Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Review: Kyrathaba Rising

This story draws from a lot of different directions.  It is a not so much a post-apocalyspe story as it is a story of an apocalypse in the final stages.  Virtual Reality, nuclear holocaust, aliens, robots, limited cybernetics and massive underground bomb shelters all feature in the story.  On first glance, it sounds like a lot to fit into one story but the author manages to put it together into a rather enjoyable tale.

The surface of the Earth has been obliterated by nuclear bombardment forcing the inhabitants to take shelter in various shelters built all over the world from converted mines and other deep caverns.  The majority of the story takes place within one of these shelters, A-3 where things are going terribly wrong.  The population has been dropping off due to what many are starting to suspect that the radiation scrubbers have failed and everyone is doomed to die.  This is the starting point.

It is soon revealed that the failure of the radiation scrubbers is due to deliberate sabotage and, after an encounter with the alien behind the sabotage, a group of four people take a "journey" into the other major setting of the book: Kyrathaba.  The world of Kyrathaba is a hyper-realistic virtual reality program meant to be a massive multiplayer online game before the aliens first attacked.  It is a rather typical fantasy setting with magic and monsters, kings and adventurers.

At this point, the story shifts back and forth from the shelter to the virtual world with occasional snippets showing the actions of the lingering alien invaders.  We start seeing the action pick up at this point with the four virtual travelers training up their game skills while the A-3 community recovers, explores and prepares for the alien threat.

There is some apparent inconsistency in character portrayal in the beginning, but it irons itself out fairly quickly.  The story persists in building and being entertaining from moment to moment to moment.  However, it should be noted that this is a serial story.  The book does not end at a convenient story point.  Rather instead it ends as both story lines are progressing to what seems to be a climax.  This is a valid style choice going back to the Arabian Nights and, more recently, Tolkien.  This method of leaving things off at a cliffhanger is becoming more common both in mainstream media and independent authors, but this book does present a rather extreme example of it.

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