I reviewed Diamones, the first book in Massimo Marino’s sci fi series, on You Tube some time ago. Here are the reviews for the rest of the series. If you want to purchase the book, just click on the title and the link will take you to your nearest Amazon store.
Once Humans by Massimo Marino
This, the second book, is the best of the three in Marino’s science fiction trilogy that began with Diamones. Once Humans has more action and a more complex plot than Diamones, and ventures further into more traditional science fiction fare with the integration of alien space ships and technology into the story.
The plot of Once Humans revolves around trying to discover who is sabotaging the new human civilisation, and the results of the discovery that the brains of the millions of humans that died in the alien’s Selection—the apocalyptic event in Diamones—were used to make the drug needed for the aliens to pilot their spaceships across the universe. The official reason was that the Selection, which involved genetic modification of a selected few, was to prevent humans from obliterating themselves, and supposedly the fact that human brains could be used for the drug was only discovered after the event. Of course, the humans are suspicious, and with good reason. The Morai are not the benevolent race that Dan and the other Selected had been led to believe.
Marino describes vast underground alien bases and advanced technology and we see Dan changing into a strong and decisive leader. I don’t know anything about the ‘science’ the technology is based on, but Marino gives convincing explanations.
Apart from a few clunky sentences and missed typo, the editing is clean. The writing is sparse, in some cases rather too sparse for my taste. Marino does not lay everything out, in fact, sometimes chunks of the story are missing. He expects the reader to piece the tale together from a combination of hints, suggestions and scenes. The large jumps between scenes sometimes makes the story hard to follow, and personally I would prefer a fuller treatment—I think character development suffers as well—but Marino’s imagination is fascinating enough to carry it for those who don’t mind the choppy style.
The Rise of the Phoenix by Massimo Marino
I was disappointed in the third book of Marino’s science fiction trilogy mostly because it’s essentially one large battle—the battle of the humans to gain dominion over their alien masters.
This is a personal preference thing; many enjoy endless Star Wars style battles, but I like something more from a story, and so my interest soon waned. Without the level of interest I had in the stories of the first two books, the weaknesses in Marino’s writing became harder to ignore.
His tendency to jump between scenes and leave much that could have been written unwritten made me unsure of what exactly was happening in the beginning. Once I realised what was going on—that Dan was taking the human race to war—I couldn’t work out why or what he actually expected to achieve. Revenge seemed a weak motivation after ninety years. Clearly, if the aliens had aimed to remove the war-like tendency from the human race, they’d failed.
New characters such as Amy fell flat and some of the dialogue came out as trite and stereotypical. Not only that, but apart from one man who was portrayed as a coward rather than a conflicting voice, it seemed as if the whole human race was quite happy to go to war. I found that rather too convenient to be believable. The breast beating and war cries of the humans will no doubt rouse the hearts of some, but for me it rang hollow.
If a few grammar gaffs, sketchy characters and Marino’s style of leaving gaps in the story don’t bother you, then it’s worth reading just to see where the trilogy ends, but there are much better sci fi reads around.
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