Edge of Infinity by Larry Don Garcia paints a portrait of the world far into the future: the Earth has been subjected to devastating earthquakes, fossil fuel is now obsolete, and religion is on the wane. Jefferson Alvarez is sent on a quest throughout the galaxy, which ends with him finding answers to questions about God and faith – questions that have been long since abandoned by many on Earth. His answers will begin an upheaval for the human race greater than any that has come before – one that will change humanity forever.
Garcia’s novel has no shortage of world-changing ideas. Each page in the novel has a chapter’s worth of information. That’s a knock both for and against the novel. The concepts Garcia explores are riveting and important, but the major stumbling block is that the book is all prose with very little dialog. At times, the novel reads like a collection of notes about story and character without enough momentum propelling the story along, as it goes from a paragraph about big concepts to character description to backstory, with very little interaction weaving it all together. If the prose was broken up with more scenes, the book could have been brought more to life, but there is not enough momentum as the book is currently constructed.
Another issue is that though the book is set well into the future, much of the societal structure is very similar as it is today. Mention of the Second Amendment and UFOs could be the same as when discussed in the present day. There is some license for a sci-fi writer to take this approach, as it makes the far future more recognizable, and so the characters more empathetic, but it is far too similar than would be possible. Given the detail Garcia provides in other facets of his narrative, this seems like a strange oversight, as elements of his future are wildly different than today (such as his description of faster-than-light travel), and those descriptions are the most engaging, as it establishes a unique future entirely of Garcia’s making.
All that said, there are a lot of highly interesting ideas pondering the meaning of God and religion in a technological society. This isn’t religious sci-fi so much as “spiritual” sci-fi, asking big questions about the nature of God, without proselytizing any one path, and the novel is stronger for it. There’s no better medium for discussion spirituality than science fiction, and Edge of Infinity is a compelling edition to that pantheon. While the story could use some strengthening up in purely novelistic terms, many of the questions that Garcia asks are vital and eye-opening.
Garcia has given himself an immense task: uncover the origin of everything. Garcia doesn’t just try to unveil the meaning of faith, but elements of hard science that have yet to be discovered: life in other dimensions and the universe, warp travel, time travel, and more. It’s a book of hugely big ideas, and it’s an enriching experience for the reader. These are such big ideas that some of his novel reads like a non-fictional account, but then these are such big, all-encompassing issues that some amount of pure exposition is necessary. The trouble is when character backstory, and even interaction, is written with the same narrative style.
Overall, Edge of Infinity is a fulfilling read for its ideas, and its ambition, but less successful as a work of fiction. While the ideas are engrossing and go a long way to move the book along, it’s just too much at times and the reader needs a breather and a deeper sense of setting. This doesn’t mean the concepts are “too big” and too difficult to digest, but more narrative propulsion would make these exciting concepts all the more compelling.