Toronto Book Review

9

IN ASCENSION BY MARTIN MACINNES

Leigh’s journey from the depths of her troubled upbringing in Rotterdam to the furthest reaches of space is a testament to resilience and curiosity. Enduring the harsh realities of an abusive father and a distant mother, Leigh found solace by the waterfront, captivated by the mysteries beneath the waves. Her passion for marine ecology and microbiology drove her to delve deeper into the study of algae, a fascination that would shape her future in unexpected ways.

Joining a groundbreaking mission to explore a newly formed hydrothermal vent in the Atlantic Ocean, rumored to surpass the depths of the Mariana Trench, Leigh’s life takes a dramatic turn. The discoveries made during this expedition not only redefine our understanding of the ocean’s depths but also spark intrigue beyond our planet. As strange phenomena emerge in space, potentially linked to the enigmatic vent, Leigh is called upon to pioneer an algae-based sustenance system for an upcoming deep-space voyage aimed at uncovering extraterrestrial life.

Caught between her duty to her ailing mother and her insatiable thirst for exploration, Leigh faces a profound dilemma. Should she return home to tend to familial responsibilities or embark on a journey that promises to unveil the secrets of the cosmos? In a narrative characterized by its lucid prose, the story unfolds against a backdrop that blurs the lines between scientific plausibility and the bounds of human imagination.

While the novel shines in its contemplation of groundbreaking scientific discoveries and their implications for humanity, it occasionally falters in dialogue-heavy segments. Interactions between characters may feel stiff and protracted, and Leigh’s composed narration at times lacks the emotional depth readers might crave. Nevertheless, aficionados of speculative fiction will find much to savor in this intellectually stimulating addition to the genre, offering profound reflections on our place in the universe and the mysteries that both bind us to our home planet and beckon us to explore beyond its confines.

At its core, the narrative serves as a compelling exploration of the tensions between personal obligations and the allure of the unknown, as mirrored in Leigh’s dual quests to fathom the depths of the sea and the expanses of space.

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