The Word Reclaimed, by Steve Rzasa (Marcher Lord Press, 2009)
It’s 2602 and humans have developed interstellar travel and colonized planets. Major power belongs to the Realm of Five, with dissenters living on the fringes as Expatriates. The other players in this universe are the Martians, and I’m not clear if they’re humans who lived on Mars and then rebelled or if they’re another race entirely. What they are is hostile.
The Realm of Five’s Royal Stability Force, aka “Kesek,” is a nasty secret-police-type enforcer of political correctness, including the Realm-wide ban on any religions other than the state-created generic one that won’t “threaten the human spirit”.
When their spaceship stops to salvage the remains of another ship, Baden Haczyk discovers highly dangerous contraband: a Bible. Print books are things of the past, and people read on wireless devices called delvers. Along with other holy books, Bibles were thought to have been destroyed.
Should he sell it on the black market? Give it to Kesek before they come after him?
He’ll decide when the ship reaches the next space station. First, he starts reading it.
While the main plot thread of Baden and the book (and his difficult relationship with his father) plays out, a secondary thread follows cadet Alex Verge and his family on earth and into space on a military mission.
Author Steve Rzasa weaves two seemingly-different stories set in the same universe to mesh into one satisfying conclusion that dangles enough questions to make me want to read the next book in the series, The Word Unleashed.
One thing I enjoy about futuristic novels is the authors’ extrapolation of technology, specifically space travel. Steve Rzasa has some intriguing ideas that add an extra layer of interest to the novel.
I felt a degree of information overload in places, as if the author were giving me more background details than I needed to know. He’s done a thorough job of world-building (would that be “universe-building”?) and I can definitely visualize this story as an epic space movie. It has everything: ships, chases, action, explosions, battles, exotic locales… as well as relationships, political machinations and a thought-provoking plot.
One thing I’ve noted in other Marcher Lord Press books is the meticulous editing, and I was surprised to see some copy-editing issues here. Nothing more than you’d see most places, except for the fact that Alex is Alec for a while when we first meet him, but still not what I expected.
You can read a sample of The Word Reclaimed online. The remaining books in the Face of the Deep series are The Word Unleashed and Broken Sight. You can read an interview with Steve Rzasa (pronounced “Ra-zah”) on the Marcher Lord Press site or visit his website, The Face of the Deep. His newest novel is Crosswind, in the steampunk genre, and it looks intriguing.