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Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Suppose We is the name of an interstellar exploration ship manned by a crew of four, with a mission to explore a suitable planet for human habitation in the Kepler system. It is also the title of the latest book by author Geoff Nelder. The story commences when Science Officer Gaston Poirer is woken from his stasis sleep by the ship’s AI which has detected huge Jupiter-sized spherical gas clouds heading for the same planet as themselves. Unsure what to make of the situation, Poirer decides to wake the ship’s commander, a gung-ho, trigger-happy individual who promptly blows up one of the gas giants, setting in motion a long and complex chain of events. Eventually crashing their ship into their destined planet, the crew of two men and two women find themselves in a very strange world. There is plenty of insect life but there appear to be no animals; the low gravity has produced trees of prodigious height that look solid but on closer examination are easily punctured and structured like huge cucumbers. Intelligent life, when they eventually encounter it, consists of opaque clouds of loosely-arranged matter which totally ignore the explorers, sometimes passing straight through them as if they were not there. That is until it becomes clear that the captain’s well-meant but rather hasty actions out in space are going to have some unexpected and unwelcome consequences.
Suppose We by Geoff Nelder is right out at the world-building edge of the sci-fi genre. The carefully thought-out but loosely structured narrative provides a constant stream of planetary and ecological concepts strange enough to set the mind reeling. Moving through an odd world while encountering weird insects, sampling the local vegetation and discovering bizarre buildings of indeterminate function, it is a while before the intrepid explorers encounter the local inhabitants, and even longer before any form of communication is established. This I found a little trying, as I was eager to find out what the author had in mind for the denizens of this extraordinary planet. The world-building was flawless, if somewhat mind-boggling, and the characters well-drawn, particularly the French science officer who seemed, with his Gallic charm and manner, to hold the entire plot together. The ship’s cranky AI shares a good part of the narrative and is an excellent device to explain and clarify parts of the story. A first-class addition to the genre and science fiction fans will not be disappointed with Suppose We.