DiscoverMystery & Crime

The Voyage

By

Not for me 😔

Flat Earth conspiracy that could have intrigued, but unfortunately falls "flat".

Synopsis

Douglas Falk's THE VOYAGE is a thriller/mystery novel in the same vein of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon series and Michael Crichton's speculative work. The novel is centered around the premise of a flat Earth - the grandmother of all conspiracy theories.

John Wilander finds himself reluctantly drawn to an ambitious investigation of a clandestine theory--lured into the rabbit hole by his enigmatic new friend from Stockholm University, the privileged William Milton. William is intensely determined to exhume the mother of all conspiracy theories from its dormancy and usher in the renaissance of a notorious worldview that has been dead and buried for five hundred years...until now.

As John's pleas for sanity fall on deaf ears, a decision is made. With the aid of astrophysicist Dr. Celeste Wood, the table is set for a voyage to Antarctica that, if successful, could re-shape the world as we know it for all the years to come--with or without him.

I really wanted to like The Journey by Douglas Falk. While I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor a "flat-earther," I do appreciate books that make me suspend belief and whisk me away on an adventure. I was hoping this book would truly be in the vein of a DaVinci Code but unfortunately, there are many aspects that limit the story.


The biggest issue I have is the telling rather than showing. Instead of bringing to life a story where I'm living the experience, I feel like I'm in a lecture. A majority of the reveal about the earth being flat rather than round is in conversation from one young man, William Milton, to his friend, John Wilander. Both are young Swedish students studying at University, in their early-mid twenties. Through conversations with not much action for at least half of the book, we hear from William why the earth might be flat. This becomes the premise for William's proposition to explore Antarctica, to prove there is an ice ring surrounding the earth.


After many conversations/lectures, William convinces John to join him on an expedition to the South Pole. Even when the men are journeying to the South Pole, William is still lecturing John about everything he has researched. Instead of having the men come across these "a-ha" moments and experience things along the way, it's always presented as William telling John about his theories or what he's read.


Another issue is the character development. The conversations do not flow naturally nor do the voices sound distinct or unique. John and William sound like two sides of the same coin in their cadence and inner dialogue. And I don't know much about them other than William is wealthy and believes the earth is flat and John is open to hearing his arguments.


When action does finally happen, about 2/3 of the way into the story, it doesn't seem plausible, even knowing I'm supposed to suspend belief. Because incidents occur and the reactions to what happens are shallow and without emotion. I'm fairly certain William is not meant to be seen as a sociopath. Yet his responses speak otherwise.


This book could have been exciting if the author took us on a true journey where we experience the arguments and theories for why the earth could be flat. Instead, we are given a lecture - one that sadly, falls flat.

Reviewed by

I review books (except horror) for Kelly Lacey's award-winning blog Love Books Group. I'm a former sociology professor, current mom, and a contracts specialist for a company specializing in chatbots for Higher Ed. I love reading and being swept away into another world through the power of words.

Synopsis

Douglas Falk's THE VOYAGE is a thriller/mystery novel in the same vein of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon series and Michael Crichton's speculative work. The novel is centered around the premise of a flat Earth - the grandmother of all conspiracy theories.

John Wilander finds himself reluctantly drawn to an ambitious investigation of a clandestine theory--lured into the rabbit hole by his enigmatic new friend from Stockholm University, the privileged William Milton. William is intensely determined to exhume the mother of all conspiracy theories from its dormancy and usher in the renaissance of a notorious worldview that has been dead and buried for five hundred years...until now.

As John's pleas for sanity fall on deaf ears, a decision is made. With the aid of astrophysicist Dr. Celeste Wood, the table is set for a voyage to Antarctica that, if successful, could re-shape the world as we know it for all the years to come--with or without him.

Prologue


Antarctica, January 27th, 1956


Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd stood firm in the blizzard. He wore his practical winter trench coat today instead of the medal-adorned uniform he usually sported at formal occasions—leading his men through the snows deep in Antarctica was anything but a posh dinner party nor was it remotely like a military briefing back home in America. If there was anything at all he had learned after serving thirty years in the U.S. Navy, it was the appreciation of pragmatic leadership.


It’s not about how gallantly the mission is accomplished, but that it is accomplished—without fail.


He waded through the ankle-deep snows with his thick military boots and found himself striding up a small hill, hoping to glance at the wide, desolate landscape. He squinted towards it and looked closely.


Blast…I can’t see a thing.


The snows whirled around him and his men. Despite the observable fact that the sun was in zenith, any prospects of seeing far ahead were abysmal. The blizzard was simply too thick today. He turned around and addressed his men.


“Corporal Needham! Binoculars, if you may!”


