Orbiting around Gemma, an icebound world colonised for more than a century for its mineral resources, humankind has found the first extraterrestrial artefact: an inert and impenetrable space ship. Under the pretext of a mining expedition, Ambre Pasquier is leading a mission on the planet to search for the remains of the ancient civilisation, discovered through observation in space, but whose exact location was revealed to Ambre in a dream. The secret of this exploration doesn't seem very well-kept: Haziel Delaurier, a member of an independent laboratory of researchers, infiltrates the group to show Ambre a physical phenomenon of a dangerously abnormal passing of time whose origin is situated at the heart of the ruins. More especially the planet's military personnel, what's left of the army in charge of observing the extraterrestrial ship, is keeping a close watch on the activity of the scientists.
The first part of the Quantika trilogy, Vestiges, returns to the subjects at the heart of classic science fiction: first contact, big dumb object, terraforming. A real planet opera, a mix of scientific adventure and political conflict, we are on familiar ground and the shadow of the Kim Stanley Robinson's Martian trilogy haunts the novel. The author visibly takes delight in talking about the sciences and has no problem in getting the reader hooked thanks to an extremely fluid and informative style that is never boring. But the narrative isn't only a trite declension of these classic themes: It mixes subjects and points of view with agility, constructing the plot around several strong characters (to the scientists of the exploratory mission are added other characters, notably Kya, a teenage member of an independent ecologist group not opposed to violent action). And with a touch of Indian mysticism linked to the mysterious origins of Ambre Pasquier, the multiple storylines sketched out in this rich plot are highly promising for the sequels in the trilogy.
With Vestiges, Laurence Suhner delivers a palpitating first volume that, despite its length, reads at one go; the author knows how to get the reader involved in the heart of the action and successfully avoids any downtime. Hooked by the final cliff-hanger, the only thing we can do is to wait impatiently for the speedy publication of the sequel to Quantika.
René-Marc Dolhen, NooSFere