Space-faring adventures are a staple of the science fiction genre, and can take many different shapes, from Firefly to Star Trek to Babylon 5. Neal JB Verne adds another example to the list with Imminent Domain: Finding Goldilocks, and what an example it is!
In Imminent Domain, it is the year 2116 and Earth will soon cease to exist, as the Sun loses hydrogen and begins its transformation into a red giant. The spaceship Parche I carries a five-member crew that hopes to discover a Goldilocks planet, a planet whose conditions and distance from its star is “just right” for human habitation. Commander Jake Conley and his four crewmembers are the only ones aboard the ship and must make difficult decisions that will affect the future of the human race when they find a Goldilocks planet that is already inhabited.
While the novel is always in third person, sometimes Verne switches the perspective of the narrative. One chapter may be from those back on Earth, following them as they make decisions of how and who to evacuate out of the planet’s population, while another may focus on the five crewmembers of the Parche I throughout their journey and their first contact with the Goldilocks planet and still another may focus on the beings of the Goldilocks planet and their ideas about their soon-to-be neighbors. Verne manages to weave all of these perspectives into a cohesive story, making every side equally as effective a part of the story.
Some science fiction space adventures focus heavily on world building or intergalactic diplomacy, while some treat these aspects as less important. Imminent Domain reaches a happy medium, discussing the possible advances of current technology such as 3-D printing while also exploring the personalities and relationships between the crewmembers.
Although the characters start out with only simple descriptions and standard dialogue, readers are slowly able to deduce what each crewmember is like. It’s a diverse set of characters with different ideas about what to do, and this occasionally brings conflict, especially in such close quarters. There are circumstances where the crewmembers disagree with their commander, and where tension frays nerves and causes the characters to snap at one another. The conflict feels genuine and never forced, and the situations where conflict arises are relatable. The characters are never too noble or too wicked to elate to, either. Everyone knows a guy like Greg or a woman like Brenda. The characters are excellent representatives of the variety that human beings naturally possess, the variety that is worth striving to save.
The Goldilocks world and its inhabitants bring up interesting questions to ponder. In this new world that Jake and his crewmates hope to settle for the pending masses of humanity, the social hierarchy is extremely different, based more on a socialist model than the capitalist model readers may be used to. This brings more understandable conflict into question: will humans be able to conform to this new social system? Will they be willing to submit to the rules and laws of a new land or will they instead wage war and conquer this new world? Jake and his crewmates, as the first human ship to come in contact with the Goldilocks world, set the precedent for relations and circumstances on their new home, and Verne explores the consequences of their actions thoroughly in Imminent Domain.
Reading Verne space-based novel was a thrill – he describes the details of space travel in easy-to-understand ways that can interest even science fiction beginners. His explanations are never too technical but still capture the imagination. Imminent Domain: Finding Goldilocks is an excellent addition to space literature, and its sequel, Imminent Domain: Left Behind is sure to be just as enthralling.
For more information about this book, check out Verne's website at - http://www.nealjbverne.com/