Title: Neroptesean – The Water Traveler
Author: Kate Barny
Genre: Science Fiction
In the forty-second century, Earth has evolved into “Panagaea,” a world consisting of three super-continents, each governed by their respective Confederations.
In the Euroatlantian Confederation lives Nerovia, a descendant of ancient Hellenic Water Nymphs. Nerovia can teleport to future and parallel universes, and, during one such teleportation, discovers a chain of events that threatens not only her survival, but that of all fellow Euroatlantians…
Neroptesean is a most unusual book that serves as a testament to the Author’s elaborate and immersive imagination. In her prologue, Barny advises that the idea for Neroptesean came to her while sleeping and, consequently, the story has a nebulous, dreamscape quality throughout.
The novel is written in short sentences that almost present as statements of fact, lending a technical, mildly instructional tone to the writing. This detached feel to the narrative, combined with the switches in tense and perspective changes, sometimes in the same paragraph, enhance the disconnected, otherworldly vibe that permeates the book.
Nerovia’s gift of transportation and how she utilizes it through the electromagnetic conductivity of water, has been thought through to a convincingly detailed degree. It’s understandably quite scientific, but the fundamentals are intrinsically simplistic, making the concept credible and easy to engage with.
The thrust of the main plot is fairly straightforward, resembling a time-traveling thriller, albeit in a fantasy setting. A touch more focus on the pacing and conflict may have benefitted the action, but Barny manages to successfully cram in two major plotlines that can certainly be revisited in future installments.
The novel is littered with innovative gadgets and apparatus but never becomes too far-fetched or incredible. Indeed, through its ideology, geography, and character monikers, the story is rooted in, and alludes to, elements of Greek philosophy and mythology.
This classical foundation is highlighted by the occasional archaic phrasing. Subsequently, the novel has a cerebral aspect but still manages to be accessible. Nevertheless, it does provide a nicely involving academic layer for those readers with knowledge of the ancient world.
Characterization is slightly one-dimensional but this produces an intriguing contrast to the fantastical landscape that surrounds the cast. However, Nerovia is a conflicting individual who exudes a mature, knowing confidence tempered with childish vulnerability and curiosity.
Her relationship with grandmother, Persa, full of frustration yet ultimately loving, is competently conveyed. Conversely, her chemistry with Historian Amphios was a little lackluster, and despite his imposing physical presence, he comes across as a touch awkward and robotic.
By comparison, the Archivists/Librarians, Leander and Mnemea were interesting characters imbued with more depth and personality. Lyreas Detersome, in his purple suit, provides an entertaining splash of color and, in the early scenes, a slight redolence of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.
At times, there is a screen-writerly feel to the prose, especially when describing character actions, which, in places, essentially read like stage directions. It could be leveled that this sterile form does, in effect, complement the futuristic universe portrayed in the novel and the sharply linear thought process of the characters.
Notwithstanding, Neroptesea celebrates the natural world and its ecological beauty in chromatic and sensory language. The Meliae forest, in particular, is vividly realized, straddling futurism and folklore with some lovely, visual imagery.
Further, the novel cleverly resonates with contemporary messages—not just concerning the environment, but the dangers of experimental genetics and advanced technology together with the horrors and futile politics of war.
For fans of avant-garde science fiction, Neroptesean – The Water Traveler is a unique treat. Visionary, fascinating, and unconventional, Barny absorbs the reader into the intricate workings and enthusiasm of her vision through a literary portal of ingenuity and originality.
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