An intriguing and thought-provoking sci-fi venture into the origins of men and Gods.
This is a review for Robert Wingfield’s Science Fiction Novel, ‘Countdown to Omega.’
I was kindly gifted an ebook copy of Countdown to Omega from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Ancient Aliens meet Greek gods in an epic confrontation that spells the end of the world.
“The strangers came, and they were not like us. Something else, but wearing the skins of men, the eyes of men, their hands…” Ishur Ninku, Sumer, 4000 BCE
On a paradise planet, on the far side of the sun, Anthea, cast out of an isolated colony of refugees, shelters from a firestorm of meteorites. The Gods are returning, the vanguard of a race who were abandoned by her own elders millennia ago. Their arrival triggers a countdown on an alien artefact, given to her as a child, and a chain of events that can only lead to deadly conflict.
Anthea’s amulet holds the key to salvation, or her own death, but will the elders and the Gods listen to reason before the planet is devastated?
This review may contain possible minor spoilers.
Countdown to Omega was, in many ways, what I hoped it would be, though the story went a little differently than what I expected from the synopsis. This is not a criticism, rather an observation.
“Ancient Aliens meet Greek gods in an epic confrontation that spells the end of the world.” –
I feel this tagline could be a little misleading for potential readers as it perhaps gives the impression of an ‘Immortals’ or similar story of Gods waging war, of Zeus throwing lightning bolts etc. While the line is not technically incorrect, it is more a question of interpretation in the story; there is no epic war between Aliens and Gods. The reality doesn’t make the story any less intriguing – it just may appeal to a different reader than one looking for the Hollywood type battle this suggests. In fact to many readers the reality will make for a more appealing and nuanced story.
It’s something I certainly feel. From the outset, you sense that Mr. Wingfield is a well-read, well-researched author with intelligence and a passion for the mystery of the origins of our planet and its people. It’s enjoyable to let this passion and intellect guide you through the narrative.
This shines through in the descriptions and scene-setting, Wingfield being able to create vivid scenes in the reader’s mind through his use of language, which feels effortless. This gives the reader that unconscious quality when reading a book of forgetting that they are reading and simply imagining the story.
Despite this, I do feel that the book is quite dialogue heavy. For readers who prefer a lot of action, it may not be for you. That’s not to say the story is uneventful; it requires the dialogue as a vehicle to explain the past events, the worlds in which the hominids of the universe live(d) and the underlying themes. The narration is limited with the bulk of the story told through these dialogues.
We are introduced to Phoebus and Diana, male and female ‘Watchers’ respectively, sent to observe the planet of Cybele and report their findings for the colonization of their race, the Gaians. In a possible allegory for the destructive nature of the human race, the people of Cybele react with hostility, sending a missile towards the Watcher’s ship, setting off a reactionary firing of weapons of mass destruction from the trigger happy nations on the planet, destroying themselves in the process. The Watchers are forced to divert course and effectively crash land on ‘An-Ki’ a planet and its people having been managed remotely by the high priests living on Cybele. It is the Gaians that are often seen as Gods by the people of Cybele and An-Ki (people who are actually descended from the Gaians, diverging at the mass exodus of Gaia). These ‘Gaians’ stayed behind on the dying planet, the eventual Cybele people choosing to take the World Ship and colonize a new planet. During this time, the people that stayed behind evolved, intentionally using genetic engineering to become near immortal, pale skinned and tall, hardier than their relatives, now appearing as Gods.
It is on An-Ki that we meet our main character, Anthea. The symbiotic amulet she possesses is perhaps the main driver of the story; figuring out what the symbols on it mean and the overriding dread that when the symbols all become lit up over time, something dreadful will happen. Through the story, there is always a feeling of urgency and a clock ticking as the symbols gradually light up. There is a welcome addition of humour in parts of the story, with Anthea having a particularly dry, sarcastic tone. The little revenge she is able to get on one of the minor antagonists, Antaeus is particularly satisfying for this reason. On the subject of antagonists, Wingfield is able to successfully create a dislike for the character of Tiresias, a prominent antagonist in the story who is more of a stereotypical power-hungry villain.
What I enjoyed most was the exploration of the origin of man. Without spoiling the story too much, the author should be commended for telling an interesting story of his own creation whilst still staying within the constraints of an existing origin myth. Although the story is dissimilar in a majority of ways, I got a Prometheus vibe from the book (in a good way) – evolution, the origin of man, creation, a superior space race of hominids and where our potential could go particularly interests me and some of these questions are considered here.
There are actually a number of philosophical questions considered and I felt human nature was one of them. No matter how civilised we feel we become, can the dark side of human nature ever really be eradicated? Is our mortality actually in fact beneficial to our progress as a species? Where did we come from? Where could our future lie?
This book won’t be for everyone, but for me that tends to mean the people who will enjoy this type of book, will enjoy it all the more. It can require a bit of thinking and asking questions yourself and it’s really beneficial to have a little bit of knowledge of stories and myths regarding Greek Gods for example. It’s certainly interesting having finished the book, going and looking up some of the characters from the book and unravelling where some of the author’s ideas have come from. This will make you appreciate it more, and possibly having a 2nd read through after doing so would give you a few “ahhh clever” moments.
Depending on the reader, then, the book could be a different experience. For those particularly interested or knowledgeable on the above, it would be a 5 star. Perhaps a confusing 3 star for someone just wanting to have a casual read without thinking too deeply and not interested in the backstory and extra details of where Mr. Wingfield has been inspired. As I mention above, reading up on some of these inspirations after reading will certainly enhance your enjoyment of the story. For these reasons I give this intriguing, enlightening and thought provoking book a 4 star rating!
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