It’s hard to believe that “First Cause” is Paul West’s debut novel because he already writes like one who’s had several books under his belt.
By Gia Lee
It wasn’t at all surprising to read that Paul West has a B.A. in history and has also worked in the education and nonprofit worlds for many years, as his attention to detail regarding Earth’s history, even in this fabricated world, is believable because it follows Earth history in the real world in many ways.
This attention to detail is commendable because it creates a more willing suspension of belief/disbelief. A great example of this is seen when he explains the like time references between Earth and the alien place called Lucero. As West explains,
“Note: events on both Lucero and Earth will be dated according to the same frame of reference; Eastern Standard Time on the United States’ Calendar” (P. 155).
For readers, like me, who look for continuity like that, it’s appreciated.
Readers should also be happy to know that this is the first book in “The Terranaut Trilogy,” so he will have several books in this series before all is said and done! “First Cause” is a novel about human possibility in many ways, so it’s fitting that West writes about what he knows, having worked in the fields of education and nonprofit, yet surprisingly enough, human potential in his novel is largely explored through “alien-interactions” with those who are from a place called Lucero.
So, these beings are technically aliens in the present, but they are really people originally from Earth, who are known as The Luceri. These Luceri once inhabited Earth as well. Arguably right or wrong, these Luceri are basically looking to reestablish their somewhat lost foothold on Earth.
Many things are impressive about the Luceri; they are generally taller and more physically fit than most humans, more mentally and spiritually advanced (as they have no prevailing religion, etc.), etc. However, that doesn’t mean that some aren’t a bit bellicose and without faults. Just like their human counterparts who were raised on Earth, they have their faults (as in some don’t have enough heart/love). Hence, Lucero isn’t exactly a utopian society—though there is sunlight without cancer and forests without malaria, et cetera. Nor is Earth seen as completely dystopian in West’s book.
This is a novel about human possibility all around, whichever place the characters happen to originally be from. West also manages to fit a wonderful love story in the midst of the action between a Luceri/Terranaut named Argralli in the Luceri language (her name is Angela in English) and Adam. Adam in many ways exemplifies human possibility in his bravery and in his quick-witted and forward-thinking. Yet, it’s ultimately Angela’s bravery and love that really shines through, so those who appreciate strong (both physically and mentally) female protagonists will like the ending—a lot!
In conclusion, I highly recommend this sci-fi thriller because it truly encompasses a great deal more. It could also be categorized as a philosophical read as readers are challenged to look inside themselves for answers and wonderful possibilities for both our future and now! Also, fans, like myself, of The History Channel’s Ancient Aliens should be right on board with this book as well as devotees of television series like Star Trek: The Next Generation which champion human evolution and indeed great possibilities.