Taldra: #SciFi Adventures by Duane Simolke is a highly-imaginative sci-fi adventure set in an alternate universe.
Geln, working in Hidden Services on Degranon, is being sent to the planet of Valchondria, which his people had infiltrated 50 years ago. On Valchondria, their people have found a doorway through time that leads back to when the prophet, Zaysha, first gave them The Book of Degranon. Valchrondria’s Leader has arranged for Geln to work with Dr. Taldra Lorfeltez, a young scientist who has developed a life support building that relies on new ways to gather core energies. It will be Geln’s mission to try and open the doorway through time and learn everything he can about God having given the universe to the Degrans.
Geln’s mission begins smoothly enough with Taldra welcoming his expertise. However, he doesn’t count on becoming immediately smitten by Taldra or having to vie for her attention after the handsome Dr. Hachen Naldod joins their small team. Despite Geln’s barely-suppressed jealousy, Hachen and Taldra fall in love and marry. Taldra eventually gives birth in secret to twin boys, breaking the strictly-enforced one-child, one-family rule, with Geln and Naldod finding the doorway through time shortly afterwards.
A priest called Alom, from thousands of years back in time steps through the doorway and it’s Geln who comes up with the plan to send one of the couple’s twin boys back in time with Alom, believing he can be brought back at some point in the future when it’s safe. Fearing for their infant son’s life, Taldra and Hachen quickly agree, unaware of the significant impact this decision will have on all of their lives…
The challenge for an author in science fiction is creating an alternate universe that is interesting – but not so “out there” that it alienates readers. Simolke’s alternate universe in Taldra hits all the right notes between the fantastic and the believable. Most importantly, the technology doesn’t overtake the plot, and only complements it. While Simolke’s world includes time travel – hardly a novel concept in science fiction – it’s the author’s take on the society he’s created that makes it such an original read.
On Valchondria, everyone is red, brown, or black, same-sex coupling is the norm, only a very select few, like Taldra, have colorsight, the Maintainers uphold the law, a virus has exacerbated overpopulation leading to the one-child, one family law, and weight-height ratio is strictly maintained. There is a dizzying and impressive array of ideas that permeate this novel.
One unfortunate issue is the cover, which is fairly bland for such a highly-creative novel; it seems to be made from a template, and the novel is anything but. The title as well could potentially turn people off, as the hashtag might make the book seem on the surface as less serious and imaginative.
All in all, Taldra is a great sci-fi read, especially for those who enjoy history and religion mixed in with technology. This is one story where all three blend seamlessly into one.
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