Mission From Venus by Susan Plunket
Cosmic Egg Books, pb, £5.69
Reviewed by John C. Adams
Science Fiction is such a varied genre that I’m always intrigued by the skill set of its authors and the way that this influences their writing. In this case, Susan Plunket brings a career in private practice as a psychologist to the table.
Away on Venus, the inhabitants respect the Law of One: all beings are one and love for all must be constant no matter what the challenges. In the sixth dimension, their developed and sophisticated universe makes this a practical possibility to attain, but they worry for the people of Earth, stuck in our third-dimensional existence and in need of a little outside help when our sometimes questionable life choices and lack of sophistication drags us down. A number of Venusians answer the call to arms to help raise up us mere Earthlings, morphing into bipedal shape and making the journey to Earth to begin their mission to make our world a better place. And so their journey begins.
The point of view was that of an omniscient narrator. That meant that the authorial voice felt very present and kept the narrative tightly focused. On the other hand, an omniscient narrator lends more distance than is usual in contemporary fiction. There were times when it felt harder for me to identify with the characters and root for them in their challenges than in the more usual point of view choice of either third or first-person when you see through the eyes of just one character in any given scene and really start to care about their inner struggles and development.
The world-building was very vivid and successful. The opening chapters established the nature of life on Venus and the physical and psychological differences between the planet’s alien civilisation and our own lives on Earth. I felt able to suspend disbelief credibly and enjoyed how much detail was supplied. I appreciated how much effort had gone into the creation of an alternate culture, which made the book very enjoyable to read.
Science Fiction is a fascinating genre in part for its elasticity, able to accommodate stories based upon astrophysics from writers such as Alastair Reynolds one moment but pivoting to narratives drawing upon a family background in anthropology the next in the case of Ursula K LeGuin. Each author offers a unique and compelling vision of our better future based around their personal expertise. This was also the case here where the writer’s background is in psychology.
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