Author: Quill Holland
Published by ScorPress Publishing in 2021
Review by Miriam Atkinson
I’ve been a fan of Quill Holland’s science fiction short stories for the past couple of years. Forgotten Evil is his first novella and the first book in a planned series.
Beginning in the year 2146 we follow Raith a man in his thirties who only possessed the memories of the past two years of his life – all of which were spent on Planet Gaia with his adoptive parents. Life is going well for Raith until his girlfriend Amorina is captured by the Tynan Empire. Determined to save her, Raith secretly stows away on the attacking Empire vessel. The chase takes Raith into the feared United Earth Republic where his true identity is revealed and a conspiracy that stretches across all known human civilisation is exposed. All the while Raith must deal with a voice inside his head that tells him he is not the good person he wants to be.
As the title suggests, the theme of good versus evil is central to this story. Raith is a good person with a simple yet loving life on Planet Gaia however the powerful voice that lives in Raith’s head whispers to him that he is a cruel person and can influence Raith by making him lash out in anger towards the people he cares about. So when these factors are combined does it make Raith good or bad? The most important message I took away from Forgotten Evil is that who we are – good or bad – is a choice. Raith must choose whether to be his own person or to listen to the voice in his head. Even then it is not always that simple. Without giving too much away, the final few chapters explore the idea that right and wrong can become blurred and some decisions are never as clear as we would want them to be.
I know Holland is a keen science fiction fan and while I do not know which stories influenced or inspired his writing of Forgotten Evil, I was reminded of both The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov and The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.
Like Forgotten Evil, The Currents of Space follows the journey of a man who has lost his memory and lives on a planet that is not his homeworld. In Asimov’s novel the threat protagonist Rik faces is entirely external rather than the internal battle Raith must face in Holland’s novella.
It was not the conflict in Forgotten Evil that reminded me of The Forever War but rather the relationship between Raith and Amorina – their fear of being separated and their determination to find each other. In The Forever War soldiers William Mandella and Marygay Potter know that each assignment takes them further and further away from home and potentially each other due to the effects of time dilation while travelling through space. Although Forgotten Evil doesn’t directly deal with time dilation, it does explore the difference in time for Raith (who doesn’t experience the passage of time in cryosleep) compared to the reality of two years passing from when he leaves Gaia to reaching Earth. There is always the fear that Raith could miss rescuing Amorina by several months while he travels.
It’s a tiny point but I do wish time had been given at the end of the novella to experience the deeper reactions of Raith and Amorina’s parents – who hadn’t seen their children for four years due to the distance between planets. Even though Raith and Amorina weren’t in cyrosleep for the entire of the journey portions of the story, for them less time has passed then their parents. What was life like for those left behind?
Forgotten Evil takes place in two main locations – Planet Gaia and Planet Earth. Other locations in the Empire and Republic, such as Machina Station, are only briefly seen as Raith goes in and out of cryosleep. The novella’s tight plotline means there is no time to explore other places in this dystopian future of our solar system, however it’s important to remember that Forgotten Evil is the first in a series. The map Holland provides at the start of the novella promises a lot of potential for future instalments.
Overall I did enjoy Forgotten Evil. Holland incorporates some interesting concepts into the plot, such as the mysterious voice in Raith’s head. Due to the strong travel element in the story the plot is continually moving forward; there is always something happening. While this is good I do wish there had been a couple more pauses to go deeper into some character relationship moments had the novella writing style allowed for this. Nevertheless, with the ending setting up Part 2, I’m looking forward to seeing what is next for Raith.
An Advanced Reader Copy of Forgotten Evil and the images featured in this review have been kindly provided by Quill Holland. For more information about the author, check out Quill’s website.
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