Time for another book review, but a little real life background information is required first.
In 1900, a small group of Greek sponge fisherman where diving off the coast of Antikythera, a small island near Rhodes. These lunatics were diving down to depths of 15 to 20 metres with no breathing apparatus and completely unassisted. While performing this act of insanity, they came across a very ancient shipwreck containing statues, bronzes and all manner of things that would make Indiana Jones wet himself. Within the next couple of years this site became the focus point of one of the most daring archaeological explorations of all time, with lots of clever people in silly suits and large metal helmets walking around on the ocean floor.
About two years after the discovery of this shipwreck, a remarkable item was found in the depths of the wreck. It is known as the Antikythera mechanism (pictured left), and it turned history on its head. You see, what it actually appears to be is an Analogue Computer, and it dates to around 150 b.c. Yeah that isn’t a typo, it is a computative device from over 2000 years ago!
The Antikthera mechanism is thought to have had as many as 72 gears, and when the date was entered, via a crank it predicted the where abouts of the sun, moon and several all the known planets of the time. Impressive stuff really, and nothing even remotely close would be seen again for over 1500 years. Obviously, every conspiracy theorist in the world knows about the Antikythera mechanism and they tend to believe that it was created by aliens or JFK or some such.
Anyway, now that all that is explained, we can move on to the book. Sphinx, by T.S. Learner is a work of fiction which explores the possibility that this device had a prototype.
The prototype – The Astrium is being searched for by archaeologist Isabella Warnock, who is obsessed with finding the device, something her husband Oliver doesn’t really understand. Isabella’s family history is dark and mysterious, and during the dive to recover the Astrium, the worst happens; an underwater earthquake hits and Isabella is killed.
Oliver Warnock, who is a geologist for an oil company inherits the Astrium and the quest to protect it from those who would use the device for political gain and also those who believe the device the device is the key to religious and spiritual power.
Set in the 1970′s, Sphinx is a reasonably coherent fantasy/adventure. The background is interesting, the characters are quite well written and the plot keeps on moving, often in unexpected ways. This is T.S. Learner’s first novel and to some extent that does show. Some elements of the story aren’t explained as well as they could be.
Sphinx isn’t a bad read and is certainly a very good attempt at a debut novel. I must admit that I wasn’t entirely convinced my the mystical approach, and might have preferred a more scientific and factual approach to the story, but that is just a personal preference.
T.S. Learner is
(3/5 – Not a bad holiday read)