Off the Shelf


By Marcus Pan

InfusionA technical author of numerous books and articles, Clint Smith has turned his attention to the world of fiction. Science fiction to be exact. Hitting us from ASI Publishing out of New York, Infusion is his novel of universal resource gathering run amok.

The story in and of itself is quite good, if a little borrowed. It is, admittedly, hard to not borrow from previous sci-fi works, of course, but for some reason there seems to be a lot of it here. In the book we are introduced to two alien races from two worlds – Kimoph and Zeron. Having come out of a civil war between each other which has ravaged terribly the eco-systems of both, a truce between the two has been established just in time for a third race to start slapping around either or. This war, however hinted at as large scale, plays a very minor part of the book. So does the investigated death of a woman murdered after turning over some information to a reporter.

You'll see pieces of this sort of thing, attempted to fit into a neat puzzle but becoming just an obstacle during the course of the book. It could have done without them, but for a few moments you think you're off on an interplanetary war or an interesting detective story sidetrack. Naught. Both Kimoph and Zeron seem a little too close to humanity in detail as well. The detective in that short dramatic add-in is very much like any other Earth based Dick Tracy. The aliens on board the cargo ship Curgan (more on that later) speak similarly as we do, though of course it is understood in a different language. They even have the same wise phrases and anecdotes we do – strange indeed.

The Curgan is a cargo ship en route to Earth. The main push of the book is exploring the morality of self-preservation versus needless destruction. Similar to Earth (again), corporations hold a huge piece of the sociological and governmental pie. The two largest are miners and extractors of a mineral called, to them, dattan (which struck me as quite an unimaginary name). It was dattan that was damaged to destroy the eco-systems of Kimoph and Zeron during the war, and the cultures are now in a savage hunt to find it elsewhere to rebuild their own planets.

After accidentally destroying one world, however, a consortium known as the KIEF was formed to police and enforce the safe extraction of this mineral in quanitities that wouldn't completely poop on other planets and destroy, in turn, their eco-systems. But without it – the Kimophians and Zeronians die. So therein lies the moral versus self-preserving dilemma. The Curgan is secretly dispatched to immorally extract large quantities of dattan from a blue planet in the "preserve," an area protected by KIEF. Of course...we speak of Earth.

The main gist of the book is the exploration of this dilemma, but doesn't really offer much of an outcome. The greedy corporations who mine and sell dattan as their core business are up for taking it from anywhere. The KIEF police are up for keeping it from damaging other places. And the dilemma stands at book's end with no real ending or solution in sight.

Overall...Infusion has a decent plot and not-bad storyline. But it tries to infuse too many different puzzle pieces that don't fit neatly together (but could have if explored and expanded into, say, a trilogy) that offer bumps down the road. It's also told in the way you'd expect a freshman fiction writer to tell it. Neither the Kimoph or Zeron cultures are expounded upon much, instead left to be basically Earth with a different skin color. There's a lot of room for improvement here.

“Infusion” by Clint Smith
Copyright © 2004 by Clint Smith
Published by ASI Publishing
ISBN: 0-9759271-0-8
Contact Information:
ASI Publishing Post: 12 Brandywine Dr., Warwick, NY, 10990, USA
Phone: (845) 987-1787
Fax: (845) 988-5439

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