As we read through the semifinalist round of the 2023 SPSFC, here is my second full review. If you haven’t been following along, I’m a member of team At Boundary’s Edge and have been posting my individual reviews and scores. These opinions are mine alone and don’t reflect those of the team nor anyone else in the competition. Anyway, let’s look at the book and then you can see my 2nd review out of six to come before the end of April!
BOOKISH QUICK FACTS:
- Title: The Peacemaker’s Code
- Series: N/A
- Author: Deepak Malhotra
- Publisher & Release: Self, 2021
- Length: 500 pages
- SPSFC score: 7/10
HERE’S THE SYNOPSIS FROM AM*ZON:
Professor Kilmer, a renowned historian of war and diplomacy, is collected from his home and whisked off to Washington. Thrust into the highest levels of government as an adviser to the President, the young historian must come to terms with the seemingly impossible, figure out how to navigate a world where not everything is as it appears, and use all the skills and knowledge he has acquired in his life to help save humanity from a conflict of truly epic proportions. A genre-breaking novel that re-examines the human condition and masterfully blends some of the most compelling themes in literature: war & peace, strategy & serendipity, love & friendship, courage & fear, the bounds of possibility, and the limits of imagination. Replete with mysteries that will compel you to keep turning the pages, powerful moments that will stop you dead in your tracks, and insights that will change the way you understand and navigate the world. Most of all… a journey you will not forget.
My goodness this is a tricky batch of books so far. The first book was exciting but horrendously edited and presented, while The Peacemaker’s Code had my brain in a fog but is meticulously edited and well presented.
This is another surprisingly soft sci-fi. First contact will always be considered a dear part of the genre but I don’t think I’ve ever read a first contact book where the aliens remain an on page idea rather than an entity we don’t actually “meet”.
Hear me out here, spaceships appear and we see the aliens talking, but in 500 pages no character actually meets an alien. they took nearly 200 pages to land on Earth, and there was nothing but debate relating to the aliens leading up to that point.
So the crutch is this: it’s a book about negotiation, superimposed on a first contact setting. I was dying waiting to meet the aliens while the characters just debated and debated various facets that didn’t have any context yet since first contact (other than with radio relays) hadn’t occured. How much of this can we read before we just meet an alien? Well… 500 pages worth. Personally I tuned out irrevocably but I’m still giving credit where it’s due, despite that there’s hardly any action. Even when the world is being attacked we get the view from the Situation Room.
That said though, he didn’t set out to write an action thriller so I can’t treat it as something it’s not supposed to be.
So… You gave it a 7? Yes! That all said, I liked Kilmer and Silla and a few of the other characters. I’m not going to fault the author who is a professor at Harvard for writing something his colleagues would love. There are plenty of interesting ideas buried in the historical comparisons and there’s actually something to say for a book about first contact that keeps the aliens more or less an on page idea only.
What do they want? Why are they here? How do we communicate? Can we save the planet? All the big sci-fi ideas are here somewhere, just not in typical form.
Personally I’m here for more sci-fi, actual aliens, & action, with much less chatter when things are getting heated. Realistically, I can acknowledge that the MC is a dude I’d love to get a coffee with and let him make me feel like a total idiot while discussing nerdy things.
My favorite idea in the whole book, despite not being a fan of romantic notions in sci-fi, was this feeling of an “us” despite all memories being cleaned out and a situation that repeated itself anyway.
I’m coming in at a 7/10 here, which is about the best score I’ve given in the competition so far. This book is far above average in the self published world but I have to take into consideration that it completely beat my attention span. Sorry professor 😅
Thanks for checking out my semifinalist review of The Peacemaker’s Code by Deepak Malhotra! An e-copy was provided for judging purposes although I read it through Kindle Unlimited. As always, all opinions are my own 🚀
You can find all the competition updates at thespsfc.org