by Sean Williams
Review by Steve Sawicki
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441014934
Date: 24 April 2007 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
This book is the story of Imre Bergamasc, or at least one version of Imre Bergamasc, as it opens with the reawakening of Bergamasc who has been pulled from the wreckage of some sort of storage pod by the Jinc, an alien group mind. Bergamasc has been put together somewhat piece meal as not all of him was available and the Jinc had to guess at some parts. They also made him a woman. So, other than that, and the fact that he can remember nothing prior to the reawakening, Bergamasc is ready to go.
Saturn Returns (and I have to admit that I am clueless about what the title means) is all about Imre Bergamasc. Imre is awakened on a space ship but a group mind known as the Jinc. They found him floating in a damaged storage pod and repaired him, more or less. They weren't sure about memory and they figured gender really didn't make a difference either so they made him a woman. As Imre wanders the Jinc ship trying to figure out who and what he is and why he was in a storage pod in a distant part of the galaxy and why anyone would want to hunt down that pod and shoot at it, he begins to become uneasy with the Jinc. The group mind, communicating through animate bi-pedal creatures used as mouthpieces, tells Imre little but does introduce him to a silver sphere they hope he can identify. He can't but begins to understand the Jinc's interest when the sphere contacts him and tells him he needs to leave the Jinc ship as quickly as possible. The sphere let's Imre listen to a Jinc discussion about him where the two choices seem to be just killing him outright or dissecting him first to see if more information can be gained. Imre escapes by stealing a ship and begins a more serious search for his identity, finding old friends, older enemies, political systems that he seems to have created and then left, and enough rumors and oddities, including a religion based on his return, to leave him more than frantic to discover who he really is, or was.
This is a broad story and my main complaint is that it is not a complete story. While the book more or less comes to an end at the last page the story is not even close to being done. When I'm handed the fist book in a series I like to know it. It always leaves a bad feeling when I'm 40 or 50 pages from the end and I begin to suspect that the book's end is not going to coincide with the story end. That being said, I did enjoy this book. Sean Williams creates some strange worlds which he then populates with even odder people and enough toss away technology, culture and politics to make the whole thing feel real.
It is difficult to form an opinion on what is basically the beginning of something. At the end of this book there are still big things on the move and many questions still unanswered. Sure the getting from front to back was interesting and the characters and settings were unique and wonderful but there needs to be some sense that all this motion was for some purpose other than the separation of $8 from your wallet. If Williams can maintain the story pace and continue to show us Imre both present and past, then this could be a very good series.