What happens when an alien scouting team of lizard people arrive on Earth in the late 1940s and their ship is shot down with only one survivor being a young alien? Making things more exciting is that the world knows this alien race is coming back in 70 years with a force to destroy all life on earth and take all its natural resources. This and much more can be found in “The Origin of F.O.R.C.E.” written by Sam B. Miller II and narrated by John Pirhalla. The book is a contemporary science fiction story encompassing six decades in just under 500pages; or 12hrs of audio. If you want to read a lighter space story, I would recommend this book. Be aware, this book appears to be the first in what looks to be a series of three (or more) books.
Mr. Miller creates a book that is more than simply a standard Sci-Fi series, but instead appears to be building a community and culture around the book and its contents. If one visits the book’s Facebook page, you will see the level of effort taken by the author to share photos; from the author himself along with community submitted material. Having the author share some pictures with me prior to reading the book and looking over the images on Facebook brought the book to life for me, and I can see how involved the author is in this book and future books. I look forward reading additional books in the series; book two is currently available and the third is under developed.
The story takes place mostly on earth covering a large span of time, however there are scenes occurring both on the alien home world and ships allowing the reader a view into the alien race’s society, desires, and wants. There are multiple story-lines involving some deep seeded conspiracies, involving religious groups, NASA and the Government to help the population of earth to succeed in this future battle. A few have commented they did not like the author’s inclusion of the standard science fiction character tropes like the brainy scientists, the brawny military guy, and the female specialist. I did not have an issue with this, and I took it more that the author was using them to bring some humor to the genre. Not only do the characters each struggle to come up with a solution to the alien invasion, they also had to address their own relationships along the way with one another. Similar to the Fellowship of the Ring party, each character brings a unique skillset and emotion to the book.
Even with the overall sense of doom and destruction from the impending alien invasion, the author includes some aspects of humor to assist in releasing the book’s built up tension. The use of humor was done sparingly and often feels natural. The characters were mostly well described and defined. It is clear the author has a vision of how each person fits into the complete story. One quickly sees that the author did a good job of researching the various timeframes and some of the important technology being developed during that time. All of this, in one way or another, was used as part of the hidden work of our government to come up with a technical solution to the problem.
I want to give credit to John Pirhalla for his exceptional narration of this story. Mr. Prihalla makes voicing the multiple characters seem like a simple thing to accomplish. He appears to be a newer narrator with seven books published on Audible at the time of this review. Being the first book I have listened to from this narrator, I would easily listen to more of his work as I enjoyed this reading style, character inflection, and pacing. He was able to bring me into the story with his reading with excitement and action.
Mr. Puehalla did a respectable job of voicing both male and female characters along with the various accents he had to keep track of; including alien accents. All of this was done without issue. The audio itself was crisp and clear. The volume was consistent and I did not recall any audio artifacts while listening; apart from a small audio patch near the end of the book. The audiobook quality was top-notch, and I would listen to other materials performed by this narrator in the future.
The book contains some light use of vulgar language; however, this was not frequently leveraged in telling the story. The book also includes some graphic and descriptive violence, but nothing that would not be found in a PG-13 rated movie. For most, I would recommend this book as one that would be enjoyed by mature teenagers and adults alike.
What would I have changed or liked to have seen in this book? Although we get a good view of the alien technology, I would have liked to have had some more detail on the technology and struggles of the people and equipment during the time period; such as 1940s, 1970s, etc. This was covered more in future time, but I would have liked more. Often when time changed from decade to decade, I really did not get a solid picture of what this new time enveloped. Maybe some better description of the technology itself, the clothes of the time, and even some of the social struggles occurring. I would have like to have had a more descriptive transition between times.
Disclaimer: The reviewer received this book at no charge by the author, narrator, and/or publisher in exchange for posting a non-bias review.