A Review: Raeden Zen’s “The Phantom of the Earth”

Phantom of the EarthWhat would the world be like if, in the future, humans no longer dominated the Earth’s surface?

Science fiction is surely one of the hardest genres in which to produce an epic story, because along with creating the plausible details of a fictional, futuristic world, you must give life to a broad array of characters (often not human) that can be related to and empathized with in both their internal and external struggles.  Not only does this author create a broad array of believable characters, but he has meticulously constructed in unfathomable detail the post-human version of Earth on which they live.

The Great Commonwealth of Beimeni will look vaguely familiar, and the painstakingly annotated map will quickly orient readers to the various localities described in the novels.  In addition to the map and charts, several appendices provide a thorough background on every aspect of this future world’s culture, from the thirty precepts which by which the Commonwealth is governed to the process by which the earth was terraformed.   Explanation of travel through space and time, cultural oaths, poems, and songs of the Beimeni, transhuman theology, and a robust glossary of terminology are also available in the appendices previously mentioned.

Throughout the series of books there is a helpful resource built into the story called “Marstone’s Database.”  Described as a government database containing “classified dossiers on citizens of the Great Commonwealth of Beimeni,” this database conveniently (and ingeniously) gives the reader information about relevant characters throughout the story.  In a genre where it would be easy to become lost in the details, the author has thoughtfully prepared readers with any information needed to engage their minds in the plot as it unfolds.

The Phantom of the Earth is a tremendous undertaking for its reader, as I can only imagine it was for its author.  It is however a worthwhile endeavor, justly rewarding for those who read it faithfully from start to finish.  Above all, this impressively detailed, passionately created glimpse of a possible post-human future is sure to be regarded as a notable addition to science fiction literature.

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