The Progress of Mankind, by Raymund Eich

The Progress of Mankind, by Raymund Eich book coverGenre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  CV-2 Books
Published: 2018
Reviewer Rating: four stars
Reviewer:  David L. Felts

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It’s the 22nd century and humanity has developed wormhole technology, using the wormholes as gateways to colony worlds. And, after a rough 21st century, these colony worlds are rapidly becoming dumping grounds for the “undesirables”, those ethnic and religious groups of humanity who caused most of the problems and whom Earth wants to get rid of.

The colony worlds in question aren’t much in favor of this and often resist, sometimes to the point of violence, the forced immigration of these groups.

The Progress of Mankind is the first book in the adventures of Stone Chalmers, an agent for the United Nations. It’s his job to scout the colony worlds to make sure they aren’t preparing to resist the sudden influx of unwelcome residents.

When the original advanced scout sent to New Moravia ends up dead, Stone, implanted with an artificial persona (subservient to his own real personality) and with altered DNA (to make him fit the genetic ancestry of the original colonists), is sent in to figure out what happened. His mission is to discover the extent of New Moravia’s rebellious intent, and, if there is one, to eliminate it.

In short, Stone is a secret agent a la James Bond who makes sure the bad guys (from Earth’s point of view) don’t interfere with the good guys’ plans.

Except for a noticeable over-use of the word “smirked” Eich’s prose is crisp and fast-paced. The science, the situations, and the various motivations all blend seamlessly to deliver a thriller-style science fiction tale that’s a quick and fun read.

However, while I enjoyed the story, I didn’t much care for Stone himself. He’s a misogynist who often recalls the scores of women he’s bedded. Every new woman he meets is immediately evaluated on her looks and whether or not he would sleep with her.

I mentioned above that he’s a secret agent a la James Bond, but where Bond comes across as a dashing and somewhat noble lady’s man, Stone seems more like a sexist jackass, a crass frat boy looking to score and bragging (to himself) about his conquests. I found myself hoping he’d get killed, although I knew that wouldn’t happen due to him being the main protagonist in a new series.

I first “met” Raymund way back in the late 90s when were were both members of the online write critique group Critters. It’s been a long time since I read his work, but I recall him to be an exact and meticulous writer. If he wrote Stone this way, I’m thinking he has a reason, one yet to be revealed or one I’m too dense to comprehend.

A good start to a promising series.

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