I enjoy reading all sorts of science-fiction, however I think Earth-invasion stories are my favorite. This probably stems from my desire for a familiarity with the locale (Earth, obviously, in general), which in turn means I don’t have to ‘learn’ a new culture or discover how humanity has evolved over a long period of time. And when an author can bring something new to the table in this genre…well, that’s even more awesome. ORBS, the breakthrough novel by Nicholas Sansbury Smith, is one of these excellent titles. Aside from telling a taut and riveting tale, Smith brings a unique vision to a very familiar sci-fi scenario.
If you are not familiar with ORBS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the author:
The year is 2061, and the planet is dying. Cataclysmic solar storms force leaders from around the world to finally put aside their differences and agree on one thing–to jump ship. The human race is headed to Mars. When Dr. Sophie Winston is hired by New Tech Corporation to test a Biosphere deep within the heart of Cheyenne Mountain, she believes it’s part of the mission to save the world. Their results will help prepare NTC for the three-year flight to the red planet. A flight Dr. Winston has been promised a seat on.
Just days into their six-month assignment, things start to go wrong. When the blast doors hiss open, Winton’s team finds a vastly changed world outside. Humans are gone, vanished without a trace, but they aren’t the only thing missing. The planet’s water appears gone, too.
As the team journeys deeper into Colorado Springs, they find thousands of luminous blue orbs lining the streets. It isn’t until they accidentally uncover what’s inside that they realize the nightmare that has been unleashed.
The tagline for the book is “They have come for our most important resource…”, which gives you a bit of a clue as to what has happened while the team was in the Biosphere. But that’s just the foundation for what is to come. The book details the team’s trials and horrors as they seek to discover what is going on in the U.S. and around the world.
ORBS is written well, with quick flowing prose, and moves at a nice pace. When I first started reading it, I was afraid the beginning might drag out too much. I was very pleased to discover my fears were unfounded. The book kicks off at a swift clip and never slows down.
Smith does a solid job building his characters and giving them believable personalities. Some are likable and some are not, but it is this diversity that makes each one so intriguing. I found myself feeling sympathetic for a particular one early on, but then this person changed, and I relished the death that unfolded. When a book presents characters that you can actually love or hate, that is a true testament to the author’s understanding of the human condition.
The action in ORBS is well-written and never stops once it kicks into gear. The fight scenes are not tongue-in-cheek or too over the top, either.
But the story is the best aspect of this book for me. The concept of aliens stealing our water might not be completely original, however the orbs and their purpose is. I will not reveal anything here, as you need to read the book, but let’s just say I don’t think an idea like this has been fleshed out before (to the best of my knowledge).
ORBS is a big win for me, and I highly recommend you read it. I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here. I will tell you there is a cliffhanger ending to this book, but book two is on the horizon; I don’t believe there is an official release date, but per the author’s website: “The story is written, but I have delayed the book because I want to make it even better and darker than the first. I am working diligently on preparing the story for publication, taking into account all the feedback I have received from readers around the world.”
The first book is available in a variety of formats.