Title: The Human and the Hunted
Series: Rise of the Great Assembly # 1
Author: R. A. Burg
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: CreateSpace (Amazon)
Earth. 11,000 BCE.
A galaxy wide war between sentient machines rages and Earth is in the crossfire. Oblivious to the deadly peril above, Far Runner and his tribe face their own struggles. An unstable climate forces the group to migrate south and into the sights of a ruthless human foe.
A merciless attack tears Runner away from his family and friends.
A wounded alien cyborg soldier is stranded on Earth. Her views and identity are challenged when she finds herself face to face with a determined human named Far Runner.
As if there weren’t enough problems, Moorr, a radioactive four-legged freighter pilot, prospector, and drug smuggler, is displaced by a relic of the war. Lost, he searches for his kin, but finds Earth instead. The defenseless planet is ripe for exploitation.
There’s only one way for Far Runner to save his People. There’s only one way for the stranded soldier to return home. And only one way Moorr’s dangerous presence can be dealt with.
Earth is in peril. Time is running out….
I don’t believe I’ve read anything quite like this, which is exactly why I found it absolutely necessary to write a review. At first this novel struck me as sort of an odd The Clan of the Cave Bear meets Star Trek mix, where the setting is historic earth but there are aliens. However, The Human and the Hunted is not a historical.
Two aliens are scoping out the young human race, one is a cyborg, crash landed in a sentient spaceship, and the other, Moorr, is an alien I sort of pictured as a giant porcupine, who has also seemingly crash landed but may be there for more nefarious purposes.
Far Runner is a member of one of the young humanoid tribes. After an avalanche he gets separated from this hunting party, where he stumbles upon the alien cyborg. At first he doesn’t know what he’s seeing, and honestly a caveman and a cyborg may not be the best combination, but Far Runner has an amazing ability to put aside his fears and both are willing to work together to meet their goals.
Despite the uniqueness and quirky premise, this book didn’t completely work for me. One of the aspects I had a hard time swallowing was how the historical elements were used in the story. Part of me really wished this hadn’t been set on Earth, because I wasn’t buying the language and some of the other cultural elements. Why couldn’t this have been a different planet? Even if there was some sort of climate event the author eventually wanted to capitalize on in the series, like draining lakes or glacial movement, I couldn’t understand why this had to be Earth. Other planets have those things too.
Because this was historical Earth, there weren’t any great female protagonists, because that would have made it historically inaccurate. Far Runner’s mate was basically a baby factory, like the other women. But this is also science fiction and part of me needed that fair representation, even if it was just an acknowledgement of it. Again, I would have liked to have seen the setting take place somewhere other than Earth.
There wasn’t much female representation, but there was an alien cyborg who was nonbinary. That person was pretty interesting, and I think I could have handled some of the other cultural elements better if the majority of the story had been told from their point of view. I did enjoy Far Runner and his humorous mates, but maybe I would have also enjoyed them more from secondary characterization.
However, when I was able to suspend my belief and disappointment about this being past Earth, I enjoyed the story. Far Runner was a bit dumb for a protagonist but relatable. I liked his bravery and playful adventurism. The other characters were extreme but entertaining. His best friend is funny but a cheat and a thief, the wise man of his tribe was legit tripping, and the antagonist was overly insane and power hungry. The cyborg was super interesting. I still don’t completely understand their culture or their world, but I liked that mysterious element to worldbuilding.
Read this for the reasons you read all science fiction–to expand your world view.
Ben Brock is a reviewer for The Novel Approach and Queer Sci Fi. He enjoys running, whisk(e)y, the mythical gluten-free doughnut, and fills his life with bent bunk. He especially loves to discuss LGBTQ+ literature. His website is http://www.babrockbooks.com. You can find him on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/BABrockBooks.