Following the dramatic events in The Starchild Compact, the starship Starchild departs on a 185-year interstellar journey. Meanwhile, the Iapetus Federation in cooperation with the Founders, descendants of the people who originally constructed Iapetus, expands to include the Mirs Complex at L-4, the Lunar Complex, a new habitat being constructed at L-5, the growing Mars settlements, and several asteroids including Daphne and Ceres.
On Earth, America turns away from its world leadership position to focus on internal matters and the idea of an all-inclusive, multicultural society. Saeed Esmail, the stowaway Jihadist who played a significant role in The Starchild Compact, becomes the guiding prophet of a new form of Islam that quickly dominates the vanquished Persian Caliphate territories, and threatens the rest of the planet. Aided by Founder Asshur, the besieged Israelis reluctantly forge a new homeland on Mars, while the United States balkanizes into a half-dozen smaller units dominated by the Lone Star Conservancy under the leadership of Texan Sam Houston, who had earlier established the Lone Star Settlement on Mars.
Science does not stand still. Founder researchers develop a longevity treatment that has the potential to extend human life indefinitely. The Starchild Institute, headed by former U.S. President Marc Bowles, develops advanced spacecraft, and a new form of transportation based on artificial wormholes. As the global Jihad on Earth heats up, most of the planet falls under the domination of Saeed Esmail, with only the Lone Star Conservancy, Columbia Freehold, Australia, and New Zealand left as independent territories. The Institute opens evacuation portals between Earth and Iapetus to rescue as many people as possible.
While Earth sinks into medieval barbarism, the focus of human activity shifts from Earth to the Iapetus Federation as humans settle virtually every potentially habitable spot in the Solar System and begin planning for expansion into the rest of the Galaxy.
Williscroft takes big conceptual bites in his conclusion to his hard science-fiction trilogy about mankind’s expansion into space. Vol. 3 of The Starchild Series, The Iapetus Federation, features FTL ships; handy, instantaneous transportation across space; the evacuation of the Jewish state to Mars; bioengineered immortality, and more, all against a backdrop of a hundred and fifty thousand years of human history. Indeed, as the novel drew to its close, I felt that its wonders would never cease. There’s a type of science fiction called “Mind-blowing” (I have a book with just that title). This novel piles mind-blowing concept upon mind-blowing concept, all of it rooted in rigorous scientific speculation and theory.
And oh, how could I forget? The author takes the current threat of radical Islam and expands it into an international Jihad, all of it stemming from the failure in Vol. 2 to kill a Jihadist stowaway on Cassini II. Yes, actions or the lack of them often have consequences, and Williscroft brilliantly traces the malignant spread of the Caliphate into country after country. More than anything else, it is this menace that drives humanity’s exodus from Earth.
Williscroft’s aim in the trilogy, and especially in this concluding novel, is so ambitious and inspiring, it swept me right along. When I neared the conclusion, I thought for a moment he had slipped. The ending, though, was delightfully perfect, and I hope a sign of more stories to come in this universe.
The Iapetus Federation is more than a broad-ranging and fitting sequel to Slingshot and The Starchild Compact. It is an epic of international intrigue, heroic fights for survival, and the opening of the Solar System on a massive scale...and that’s just for starters. This book opens the door to the galaxy and both the past and future of humans and the Ectarians.
Williscroft has done it again, packing in plenty of adventures, ideas and characters. I’m looking forward to what comes next.
To be honest, I was stunned by this science fiction thriller by Robert Williscroft. I had read with great interest and enjoyment Williscroft’s Operation Ivy Bells - A Novel of the Cold War but I had not read the preceding books in The Starchild Series. Thanks to the author’s extensive Preface, and Glossary at the beginning and end of this book, I entered the storyline both quickly and painlessly.
Like other science fiction novels, this series presents technological marvels such as faster-than-light travel and cheap and fast launch systems as the vehicle for moving large numbers of people throughout the solar system and beyond. But in my estimation, this novel sits alone among the genre by using technology and space travel as an accepted (but very well described) framework upon which to hang human pathos. Williscroft’s Navy experience firmly establishes his credentials for his worldview that as we venture into space, the most fearsome entities we are likely to encounter are the monsters hiding in plain sight, those malignant and unavoidable bestial souls found in our fellow man. And that is a terrifyingly believable viewpoint which is revalidated day after day in the news, and page after page, chapter after chapter in this novel. As I progressed through the story, the more the tension built in this reader: was there any way out of this predicament?
Is this a fine science fiction thriller that you will not want to put down? Absolutely. But a case could also be made for The Iapetus Federation being a futuristic horror story. That mix of genres is rare indeed.
The Iapetus Federation is the third book in the author’s Starchild Trilogy centered around an ancient race of technologically advanced beings – the Ectarians – and their journey to Earth 150,000 years ago just before their star would go nova and destroy their home planet. Make no mistake, this novel is hardcore science fiction with a cast of characters that spans 4 pages and a glossary of terms that spans 9 pages. Author Williscroft delivers a rich tapestry of characters woven through an intricate story line. There is no attempt to hide the parallels with present-day strife and conflict between Christians and Muslims, but the plot goes much deeper, ultimately asking who we, as humans, are. Vesta (Earth Mother) reappears as a major character, having been introduced in the second novel. Although this is fiction, and projects what science might reveal at some future date, Williscroft’s treatment of time travel is consistent with our present knowledge, which is fitting as the author has a distinguished record of achievement having served in the US Navy as a submarine officer, served at NOAA directing deep diving operations, and is an active member of the Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles.
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