The Forever Watch, by David B. Ramirez
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
336 pages, Kindle Edition
Published April 2014
“The Forever Watch” is an exceptional science fiction novel, a complex and perfectly crafted vision of the ‘generation ship’ interstellar travel archetype story. Ramirez’s writing is crisp and fluid. Dialogue and thoughts ring true, information is given to the reader unobtrusively; the pacing is spot on, mixing slower descriptive passages with minimalistic action, slowing time down to extend important moments while sweeping across a month in a few pages with equal grace.
Most strikingly, this novel is not predictable, yet by the end makes perfect logical and emotional sense, leaving you to ponder the power and dangers of freedom and truth, of sacrifice and devotion. It is neither predictable in plot nor genre style (or tone). The earlier parts of the book felt strongly like a crime or mystery novel, just in a science fiction setting. But then about halfway through a shift occurs and the narrative steps out from a close focus on the main characters alone in their secretive investigations and sweeps out in scope and feel to become something far larger and unique. At first this sort of disappointed me, because I was getting used to the familiarity of common ‘mystery story’ styles and themes, and that comfort was then shattered and my eyes, in perfect parallel to those of the characters, suddenly became open to much more.
The breadth of science covered in “The Forever Watch” is also quite broad, including elements of biology/genetics, computer science, psychology, and engineering. Within the realms of this finely crafted universe even elements such as mind-reading and psychokinesis come across as closer to science than to fantasy. While not as detailed-laden as a hard sci-fi book may take things, these various pieces are ‘explained’ well, to a suitable depth for the tone of the story as a whole.
Often novels I enjoy reading as much as this give me a certain disappointment at how they manage to tie everything together at the end, and for a moment I thought this would be similar. However, the novel ended in fantastic fashion, leaving just satisfaction. I hope this is a start to a really prosperous career for Ramirez.