As someone who has not read a lot of science fiction, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dawnwind: Last Man Standing by George R. Shirer (@Grshirer). Would it be a run-and-gun space opera or a thought-provoking attempt to look at what it means to be an alien in another culture.
Turns out it’s a little of the former, a lot of the latter and I enjoyed it very much.
The story centers around John Epcott, the sole surviving human after a pandemic sweeps across Earth. Discovered by the Junians, an alien race physically similar to humans, Epcott returns with them to their home planet.
Dawnwind is less a linear story than it is a series of vignettes about Epcott’s life on the planet Juni and among the Junian race. In many ways, it reminded me of the TV series Farscape, which is one of my all-time favorites. Like John Crichton, Epcott is thrust into an alien culture as the only one of his kind. Many find him a curiosity, others are afraid of him. Some things are similar or familiar, others are totally beyond his wildest imagination.
Throughout he must learn and adapt himself to the differences between Junians and humans. Each chapter tells a unique story separated by months or years along the timeline of his adaptation. The author’s decision to use this form of narrative is interesting and very effective, in my opinion, as it allows the reader to see Epcott’s development over a long arc.
There is action in this story, and intrigue as Epcott learns more about his new hosts, and these elements are blended into the narrative very naturally. I was captivated by the Junian people and other alien races described by Mr. Shirer with prose that is clear and effective. It was obvious to this reader that Mr. Shirer took great care and put much thought into the creation of every element in his Dawnwind “universe.”
As always, no spoilers, but Dawnwind ends on a bit of a cliffhanger with Epcott’s story to be picked up in the next installment, which the author expects to have out in 2013. I know I want to see what happens next.
To read more of Mr. Shirer’s writing, visit his blog.