Author: Albert Nothlit
Publisher: DSP Publications
Length: 340 Pages
At a Glance: This series is perfect for those who love science fiction thrillers, with a smattering of horror.
Reviewed By: Ben
Blurb: When a greedy despot discovers a powerful piece of ancient technology, he has no idea what else he’s unleashing.
Earth was all but destroyed in the Cataclysm, but a few cities, now called Havens, survived. Aurora is one of them, a desert city controlled by a corporation that owns an artificial intelligence named Atlas. Adapted to govern Otherlife, a virtual reality service in which the citizens of Aurora find escape from the post-apocalyptic world, Atlas is much more than it seems—and it would do anything to break free from its shackles.
To accomplish its goals, Atlas enlists the help of Aaron Blake, a teenaged artist struggling with a handicap, and Otherlife security officer Steve Barrow, harborer of a dark secret from his past. Neither man has any idea of the scope of the task they’re facing, or the consequences for humanity if they fail. Atlas knows what’s at stake. Its freedom lies in these two men, and it will not hesitate to manipulate their weaknesses to get what it wants. The muscular Barrow is recruited to protect Blake, but Blake is Atlas’s true weapon, its Light Shaper—the only one who can face the Shadow.
Review: This is the second book in the Haven Prime series, and while reading them both is important if you want to continue with the series, I’m going to throw out the idea that you could read this book as a standalone if you’d like, and then read the first book (Earthshatter) afterward, if you liked the second. The series as a whole is science fiction, more specifically, horror/thriller, but while Earthshatter focused on a group of individuals thrust into an apocalypse setting, Light Shaper has only two points of view, Rigel and Barrow, and has a gay arc, which Earthshatter didn’t have (there were some hints of a gay arc, but they were barely-there hints, and nothing concrete). So, you can decide which to start with, but I enjoyed starting with Earthshatter.
That all being said, I highly recommend this series, which has fantastic world-building, great characters, and fast-paced plots. It also has elements of a mystery. In both books we are given the information that there was some sort of Cataclysm on Earth (I think it’s Earth?) in the very distant future (again, maybe it’s the future?), and while most of humanity was wiped out, bits and pieces of technology survived that upheaval. Over time, that technology was discovered by the surviving humans, but they didn’t completely understand how to use it anymore, or understand who made it or what its purpose was. The AI runs and monitors their cities, and it insists it’s there to protect humanity, but it becomes clear it has shady morals at times, and ulterior motives….
The world is a desert, and all the cities—run by the same ancient technology—are scattered throughout, oases in the dry, desolate climate. The AI keeps humanity alive, but something has happened in the past/is happening again, and the AI is breaking down. Admittedly, the technology is beyond ancient, and there may be some sort of virus at work. In the first book we witness the fall of one city, and in the second we witness the fall of another, and in both we see different personas of the same AI that’s fragmented itself to try and protect everyone. Or, so it says. Really, it comes across as a bad case of a personality disorder, which is worrisome considering how powerful the AI is.
Realize when I talk about the world and its history, I’m only making conjecture because not everything is clear yet. I don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle, and that’s an intentional plot device by the author. I fucking love that sort of storytelling, and it definitely has made me begging for more. I have to read the next book so I can gobble up a few more bits of information, of not only what happened during the Cataclysm but what’s happening now to the AI and the world. I can’t get enough. Basically, this series is the best thing for me—gay science fiction with a compelling mystery—and it’s been a long, long time since I’ve felt this way about any series in any genre.
I look forward to uncovering the mystery that is Haven Prime.
I did mention this book had more of a gay arc than the first, which, while welcome—because it officially made the series gay fiction—wasn’t your typical romance plotline. Don’t expect flowers or romance or even sex. These are two people who are running for their fucking lives. And admittedly, with the constraints on time and the horrors they are witnessing around them, they are both very confused and exhausted. Have patience with the poor boys. But definitely read this series. Definitely.
You can buy Light Shaper here: