DiscoverScience Fiction

The Auriga Project (Translocator Trilogy Book 1)


Worth reading 😎

The Auriga Project may not provide the depth of character or worldbuilding that serious science fiction fans crave, but if you are looking for a fast, thrilling adventure, it will be a fun addition to any summer-reading list.

M.G. Herron’s The Auriga Project is a novel with wide appeal. Part corporate thriller, part science fiction mystery, and part survival tale, the story lends itself to many different tastes, yet in doing so, it may be diluted too much to leave a lasting impression.

Using the vast recourse of his company, Amon Fisk has developed a molecular reassembly device, the Translocator — think an affable Elon Musk who bypassed rockets after getting his hands on some Nazi teleportation technology. The Translocator is meant to establish a supply chain to the nascent lunar colony, but things go amiss during its first public demonstration, and Eliana, Amon’s wife, is teleported to parts unknown.

What follows is a dual narrative. On Earth, Amon desperately tries to solve the mystery of his wife’s disappearance, while unknown forces try to strip him of his company and the technology he needs to locate her. On a distant planet, Eliana is captured a tribe of extraterrestrial humans who want her as a sacrifice to their bloodthirsty gods.

The novel’s strength lies in its brisk pace. Harron provides all the information the reader needs to understand his science fictional universe, but he never lets the story flump under the weight of it. This is a natural fit for Amon’s story, which reads like a hi-tech thriller complete with underhanded government agents and a shadowy puppet master pulling the bureaucratic strings.

I was surprised at how well Harron manages to maintain the same pace with Eliana’s story, which reads more like survival narrative meets anthropologists study. Eliana analyzes the linguistic phonemes, social mores, and religious practices of her tribal captors, yet it never feels like the author has dumped someone’s field notes in-between the passages of personal struggle.

Amon and Eliana are also both strong characters, but as you’d expect from a lab rat and an archeologist respectively, their strength comes from their convictions, intelligence, and critical thinking skills. Too often in these science fiction meets thriller stories, the academic protagonists are also bad-ass black belts, going fisticuffs with every thug and goon with the same deftness they solving mind-bending puzzles.

It’s a cheap way to have action and mystery to stimulate artificial stakes, and to my pleasure, Harron avoids this trap. In place of supercilious badassitude, Amon and Eliana read like natural people who use the skills they’ve developed during their careers to overcome the conflicts put before them (while being hindered by those skills they have neglected).

But the pace, while appreciated, does come at a cost. The antagonists aren’t given any time to develop idiosyncrasies, and in the place of dynamic characters, we are left with stock images. Agent Montoya is little more than a bullish attitude adorned with a Semper Fitattoo, and his partner, Agent Fowler, sucks all the humanity out of the proceedings when she talks to anyone:

“How can I help you?” [Amon]

“Our department handles… sensitive situations.” [Fowler]

“What department is that?”

“Rest assured, I have complete authority in this matter.”

“And this matter is what exactly?”

“I hope we can count on your full cooperation, Mr. Fisk.”

It’s all rather rote, and the resolution of their conflict with Amon feels like the authorial equivalent of hitting the reset button for the sequel’s sake.

The extraterrestrial tribe also lacks vibrancy. While the mystery of how a Mayan tribe was transported to a distant planet does entice, the end result is simply a Mayan tribe set against a purple-sky backdrop. They lack the intrigue of a biologically alien culture — like, say, the Gethenians from The Left Hand of Darkness or the Oankali from Lilith’s Brood — while their new environment has done little to radically alter their culture. It just feels too familiar to the “Westerner must live among the natives” narrative that we’ve all read time and again.

It’s possible that these complaints will be addressed in the sequels (both of which are available now), but they ultimately lessen the novel’s appeal on its own. Still, if you are looking for a fun, thrilling read, The Auriga Project will be a welcome addition to any summer-reading list.

Reviewed by

Kevin R. Dickinson has been an independent writing consultant since 2011. During that time, he's worked as an educator, editor, journalist, and researcher, and written on subjects ranging from religion to Dr. Seuss, film history to Mars' surplus of iron oxide.

The Demonstration

About the author

M.G. Herron writes science fiction and fantasy stories for adrenaline junkies. His books explore new worlds, futuristic technology, ancient mysteries, various apocalypses, and the vagaries of the human experience. view profile

Published on September 15, 2015

Published by MG Publishing LLC

30000 words

Genre: Science Fiction

Reviewed by