do. And when unusual mummies are discovered in the subpolar region of Polar Bear Provincial Park, it’s the last place she wants to go. But since her faculty advisor insists that she log more hours in fieldwork, she has little choice. In a remote bog with a small team of scientists, Felicity unearths the greatest secret of our time—a secret with ties to ancient Rome, roots in Botswana, and a link to the first people to exercise abstract thought. This revelation will challenge the conventional theory of human origins and human evolution.
Meanwhile, astronaut Lucas Wilson, a man tormented with a deep-seated anger, is terraforming Mars. He reluctantly descends to the Red Planet’s surface with his fellow astronauts, preparing to direct their exploration. Mars, in its birth pangs, will challenge every step he takes, with gas explosions and raging rivers, with damaged fuel processors and limited oxygen supplies. In the midst of these disasters, Lucas must keep his companions from discovering a feat of genetic engineering that will transform Mars like nothing has in over a billion years. The double helix of this masterwork twists all the way back to Earth and Felicity’s mummies. But if he fails, Lucas must decide whether to take up Mars’s sword, or to cast the weapon into a bog.
The Furies Bog is an interesting piece, not specifically because of the tale being told but because it inspired me to go fact checking. To start with, the plotlines are two-fold — we have one crew back on Earth digging up remains of the past who eventually runs into another group essentially freeze drying DNA for an interstellar Noah’s Ark which will go to Mars. The other group is busy trying to turn Mars into a place that Earth life can adapt to. Eventually it all ties together.
Neither storyline concept is easy to write. Hard science fiction often requires a lot more details and research than found in science fantasy. I found the apparent care put into fact checking to be the most impressive part. There are a lot of references in here where I couldn’t separate fact from well-written fiction—which left me somewhere between highly impressed and mildly perplexed. The science seems amazingly sound and far less stretched for the sake of fiction than some novels can be. Even the space crew / Mars storyline felt well done.
Humor exists in an easy dry tone. At the end of many chapters were quips that left me laughing. Here’s one from the Earth focused storyline—
He expected the muzzle of a gun to be jammed against his head. But instead a warm mug was pressed into his hands. “Coffee?” said Nsogwa.
There are several topics that come up in this book—mostly revolving around the environment and life on two planets. As a piece attempting to shed awareness it works well. They talk about the damage drilling can have, genetic tampering, attempting to harness lava plumes for energy, and even cloning rhinos to help them recover from extinction—all of which are valid concerns for the future.
Still, as a reader, I felt barely interested in The Furies Bog and struggled to turn the page for the first chunk. The story itself only hit vaguely interesting on the meter and nearly had no attention until about a fourth of the way through when one of the characters almost gets eaten by a python. The Mars stuff felt very ‘matter of fact’ until it moved into the second half through what I found to be nearly comical treachery. Those seeking instantly high pace novels are likely to be disappointed. In general, this is a mystery focused on science and not an adventure or action tale.
In the end, the overall lack of draw for a huge portion of the book left me mildly disappointed but—as implied above—my impression of sheer author attention to detail is through the roof. Clearly a lot of background work was done. If you’re seeking a book addressing real environmental issues, challenges colonizing Mars with a high attention to detail for places, character names, and regional ecology; this is a good choice – but it is heavily focused on the science. For what it is, 4/5. It’s not something I’ll come back to but the effort was impressive.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.