The Reclamation Project by Ruth Marie Davis

(2002-07-08)

The body of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature is moving; the old face is cracking and changing shape. With each new idea put to words the genre expands. Authors are beginning to do more within the limits of fantasy and, more often than not, pushing the limits of Fantasy.

Unfortunately, of the authors who are making these exciting strides in Fantasy, readers may only have heard of a few. Everyone has heard of Jordan, Erikson, and Douglass, but what about those authors who are pushing the envelope in unique new ways? What about those authors who dispense with stock characters? What about an author who dares to mix genres? What about an author who dares to write not a conventional ending, but one that leaves the reader to ponder its heart and its significance? To this end, what about Ruth Marie Davis?

In her debut novel The Reclamation Project, Davis writes just such a book. She writes of a world where the past can be tapped to aid the present. The past can also come back to doom the future, as protagonist Dr. Lindsey Larimer learns.

In the beginning of the novel the reader is introduced to her main characters: Dr. Kevin Sanders, the slightly self-absorbed ladies man; Dr. Glen Steiner, witty friend and colleague of Sanders who needs a good man (yes, a well-written gay main character!); and Larimer, the woman who has to come to terms with her past to become secure in her future. As the story progresses you are pulled deeper into their lives and troubles, and feel invested in their future. In the end, the reader will find him or herself hoping that the characters will indeed have a future.

Larimer and company live in the near future on an Earth where cloning has become another tool in the scientific arsenal. Here, the American and Egyptian governments allow the cloning of King Tutankhamun and his princess wife Ankhesenamun in the hopes that they can become the ‘human-keys’ that they are searching for. Though King Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun come back as children ignorant of their former lives, they quickly progress to their adult forms and regain the knowledge they possessed in their first incarnation on Earth. It is hoped that with that knowledge, along with the help of the scientists of IBAT, they can unlock the ancient mystery of the pyramids.

Among the scientists at IBAT are Sanders and Steiner, two eccentric scientists who team up with Lindsey to work with the Egyptian clones. These characters and a few other supporting characters are put through tests of strength that are both physical and emotional, taking them down to the depths of the Earth’s oceans and transporting them to another plane of existence. Not only do they battle forces that could tear Earth apart, they also do battle with forces inside themselves that could tear their relationships apart. In such daunting circumstances Davis allows the characters to form believable and intriguing relationships, a credit to her writing talent.

Soon these relationships begin to bend and flex under the stress of their own weight. Just like real life, some people are able to grow closer, as seen in the romance between Larimer and Sanders. Other people may inevitably drift apart, as King Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun discover. Displaced from his princess wife and consumed by the power of his own goals, King Tutankhamun embarks on a journey that ultimately may doom the future of the Earth.

It is with Larimer’s strength, and that of her colleagues, that the Earth must rest its future.

Initially Davis’s plot may sound ‘done,’ but be assured: it is not. Though recognizable elements such as the pending destruction of the world, unlikely heroes, and seemingly insurmountable circumstances are employed, Davis stands out in one important area: she employs these elements well. Excepting wordiness that many authors entering the field with, Davis fleshes out her characters and situations in a dramatic and engaging style. Her writing does not come across as typical, but rather new and full of energy.

As clichéd as it is, the old adage still applies: this novel will keep you turning the pages. Once the reader gets past the character introductions, which suffer a bit from over-descriptiveness, The Reclamation Project is a page-turner.

The best compliment one can give to the new author is the excited anticipation for her next work. Once other readers hear about Davis and dig into her debut, this reviewer will not be waiting in line alone.

Pros: *Believable and engaging characters.

*An unconventional and exciting plot.

*Dramatic prose, once the novel gets going.

Cons: *Wordiness in the beginning 50 pages prevents the reader from jumping immediately into the novel, though it does pick up pace quickly thereafter.

Title: The Reclamation Project

Author: Ruth Marie Davis

Publisher: America House Book Publishers

Price: $24.95

Reviewer: L. Lawson [sffwlawson@hotmail.com]

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