EARTHFALL is the first novel by New Zealander Joel Dodd. Set primarily in the near future, Dodd has chosen a recurring theme, that of humanity's search for a new home away from the solar system, but has worked the story into a compelling tale that uses its characters as mechanisms for the story. This has given Dodd scope for developing the story itself, akin to ensemble drama, with no stand-out characters to focus upon.
Of the characters, the first whom we meet is Danis Pasqel. Pasqel is the senior engineer, and commanding officer of the Tunis. The Tunis returns to Earth from a mission to find a suitable planet to which Earth's people can be safely evacuated, hopefully before an increasingly erratic sun destroys the inner planets. Pasqel and his core group of officers lead the way through Earthfall, providing the continuity required by the story's structure.
Departing from a safer, linear story, Dodd has crafted the story into two separate stories that are told in parallel via alternating chapters. The first story begins with the approach of the Tunis to the solar system, dealing with the Tunis' crew and the greatly-altered Earth that they return to. The second story begins in our near future, with the introduction of a boy to astronomy. The boy grows to become a leading international astronomer, who identifies the sun's probable future. The two stories converge with the introduction of the Tunis' crew as project recruits before the Tunis is built.
Dodd has kept all technology to a practical level, with no unexplained gadgets and wonder-machines. The reader is not expected to make any assumptions. The technical detail and the science involved is sufficient to satisfy readers of a tech nature, but without overoading the story. The prose is of a classic style - in a recent interview, Dodd admitted to being a fan of Hugo, the Brontes, Conrad, Scott and Dumas, in addition to many of the great SF writers. The result is an SF tale written in language that is descriptive and well-crafted, with a distinctly poetic flavour emerging to create some evocative imagery at key points in the story. The perspective at times segues smoothly from the dominant spectator viewpoint to first-person, and back, sometimes within a paragraph. The effect is highly effective, giving the reader sudden flashes of personal insight, to see the story through a character's eyes, if only for a brief moment.
Dodd is a newcomer to the world of SF writing, but has made a statement with his first published novel. We can be assured of more novels from Dodd in the future. This reviewer looks forward to reading Dodd's next book. If you take SF seriously, support a new author and take a look at this novel. Earthfall is available direct from the publisher, and is to be listed with both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
This report prepared by Joel Dodd