Sometimes, the purpose of science fiction is to provide a full-on, action-fuelled romp that will take the reader on an impossible journey. Other times, its purpose is to hold up a mirror to the real world by using strange ideas and elaborate metaphors to make the reader think. Alex Davis’s The Last War is firmly in the latter category, and this makes it a leisurely yet engaging read.
The central plot is one that feels more like a parable than a science fiction story. Davis introduces us to an alien race called the Noukari. They are an intelligent, rational species who are a very much still a developing culture. Every resource they have is precious and any project they undertake can have far reaching implications for their continued survival. They also have some level of telepathic power, though as a developing culture they’ve yet to codify or fully realise their abilities.
Some of the Noukari believe that their far and distant creators, a race called the Apex, are gods and should be worshipped. Others maintain that this is an enormous waste of precious time and energy, especially as it is impossible to prove if the Apex exist. Over time, the two groups grow apart and, of course, blame each other when things go wrong. What begins with mutual suspicion and energetic debate ends in something far darker and far too familiar to anyone who has ever picked up a newspaper.
The Last War is slow, character-driven fiction which features heroes that are mostly defined by their relationships with other characters as well as their conflicting opinions. None of the protagonists are particularly sympathetic, but the story itself is intriguing. Davis writes in a relaxed and gentle style, taking the time to slowly expand on his story and draw the reader in. Engaging stuff and worth your time.
THE LAST WAR / AUTHOR: ALEX DAVIS / PUBLISHER: TICKETY BOO PRESS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW