By Paulie Spiceflow
Time for us to do some shameless self-promotion.
The Fifth World and the sequel The Times That Try Men’s Souls are the debut novels of Prescient Sci-Fi. They are by Jacob Foxx, a contributor on to Prescientscifi.com, reviewer, and all-round nerd. His debut work is an amazing story about humanity’s struggle to save itself from global catastrophe by settling on a new home world.
I don’t like making comparisons but if I was forced to name a couple novels similar to The Fifth World, I’d have to go with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein, and Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. If you like either of these titles you’ll enjoy The Fifth World.
Here is a list of top reasons you should read it:
Portrays Classic Struggle between Freedom and Totalitarianism
The terror of totalitarianism is a thought-provoking and often terrifying theme in many great novels. From George Orwell’s 1984 to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Western readers appreciate and fear the nightmare of absolute servitude to an all-knowing and all-powerful central government. The fear is especially relevant today considering we have NSA phone-tapping, killer drones, and police departments armed like armies.
Foxx understands the historical tendency of societies to devolve into totalitarian dictatorships. As a student of history, he has the vast knowledge needed to put together a compelling and plausible scenario where a world government uses a global crisis to seize absolute power over the world. As the saying goes “never let a crisis go to waste.”
In The Fifth World, an international alliance calling itself the Consortium seeks dominance of what is left of Earth after a horrific nuclear war. On the other side is a tiny group of dissidents looking for a chance to break away from the Consortium’s grip.
A Plausible Future
Foxx did his homework in putting together his 22nd century Earth. From technology to global politics, he built a future that feels very plausible, even inevitable. Many of the events in the book have historical precedents. The most obvious is the American Revolution. That revolution spawned a wave of colonial upheaval across the world, eventually putting an end to the empires of Europe.
Nothing is Black and White
I know I started this talking about totalitarianism and liberty, but it is not really that simple. Foxx’s characters don’t fit neatly into good guy/bad buy categories. Early in the novel it is hard to tell who exactly are the good guys. Not all of the characters working for the Consortium are Gestapo-like servants of the sinister new world order. Not all of the dissidents are compassionate, freedom-loving patriots who worship the words of Thomas Jefferson. By the end, both have the blood of the innocent on their hands.
They are on Sale
Both books in the series are now $10 for paperback and $1.99 for ebook. Can’t beat that!
There are very few new sci-fi books out there these days like The Fifth World. Most other books use technology as props in what are otherwise generic action-adventure stories or soap operas. Essentially they cut and paste modern society into a future setting. Foxx’s future Earth and Gaia are different than the world of today. Foxx’s characters are profoundly changed by the events going on around them as well as the innovations of the time. You get a real sense of how technology will change society, which is exactly what science fiction should be about!
Science Fiction has largely moved away from social commentary in the past decade or two. All the great ones are from the 20th century, including George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, and many others. If you checked the most popular titles in the social science fiction subcategory on the Barnes and Noble website, you’ll find nearly all of them are well over twenty years old.
I strongly urge you to pick up The Fifth World. If you like it (and I know you will), pick up the sequel The Fifth World: The Times That Try Men’s Souls. They are available in paperback and ebook at all major retailer sites. Also check out Jacob Foxx’s website.