Light From a Distant Star:Book One of the Unknown Country



An invading space armada meets with unexpected, devastatingresistance from their would-be subjects.  A sentient starship awakens andtravels the galaxy, searching for its home.  A lone warrior from theSar-too clan witnesses the celestial initiation of an age-old prophecy. And thus, the wheel of destiny begins an irrevocable turn in Gregory J.Saunders’ debut novel, Light From a Distant Star.

In the Milky Way, Lieutenant Colonel James “Mac” Crowe,commander of the Shuttle Atlantis, and his crew are ordered to investigate thestrange disappearances of Earth’s telecommunication satellites and, moreimportantly, the International Space Station (the Unity).  After a suddenencounter with an alien ship, the shuttle crew finds itself in an unknown areaof the galaxy, far from home.  The Atlantis and Unity crews are quicklyreunited on the Atlantis, but their troubles have only begun.  In additionto running out of food and air, their ship's orbit is rapidly deteriorating.

The novel is at its heart a survival story.  Forced tocrash land on an alien planet, the humans must adapt quickly to a world ofwondrous beauty and incredible perils, including violent weather anddinosaur-sized predators, or face their own extinction.  The fauna andflora are otherworldly, yet subtly similar to Earth’s life forms, attesting tothe fact that while diversity flourishes, there is still a consistency to alllife in the universe, and regardless of planet or star system, survival of thefittest remains the underlying rule. 

If the battle against nature were not daunting enough, theplanet’s intelligent denizens – the Aranu, a vicious, beastlike race ofcannibals, and the People, a ghost like band of aliens and self-proclaimedprotectors of the lowlands – soon become readily apparent.  Both racesprovide threats not to be lightly ignored. 

The humans’ planetary guide isNiloc-al-teal, the sole survivor of his clan after a murderous spree by theAranu.  The first contact scenario is handled well, the differingperspectives both engaging and realistic.  As humans and clansman slowlylearn to communicate, Mac discovers that he is the foretold savior of theclansmen, the one who will unite all the tribes and lead them into a new,golden era.  But with the humans' survival still in question, Mac isn'texactly ready to embrace this latest revelation.

The book's ambitions don't stopwith the day-to-day struggles of the Atlantis crew, as it also infuses elementsof action/adventure, epic fantasy, and traditional planetary romance a la EdgarRice Burroughs.  Saunders is obviously writing the kind of story(ies) heenjoys reading, while also incorporating his love of the Southwest, and it’s acaptivating blend of storytelling.

 Light From aDistant Star is the first of a trilogy entitled the Unknown Country, and assuch, readers will definitely want to purchase the second book (Light of anAlien Sun) to determine how the characters are reunited and to discover whatmysteries lie within the forbidden city of the dead.  Highly recommendedfor fans of cross-genre fiction.

2/09 Reviewed by David Corwell,author of Legacy of the Quedana ( seeCloaked In Shadow)

Unknown Country ISBN 978-0-6152-0755-1

The novella, Zahir, by Gregory Saunders is a great, quick read I could well imagine being made into a movie.

This novella was packed full of never-ending suspense and horror. The imagery was wonderful and the story just plain good.

Overall, author Saunders did a fantastic job of creating a suspenseful and exciting read which I highly recommend.

9/08 Reviewed by Candace Morehouse, author of Golden Enchantment