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REVIEW: Travelers – V.S. Holmes

Travelers - V.S. Holmes

Title: Travelers

Series: Nel Bently Book 1

Author: V.S. Holmes

Genre: Sci Fi

LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian

Publisher: Amphibian Press

Pages: 235

Reviewer: CC

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About The Book

No one fights dirtier than an archaeologist.

Foul-mouthed Dr. Nel Bently has every archaeologist’s dream: a pristine site, new crew, and a private patron to fund her passion for dirt. With her trowel barely into the dry earth of Chile’s coast, however, Nel learns their work is being sabotaged.

The local activists Los Pobladores take issue with anyone brave or stubborn enough to set boots on their land. Nel refuses to give up the site that will make her career to vandals and looters, but she must protect both her friends and her life’s work. With a benefactor playing chess with their lives, radiocarbon dates that are downright supernatural, and angry militants who may actually have a point, Nel is ready to fight dirty.

THE X-FILES meets LARA CROFT in this snarky sci-fi about where we came from, and where we’re going

Travelers is the first of six books in the Starsedge: Nel Bently Books and takes place within the shared Starsedge Universe.

This series contains descriptions of various queer relationships and intimacy. If this makes you uncomfortable, this is not the series for you.

The Review

True archaeology is rarely depicted faithfully in media. Indiana Jones doesn’t spend time digging within a system of grids. Lara Croft doesn’t manage a group of grad students. They don’t have time for paperwork. They are too busy having adventures. In Travelers by V.S. Holmes, the heroine gets to do both.

When we first meet Nel Bently, she’s come upon her dig site already vandalized. She reacts to this like she does most things – gets angry, but then hunkers down and does the work to clean it all up. Nel is brash, unapologetic, and determined. This isn’t her first rodeo, but she still has a lot to learn and grow as a person.

The archaeology itself is the star of this book. Clearly the author knows their stuff, which is evident in each small detail – from the grid system to the layers of soil. As we follow along with the progress of the dig, we, along with our heroine Nel, can tell that something is Not Right here. (SPOILERS: Yes, it’s aliens.)

The action builds slowly, but when it starts moving, the pace picks up quickly and doesn’t slow down. However, we don’t meet the love interest until the last third of the novel, which meant that a lot of their interactions together felt a bit too rushed. It’s just enough to tease us. This is the first book in the series, and it does read very much like the first act of the story.

One of the major themes in this story is that of understanding the past to understand the future. We need to know where we came from to know where we are going. It’s a loving tribute to the science of archaeology itself. But it also parallels Nel’s journey – she is still figuring out who she is and her place in the newly discovered changed world. All of her expectations have been shattered apart by the end of the book, and she needs to figure out where to go from here. 

If you’re looking for science fiction grounded in factual science, this is a great look at the world of archaeology. Travelers is the first act in what looks to be an epic story – and the rest of the books are already available, so you don’t have to worry about starting a series that’s unfinished.

The Reviewer

CC is a mild-mannered librarian by day, but by night she writes about worlds of adventure and romance. When she’s not busy solving puzzles in an escape room, she can be found diving into comics or binge-watching superhero movies. She writes surrounded by books, spare computing equipment, a fluffy dog, and too many board games to count. In 2011, she won a Rainbow Award for best gay sci-fi/futuristic novel with Angel 1089.  

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