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Reviewed by Deepak Menon for Readers' Favorite
Even a minuscule amount of information about our infinite universe would fill a storage device the size of our solar system. Saving Paludis by Clayton Graham is a superb thriller in which the author accepts that interstellar travel, constrained by the onerous limits imposed by Einstein, is only possible through the much speculated and hypothesized Einstein-Rosen bridges, more popularly called ‘gateways’ in space. The reader is spared reading volumes of explanatory pages and can jump right into the meat of this tale of the future of mankind. Set about 2000 years in the future, when mankind has spread its wings, this tale takes place on Paludis, a verdant planet situated 144 light years from Earth at the extreme edge of human colonization. Humans occupied this mineral-rich gem of a planet centuries ago by violent conquest, and they live in beautiful homes in fine cities, mining and stripping minerals from the planet. At the research labs in a university in Paludis, a breakthrough is made that promises to change the future of mankind forever. The subjugated remaining inhabitants - superstitious primitive aliens, the Muskans - are confined to a narrow little stretch of land named Musk. Tak-Elno, a Muskan, flouts Muskan tradition and the laws of the sea-god, Garn, and swims in the ocean, a crime. He lands illegally on the human side of the separating wall and is captured, though the humans have no fear of him or his kind.
Thus begins an incredible chain of events ranging from multiple scenarios on Paludis to exhilarating events and thrilling action on Paludis’s moon, Muskluna, Earth and other celestial bodies. Military spacecraft are destroyed without a clue. Earth blames the helpless planet of Paludis. There follows genocide, murder, war. People go missing, bringing together unforgettable protagonists: Stefan, a policeman, Clare, thrown into the fray by destiny, Pas-Elno, the Muskan son of Tak-Elno, Richard Vidmar, Michelle Sanson and Simon Sangster among others. A protagonist to be remembered is Serpentine, a seer from Muskluna. And there are mysterious presences hovering beneath the surface of Earth’s ocean itself. The plot is original and develops nicely, not an easy task for any author to weave together numerous seemingly unrelated threads, originating from multiple scenarios, towards the breathtaking finale. The cover is attractive and adds to the book's marketability. There is some reference to sex, necessary to preserve the plot, but nothing explicit. The flow is steady, with a rising pitch of mystery and a taut sense of doom enthralling any reader. A memorable quote is: “To sleep is not to live, and who says the future is better than the now?” Clayton Graham's Saving Paludis is definitely a great interstellar thriller and recommended to its targeted audience of young adults and older readers.