Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review: 'DEEP EARTH' by R. Julian Cox

Julian R Cox is a British writer and journalist who has dabbled in ecology and environmental concerns and the result is this strange but interesting amalgam of a novel that blends history with science with religion and with legend. DEEP EARTH is Part 2 of THE HANFORD TRILOGY, the initial volume is SHADOW OF THE SUN and having read that intense and fascinating novel, this new novel is a follow-up that is at least as fine a book as the first. In an interview Cox offered the following about the background for his writing of the first novel of the trilogy: `Much of 'Shadow on the Sun' takes place in the United States for two reasons. The first is that I've traveled extensively in that country and the second is I've always been fascinated by The Manhattan Project', the Second World War project to beat the Germans to building an atomic bomb. That the US was successful is evidenced by the abrupt ending of the war. But in the process a terrible legacy was created and seventy years later blights much of their land. Part of that legacy has been nuclear pollution resulting from the building of 60,000 US Cold War atomic weapons. One such polluted place - the worst - has been the former Hanford Indian Reservation in Washington State. As a former journalist a combination of fact mixed with fiction seemed to me to be something I should try as a writer.'

Now with the release of DEEP EARTH Cox remarks, `This and the next planned novel, BRIGHT STAR have "Hanford" in the US northwestern state of Washington linked with their plots. This site today suffers awesome contamination problems from which lawyers in the main have been major benefactors. They are mired in interminable health and safety arguments with the US Department of Energy - formerly the Atomic Energy Commission - over it's environmental clean-up efforts. They result from forty-four years of manufacturing 67.4 metric tons of plutonium - stopped in 1987 - for use in the country's nuclear weapons arsenal. The scale of the contamination left behind and mostly located next to the Columbia River, along with the civil engineering efforts to rectify it, remain unbelievable.' The author continues to weave a fact and fiction blend of ecology and cutting-edge science together with religious faith and the legend of King Arthur.

But on to the story: `49 days remain. A remote British Past and an American Present are still entwined in this stand-alone follow-on to SHADOW ON THE SUN. The deadline is approaching for an imminent project aimed at saving countless American lives. But just when success seems assured a once thought defunct terrorist cell is again found ready to strike at its heart. Linked to the project's success so far has been a military aircraft, shot down in the time of King Arthur, but now found to have possible survivors. A scientist is trying to orchestrate a way back for them from Past into Present. He hopes to recover a wife too who became entangled in a similar fate to the aircraft's and stemming from the same cause. Can the terrorists be stopped? And in time? Can those trapped in an ancient and hostile history be rescued?'

DEEP EARTH is a gripping and densely layered story that tests the boundaries of both the material world and the spiritual realm. Cox's comfort in the realm of investigative journalism and obvious research pays off as he creates a sense of immediacy and incipient apocalyptic danger. There are few writers who can as successfully combine fiction with fantasy and real time ecological threats as Julian Cox. He is an author to be taken seriously, not only for his talent, but also for his seer-like insights into the status of the planet today. Timely indeed. Grady Harp, July 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.