A scrawny young man, barely eighteen years of age from what Byrd could estimate, emerged from the ranks and handed his pair of binoculars over to the admiral. Byrd grabbed the black Bausch & Lomb army binoculars and proceeded to look into them.


I’ll be damned. Still not a thing in sight, other than a thick haze of white mist.


He handed the scopes back to the young corporal, knelt to the snow… and reflected.


We have to go further, with or without a clear line of sight.


He gazed upon his platoon, and despaired.


Green boys. I bet most of them have never seen this much snow or ice in their lives combined. Not that I had first-hand experience of polar weather conditions when I was in their age, though…the climate in Virginia is about as mild as they come.


Twenty-eight years had come and gone since his first Antarctic expedition, but he could recall the voyage to the southernmost outpost of the Earth as if it was yesterday. The same ponderings that haunted him back then came crawling back today.


We are not meant to live here. Human life is not suited for this place.


After five polar expeditions during a span over three decades, Byrd’s boyish facial features had started to wax and wane, and his hair had turned to a rather dour shade of grey—but his old sentiments still stood the test of time.


We are not meant to dwell here.


He rose to his feet and tried to push the nostalgic memories away, which surged like shockwaves through his body and soul.


It is not time for me to retire just yet. I have a job to do…one final assignment. The rocking chair can wait.


He ordered the platoon onwards, and they marched through the snowy inferno. They had arrived with the USS Wyandot one month prior. They reached the outskirts of the Ross Ice Shelf and had stayed the night at McMurdo Base. Swiftly thereafter, a hellish long and tiresome walk followed towards the South Pole, which they had reached two days ago.


We ought to build a base here. A base here at the South Pole so that people can come and go safely and stay the night with a roof over their heads and proper floor under their feet, here as far south as south goes. It would be reasonable to name it after Roald Amundsen…as long as we don’t name the encampment in the honour of Robert Falcon Scott, all is well. If you finish second place, you deserve neither award nor glory. You win, or you lose. There is no middle ground.


The orders assigned to him by his superiors were clear and sound, as always. They were to reach the South Pole and thereafter head forward on foot and emerge on the other side of the continent in the area around Queen Maud Land. They were to settle down at the Norwegian military base at the site and await transport back home to the States. Judging by the briefing in Washington where Byrd had been assigned the task, this was to be the very first attempt at traversing Antarctica in human history.


I better not slip up at the finish line.


The platoon marched onwards with all the strength they could muster, and Byrd decided to set up camp after having led his men forward for two miles. Two corporals and a private were in the process of assembling Byrd’s large admiral tent when the snowstorm suddenly appeared to fizzle out. The blowing wind abated, and the few snowflakes that fell from the sky were minuscule. Byrd stood with his arms crossed and watched over the sad attempts by his men trying to assemble his tent, then he turned around and looked out over the plains—the line of sight had improved remarkably just over the course of a few minutes. To his disappointment, what he saw was the same as always.


Same old tundra. Same old flat lands and the ever-extending ice, glaciers, and snow…snow in spades.


Suddenly, he heard a cry from somewhere ahead of him. “Sir!” It was young corporal Needham, who stood and gazed with binoculars at his position as sentry about fifty meters ahead of the camp. Byrd waded through the thick snow and cut through it like Moses at the Red Sea with his aging albeit still fit body. He approached Needham.


“What have you seen?” Needham held the binoculars in his right hand. He was trembling. “I don’t know, sir. I don’t know.”


“Give me those,” commanded Byrd. Needham handed the binoculars over to him, and he looked in to the optics. “Where should I look?” Needham, still trembling, pointed at the horizon with shaky fingers.


“There. Over there, two o’ clock.” Byrd squinted and looked directly at two o’clock. He saw nothing but the endless, desolate snowy landmass they had wandered through for a whole month.


“I see nothing,” said Byrd. He looked through the optics once more, just for safety. And that was when he saw it. He dropped the binoculars, which fell to the ground with a thud. Byrd rubbed his eyes, hoping that what he saw was a mirage…he picked the binoculars up from the snow and looked again.


Dear God. It’s not a mirage. It looks like…looks like…could it be? Sweet Mary, mother of God.


About the author

Douglas Falk was born in Stockholm, Sweden on May 15th 1992. The son of a journalist and an accountant, he was raised in the borough of Norrmalm. He eventually came to the realization that a career in teaching was not his calling, and dropped out after a year to pursue his dream profession–writing. view profile

Published on December 03, 2019

Published by Mascot Books

90000 words

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Reviewed by

Enjoyed this review?

Get early access to fresh indie books and help decide on the bestselling stories of tomorrow. Create your free account today.

or

Or sign up with an email address

Create your account

Or sign up with your social account