Chris Rogers’ Emissary is an odd hybrid of political thriller, murder mystery, and science fiction epic. There are a lot of moving parts with different characters and genres interacting and conflicting. Some elements will be more successful than others depending on the reader. Personally the science fiction concepts and the slow exploration and explanation of the alien Szhen culture was the most interesting and unique.
The titular emissary, Ruell, is from another planet. His people were forced to abandon their planet to escape a catastrophe. Surviving only as sparks of energy, Ruell and his people need living hosts to survive. This classic sci-fi horror trope is ameliorated by the fact that the Szhen are a peaceful people who have no desire to harm the humans. Ruell and his fellow emissaries have been sent out to multiple planets to find the species best suited and set up a mutually beneficial relationship. Unfortunately Ruell arrives during the middle of a crisis. The chosen host is Addison Hale, the first female President of the United States. She is in the middle or her reelection campaign when the Vice-President is taken hostage in Kuhndu, Africa.
Ruell tries to use the situation to demonstrate what the Szhen could offer, but utterly fails to understand human nature. Passing through a series of hosts until finally settling on Kirk Longshadow, a down-on-his-luck cop, Ruell tries to unravel the political conspiracy and possibly save his own people.
In Emissary, Rogers nearly manages the high wire act of seamlessly consolidating these various plots and genres. It is a long book that gives them all time to breath, and the fact that Rogers comes as close as she does is in itself an impressive feat. The presence of Ruell, essentially commenting on the other genres and trying to understand humanity is an excellent trope and helps tie the elements together and breath new life into a number of other plotlines. As a first contact story, it is meandering but promising and often insightful. As a political thriller, it is taunt but overlong. In fairness, that is not my genre of choice and the parts where I lost interest slightly may make the sci-fi elements more palatable for other readers. This is clearly a labor of love by an author who enjoys each of the genres equally. I enjoyed the novel, but parts of it more than others.
Emissary can be found here on Amazon.
Received a Copy From NetGalley For Review
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