Reviewed by Wesley Britton
Three popular tropes in science-fiction are alternate Earth histories, the possible role of extraterrestrials in human origins, and high-level conspiracies to suppress any knowledge of alien involvement in humanity. All three are present in Michael Nardo’s The Beginning, a book both entertaining and perhaps thought-provoking.
The bulk of the story centers on a well-drawn unit of Navy SEALS sent on a secret mission in Iraq in 2012. They’re sent to investigate mysterious sightings of strange creatures but end up spending much of their time in desert and cave gun-battles with Al-Qaeda terrorists. At the same time, a team of scientists and archeologists are also in the area who are interested in the discovery of ancient Sumerian artifacts, especially old tablets with undecipherable texts. Ultimately, these two bands hook up and explore a very mysterious cave which turns out to hold many secrets.
Much of this story should appeal to readers who like following the military exploits of highly-skilled SEALS. While we get many clues as to what they will ultimately find, it’s not until the last quarter of the book that we get into what all those tablets were trying to tell us and learn why we will never be told the truth about benevolent aliens. To say much more would be to share spoilers that would rob readers of the surprising pay-offs at the novel’s end.
I doubt Nardo intended his book to be seen as taking place in an alternate earth timeline, but the story was clearly crafted before the rise of ISIS. They’re never mentioned and Al-Qaeda is the clear threat on the ground. It is clear Nardo does intend to encourage readers to take the idea of extraterrestrial visits in our past more seriously. Me, I put down the book thinking I’d like to explore the history of ancient Sumeria. I also look forward to the sequels even though some of my favorite characters might not return.
Written by Wesley Britton for BookPleasures.com
Author, The Beta-Earth Chronicles