Title: The Last War
Author: Alex Davis
Born from the genius of the Animex, the aliens of the Noukari seek to gain a foothold on a savage planet. But the greatest danger to their existence lies within them – a powerful gift of telepathy.
As the tension grows between idolatry and admiration of their creators, and the Noukari come to understand the latent powers within their own minds, a species created for peace are about to succumb to brutal violence.
In a galaxy torn by conflict, will the first battle between the Noukari also be their last war?
“The Last War is a remarkable study of reason and faith, morality and practicality, pragmatism and idealism. With sharp, unfussy prose, Alex Davis draws the reader into an endearing nascent civilisation, and then takes it apart before our eyes. Unpredictable, challenging and rewarding.” Gav Thorpe, New York Times Bestselling author of Angels of Darkness Deliverance Lost.
Outside the temple, whose two walls have grown to four, a proud and lyrical voice carries across the clearing. Beneath the spell of its powerful tones a loose congregation has gathered, without seats, without rows, without any location worthy of such worship.
No matter, the Re’Nuck thinks. All of that will come in time.
He does not allow this simple thought to interrupt the rhythm of his speech. He has become expert in such matters – the words of the Book seem to have ingrained themselves into his memories, written there as large as they are on the crinkled pages at his hut.
‘And the Noukari arrived, borne within the sacred vessels crafted by the gods themselves. But those simplest of lifeforms did not resemble us as we are today, yet by the powers and craftsmanship of the Animex, we were able to rise from the simplest of forms to something more. It was within sunups that we first came to walk, to think, to speak.’
Apius pauses, taking a look at the rapt faces before continuing.
‘We know all this to be fact. All of these things are burned into our common history, and live within our memories still. There is nothing I have said to be disputed. But the question that some still ask is what this truly means for our people. What interpretations can we offer for this event? In this respect we talk about the beginning of life, an act of creation beyond any we have encountered. We are their people, and Genem – and all of Noukaria – is every bit as much theirs as it as ours.’
The crowd nods thoughtfully. Apius has swiftly become used to these public appearances, and the necessary flourishes of the spiritual leader. The means to instil his belief, to communicate in the name of the gods.
‘No act of nature nor of building can do such a thing. It is clear that we were made by the hand of gods – gods called the Animex! There is no other conclusion, and in time all of those who have yet to accept will come to believe. Rest assured, those in denial shall soon worship with us. And they will share the word in a temple that surely even the gods cannot deny, a building so grand in scale that it would be worthy for a god to set foot within.’
Apius bows his head for a moment, allowing his newly-embroidered robe to billow around him. The new vestment has come with the title, and sets him apart from those who hang to his words.
‘That is all. Go with these words, and spread them in the streets and fields of Genem. Much has been done, but there is a longer road ahead.’
One by one the followers of Apius drift away, carrying eager conversations with them.
http://shop.ticketyboopress.co.uk/index.php for paperback
Special Guest Post by the Author:
SCIENCE-FICTION – MINUS THE SCIENCE?
So, you might well think to yourself the clue’s in the name. If it’s science-fiction, then surely it has to feature some kind of science, right? It should be concerning future or alternative advances in science and technology. Well, yes and no.
The further back you go into the history of science-fiction, this probably becomes truer and truer. Much early SF – from ‘the golden age’ or ‘the age of wonder’ – tends to look at starfaring adventures, incredible and unimaginable leaps and advancements (many of which actually exist in 2015, but there you go…) and take place in worlds barely recognisable from Earth as it would have been.
But that was 60, 70, 80 years ago – practically ancient history by genre standards. And while SF owes a great deal to the innovators of the genres in the 30s, 40s and 50s, it’s also very unfair to say the the genre still exists in that bubble. Times have changed, the world has changed and the way that we lived has changed immensely.
And with that, science-fiction has changed too.
I’ve read a lot of the golden age SF – and have a particular soft spot for interstellar heroes like E.C. Tubbs’ Dumarest and Edmond Hamilton’s Captain Future – but modern SF to me is often far more nuanced and certainly a much broader church. And personally, my primary love is SF that doesn’t tend to feature a lot of science – largely known as ‘soft science-fiction’. There are a range of incredible stories that use the elements of SF more as a backdrop to the tale rather than a key part of how the story develops, a device that enables brilliant human stories to be told.
I’ve especially enjoyed the likes of Edmund Cooper’s All Fools Day, DG Compton’s Ascendancies, Kate Wilhelm’s The Clewiston Test and especially Eric Brown’s incredible, heartbreaking Kethani. One of the main influences on my first book, The Last War, was Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles – exploring what it’s like to get a new civilisation started, how to cope with all the challenges of life on a new planet not just practically but also emotionally and philosophically. And even though The Last War is about a species of aliens, I’ve tried to keep that human element very recognisable – you won’t find anything high-tech or advanced in sight. It’s an origin tale about a race hoping to come of age – and all the challenges that face them along the way.
So if you’ve ever been put off reading sci-fi because you think you need a working understanding of physics, biology, quantum mechanics and more besides then now is the time to cast that one aside. There’s a whole new wave of SF that doesn’t really need the S – it’s just great fiction, pure and simple.
About The Author
Alex Davis is an author, editor, publisher, creative writing tutor and events organiser based in Derby. His debut novel, THE LAST WAR, is out in July from Tickety Boo Press and is the first in a science-fiction trilogy following the aliens of the Noukari. He is co-ordinator for Derby’s annual Edge-Lit event – running this year on the 11th July – and also part of the management committee for this year’s Derby Book Festival. He also runs Boo Books, Derby’s independent press, aiming to promote regional talent along internationally known authors. Their latest release is The Electric, available in paperback for the first time. For more information, visit http://boobooks.net/