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Reviewed by Maureen Dangarembizi for Readers' Favorite
Sent To Watch by David J. Lebenstein is a science fiction novel set just after the historic battle of Waterloo. Our Earth, called Earth 48, is just one of the many planets with life. Aliens do exist and they are all humans. These ‘humans’ have an alliance in which they allow other Earths to join the Confederation of Civilized Planets when they reach a certain level of technological advancement. Earth 48 is still primitive but it is one of the planets under close observation as it moves closer to membership status. The Interplanetary Intelligence Service is expected to watch but not affect anything that happens on the planets that they observe. They would have stuck to this protocol but the Vittmians, an enemy alien race empire, threatens a peaceful projection. The agents of the Interplanetary Intelligence Service working on Earth 48 have bled alongside their charges and feel more than a little attached.
David J. Lebenstein is an imaginative writer and a brilliant historian. I studied British history and have read many novels set in historically significant times but Sent To Watch taught me about the political atmosphere and the expected turnout after the war. We get an inside look at what life was like for people in those days and I’m not talking about fancy balls and the lives of the wealthy nobles. Because of the nature of the story, there is a lot of military detail but it didn’t take away from normal everyday people and events. Another thing I found enjoyable was the world view as to which nations would emerge as global leaders and it is clear that might is not always the determining factor. Looking at history in hindsight, I can safely say no one can really predict the future. I loved agent Ori most because he observed Earth 48 and thought of it as home.
Many people assume that humans will gain the capacity to ignore greed and the desire to have more and more as technology advances but I think that is impossible as long as someone desires to stand heads and shoulders above others no matter the cost. It’s one of the reasons world leaders can't seem to satisfy people because they just have to prove how superior they are. In this book, however, the leaders are working to improve and protect everyone’s lives.