|User: mark211|| Lockdown
by Timothy O. Goyette
Set in a far distant future in which the essential qualities which make us human (the bad and the good) have changed little, but in which the scramble for the colonization of the stars has developed exponentially, Goyette's Lockdown is a novel of high adventure that evokes something of that great tradition of fiction that, from the 19th century onwards, focused on the physical and moral challenges that come with the discovery and exploration of the uncharted.
The novel opens to find a humanity that had been exhausted by a brutal and protracted intergalactic conflict with an alien civilization, the Loscar, to whom the descendants of Earth have been forced to concede total defeat.
It soon becomes clear that not only has humanity been defeated militarily and financially, but also morally – and all to no purpose. It is in this bleak context that we find a veteran of this war, Samuel Rochez, huddled in among a mass of colonists on a bitterly freezing colonial outpost.
Rochez, as we soon discover, is a man of considerable physical and intellectual resources, but he is also someone who has achieved notoriety for an act of moral courage that many refuse to accept as anything but treason. Cold and alone, hunted and fast running out of options, Rochez is forced to reluctantly accept a post with a crew of 'Independent forces … the euphemism for Mercenaries' and it is from this point on that the story proper begins.
Rochez finds himself in the employ of a paramilitary band of privateers who are prospecting beyond the fringes of the known galaxy for Carlinium, a precious crystalline substance that is the primary energy source in the universe.
Their search leads them to a previously unknown planet, which is rich in deposits of Carlinium but also, it transpires, the home world of a superintelligent and telepathic life-form who call themselves the 'Home-kind'. It is not long before Rochez finds his moral courage tested once more by the rapaciousness of the 'Independent forces' he has now found himself amongst … .
While it is clearly possible from this plot to draw parallels between Lockdown and recent events in our own life and times, especially with respect to the politics surrounding the exploration for and exploitation of oil, this novel successfully pits the fiercely moral and independent will of the hero, Rochez, against a series of increasingly complex challenges and it is these ethical conflicts that provide much of the tension in the story.
That is not to say that the novel does not also imaginatively realise alien worlds in a far off future. The biology, life and culture of the Homekind, and indeed their home planet, have been thought out in no small amount of detail as have a number of the technological innovations and inventions that the interstellar privateers have at their disposal and it is worth reading the novel for these alone.
As a member of the peer-review fiction website, Quantum Muse, I have previously had the pleasure of reading a number of Goyette's short fiction but this (as far as I know) is his first novel. For me, this was a good, fun read, rich in action and with a clear moral view. I hope you enjoy it too.