This is part of an ongoing series of reviews here at GPS. These will be (to the best of my ability) spoiler-free, so as not to ruin the fiction ones I do, as well as relatively brief. If you’re interested, I’ve actually been tracking exactly what I’ve read (book and GN-wise, anyway) for over the past four years on LibraryThing.
GPS Review: “The Face on the Mountain” by Mark Silcox
Full disclosure: Mark and I work at the same university and are friends. However, if I hadn’t liked it, I just wouldn’t have reviewed it. 🙂
Mark Silcox is a relatively new voice in modern science fiction, having mostly published mostly shorter fiction pieces (read an interview about those here) and academic papers and books. See, in addition to “Mark Silcox, sci-fi author” he is also “Mark Silcox, Ph.D., professor of philosophy.” This background and specialization in metaethics and the philosophy of games (one of his academic books is Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy) certainly lends an unique aspect to his work.
His first novel, The Face on the Mountain, was released earlier this month from smaller publisher Incandescent Phoenix Books. In it, Silcox tells the story of a small human colony, Dixi Novo, that has been isolated from Earth and the galaxy at large for over 100 years. The colonists have two factors that have caused the less-than-optimal situation we encounter at the start of the novel: the planet is a harsh and unforgiving one and they were originally from the American South, with all it’s inherent eccentricities. Into their insular community comes the first outside visitor in a century, Ivan Delphi. A representative of the newly reformed government of Earth, Delphi is there to inspect the colony and see how they have fared, cut off from society as a whole. And so begins our
The book is a quick read at 236 pages. I devoured it in a couple of hours and found myself both satisfied and wanting more. Like all truly excellent sci-fi, it uses the future as a mirror for exploring questions about the present. In case, the book takes a look at social issues such as religion, gender roles, isolationism, and expansionism, in a highly readable way. The characters and dialog are well-written, and Silcox doesn’t let the fantastical elements needed for the story (travel across the galaxy and such) overwhelm the human elements.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to someone looking for some smart sci-fi to read over the holidays. I am eagerly awaiting the next book from Dr. Silcox (nudge, nudge….).