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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
N.C. Scrimgeour’s Those Left Behind is about an intrepid space captain and her selected crew traveling beyond the stars to scout for a new habitation for the people of New Pallas. It is intelligently plotted and makes you embrace the impossible. Every waking hour, New Pallas continues to feel the growing weight of its population that increases at an alarming rate. The scarcity of raw materials is taking its toll. It’s only a matter of time before food, medicine, clean water, and energy become limited and death follows. Captain Alvera Renata makes a promise to find a new home. Together with her handpicked crew that includes Kojan the pilot and Ridley Jones the translator, they set off to find a new home, only for Alvera to discover that it is easier said than done. At some point, her promise will lose weight, her allies will fall dead, and New Pallas will be lost. Everyone will pin it on her, and Alvera will have to make a choice to continue or to stop.
Those Left Behind is an impressive and astonishing space opera that overwhelmed me to the point that I can’t wait to read the next installment. Sure, the science is still far from being plausible, but something about its plotting makes it pure and powerful. Perhaps it’s because N.C. Scrimgeour simply wants to write the kind of story she has long dreamed of writing. She’s not trying to one-up the hard-boiled science fiction classics that we have all grown to love. What she writes is the story of man’s dream of exceeding his grasp and reaching for the stars. It is a tale where Alvera’s voyage into space to find a new home creates a brilliant metaphor on separation, distance, and working together. Those Left Behind has an emotional strain that hooks you in from start to finish. It operates in an uncanny setting, but the crises presented grab you and hold on.