cover image Augments of Change

Augments of Change

Kelvin Christopher James. Harvard Square, $22.95 (322p) ISBN 978-1-941861-10-3

Contemporary themes are swathed in a mishmash of science fiction trappings in this plot-driven near-future story that fails to say anything new or convincing. A prologue introduces a doughty band of "sub-sentient" alien "particles" who travel from galaxy to galaxy and world to world on a mysterious mission. With Earth nearing ecological collapse, powerful businessmen (yes, they're all men) plot to control the world's economy by cornering the market on critical technologies and discrediting the government by releasing video of politicians accepting bribes. Meanwhile, a violet-eyed white man puts aside his bigotry to fall in love with a black woman scientist, and their child exhibits mutant abilities. When a mysterious virus targets those of "pure blood," the survival of humankind depends on mixed-race people. This is a story brimming with themes of race, climate change, genetic engineering, and out-of-control plutocracy, but James spends so much time having characters explain things that he never manages to weave his elements into a compelling story. (May)