SciFi Book Review: A Darkling Sea

A Darkling Sea by James L Cambias

On the planet Ilmatar, under a roof of ice a kilometer thick, a team of deep-sea diving scientists investigates the blind alien race that lives below. The Terran explorers have made an uneasy truce with the Sholen, their first extraterrestrial contact: so long as they don’t disturb the Ilmataran habitat, they’re free to conduct their missions in peace.

But when Henri Kerlerec, media personality and reckless adventurer, ends up sliced open by curious Ilmatarans, tensions between Terran and Sholen erupt, leading to a diplomatic disaster that threatens to escalate to war.

Against the backdrop of deep-sea guerrilla conflict, a new age of human exploration begins as alien cultures collide. Both sides seek the aid of the newly enlightened Ilmatarans. But what this struggle means for the natives—and the future of human exploration—is anything but certain.

The Ilmatarans are a primitive species that live in the depths of an alien planet’s sea. Humans have a research vessel close by to observe and report back to Earth their findings. So far there has been no contact with the Ilmatarans, per the Sholen truce. But one human ignores the agreement and seeks the fame and notoriety from getting a closer look at the aliens living below.

The Ilmatarans are a fascinating species that Cambias explores brilliantly. The Sholen are a different species as well, that aren’t focused on as much. But we still get their point of view at times. And the humans act true to nature and don’t back down when their bullied into leaving. The narrative jumps around the three people groups, but focuses on individuals creating plenty of character depth.

A Darkling Sea is an ambitious debut novel that certainly delivers. With plenty of thrilling suspense, drama, and unique aliens – it’s sure to appease most science fiction fans. This talented author is one to watch.

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