“It’s a really… human thing, isn’t it? The appreciation of art, seeing the beauty in something with no practical purpose. It holds no key to our survival, it doesn’t help us eat or mate, but we love it anyway. And, unlike life, it has a knack of being joyful even when it’s sad or angry.”
Author: Aaron Kane Heinemann Published: 2017 Pages: 332
This novel is a self-published science fiction book. It is set in the future and is centred around four people who choose to embark on a one-way trip to a far away, uninhabited planet. The only problem is, when they get there, it is a wasteland. Jumping between past and present Shelley, Verne, Kojima and Ballard contemplate their abandonment on the deserted planet and realise that maybe it takes travelling to an alien place to discover what makes them human.
This novel was truly astounding. I found myself unable to put it down because even though every page wasn’t filled with action, I was just itching to discover the secrets and admissions of the four stranded characters. Plus, when there was some action, I found myself holding my breath in anticipation of what might happen next. Each of the protagonists deal with the situation differently, making their experiences equally alluring. Despite being set in the future, Heinemann successfully creates characters which are relatable, and more importantly, real. They are perfectly imperfect and that’s what kept me turning the page.
I think when you read science-fiction or fantasy books, it is important that there are elements of them which are true to real life. Heinemann does this well and takes familiar feelings and emotions and showcases them in a truly unique way. Although the person reading will not have been to other planets, they will know what grief, fear and hope feels like. They will know the pain of being human. His ability to tap into this, above anything else, is why this novel triumphs.
Gods and Conquerors goes against every self-publishing stereotype and is so eloquent and polished that I struggled to believe that it wasn’t produced by a publishing house. Heinemann successfully describes futurist technology and scientific ideas throughout the novel but in a flawlessly subtle way. The legitimacy of the book cannot be refuted and I felt like I was reading about what the future may look like for Earth. However, even if science-fiction isn’t your thing, the sci-fi elements of this book become almost insignificant when compared to the other themes it tackles.
By setting the novel on another planet, Heinemann beautifully juxtaposes the characters’ humanity with the alien nature of their surrounding. I found an escapism by reading this, but at the same time, learnt more than ever what it takes to be human.
Thank you to the author, Aaron Kane Heinemann, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
(Click here* to buy a copy of Gods and Conquerors now.)