While checking my Facebook account, one of the authors that I have friended, Mike Freidman announced the release of A Perfect Beast and mentioned that it is the official prequel to the film due for release on May 31, 2013, After Earth starring Will and Jaden Smith. After seeing the trailers of this film, I definitely decided that it was worth a watch and was very excited to read this book. I downloaded it for my Kindle and started reading. I am glad I did because this is a great read for many reasons.
The story is set on a planet that humans have inhabited because the Earth was no longer able to support humanity. Unbeknownst to the human population of the planet Nova Prime, they had chosen to live on a planet that was considered sacred to an alien race calling themselves the Krezateen. The planet, known by the Krezateens as Zantenor. To the Krezanteen, this world is so sacred that they do not even set foot on it, and they were extremely upset that human “vermin” had dare to attempt to populate it. The Krezateens tried to eradicate the humans by bombing them out of existence, but the humans were quite resilient and repulsed the Krezateen attempt. So they had to hatch an alternate plan.
576 years after the humans land on Nova Prime (576 AE), the story follows several important characters, but one in particular becomes the hero of the story. His name is Connor Raige. Connor is the descendant of a long line of Rangers (a military organization charged with protecting Nova Prime from threats within and from without the planet) who are a very dedicated force. At this point, Connor is a cadet in training at the Ranger Academy, he displays skills that will be useful in his future, and indispensable for the survival of Nova Prime.
Nova Prime’s government is a tripartite system that is democratically ruled by the Ranger Prime Commander, the Primus (a spiritual leader), and the Savant (the leader of science and technology). After the urging of a rabble rousing broadcaster named Trey Vander Meer, the people of Nova Prime, the Primus, and the Savant are all convinced that far too much of the human resources are being spent to maintain the Rangers since there hasn’t been any trouble from the Skrel (the human name for the Krezanteen) for hundreds of years. Well, just as the decision was being made, the Skrel unleash their plan to completely eliminate humanity from Nova Prime.
This plan comes to Nova Prime in the form of a Beast the humans call Ursa; a sightless animal that was created by the Skrel for one purpose; to devour every human they can find. The Ursa is described as having no sight and hunts humans by smell and hearing, and being sightless is no disadvantage to the beasts because they have a layer of armor just under their hide that can repel the best weapons the humans have.
By means of attrition, and the way he demonstrates his skill at killing Ursa, Conner eventually rises to lead the Rangers in the fight with the help of a new weapon.
A Perfect Beast is full of fast paced action that never slows down. It is full of characters that really mattered, and many of them were killed during the course of the story by the Ursa. I simply could not stop reading this book and finished it in five days. Those that are familiar with Star Trek novels will recognize the author’s names and know of the quality in their usual writing. Well Friedman, Greenberger, and David pull out all the stops on this one and have penned a brilliant story that has only served to pique my desire to see the After Earth Film. I give this book my highest recommendation and would have to say that it is amongst the best stories I have read in quite some time, and perhaps a must to help with the understanding of the film.
A Perfect Beast also includes three Ghost stories. The ghosts are not departed spirits of Nova Prime, but they are very special Rangers that can foil the Ursa’s abilities to locate and kill them as they attack. I think that the three shorts stories might be a key component to the understanding of the upcoming film as they take place 400 years after the events of the novel.
If you are planning to see After Earth, I would urge you to pick this book up, but even if you are not planning to see the movie, it would still be worth reading as it stands well on its own as a fine piece of sci-fi literature.
I have been negligent on promoting the sci-fi podcasts that I listen to. I’m sure that you know how it is when real life demands time that could otherwise be spent on leisure pursuits. In the life of a small school music teacher, the months of March, April, and May can be harrowing with concerts, contests, and other performance obligations. But things are slowing down and I should have more time to write the blog, and write and record comments for the various podcasts I listen to regularly.
Anyway, on the SciFi Diner Podcast, the latest episode #171, Scott, Miles and their guest host M talk about various science fiction subjects and we get to hear an interview with John Billingsley (Phlox from ST: Enterprise) and Bonita Friedericy (the General from Chuck, also a Borg on Ent.). This was a fun interview to listen to as Billingsley and Friedericy play off of one another to give a fun interview to listen to.
I also noticed that the Diner released a Conversations episode with comments from me on Iron Man 3 and Defiance. I haven’t listened to this one yet, but will be listening very soon.
I also listened to an excellent episode of Trek News and Views in which they discuss all things Klingon. That would be Episode #71. Colin again gathers a great panel of people who are quite expert on the Klingons and they share ideas and discuss facts that are both known, and some that may not be so widely known. Definitely worth a listen.
Well, there it is…