So I thought I’d change the book genres up a bit and bring a bit of sci-fi to the blog. One of my first reviews was for a book called, Time and Time Again. This was,yes you guessed it, a history based sci fi novel.
Well it’s similar with New Pompeii, only things are a little bit different. Instead of us being transported back in time, it’s a case of bringing those from the past into the present day.
“A man can loss neither the past nor the future; for how can one take something which is not yet his?” – Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome.
New Pompeii is the name of NovusParts secret, a replica city filled with real Romans, pulled through time just before the eruption of Vesuvius. And Nick Houghton has been chosen as the company’s historical advisor.
“Pompeii. The lost Roman town, buried under ash and pumice, it’s inhabitants killed by a mixture of heat and suffocation. The images of its streets and buildings were fresh in Nick’s mind. He’d visited the sites many times. Walked its pavements. Read the graffiti left on its walls. And now? Could the town and its population be reunited?”
Before Nick travels to New Pompeii, he reads up on his history books, reminding himself of what actually happened and to consider the potential of what he was going to.
“You might head the shrieks of women, the screams of children, and the shouts of men. Some wishing to die; some lifting their hands to the gods; but the greater part convinced there were now no gods at all, and they would disappear into the final endless night which has come upon the world.
For a time it grew lighter. However, with sparkling flashes, the fire fell again and we were immersed in thick darkness. A heavy shower of ashes rained upon us, which we were obliged every now and then to shake off – otherwise we should have been crushed and buried.
In the darkness, I was convinced by that miserable, though mighty, consolation, that all mankind were involved in the same calamity and that I was perishing with the world itself.”
…”The event wasn’t just some date on a calendar. It had affected real people.”
There is one other main character you should be introduced too, Kirsten. Waking up in a bath tub is quite a scare, let alone realising you’ve missed out on 30 years yet not aged a smidge. What’s more of a scare is realising that your clothes are no longer in the room yet the bathroom is locked. When you try to unlock the door, you pass right through. What’s scary is realising you are dead…
” But no one can see me…because I’m already dead.”
Kirsten soon finds out that she’s not actually dead, not yet anyway. She’s actually a paradox, an unexpected one created by NovusPart. One they never intended on creating.
Back to Nick and after arriving in New Pompeii, he realises what the end result NovusPart wants. That day to day life is continuing, builders building, demolished buildings have been resurrected and no volcano in sight…
“In a few months the skeleton built by NovusPart would be completely encased in living Roman skin. It wouldn’t just be a replica; it would have become real.”
Nick soon becomes acquainted with the duumvir of Pompeii (real Pompeii) Barbatus. And his suspicious daughter Calpurnia who knows more than she realises and more than Nick would care to share.
“Why are the chickens so large, and the carrots orange?
It was the detail that they could never get right…could reconstruct the walls of the buildings, but not their contents.”
The little details. The details that mattered, those couldn’t be replicated. Yes NovusPart got the correct clothing but didn’t wear it appropriately, the chicken should have been scrawny and yet they were handsome with meat. Carrots should have dirty and most definitely not orange, and with no port any more and no way of leaving town, Barbatus and Calpurnia felt they were losing a grip of their town.
“There are dozens of houses with no owner. And who would leave so many empty houses, when there are so many crammed into tenements? Few people have noticed them, Pullus. But my father has. And when he found out, he only asked one question. Over and over…who else is coming?”
And what thought Nick does NovusPart do about these issues? About an issue of an uprising or a riot? Smoke and mirrors. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.
“Smoke and mirrors.”
After being there a short while, Nick soon comes to realise he has many questions of his own. What happened to his predecessor? What secrets does the company employing him possess?
“Don’t spend too long trying to solve the past, when the real riddle is working out the future.”
All too late Nick realises…they have underestimated their captives on a whole other level, a level unimaginable.
“It is impossible to measure something without affecting it…that same phenomenon was going to end his research. Because he’d come to find the people of Pompeii, and he’d found they weren’t really here. They’d already been lost in the ash of the volcano.”
The below quote I think sums up NovusPart but also is very true even now. If you had all the knowledge the world could offer you, would you use it wisely? Would you use it at all? Would you ignore it?
“Knowledge is easy to acquire…not so easy to use.”
New Pompeii has an ending which is well..anticlimactic to say the least. It doesn’t give the greatest of closures to any part of the storyline and yet it’s still a fantastic novel. Very well writes, smart, inventive and action packed. This sci-fi novel is more like a thriller, you never know what’s going to happen next and where the next Roman road will lead you. I couldn’t put it down!
“Consider yourself to be dead, and to have completed your life only up to the present. And remember that man lives in the present, in this fleeting instant; all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed.”
Thanks for reading everyone,
Have any of you visited Pompeii? It’s on my bucket list!
If New Pompeii is your cup of tea then you can buy it on Amazon now! I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Empire of Time.
Until next time,