A Science Fiction novel that pushes thinking and stimulates conversation.
Science fiction novels often break down into two distinct camps, with the cerebral and intelligent grouped on one side and with the laser battles and starships lined up on the other. The new novel ‘The Mark of Man’ by first time author Owen Lewis manages to bridge these views nicely and with great skill.
On the face of it the story is not a million miles from Logan’s Run in that the central premise concerns a mark on the wrist which indicates the date of death of the holder. But whereas Logan’s Run presented this date as a fixed time for all individual upon which they would be ‘Recycled’, Lewis posits this as a genetic anomaly. So the race is not a simple chase and pursuit tale from evil overlords with a reliance on the familiar clichés and tenets, but one that concerns the whole of humankind and compels everybody to try to find an answer to this ticking doomsday clock.
The book races along as a first rate adventure yarn with the hero counting down the days he has left whilst trying to come to terms with losing the love of his life. Fate however seems intent on throwing them back together and this element of the story is nicely handled a deftly avoids the usual traps awaiting less talented writers.
The discovery of another Earth like planet gives hope for a solution to ‘The Mark’ and an expedition is mounted. The subsequent exploration and settlement draws an immediate comparison with the likes of Iain M Banks or Larry Niven for the remarkable detail in which this society is developed. Political layers are explored and the society revealed carries real depth as our characters become intertwined in some of the darker corners of this new world and the secrets it holds.
The Mark of Man is indeed a remarkable debut novel by an author who is not afraid to tackle big subjects. Owen Lewis is definitely a name to watch and it will be interesting to see how he follows this up.