Before it Began

Neuphobes

Christian - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
305 Pages
Reviewed on 04/13/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Before It Began is a work of fiction in the science fiction, Christian, mythology, and adventure sub-genres, and was penned by author Thomas Zman. The work is intended for the general reading audience and forms the first novel of the Neuphobes series. Set amidst a fantastic mix of mythology, theology, ancient lore, and far-flung star travellers, we find ourselves in a world where aliens descended during the time of Palaeolithic mankind, and the timeline of human history as we know it was skewed by their influence because of it. What results is a highly engrossing conspiracy fiction tale that is sure to keep readers turning the pages from cover to cover.

Author Thomas Zman has crafted an illuminating and imaginative work of fiction with plenty of food for thought and intriguing concepts to offer its readers. This is a novel that will surely hit or miss with readers depending on if you buy into and enjoy its central concept, so for me, I was fascinated more and more with Zman’s intelligent intertwining of popular conspiracy theories from years gone by and much original thinking of his own to weave together the historical timeline in an innovative way. I found that the variety of characters held up well across a sweeping timeline with enough development to keep them realistic despite it being a heavily plot-driven tale. This gives the work a confident sense of narration and a balanced feel. Overall, I would highly recommend Before It Began to fans of well-considered science fiction, mythology with an alien twist and for alternative history enthusiasts everywhere.

Vincent Dublado

The concept of conspiracy theories pertaining to how aliens have influenced mankind has been a great source of ideas for fiction. The first book in Thomas Zman’s Neuphobes Series, Before it Began, tells the story of how aliens came to Earth eons ago and became responsible for our social engineering. Zman’s take on aliens as divine hands of creation will likely stir the curiosity of conspiracy theorists. At the center of man’s historical and evolutionary formation is a watcher named Omegan, who prophesied that man is unaware of what he lacks and that without guidance, he shall stumble blindly on his inherited world. In the early years of the watcher’s guidance, he and his council implement a decree of a long-standing universal law supported by religious values. In the march of time, Omegan has taken on different incarnations as an everlasting entity.

Before it Began has a bold concept and is unapologetic in exploring our origins in the guise of fiction. It embraces those complex intangibles in the explanation of our genesis. Thomas Zman has provided us with an engaging narrative for an idea that we once only used to see on history and New Age channels. Omegan has an aura similar to a Celestial—a cosmic entity in popular comics having a god status. There is a flow in Before it Began that carries you along that is untethered to any pretentious scientific and theological ascriptions. Zman’s most brilliant move is to illustrate that despite the workings of a brilliant, cosmic watcher, man’s propensity for self-destruction appears deeply rooted in his nature. But then, the story is not utterly pessimistic. Omegan expresses hope and faith in humanity as he continues to be reborn and looks to a life where there are far more good times and love. This is the type of science fiction that you really need time to read because it demands your full attention.

Asher Syed

Science fiction and revisionist history novel Before it Began by Thomas Zman takes some of the greatest archaeological aberrations and dots them along an alien trail in this first book of the Neuphobes series. The Phoebians, a supremely advanced race of extra-terrestrials, are at a theological divide over the considerable amelioration of applied sciences. A Phoebian called Omegan is devoted to correcting this disparity in order to save them from spiritual death. Bonding with hosts who are human, Omegon bends the chronology of human civilization and a tale unfolds in an explanation of the Phoebian impact on Earth and humanity and the remnants of them that exists still today.

Thomas Zman goes full-on with ancient aliens in Before it Began and navigates readers on an armchair adventure through ancient and pre-history. The book is a mash-up of classic science fiction elements, like the Phoebians using actual time machines, with modern scientific ones, like growth hormones and DNA cross-sections. The Phoebians communicate telepathically so a huge amount of the book is in paragraph form and that may result in reader fatigue for some. Omegan has the special ability to speak through the mouth and, obviously, the humans do too so bonafide dialogue is used when either is present. The plot and storyline are unusual and while Zman's prose is more substance over style, the philosophical elements go a long way in balancing a little of that out. I have a feeling the philosophy is what Zman was going for anyway, so the book is well done and well constructed.

Jamie Michele

Before It Began by Thomas Zieman is a speculative science fiction and alternative history novel, and book one in the author's Neuphobes series. The crux of the book's themes leans heavily on the exploration of ancient human history and theology, tying both together in a central plot that most closely resembles an ancient astronaut philosophy, although I use that term reluctantly as Zieman has completely restructured it to make it uniquely his own. The book begins with backstory and then an introduction that is narrative-dense placed to get the heavy lifting out of the way so readers can move forward comfortably with suspension of disbelief. From there the first-person point of view of an omniscient extra-terrestrial force named Omegan, who is committed to the protection of his own, develops and so too does the story. He is able to bond with physical hosts and is able to move in a transcendent state of space and time. The result is a shake-up of man's written human history and the true origin of Earth's most “out-of-place” archaeology.

If there is one thing that Thomas Zieman is not short of, it is definitely imagination. Before It Began is the slowest of slow-burn novels, but it is also one of those rare science fiction books where you are fairly certain that the plot is not a wheel you've spun before. To me, originality will go a long way. Maybe not light-years or millennia, but I will give originality a few extra chapters to really hook me in that would not have been afforded otherwise. There is head-hopping in the sense that Omegan bonds with different hosts, but he's pulling all the strings so it does not get confusing. The narrative has a few uncomfortable syntaxes and context-blind word use, but part of me believes this is an intentional stylistic choice by Zieman because, if all we are is the direct result of Omegan, then who am I to think he's wrong? Overall, this is a good piece of literature and for those willing to hang in there, the adventure and thought-provoking twists really do make it worth the ride. Highly recommended.

Rabia Tanveer

Before It Began is the first novel in the Neuphobes series by Thomas Zieman. The trials and tribulations of the human species are told from the perspective of an alien. A colony of aliens from a dying planet leaves everything behind in the hope of survival. They left the masses behind on the dying planet; only 24 of the religious leaders are allowed to leave. Unbeknownst to them, a follower named Omegan left the planet and embodied one of the elders with his soul. Luckily for humans, the Omegan (the Watcher) lands on Earth where it witnesses the humans of the Paleolithic era use surprisingly advanced technology in their daily lives and advance. While the humans develop, the Watcher questions how things are back on his planet and how the humans are adapting to their ever-changing planet.

Before It Began was fascinating, to say the least. I have read the final novel in the series and loved it. I always meant to start the series from the beginning, and I am so glad that I read it now. Author Thomas Zieman touched upon theology, conspiracy theories, and more to answer what happened before humans became more civilized, technologically advanced, and intelligent. Definitely a novel for readers with an open mind and an interest in the baffling concepts that not many people believe in. The narrative is surprisingly open to interpretation and allowed me to look deep into it. The pace was perfect for the story, and that made it interesting for me (apart from the author’s fantastic writing style). The Watcher was an intriguing character. He develops at his own pace without any interruptions or hang-ups. At first, he was a little distant, but once he looked closely at the humans, he was fascinated by the display of all kinds of emotions. I will definitely re-read this book one more time and then move on to the next novel in the series.