A Dystopian Sci-fi (Tion)

Fiction - Science Fiction
528 Pages
Reviewed on 02/20/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Demiurge by J.C. Gemmell is a dystopian science fiction novel and the third book in the Tion series, preceded by book one, Tionsphere, and book two, The Uprisers. Gemmell's series takes place in the future at a time when the human population has overgrown its capacity to sustain itself. The people live in spheres that are all tethered to a central system and surround the planet, the Tionsphere. Their dependency on interconnectivity is the textbook definition of addiction and control of the masses is accomplished by feeding this obsession. Tion is sustained by this and while breaking away is almost impossible for most, there are groups who do in order to deconstruct what amounts to a deeply entrenched caste system that lives in designated levels. The umbilical cord to humanity's connective system is gone and the impact is catastrophic.

“We deserve life, not this constant struggle for existence!” The Tion series zeros in on two hyper-realistic problems in a fictional setting, the first being overpopulation and the second being an absolute dependency on technology to the point where even the thought of disconnection is crushing. Demiurge by J.C. Gemmell moves on from the world-building of book one and the revolutionary attempts to overhaul in book two to now take readers into the unthinkable in book three. Gemmell's skillful writing makes the pain of information deprivation and detachment palpable. This is compounded by a character-driven storyline with multiple alternating points of view spanning levels and the surface, and good and bad in a scenario where even the good has to be a little bad. I especially loved when the narrative went into the first person, such as when we were taken into the mind of Xin-yi, where being in the mind that transcends time and space is an integral part of the system. Gemmell's descriptions can be best described as cinematic, such as the beauty surrounding the rising of a sunstar. Very highly recommended.

Asher Syed

The Earth has gone to an unhabitual state and a network of spheres that encircle it is the setting of the science fiction Tion series by J.C. Gemmell. The third book, Demiurge, continues the story of the haves and have-nots that occupy levels within the man-made Tionshphere. The small number of humans saved after the planet's collapse has ballooned over a thousand years, compounded by immense longevity of life. People are completely reliant on being connected to one another, and a life of disconnection is inconceivable. A deluge has nearly paralyzed the system and connectivity has been scaled back significantly, and more to some than others depending on the level one lives in. A data broker named Kathy has the power but the resistance is on the cusp of devising another. Who the people choose to follow, what they are willing to live with and without, and how it all comes to a head sets the tone for Demiurge.

Social media which is virtually all that people live for does not seem to require the same degree of suspension of disbelief that most science fiction novels have, nor does the issue of a population that has outgrown itself. For me, the first two books in the Tion series, Tionshphere, and The Uprisers, reminded me of Le Transperceneige, the book that sparked the series Snowpiercer, as the levels of where people live in the Tionshphere does have huge class division. Overpopulation leads to a culling of unnecessary people and the fight of the uprisers, which has a dual meaning as revolutionary but also people literally rising to the surface, and how this all works is pure J.C. Gemmell and fabulously unique. The scenery in Demiurge is top-notch and Gemmell carries forward with tight and engrossing prose. There are so many directions that the series can go and plenty of characters worthy of their own spin-offs. I'm just thankful to be along for the ride.