The Caduca

Fiction - Science Fiction
414 Pages
Reviewed on 07/28/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I am an activist, medieval historian and qualified accountant (because even radical movements need someone doing the books). I live in north London with my partner and a demanding elderly tabby. I’ve written on politics and medieval history, and science fiction short stories, but The Caduca is my first novel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Caduca is a work of fiction in the science fiction subgenre. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Elaine Graham-Leigh. In a far-flung future where humankind has been innovative enough to achieve interstellar travel but not wise enough to break the cycle of destruction and discrimination, a fragile peace deal hands in the balance between the official politics of the Chi!me and the guerrilla group ViaVera. Two figures on opposing sides of the conflict have professional and emotional investments that will make or break them, but a cataclysmic series of events is set to show them both the darker side of themselves. The planet of Benan Ty is destined for violence, either way, it seems.

If you’re looking for a political sci-fi thriller with plenty of tension and personal, emotive drama, then author Elaine Graham-Leigh has crafted the ideal read for you to dive into. The first prominent feature of the novel that really struck me was the quality, depth, and internal logic of the worldbuilding, which sees us well-placed on the war-torn Benan Ty, in a system that feels exotic and alien but operates in a hauntingly familiar fashion that exaggerates the division and conflict of our own world today. From here, the author creates two highly relatable central protagonists, Quila and Terise, who exemplify genuine causes on either side of the battle.

With no specified ‘hero’ or ‘villain’ in sight, the story becomes one of suspenseful exploration: an emotional and political chess match where every move keeps you on the edge of your seat as you await its knock-on effects. Some shocking twists result from this beautifully crafted plot of secrets, suppression, and the fight for survival. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend The Caduca to fans of highly immersive science fiction that is both well penned and masterfully characterized to get the very best out of its intriguing and morally-charged setting.

Joshua Olokodana

This is a war between two villains. Yet, someone must wade in. But how do you bring peace to a state where terrorists parade themselves as heroes, and an illegitimate government thinks itself legitimate while the people believe whoever wants peace is a traitor? In The Caduca by Elaine Graham-Leigh, ambassador Ar’Quila of the United Planets is on a mission to broker a peace deal between the government of Benan Ty and the radical-movement-cum-terrorist group, ViaVera. Following the wild success of her last mission, the United Planets sent Quila of the Chi!me to Benan Ty, hoping her recent triumph would increase the odds of success. However, the good ambassador failed to wake up and smell the coffee until they got to the negotiation table, where the warring parties opened fire, striking the ambassador and her peace with a lethal blow in the process. Then rumors of Ar’Quila’s death become fact, and with it, the reality of the Chi!me invasion. This means game over for everyone except the original owners of Ty—the Jebans, who, nearing the unraveling of the centuries-old Caduca mystery, have vanished. The Chi!me might have the Ty government and ViaVera in their sights, but the Jebans have their secret, and they are always watching.

The Caduca by Elaine Graham-Leigh is a pulsating narrative peppered with fireworks and futuristic gadgets that fire your imagination to the stars while painting an image of a troubled society and its imposing yet familiar setting reminiscent of South America. One thing that sets The Caduca apart is its detailed descriptions of advanced space travel, both in terms of how ships were slung into space and the amount of queueing it took to even get slung. This is unique even as Elaine’s prose is engaging; I could almost hear the characters’ thoughts and certainly felt enough to be disconcerted by Issa’s personality myself. With its assortment of emotional scenes, humor, betrayal, conspiracy, gamesmanship, and mega plot twists, The Caduca has all the ingredients of a blockbuster. This is a long read, yet the plot is airtight, without lagging at any point. Every single sentence moves the plot forward. Again, this novel embodies the sci-fi genre with its flying street cars and making space travel look like a regular airplane flight. Even if you’re one to avoid lengthy books, Elaine Graham-Leigh’s world-building and excellent storytelling will still leave you yearning for a continuation of this galaxy-sized showpiece.

