While Shadow of the Sycorax is inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, it bears little resemblance to that work as there are numerous changes in plot, character attributes, and inter-character relationships. The story centers on Colonel Michael Ferdinand, an enigmatic Air Force officer whom the readers will grow to understand as the mysteries of the narrative unfold. Colonel Ferdinand is tasked with leading a rescue and relief mission to Earth’s first colony outside of the home system. Since they will not arrive until twenty-six years have passed since the last transmission from the colony was sent, the task force is also assigned to determine what happened to the colony if there are no survivors and judge the feasibility of further colonization in the Epsilon Eridani system.
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After fourteen years of suspended animation, the team finds that the situation has changed radically since they left Earth. Tension is increased as these new problems on Earth make the job of dealing with the increasingly complex and perilous situation on Epsilon Eridani IV more difficult and frustrating.
While many will classify this book as science fiction because the tale takes place in the future and on a different planet, I do not view the setting as the defining characteristic of the story. Regardless of the setting, I believe what is of interest is the struggle of the protagonists against the forces that oppose them.
At times, the story will delve deeply into topics of science, technology, history, politics, ethics and religion. These segments are counterbalanced by tension and a great deal of humor being dispersed throughout the book in order to give the reader a diverse experience that may be enjoyed in different ways.