Colonizing Trappist is the first volume in an exciting new sci-fi trilogy by Chris Shockowitz. The novel begins with Eugene Hamilton waking up aboard the Exo-1 spacecraft after being asleep for eighty years as his ship traveled at half the speed of light towards the Trappist system, where he will become the governor of more than five thousand humans planning to establish a colony. there.
The events that follow are science fiction at its finest, as the reader quickly becomes addicted to learning all the details that would be necessary to create a colony on a new planet in a remote star system. Hamilton and his small crew explore the various planets of the Trappist system to determine the most habitable place for the colony. They only have four months to make the decision before another ship arrives with the settlers.
What the Exo-1 crew finds is reassuring and alarming. There are several viable places to live where the air and water are good, but there are places where dangerous plants can threaten them, they discover a race of amphibians in the ocean that is not happy with their presence and, worst of all, they know one Ancient intelligent civilization in the system that was destroyed in recent years by an unknown enemy. Hamilton and his team members explore the ruins of what they discover to be the Marzon civilization, and even find a video of the Marzon being attacked and annihilated. The Exo-1 crew also discover robotic guards left behind by the one who exterminated the Marzon, guards they can defeat, but who lead them to believe that the Marzon assassins plan to return and possibly claim the Trappist system for themselves.
Despite these concerns, the settlers will arrive soon, so a location is chosen. Then Hamilton and his fellow colonists set out to create a new version of human civilization in outer space. This section of the novel was fascinating and reminded me of the Pilgrims and other settlers of the New World in the 17th century, but Colonizing Trappist is set in the 23rd century, so there are considerable differences. What intrigued me most was how a government was established, how the community held elections and created a bill of rights, and how human nature was revealed, resulting in the first crisis in the colony.
All these interesting details aside, I couldn’t wait for the aliens to show up, and Shockowitz did an excellent job of building up the suspense until that happened. For me, the aliens were the most fascinating part of the novel, especially since not one, but four different species end up being introduced into the novel, with a variety of surprising, fun, and terrifying results.
Overall, Colonizing Trappist is a very impressive debut sci-fi novel. He was completely involved in the history of Hamilton and his settlers. Space travel has always seemed a bit scary to me, but Shockowitz makes it feel doable and believable without being overly technical or fantastic. Shockowitz obviously spent a lot of time imagining and creating his fictional world; makes writing science fiction look easy, a clear sign of the complexity involved in its processes. A second reading, and it’s definitely worth it, made me really appreciate the structure of the novel, the overall themes, and the progress of its plot.
I don’t read many science fiction novels, but this one has made me a fan. Beyond a good story, it raises questions about human shortcomings and flaws, how adaptable humans are to new environments, the question of human intelligence and advancement, what would happen if we encountered a race superior to our own, the moral problems of transferring the territories of other species and how to negotiate and compromise with other species. Coexistence seems possible but also complicated in these pages. A thought as deep as that presented by Shockowitz can help us prepare if we ever encounter intelligent life in outer space.
Whether you love HG Wells, EE Doc Smith, Octavia E. Butler, or Star Wars, Colonizing Trappist is definitely worth reading. Best of all, Shockowitz is working on the next two novels in the Outward Bound trilogy, and at the same time he is writing another trilogy, Zalthuras, which is related to this series but takes place between 2018 and 2150.