All Hope of Becoming Human
by Lonnie Busch
Genre: Science Fiction / Thriller
Print Length: 392 pages
Reviewed by Timothy Thomas
A daring work of pre-apocalyptic fiction that rewrites humanity’s history as much as it speculates about our future
It is said that warfare is a uniquely human invention, one that reflects our innate propensity for violence. If such a supposition is true, where then does that violence come from? And is there any changing course?
Author Lonnie Busch seeks answers to these tough questions in this enthralling, highly speculative sci-fi novel All Hope of Becoming Human. By weaving together fact and fiction, he imagines our future by reshaping our past.
Over a decade has passed since Covid-19 ravaged the planet, and now the world finds itself in the throes of a new pandemic, caused by the Dosin virus. While civilization struggles with this virological threat, Professor Braden and her assistant, Rebecca Ducatti, are called upon by the Department of Homeland Security to explore an archaeological site in Arizona recently opened up by an earthquake.
At first sight, it appears to be an ancient burial site, but why the extreme military presence? Once the professor and her assistant dive into The Pit, a remarkable find is interrupted by a tremor forcing everyone to evacuate and results in the site being shut down.
But for Rebecca, the experience is only the beginning of her exploration, as she finds herself inexplicably drawn back to The Pit. Meanwhile, Special Agent Zach Demzey of the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI) and his assistant, Connie Wegman, are busy investigating a string of murders that are unlike anything Demzey has ever seen. The surgically precise cuts left on the victims’ bodies and the strange tracks leading away from the crime scenes create more questions than they give answers. When a strange series of events leads Demzey to Arizona, the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together in ways he never could have anticipated.
All Hope of Becoming Human is a ride from start to finish. Though fictional in its premise, it is realistic in its approach, refusing to sacrifice that grounded quality for narrative convenience.
The result is a story that is both familiar and foreign: familiar because the cold apathy of the world and the reaction of the people to these phenomena feels true to life, yet foreign because of the truth that lies at its center. This is a fine line to walk, but Lonnie Busch walks it very well, making for a comfortably spine-tingling read.
In a story that takes place in the midst of a pandemic, one would think the virus would be a bigger part of the narrative. It is not. Instead, it exists as context for the world, with reminders of it scattered throughout the book in a way that feels natural. Sidelining the pandemic is a wise choice for a book whose audience is only recently removed from our own. All the accoutrements of life under Covid-19 (the tension, the testing, the turbulence) exist here, alongside mentions of protests in response to police brutality to complete the picture. In short, it provides the reader a very familiar landscape upon which to build the story so the book can spend more time on the narrative and less on the worldbuilding.
This is a book that does a whole lot right. Despite the fact that it begins as more of a realistic fiction story that builds toward a sci-fi one, it nevertheless manages to strike a great balance between the two, transitioning almost seamlessly. If one can accept the somewhat brutal machinations of a cold and indifferent universe, then this book is a great read that poses some very interesting questions worth pondering.
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