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  • Writer's pictureThe Fiction Fox

Review: Colossus - Ryan Leslie

Genre: Sci-fi

Published: Independently Published, March 2024

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I’ve been on a “cerebral-sci-fi-kick” for a few months now, so when this independently published novel’s synopsis came to my attention, I immediately felt like it might just scratch that itch. Although I was fascinated and by the themes and ideas explored here, I was ultimately left with mixed feelings overall.

The Story:

We follow Clay, an economics professor whom rationally centered life is uprooted by the passing of his wife Karla, by her own hand. Karla, equally filled with scientific curiosity as himself, has taken an elusive drug called Dying Wish, which supposedly reveals the nature of reality moments before it claims your life. This loss drives Clay on a quest for answers. A quest that will eventually lead him to the deepest recesses of space, and his own memory alike…

What I loved:

Our story is told in three parts, and throughout the first part I was utterly engrossed. We are introduced to Karla and Clay, as well as the world and the themes that will be explored throughout. Without going into full-spoilers; this book dives heavily into the philosophical and cerebral side of science fiction. There are no gun-blazing space-battles here. Instead, we’re quickly entrapped in a web of multiverses, parallel realities and the concept of “quantum immortality”. The set-up is fascinating and hooked me in. Unfortunately, the story didn’t fully fulfill the promise of its premise.

What I didn’t love:

In the second part, we find Clay as one of the few survivors of a hibernation-failure aboard a space-vessel; his only companion being an AI that prompts him to question everything he thinks he knows. The interactions between the AI and Clay are supposed to feel philosophical, but due to the way they’re written, felt extremely flat and tedious to me. I honestly lost a lot of steam throughout this second part and had to push myself to keep reading, hoping for a satisfying ending. That only partially delivered…

Overall, this novel does a great job of asking questions, and a rather poor one at answering any of them. That might be by design, but I’m not sure Colossus pulled it off. Often, leaving unanswered questions only works if the story convinced me enough that the author knows the answers, but deliberately choses to withhold them from the reader. In this case, I wasn’t convinced the author knew that himself…

Additionally, it didn’t help that the author tried to cram in so many classic sci-fi themes into one story. Sentient AI’s, quantum theory, the multiverse, space travel and its effects on the mind, pharmaceuticals, immortality and so much more, all make a brief appearance. Every new element subtracted from the strength and coherence of it all, rather than adding to it. I’d have preferred if the author had chosen a single topic to explore in depth, rather than skimming over so many briefly.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the author for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

You can find this book here on Goodreads.


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