Down Below Beyond

Fiction - Science Fiction
354 Pages
Reviewed on 08/29/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Alma Boucher for Readers' Favorite

Down Below Beyond is a science fiction adventure by T.A. Bruno. A prospector named Levort Aatra found a mysterious spacecraft while scouring the wastes of the abandoned planet Tayoxe and claimed it for himself. Levort did not realize that in doing so he had made himself a target. Levort and Bayfo Niall had been longtime friends, which was to Levort’s advantage as Bayfo was an armed enforcer who upheld the Fleet's self-serving rules on the ground. An unknown four-armed alien informed Levort that the Voyalten Web had been replaced by portable gadgets that could create their teleportation gates independently of Fessenog's authority and tariffs. This forbidden network was known as the Beyond, and Levort’s involvement made him an enemy of Bayfo. This created an immediate conflict between the two former best friends.

Down Below Beyond is outstanding and exciting. T.A. Bruno created a sci-fi fantasy in a way that allowed me to visualize the different worlds and characters. It was fast-paced and jam-packed with action. I was intrigued from the start and kept guessing until the end. The protagonists were well-developed and brought to life with illustrations that described them and their worlds. My favorites were Bayfo and Levort and their broken friendship was a great loss to me. There were plenty of other amazing and interesting role-players. I enjoyed meeting those of different races and discovering their domains. The story is brilliantly written. It was a fun read, and at times I laughed out loud. I enjoyed the mixture of humor, discovery, and the fight scene.

Jamie Michele

Down Below Beyond by T. A. Bruno begins on planet Tayoxe, where Bayfo Niall and Levort Aatra scavenge in a wasteland. Levort finds an alien ship, sparking a confrontation with rival prospector Dintuppan. Levort, involved with the Erunian village on Zhok, integrates into the community and learns of their Fleet dependency, witnessing the Fleet's return with Bayfo among them. A chase leads Levort to a new world where he grasps the significance of pocket portals. Equipped with gateslinger technology, Levort evades Fleet pursuit with Vobsii and Floem. Bayfo imprisons Levort's mentor to lure in Levort. As Levort explores planets and faces foes, his goal becomes reaching the Beyond sector. When Bayfo captures Levort, damning accusations shatter his beliefs. Meanwhile, Levort's friends unite to free him, uncovering connections between adversaries and themselves.

The best science fiction almost always involves journeys into uncharted territories, both physically and metaphorically. Levort's pursuit of the Beyond, the mystery of the Beyonder tablet, and the exploration of different worlds through portals all embody the themes of adventure and the quest for the unknown, and this is what made Down Below Beyond by T. A. Bruno really special. I loved the ethical dilemmas that sway the balance between personal agency and societal duty, which the gateslinger technology amplifies. I anticipated the betrayal but expected it to be purely physical, and Bruno does well in pushing the boundaries of what might best be described as faith. The world-building is wonderful, the standout for me being the dying planet Orist and how its inhabitants interact with the environment through the Sight, seeing hidden auras beneath visible things. Overall, this is a well-written, fast-paced, and wholly engrossing novel. Very highly recommended.

Liz Konkel

Down Below Beyond by T.A. Bruno brings to life an epic adventure while scavenging the ruins of an abandoned planet. The planet of Tayoxe has been left abandoned and at the mercy of scavengers, such as prospector Levort, to retrieve trinkets that the Fleet will pay a hefty price for. Levort works alongside enforcer Bayfo Niall who is his opposite, having never experienced a sorting facility while Levort was sold to the Fleet as a child. But what he discovers draws unwanted attention. At first, he’s captivated by the mysterious starship and imagines the price he will receive for the discovery until he’s pulled into an unexpected adventure. Levort must evade a series of dangerous encounters, competition, and friction that comes from an unexpected place but the journey could give him the chance to find what he’s always been searching for.

The friendship between Bayfo and Levort is a central component of the story as their different backgrounds give insight into the world that T.A. Bruno has created. The varying perspectives on the world through their experiences as a prospector and enforcer help to introduce elements such as the types of groups that the characters fall into. Their back-and-forth is realistically portrayed with clever dialogue and grounds the science fiction elements of the story. Levort’s curiosity about the ship drives the plot forward as it represents a hopefulness to better his future. Tayoxe is an important location in the story with details that capture the desolate atmosphere and show a planet that is a remnant of its former self, an abandoned place with obstacles, dangers, and opportunities.

Precise details are used to establish the background of the characters and to understand why they think and act the way that they do. The scenery comes to life through well-written descriptions that give the dead world an ominous tone. The science fiction elements are rooted in the planet and the scavenging that occurs with a starship as the primary focus. The story is fast-paced, taking you quickly into the plot’s action as no time is wasted once Levort discovers the ship and events unfold. Down Below Beyond is a science fiction adventure that has a fast-paced plot, clever dialogue, and great character dynamics that ground the world.