By: Aleksandar Nedeljkovic
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: April 20, 2022
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: March 25, 2022
From emerging new author Aleksandar Nedeljkovic comes a thrilling science fiction story in ALT. Nedeljkovic’s tale chronicles a future dystopian world complete with artificial intelligence, robots that have fully integrated into society, automatically driven vehicles, and biometrics readers that scan humans.
The story opens as Theo Smith, an intelligent computer scientist, has been diligently working on a project called Sundance for months. Sundance is a new technology that will help to harness solar energy through artificial photosynthesis. The technology that Sundance will utilize is so radical that its original plans were destroyed, as well as its inventor, who was Theo’s father.
One morning, a seemingly innocuous-looking woman comes to the home where Theo lives with his wife, Maritza and their 15-year-old son, Miles. The woman appears distressed and in pain, so Maritza invites her in the house so she can tend to her. The woman shares that she has been in an accident and her car has slid off the road. After a short time of asserting that she is all right, the woman begins to experience a coughing fit. Maritza, being concerned, asks her if she is okay. In an instant, the woman covers her mouth and nose with a surgical mask and proceeds to spray Maritza and Theo with a cloud of vapor that causes them to immediately slump in their chairs and fall asleep.
Upon making his way down the stairs, Miles finds both of his parents unconscious and nonresponsive. He immediately confronts the woman, demanding to know what she did to them. Unfortunately, Miles then spots flyquads hovering over the front yard, with soldiers inside preparing to deploy. Faced with the angry woman who has debilitated his parents and masked warriors entering his house, he decides that his best option is to flee the scene. He sheds a few tears before leaving his house and entering the woods, hopeful that the forest will help to conceal him from the soldiers.
Shortly thereafter, Miles emerges from the woods and flags down the first vehicle that he sees. The driver of said vehicle is his neighbor, Moonie. Moonie picks him up and Miles frantically explains the situation to him. Moonie is appalled to hear about Miles’s circumstances and without a doubt in his mind, decides to help him. The journey that the two of them consequently embark upon to find Miles’s parents is one that neither of them could have imagined.
Nedeljkovic’s novel is a true science fiction thriller. It is complete with technologies that do not exist, non-human characters, super intelligent computers and robots, and the narrative follows scientific laws. ALT also has the added bonus of being set in a dystopian society. Science fiction fans will, undoubtedly, find themselves enjoying this engrossing tale.
If there is any criticism to be found of ALT, it would be the sheer quantity of characters present in the story. While some of them are integral to the flow of the narrative, nonetheless, as the story progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for the reader to keep track of them all. A reader of this book and fan of the science fiction genre might have appreciated that the character list be somewhat simplified.
A rather uncommon characteristic of novels that is present in ALT is an epilogue of considerable length. In this epilogue, the author describes plausible resolutions for many of the characters, rather than simply leaving the story open-ended. This conclusion is sure to be appreciated by Nedeljkovic’s readers.
Quill says: With his debut novel ALT, Nedeljkovic has achieved a riveting, suspenseful science fiction tale full of twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing until the epic conclusion.
For more information on ALT, please visit the book's website at: www.alt-novel.com