5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A Star Curiously Shining is the first of three in the Dark Trench Trilogy. Book one of a new trilogy (the Dark Trench Shadow) in the same universe has just come out.  Readers who want to find out what happens to the main character will need to purchase books 2 and 3, but they are available in an inexpensive bundle on Kindle.

I wasn’t sure that I would like this story. From the cover illustration and back cover copy, it is clear that the premise of the story is that there has been a Muslim takeover of Earth, resulting in a worldwide implementation of Sharia law. I have an intense dislike of novels that have what appear to be political agendas, but the cost was low, and I was short of reading material.

Nietz surprised me with a unique, thoughtfully written and engrossing piece of science fiction. It’s true that on the Dark Trench Earth, the entire world lives under Sharia law and everyone is theoretically Muslim, but the characters are anything but stereotypical. There are good and bad Muslims, and they are never portrayed as stereotypically evil, naïve or stupid. They are complex characters, with very different personalities, desires and goals.

Nietz surprised me with a unique, thoughtfully written and engrossing piece of science fiction.

Overlaid on this unorthodox world is the subculture of the debuggers. Human, but with a web-enabled chip implanted in their brains at an early age, the debuggers are a study in contrasts. They are masters of all technology, but owned as slaves. Even though they have more access to information than anyone else (including what information there is about history), they have less freedom of thought. They process an incredible amount of information daily, but are denied the romantic and even family relationships that they need to help them keep up with the mental demands.

“Sandfly”, the hero, is a high level debugger. He’s heard about “A” (their term for God) from the Imams and though he is outwardly pious like everyone else, he isn’t sure what he believes. Sandfly’s life begins to change when he is sent to solve a mystery on spaceship that has just returned from deep space. As he works, his “routine” job becomes more and more treacherous as he discovers that there may be more to this “A” than anyone on his world suspects.

This book is difficult to categorize. It’s Christian science fiction, but the style is unique. It centers on technology, but is not written in a techno-centric way like Asimov. Nietz’s writing style reminds me more of “soft” science fiction, because he explains his technology in a way that makes it easy for non-technical readers to follow. The science fiction mystery style is similar to Star Trek novels, but it is near future rather than far future science fiction. God and his nature are the central theme, but it is so well written that I did not feel preached at.

God and his nature are the central theme, but it is so well written that I did not feel preached at.

When I started reading this book, I expected the central message to be message fiction about a political topic. Instead, I found the message of this book to be, “Even if what people are afraid of did happen, God would still be on the throne”.  I’ve already purchased the rest of the Dark Trench series and given one as a gift to a friend. I hope you’ll like it as much as I do.

Content Ratings:

Heat: None. The (male) main character is attracted to a female character, but does his best not to think about it, since he is not allowed to have relationships.

Profanity: None. The characters do use what seems to be substitute profanity, usually the word “Rails”. The meanings of the words are left unexplained.

Violence: None. There is some hinting at violent things that happened in the past, and there is a confrontation, but there is no violence against humans.

Genre: Christian Science Fiction

Available on Amazon

Cost Today: This book is free on Kindle.

Reviewed by H. Halverstadt on 7/8/2017


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