Jon Batson’s sci-fi novel, The Trasaron Chronicles, covers a lot of ground and touches on many themes. It is an interesting take on the typical alien invasion story although it is often feels very familiar and simplistic.
The aliens of the story come to Earth seeking slave labor to produce a drug. Within a matter of days, people all over the globe are being queued up and shipped off to another world to begin its production. Married couples are preferred and they can only bring two children. The planet that most of humanity is shipped to contains just a bare bones settlement, not a bustling production facility. In fact, once there people have to build places to live and start up the drug factories with just a few directions.
A movie production crew is used to set up the cities on the new planet, since the President of the United States knows the executive of the movie company. Not a big budget crew, either; no, these are B-movie specialists and they build B-movie settlements on this new world, dubbed Trasaron. Once on the planet, tensions build between the few singles and the married people. The singles are only male, since the aliens feel they are more suited to the work. The single women are back on earth.
Revolution is being plotted on humanity’s homeworld, of course. A reporter and his girlfriend manage to find a few rebel biker’s and free some of the military personnel and find ammo for all the weapons. After that, it’s time to repel the invaders.
The book seems very much like a B-movie. It tries hard and is interesting in some spots, but it’s not quite a blockbuster. It feels like Batson tries to cover too much. It often feels as if he’s trying to create a sprawling epic of the founding of a new world, but it’s compressed into a very small time frame – just a matter of months, in fact. There are too many characters who do not have time to be developed well. The dialogue is stiff and the action too nonchalant and unbelievable.
And while I would agree that music is important, in the world of The Trasaron Chronicles there seems to be only one band and everyone everywhere likes them completely and totally and knows the words to all their songs. I had a bit of a hard time coming to grips with that.
There are a number of themes touched on, most notably the roles of men and women in marriage and in business. The aliens enforce a traditional subservient role on the women: they must stay at home with the children while the men work in the plants. Both genders rebel at this throughout the book. There are some strong female lead characters. One, in fact, is in command of Earth’s forces as they retake the planet. But, at least one character eventually chooses the traditional role and opens a school on the new planet.
The only thing left out of this theme is the view of other cultures here on earth. Only the view of western society is addressed; other cultures have different outlooks on the roles of men and women and that would have been a fascinating layer to add to the story.
Drug abuse is certainly a topic addressed by Batson, as is survival and family and leadership. Again, just too much is going on and the story suffers because of it. The novel seems more like a framework of a bigger story, an outline instead of a finished product.
The story is obviously focused on the survival of displaced humans so not much attention goes to the aliens. However, what little bit of spotlight is shined on them reveals an ill-conceived species and technology. Perhaps not ill-conceived, just vaguely explained. All that is said is that they are very tall, very thin, they have ray guns and like to smoke crack – excuse me, inhale gas. A little more depth on the alien’s would have been a strong addition.
Finally, there is no real tension. Everything seems to just work out right on time. About halfway through The Trasaron Chronicles, you know very well that nothing traumatic is going to really happen to any of these people – so the drama and action are mitigated completely.