J.C. Gemmell | Reviews | Tionsphere
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Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

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Tionsphere is a work of science fiction penned by author J.C. Gemmell and is the opening novel to a new series. In this newly imagined future, the planet is faced with the inevitable crush of overpopulation and considers the ways in which human society might adapt to control this issue as time marches on. We follow the coming of age experiences of the teenage protagonist amid a wide cast of characters investigating the various unusual goings-on in the system they live by. But when one figure slips away from the assignment set for his future, new discoveries are made that threaten the system and human life as a whole.

Author J.C. Gemmell has produced a hard-boiled science fiction work for fans of traditional complex societies with lots of crunch in the workings and plenty of detailed backstories. Suitable for all readers due to its non-graphic depictions, the ensemble cast and various narrative viewpoints give us a full sense of the world in which we find ourselves, and the system put in place to promote segregation and prevent chaos from taking over in a society on the brink of overflow. The tension is palpable, the dialogue complex and the artifice of life itself intelligently exposed by those who break the chain. For serious science fiction fans, Tionsphere marks the beginning of a complex new series with plenty to think about long after the intense reading experience is over, and it’s therefore highly recommended for hardcore fans of the genre.

Reviewed By Vincent Dublado for Readers’ Favorite

J.C. Gemmell’s Tionsphere is the beginning of a monumental science fiction series. As the world’s future population faces its greatest challenge, technology is having trouble sustaining humanity’s demands. Pazel Sad-Tet-Ain-Resh, one of Tionspehere’s originators, believes he has a solution—a solution that serves the elite and his personal interests. He has the wealth and influence to make things happen in a future that has become dependent on digital technology and connectivity. Contract theorists Caitlyn, Freja, Kavya, Miyu, and Jovana accept a deal to discover why the T-sphere is failing. To complete their contract, Caitlyn and her team will encounter an assortment of characters that trace back before the Forming, including Pazel who is determined to carry out his sinister plan.

J.C. Gemmell is mindful of his character development as he devotes each chapter to exploring three to four characters—a necessity for a sci-fi series operating on a grand scale. It celebrates diversity with its interracial cast. Similarly, the world-building is replete with details of humanity’s obsession with online connectivity. Invented scientific jargon can sometimes get in the way as well as foreign words in italics especially if you are not versed in European languages. Some of the invented words are not explained and Gemmell leaves it to you to unlock its meaning based on context. Pazel is a formidable villain. His ability to “ghost” into different bodies allows him to travel and remain undetected. High tension and complex dialogue make Tionsphere a fascinating read. Give it a chance, and you will likely look forward to the release of the next instalment.

Reviewed By Hayleigh Sol on Goodreads

Complex and detail-rich page-turner

Gemmell's Tionsphere builds a world where the citizens are at risk on multiple fronts: other citizens who might order another's death or “caching” as easily as a cup of coffee, the overpopulation of their world that seems to be causing its technology to shut down, and the egocentric plans of Pazel, a man whose been around since Tionsphere’s creation and is convinced he knows how to best manage it.

From the first chapter, there’s an overhanging feeling of danger for average people living their everyday lives. Connor and Danesh, separately, are abducted, subjected to violent body swapping and mental and physical control by others. Despite earnest struggling to maintain their own identities, they’re at risk of losing their true selves. Hyun-jun, a curious innocent from the farming portion of the world, undertakes a quest to seek the truth of what’s beyond his small life. He’s joined by Enzo and, later, Ines, and their journey becomes a reality show spectacle followed and voted on by the global population. This theme of a people obsessed with data and connectivity pervades the novel; “online” can monitor and find anyone at any time and a person’s removal from their connection causes severe disconnection sickness.

Pazel may be the only person capable of avoiding detection. His wealth and strict adherence to his own goals have isolated him, though he has many underlings, some of whom would do anything for him, and the ability to “ghost” into various bodies and move through the levels of the world easily.

Youssef, another “lifer” like Pazel, who possesses a technology that regenerates his body and mind every day so he lives forever, seems as though he may be a formidable hero in the fight against Pazel but he, too, faces his own challenges against new foe Rabindra.

Caitlyn, Freja, Kavya, Miyu and Jovana are a group of women living and working together on grand scale projects that keep the Pallium (another word for the T-sphere) operating. They accept a mysterious contract to determine why it’s failing, a seemingly impossible job they theorize was posted by the inanimate Pallium itself. The project brings them in virtual contact with the various citizens mentioned above as the women influence, aid and manipulate them while attempting to complete the contract.

Each chapter follows three to four characters, building on their stories. With detailed world- and character-building, the reader is drawn in and invested in what will happen to these people and the life they know. The writing is complex and, at times, difficult to follow with invented terminology that's not always defined, lengthy chapters and many characters. Reading the synopsis again after finishing the book clarified some questions I still had and it might have been nice to see that clarification in the book. Overall, an engaging and thought-provoking start to a series that will interest readers of science-fiction, suspense and adventure.

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