If you have read the three KOP novels (KOP, KOP KILLER, and EX-KOP), you know Warren Hammond has no problem throwing a reader straight into a brand new, boldly-envisioned world. And as with the KOP trilogy, Tides of Maritinia is an utterly human story even though it’s set somewhere out there in the universe.
All four books are sci-fi if sci-fi means space and the future. But in the case of the KOP books there’s a heavy, wonderful layer of gritty mystery-noir that makes that series truly memorable. In the case of Tides, Hammond weaves in a kind of spy-thriller theme. I don’t read much “sci-fi” but all four books offer a powerful undertow that would appeal to readers of all genres. (KOP KILLER won the 2012 Colorado Book Award for best mystery.) Tides has a James Bond flair. Or maybe a “Mission Impossible” vibe.
(A quick side note: the big discovery of water on Mars was pretty cool but perhaps Warren Hammond could help NASA find major quantities. The KOP novels take place on a water-drenched planet in rain-soaked cities. In Tides, water is everywhere and hides Maritinia’s most wicked non-human forces.)
The Tides of Maritinia features Jakob Bryce, who is sent to this ocean-covered planet to disrupt revolutionaries who want to break away from the galactic empire. Jakob is sent to destroy this world but he’s been implanted with a special device that gives Tides delicious complications. Basically, Jakob has a political officer in his head that comes with a transmitter. “Pol” is part shadow, part conscience, part internal bodyguard, part advisor.
Pol, Jakob explains, is “restricted to a lump of my own gray matter, his only contacts with the outside world were the verbal channel we shared and the taps into my optical and cochlear nerves, which allowed him to see and hear everything I did.”
Pol is a doubly wicked Siri with the inability to interact; Jakob has no shortage of advice. Except, well, Pol may have his own agenda.
First up for Jakob, previously a “paper-shuffling bureaucrat,” is to assassinate and replace one of the conspirators leading the revolt on Maritinia and from the first few pages we’re off to the races with Jakob’s attempt to maintain his secret identity and somehow disarm and disable the uprising. His mission is to “foment discontent, to create chaos and anarchy.”
Or is it? Jakob not only must battle through the external obstacles, he must slowly peel back the true layers of his role and why he was sent. The probing forces him to confront “seductive” and “powerful” forces that may have led him down the wrong path and even led to the insertion of his “dirty intruder.”
Hammond conjures up a few highly imaginative moments—I would nominate Maritinia in the category of Best Use of An Octopus in Sci-Fi—and overall delivers an action-packed thriller that comes right down to the nail-biting final few pages. Was there any doubt that water would play a role in the final, well, solution?
The Tides of Maritinia is an entertaining read not only for fans of sci-fi. As with the KOP novels, it would also make for a terrific movie.
Review of Kop