THE SEQUATUS SERIES by Nick Broadhurst
Humanoid aliens of the galaxy-spanning Federation run the Milky Way galaxy with one particular race called Royals as the lord of each galactic sector. By earth timeline, it is the late 1980’s but earth is unaware of the presence of alien life. The technology level is about what one expects in space science fiction: spacecraft, lasers, space warfare, faster-than-light travel, rejuvenation to extend life, etc. However, Earth is a different story. It is still 1980s Earth and one galactic lord wonders why they have evolved differently.
Humans on Earth living between 70-90 years live much shorter lives than humanoids in the rest of the galaxy. Birth rates however are much higher. All contact between the Federation and Earth is for the most part prohibited by the sector lord on pain of death. Governments on earth deny the existence of aliens and any published Earth literature in galactic libraries tends to disappear.
The story focuses on Gorren Torren who is a spy sent by the Lorde Hymonde to prepare an intelligence estimate of Earth.
The story gets started very quickly with the lord briefing the spy on his mission. The mystery of what is happening on earth grabs you quickly and keeps you turning pages to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The mysteries are the best part of the novel. Why is Earth so different? Why does the protagonist tend to see shimmering light from time to time in crucial conversations? Why has the lord sent two of a special militaristic race to accompany the spy? What happened to the original Martian humanoids that were sent to earth? And what was the race that sent them? Clues to the smaller mysteries are given in good time and the overarching ones keep you reading more.
The book tends to integrate 1980’s life on earth well with the galactic Federation—it doesn’t feel disjointed or forced in any way. It also takes much of the 1980’s fascination with the paranormal and weaves it into the story. The mound that looks like a face on Mars, flying saucers / UFOs, aliens as a developer of Egyptian pyramids—it’s all in there. You’ll even learn why the dinosaurs disappeared.
The descriptions of technology seem reasonable and aren’t too outdated. Some of the older sci-fi gets a chuckle when describing machines using vacuum tubes as advanced. The book even has a rather unique explanation for faster-than-light travel.
The characterization is a bit flat. Also the books are short. Although they are called novels, each book in the series (24 total) is closer to the length of a novella.
You’ll see the rejuvenation as a life extender for one particular race from Heinlein’s novels. The focus on anthropology feels like a hat-tip to Herbert although it could have come from the author’s many years as an expat. The description of the protagonists and the alien bad guy race secretly pulling the strings look back to the Lensman series.
The book is good escapist sci-fi and an enjoyable read. I didn’t find anything life-changing or encounter any deep ponderous questions. At two and a half bucks per book, it is well worth buying the first book to see if it piques your interest. If you know you want to read the whole series, I’d recommend buying the omnibus edition with all the novels which is cheaper than buying individually.
GUEST REVIEW by Christopher Cook