Jamie Michele

When Earth can no longer support human life, author Elaine Graham-Leigh takes human life to the colony of Benan Ty in the speculative fiction novel, The Caduca. This is part political intrigue, part thriller and 100% classic science fiction in the far-flung future where a series of political insurrections has altered rule and fired up the rebel group ViaVera, who have occupied swaths of the second planet. Terise is a political dissident, noted terrorist and established member of the ViaVera inner circle. Quila is an ambitious diplomat from Ch!me and the barterer of peace between the Benan Ty elite and ViaVera. The first half of the book shifts back and forth between Terise, Quila, their backstories and their motives, until the day of the summit arrives and the two opposing sides meet, with Quila squarely in the middle. The collapse of all talks are less than the Ch!me hoped for, to say the least, and Quila is yanked into Terisa's world: the heart of ViaVera.

Leave it to human men to ruin everything everywhere they set their feet and the foundation of The Caduca by Elaine Graham-Leigh is established. Get rid of the greedy corporations and level the playing fields where men and women are truly equal in all aspects of life and politics, and the social order as it should be will fall into place. The best part of the novel is a construct where point of view characters extend past Quila and Terisa and others are given a say in what they see happening. I get how someone might be under the impression that Terisa and Quila have loads in common but that wasn't what I saw. Quila is ambitious but she is also weak in the times when strength is desperately needed. Terisa is the total opposite and is a warrior capable of almost anything. Compassion and an affinity for the leadership of the deceased Mara they share, Terisa in person and Quila in theory, but they are individual in beliefs, intent and impact. The Caduca is a science fiction-loving feminist's dream, written with passion and professionalism, and comfortable for consumption in a couple of days.

Asher Syed

The Caduca by Elaine Graham-Leigh is a science fiction colonization novel centered around a future when humanity has re-established itself off Earth and under the thumb of an oppressive leadership of their own making. Benan Ty, the colony inhabited by man, is rife with moral bankruptcy, corruption, an impoverished population, and the strain of violence. The rise of a rebellion group called ViaVera and the government's intent to sustain power have little in common besides grafting in their ranks, and the likelihood of a deal being brokered by the colony showrunners named Chi!me is questionable. At the forefront are two women, Ch!me diplomat Quila and ViaVera rebel Terise, leading a massive cast in a battle where, in the short term, there are unlikely to be any clear winners.

Elaine Graham-Leigh builds up the vivid imagery of her world and the complexities of humans in both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. Readers will probably find jumping right into Graham-Leigh's work difficult given that amongst the flowery prose, the narrative occasionally gives way to large amounts of information conveyed in lengthy expositions. Still, it is interesting to witness a near mirror image of Earth's own construct even when we are given a second chance to do better. The drive for greed and power and the war it inevitably leads to is universal. The highlight is the opportunity for compromise, however fragile, and the potential for incremental resolutions to be in the hands of women. There is much to be said in a novel that places the future of Benan Ty in the hands of two fiercely committed females that have more in common than their positions within their respective organizations would suggest. As the father of a daughter who will have to contend with the impact of climate change, war, and divided ideologies that are hostile at best, The Caduca is eerily relevant to readers right now on Earth today. Recommended.

Vincent Dublado

The Caduca by Elaine Graham-Leigh is a brilliant science fiction novel about political tragedy. Welcome to Benan Ty, a small planet formerly occupied by the Terran colony. Its fragile democratic system is about to take another challenge as a left-wing leader, Juan Gutierrez, assumes the presidency, leading to social unrest that triggers a military overtake. The ViaVera is a guerilla force determined to overthrow the new government. Gutierrez has done a great many things in his life, and he has never apologized for any of them. Ambassador Ar’Quila is committed to the cause of peace, and she is far too committed to let that commitment be obstructed by inconvenient facts. She represents Ch!me as a Special Envoy to Benan Ty. Her mission is the single most important thing to happen to Benan Ty in all its history. But Ar’Quila knows very little about the planet’s marginalized sector.

A mixture of political intrigue, manipulation, character exchanges, and moral choices against the backdrop of a restless future world, The Caduca’s plot combines them all into what may well go down as a potential canon in literary science fiction. The beauty of Elaine Graham-Leigh’s story is that it doesn’t confine itself to one protagonist that shapes the structure of the storyline. Rather, you are treated to a diverse group of characters that are instrumental in shaping their destinies and the fate of Benan Ty. Considering its spectrum of human dilemmas and interests, the plot has a great impact on the thesis that socio-political problems are eternal. The issues we are dealing with today may well be similar to the issues we will face in the future. It’s a great story, one that is grand in scope and ambition. You will probably feel unsure about reading it, but once you get started, you won’t stop until the last page.