One of the cool things about being an author is you get to know other authors. Sometimes, if you’re really nice to those other authors, they let you read things that haven’t been released yet. This is the case with Tom Julian’s Timberwolf. If all goes as planned and my evil schemes come to fruition I’ll be able to say I had the first blog review of the first book of someone who’s probably going to become a big name in Sci-Fi in coming years.
Excuse me whilst I twirl my mustache evilly.
The Timberwolf in the title refers to the main character of the book, a straight-forward guy named Timberwolf Velez. He’s a fighter, a straight-shooter, and a guy with a big damned spider stuck in his head. It’s hard to not like Timberwolf, or at the very least respect him.
In the future, as humanity finally got off its collective butt and started out for the stars, we discovered that we were not the only sentient life in the galaxy. We took our tools, our petty worries, our warlike nature, and – perhaps worst of all – our religious beliefs out among the stars with us. When we encountered alien life we found it was incompatible with our religious views. How can God have created us in his image and also created giant mind-bending spiders in his image? Someone, it would seem, is lying and those guys over there look pretty freaky so they must be the ones that need to go.
Religious dogma being what it is, we exterminated (or attempted to exterminate) every bit of sentient life we came across on the grounds that God meant for that happen. This is the backdrop to Timberwolf. The story takes place after humanity has mopped the floor with almost everyone except the Arnok (the aforementioned spiders). True to the best science fiction stories, Timberwolf has a human heart; it’s not about the combat suits or space ships, it’s about the people and their motivations for doing what they do. Like all good sci-fi, the bad guys trend more toward morally ambiguous than flat-out evil and the good guys are only slightly less morally ambiguous. This gives us a well-rounded cast of characters that you can actually relate to. Even the giant spider is relatable (for those of you not terrified by the thought of giant mind-controlling spiders).
The downside to all that war is there are people out there who want to continue it and will do anything in their power to finally get rid of the mote in God’s eye (the giant spiders). There are groups who only want money and power, a group who will stop at nothing to prevent another war, and our good friend Timberwolf Velez, who just wants the spider out of his head.
There are some seriously big themes covered in this novel, and they’re covered well. Religion takes a couple shots on the nose, as do regular human greed, and our tendency to attempt to justify our horrible actions through flimsy excuses. There is one serious shot across the bow of religious dogmatism that comes toward the end of the novel as the antagonist (who himself is actually relatable, too) is watching the events he conspired to create unfold in ways he didn’t anticipate, but you’ll just have to read the novel to see what I’m talking about. It’s a moment that is uplifting and soul crushing all at the same time, a perfect single line.
Timberwolf will be released August 20, 2015. Be sure to get a copy.
“Humanity has expanded beyond the borders of Earth into the far reaches of space. Human ingenuity has also expanded—as well as its theology.
On one side of an interplanetary war: a new religious order, dedicated to the expansion of human enlightenment. On another side, loosely connected to the order but hardly on the same page: the military, dedicated to the expansion of human influence.
And then there are the aliens. Worlds beyond understanding. Planets beyond comprehension. Forces which represent threats that cannot be calculated, and so must be eliminated.
Timberwolf is a soldier with too many voices in his head. Gray is a bishop with grander ambitions than his church. Highland is a planet run entirely by artificial intelligence—all of these factors point to the same conclusion: God has a story for everyone—or so the scripture of the day says.
This story is just beginning.”
Get it here (on or after August 20, 2015)