- Exciting and mysterious plot that keeps readers engaged with the story
- Great action scenes
- Good handling of the excitement and suspense of first contact
- The start can be a little confusing as the story establishes the context
Behemoth by Joshua T. Calvert is an intriguing and engaging story of humanity’s first contact with an alien species and the devastating consequences that result from such an encounter.
This story follows the adventures of Jeremy Brandt, a former naval officer who turned to smuggling and then promoted to captain of the UNS Concordia. But this promotion is only temporary, as the event that propels Brandt into the captain’s chair also has a fatal effect on him and his small crew.
Brandt’s mission is to survive the journey through the wormhole, gather intelligence, and then somehow return to deliver said intelligence to the military. All while on a skeleton crew of volunteers and a limited time due to his exposure to radiation.
Brandt’s supporting characters aren’t very distinct save for his flight engineer, the grump and cantankerous Walter. There’s just enough grumpiness to illustrate his character while making him relatable and not quite unlikable.
A parallel story involves an investigator who is tasked with the power and authority to investigate a string of disturbing human disappearances. This story arc takes a little time to catch up to the main story involving the protagonist Brandt, but once it does, the overall picture or mystery becomes a bit more clear.
What Calvert does well is to craft a story where the aliens are both real and mysterious—they’re real in the sense that the characters manage to interact with them personally, but they’re mysterious in that the characters just don’t know who they are yet. What details the author provides can only lead both characters and readers to guess.
The action scenes or space battles can be on the grander scale, making the human struggle against the aliens seem futile. This kind of against-all-odds struggle is usually exciting for science fiction readers, though the sense of dismay can be a little disheartening.
The beginning of the story can be a little dry as its establishing the context, especially with the investigation into the missing people or abductions, but this story does pick up during the sometimes disconcerting interludes spread throughout the book. Maybe it would have been better to lengthen these chapters to give the story arc a fuller feeling rather than a brief interruption to the main story, but both storylines do merge satisfactorily at the the conclusion.
Fans of Calvert’s other works like Arrival, part of the Annihilation series, will find this first book, Behemoth, of the Hyperspace War series just as intriguing. The qualities of an exciting science fiction series are all in this military science fiction series: action, exploration, mystery, and suspense.
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