Children Of Na
Slavery and its antithesis figure heavily in this story wherein Silas, an alien consciousness reborn into an enslaved Negro in the mid-1800s, is desperately trying to first flee his genetic creators, the Na, and then the plantation owner, Mr. Drake, in order to have his own life. Silas spends years working on building a space ship using his advanced knowledge only to be transported to 1940s Nazi Germany near the end of World War II. Luckily, he’s imprisoned with previously-captured Russian scientist Yakob Alexandrov who is also trying desperately for freedom, while simultaneously trying to keep the technology of the strange alien craft he discovered out of the hands of the Nazis.
Children of Na is difficult to describe due to its somewhat unorthodox combination of two separate historical fiction plotlines with the inclusion of science fiction elements. The novel alternates between the points-of-view of Silas and then Yakob until it merges near the end; it’s a constant switch between the two timelines. This somewhat bizarre juxtaposition gives the novel the feel of cult media. In fact, at times I wondered to myself when Dr. Who was going to show up to set right the alien influence on humankind (I write this tongue-in-cheek).
The theme of an alien essentially crash-landing and trying to escape using its superior knowledge is a traditional one, as was Yakob’s investigation of a strange alien technology, and the elements brought in by the historical fiction (a crazed Nazi played a role) were also familiar. The blend, of course, was a bit unusual.
Burgess’s writing style is very economical with minimum description, and the pace was very even. Add in a complete and satisfactory ending, and the novel was moderately interesting and entertaining. I wish that it had been a little more encouraging, but Burgess does drive home the deeply distressing nature of slavery. I’d recommend this book for someone who enjoys (unintentionally) campy science fiction.
|A. L. Burgess Jr.
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|Science Fiction & Fantasy