CLASSIC SCIENCE-FICTION SPACE ADVENTURE!
A PREMIER SCIENCE-FICTION NOVEL IN THE GRAND TRADITION OF ROBERT A. HEINLEIN AND POUL ANDERSON.
THE CREW OF THE SPACE CRUISER 'BEAGLE' ARE STRANDED ON THE DISTANT PLANET OF SIGMA THETA III AND SURROUNDED BY SAVAGE NATIVE HUMANOIDS . . .
It is the 25th Century. After a routine exploratory mission to a black hole in a distant galaxy, officers of the space cruiser 'Beagle'--under the command of Colonel Kendrick Landry--return to the edge of the Milky Way to explore a planet ravaged by war millennia ago, now inhabited by hostile, savage mutated descendants of the planet's original inhabitants.
When the 'Beagle' re-enters orbit on departure, the craft is shot down by an ancient, mechanized planetary defense network long pre-dating the alien savages. The savage humanoids abduct two women officers--the sexy and exotic Maya Terrazone and the bright but petulant Veronica Winters. Colonel Landry leads a rescue party to find and bring back the two women with the help of "Jones"--Veronica's pet telepathic alien tiger.
Landry struggles to believe that each of the two very different women might manage in her own way to stay alive among her captors. Even if the women still live and Landry can rescue them, he wonders if his group can even survive another crossing of the desert--teeming with the savage creatures--to return to the 'Beagle'. More, it will be virtually impossible to make repairs to the 'Beagle' with the creatures skulking around outside. Landry has already lost five flight members to ghastly death at the creatures' hands.
The 'Beagle' team has learned that the savage alien species is going extinct because a virus from long-ago biological warfare has killed off all the females. All the surviving creatures are male. It suddenly dawns on Landry: do the problems of his flight crew and the dying alien race have a common solution? Landry poses a challenge to the 'Beagle' genetic scientists: can they create adult females for the creatures and preserve the race? if so, might the added presence of females distract the vicious male creatures and permit the 'Beagle' crew to make repairs and escape?
But even if the 'Beagle' crew does regain orbit around the planet, then the ancient, mechanized planetary defense network may fire upon them a second- -and likely fatal--final time.
Mr. Laurens' new premier novel will evoke much nostalgia for science- fiction fans who were children of the 1960's and avid fans of the original "Star Trek" series and voracious readers of science-fiction by grand masters the likes of Robert A. Heinlein and Poul Anderson.
Still, the author has breathed ample originality into "The Survivors," a rather cutting-edge technological and social science-fiction work which delves into highly relevant contemporary issues confronting modern man including genetic enhancement of human lifespan, creation of new life from existing life via advanced genetic engineering procedures, "cellular regeneration" of damaged human tissues, and changing sexual mores evolving alternative lifestyles including "polyamory" communities.
While tastefully written, "The Survivors" does contain some scenes of rather shocking violence and explicit sexuality. When the novel is optioned for a movie (and it will be), rest assured that the film will carry an "R" rating.
--FROM AN APRIL 2008 PRESS RELEASE TO THE SACRAMENTO BEE:
“'The Survivors' is a riveting premier science-fiction novel by a promising newcomer to the genre. Mr. Laurens was obviously influenced by the science-fiction grand masters of Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, and Clifford D. Simak, but his work is actually quite different from all of those.
On one predominant level, Derek Laurens’ lean but thoughtful prose creates a fast page-turning adventure story that builds from the opening page, reeling you in and holding you unresisting through the last. For many readers that will be enough. For those interested in a slightly deeper read--with musings on the nature of life and death, love and lust, loyalty, war--all of that is there too.
But never mind the "weightier implications" of this work. "The Survivors" is just Great Fun!
Deft plotting. The author plunges the reader into a world of grand adventure.
Engaging and memorable characters.
Colonel Landry ever strives to be the perfect man of reason, restraint and honor. And yet his psyche is secretly tortured; his "inner child" includes the haunting memory of once having been almost killed by an ape-like alien creature called a "Hunanthu."
Major Will Adams is the junior officer "bad boy" and Landry's cross to bear although--without disclosing too much--Adams has redeemed himself and earned Landry's hard-earned respect by the novel's end.
The author's creation of the character of Major Maya Terrazone is an amazing achievement. This woman of unashamed sexuality is Landry's ever reliable "Girl Friday" and--pardon the pun--she is a real "survivor." And she saves Landry's life--twice, no less.
Many readers may not like the rather snooty character of Major Veronica Winters who is shown to nonetheless have a human and sympathetic side if only the right person or situation can dredge it out of her. What Veronica lacks in sympathetic character the author has managed to imbue the same into the charming and whimsical personality of Veronica's pet telepathic "tiger" Jones.
The author even posits both Maya and Veronica as love interests for Landry. Both women are beautiful. As the reader might have guessed, Veronica is a blonde and the Eurasian character of Maya is dark. So then, is Landry forced to choose between "the flesh" and "the angel," a la Tennessee Williams' "Eccentricities of a Nightingale"? Maybe something like that. But don't sweat it. And anyway, neither of those gals are exactly "angels"! The author's resolution of Landry's double-temptation is surprisingly different and refreshing to see in modern fiction.
There has not been a science-fiction space adventure with such riveting characters and story line--laced with graphic violence and titillating sex--in quite a long time. This novel was worth the wait. And the author's publicists humbly submit that not only they will say so!
I wrote this novel primarily out of a teenage fondness for grand science- fiction space adventure.
If you look around at what is available out there today, it is readily obvious that the emphasis is on fantasy rather than traditional science- fiction. While the likes of "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" abound, one has to wonder and ask: just what ever happened to the good old science-fiction space adventures in the style of the original "Star Trek" series and as written by the grand old masters like Robert A. Heinlein and Poul Anderson?
What ever happened to the glossy paperback covers of the 1960’s depicting a handsome leading man, the curvy females in tightly fitting space uniforms, spaceships, robots, and ray guns?
When I arranged submission of a press release on "The Survivors" not long ago to The Sacramento Bee, the release states that, in addition to being a fast page-turning adventure story, “for those interested in a slightly deeper read--with musings on the nature of life and death, love and lust, loyalty, war--all of that is there, too.”
I am going out on a limb and predict that this novel will become at least a minor cult favorite of science-fiction fans and that some critics and reviewers will delve into the perceived “weightier implications" of the work. Maybe I had some of that in mind myself.
Still, belay all of that! At least on a first easy read. For those of us who are sci-fi fans and children of the 1960’s, who pine for "Star Trek" on a Friday night and re-runs of "Flash Gordon" on a Saturday morning, we just want something fun to read and harkening back to the early work of say Robert A. Heinlein and of Poul Anderson--but with a modern touch. If you like "The Survivors" at all on this simple level alone, then power to you and that is fine by me.
Derek Laurens, May 30, 2008 at Sacramento, California.