Author: Michael R. Hicks
Genre: Science Fiction
Last week, as a going away present from my former work colleagues, I was given a Kindle. To paraphrase a line from The Simpsons, I felt like Christopher Columbus – I had discovered something that millions of people already knew about before me. I couldn’t get over how amazingly easy it was to get comfortable in bed while holding it (which only served to enhance my already all-encompassing sense of laziness) and that I could even read it without my contact lenses in (even if it meant only squeezing about 3 words onto the page) – I was in literary heaven. And then I discovered that you could get books for free! My inner cheap skate went on the rampage, downloading books indiscriminately (which is how I landed up with the vampire-werewolf erotic novel Fangs, Fur and Mistletoe, but that’s a story for another day). Eventually, after I had trolled the darkest nether regions of Amazon’s free list and separated the possibly good reads from the predetermined rubbish, I decided that I should perhaps read one of the many novels I had gotten my grubby, electronic mitts on. Through a process of dropping my finger onto the screen at random I started reading Season of the Harvest, and I must say it was a pleasantly surprising read.
The world is under attack. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t know it’s under attack, and, as a citizen of the world at large, neither does FBI agent Jack Dawson. Sheldon Crane, Jack’s best friend, has just died a rather gruesome death by vivisection in the basement of a University’s genetic research lab. The lab is owned by New Horizons, the company spear-heading progress in the development of genetically modified foods, and Sheldon had no official business being there. What starts off as a routine search into his friend’s death will lead Jack down a road to hell littered with corn kernels.
The world is under attack by aliens. Thankfully, for my tastes, these aliens are not flying around in space ships above our heads and blasting ray guns; the aliens themselves aren’t even sure how they got to be on Earth. All they know is that they have a mission to carry out – by genetically modifying the most basic food crops and then disseminating it across the planet they hope to reverse-terraform Earth so that it becomes habitable for more of their kind. They have managed to infiltrate some of the highest positions of power, and the fact that they can shape shift into any human form they like certainly doesn’t hurt their cause.
Jack, through a series of unfortunate events, lands up being conscripted into the EDS: The Earth Defence Society. Outwardly a group of crackpot alien hunters, this rather well-organised group of scientists and ex-military personnel are the only ones that know what’s going on and are the only people in a position to try and stop the creatures they call the Harvesters. Armed to the teeth with every conceivable weapon you can imagine and a backup team of several hundred cats (this becomes more important as the book progresses) they will do everything they possibly can to keep Earth for Earthlings only.
The Writing Style
I have to give Michael Hicks tremendous credit for taking two subjects, GM foods and alien invasions, that very quickly could have become overwhelmingly preachy for one and inane and absurd for the other, and bringing them together in a cohesive plot that you actually want to read.
The characters themselves are well-developed, and if you don’t like any of them in particular it’s because you don’t like that character type, rather than a failing on the author’s part. A fair amount of research has obviously gone into a number of different subject matters (at least I assume this to be the case – I personally don’t have a great working knowledge of how Cold War-era nuclear bunkers were designed or functioned) and this again helps to ground the novel in a sense of reality that could otherwise have easily been lost.
Some liberties have obviously been taken here and there to move the plot along – I don’t think (or at least hope) that invading the sovereign territory of other nations or launching an all-out nuclear war are perhaps as easy to do as the book suggests – but in the context of what’s happening it all tends to make sense and you never have to force yourself to suspend belief in order to accept the direction the narrative wants to take you in. All in all, I can’t fault the writing style.
Satisfaction. I don’t know about everyone else, but for me there is a tremendous sense of satisfaction that comes from reading a book that’s safe. Season of the Harvest isn’t a work of literary genius and it certainly isn’t going to redefine the canon of English literature as we know it. But that’s not a bad thing – it takes a plot that has, in some form or another, been done many times before and gives it a slightly different twist that fits in with what’s going on in the world around us today. There aren’t many tremendous plot twists and you don’t really have to exercise your brain to follow what’s going on, but it’s been written in a way that is enjoyable to read, something that not many authors get right a lot of the time.
If you like a science fiction novel that is competently written and isn’t set in some God-forsaken nebula occupied by energy beings whose names have been constructed by the author slamming his face into the keyboard to provide as many implausible letter combinations as possible, then you could do far worse than Season of the Harvest. Also, for anyone with a Kindle or the Kindle reading app, the book is free!
My Final Rating: 7 / 10
Buy the Book at Amazon.com:
Season Of The Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 1)