A science fiction epic set in a plausible future, Pacifica blends high-stakes technological warfare and humanistic philosophy.
Richard C. Deason’s Pacifica is a science fiction epic set in a plausible future.
Twenty years ago, David Ryan fled the Republic of Texas armed with nothing but a daring dream. Now, he’s public enemy number one, with newspaper headlines crediting him with kidnapping, smuggling, and acts of terrorism. Tom Ryan, David’s father, and the rest of his family have eked out a life for themselves, but an attack by an angry mob provides an excuse for the governments of Texas and East America to force them into protective custody, and to force David out of hiding.
David, along with a crack team of soldiers, engineers, and doctors, intercepts them and whisks them away to Pacifica, an independent nation comprised of Acapulco and an archipelago in the South Pacific that David and a handful of other visionaries founded. While mainland America withers on the vine, Pacifica is a thriving metropolis grounded in humanistic philosophy. Pacifica’s success has not gone unnoticed, however, and the United States Defense Council—the powerful military arm of East America—is preparing to take Pacifica for themselves or destroy it.
The novel is set in a near future in which mainland America has fractured into independent commonwealths and nation-states. Tom Ryan and his family reside in the Republic of Texas, where the government has become a bureaucratic shuffle and civilians struggle to make ends meet amid power outages, supply shortages, and tariffs. This bleak society is rendered well, an early-stage apocalyptic vision of the present day that is easy to imagine.
In contrast, Acapulco and the islands of Pacifica are described in lush prose, painting a clear picture of a paradisaical landscape where “fluffy white clouds formed phosphorescent crowns atop precipitous peaks” and “sunlight danced in dizzying spirals off windows and waterways.” A modern-day Atlantis perched atop the sea, the vision that is Pacifica is reflected in its glass skyscrapers and crystalline lagoons.
Under a government guided by philosophy, science and technology have thrived, producing everything from enhanced maser technology capable of leaving an aircraft carrier dead in the water, to an Age Vaccine that can extend human life indefinitely. While these details are well-wrought world-building elements, the enhanced defense technologies are more compelling. A battle on the high seas against East American ships and fighter jets is tense and captivating, while a doctor unpacking the minutiae of his research slows the pace. War room scenes with David and other members of the Pacifica government are sharp and urgent, but more personal exchanges between characters devolve into distracting philosophical interrogations.
The novel proves top heavy, with a week taking up more than the first half of the book, and few events advance or illuminate the plot in that time. Most of the space is devoted to philosophical arguments, explanations of Pacifica’s origins and government, and stories of how characters came to know one another.
The pace picks up when a military coup gains ground on the mainland and the USDC goes on the attack, but Pacifica’s military superiority has been so discussed and demonstrated that this threat does not raise the stakes. Repeated grammatical mix-ups, missing or misused words, and an expansive network of secondary characters further confuse the meandering story line. An eleventh-hour hint at extraterrestrial life provides a jumping-off point for a sequel, but is abrupt and not congruent.
Pacifica’s vision of the future involves high-stakes technological warfare and humanistic philosophy.
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