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By David Couzins
Airstream Publishing Company
As I've said here before, I have kind of a soft spot for authors with big visions for their books, but who end up biting off a little more than they can chew, because I always feel it's better to try something big and slightly fail than to succeed at something that ultimately doesn't matter; and there's no more perfect example of this than David Couzins' Domers, a would-be science-fiction epic that doesn't quite cross all its Ts or dot all its Is, but gets extra points merely for being so ambitious in the first place. Set in the year 2080, the main premise is that America has grown so fearful of terrorist and biological attacks that they have voluntarily converted into a fully domed society, the populace now living in millions of little impenetrable bubbles and banned by law from ever leaving them, interacting with everyone besides your family via a series of multimedia tech devices. But of course the US still needs to be physically protected from outside threats, in particular a newly aggressive Mexican army who has been conducting an increasing series of raids into now unpopulated areas of the American southwest; so that's where the Native American population comes in, who had absolutely refused to comply when the US was first setting up its conversion into a domed society, which the government eventually agreed to not challenge in return for these Indian tribes essentially becoming a guerrilla fighting force protecting the country's southern border. The actual plot, then, concerns two young lovers who are about to get married and move into a new "starter dome," one of the only times in a person's life that they actually travel out of doors; when this couple is then attacked by Mexican raiders during their transit, then rescued by Native American forces, the events serve as an excuse for Couzins to explore and expound on the expansive conceptual universe he has created for this book.
Now, let's make no mistake -- like many "high concept" sci-fi novels, Domers suffers from a series of logic problems, and the vast amount of backstory leads to a number of "exposition dumps" that slow the book's pace to a crawl. But that said, I'm specifically giving this book a half-point higher score than I normally would, expressly because I really liked this expansive backstory, a smart day-after-tomorrow extrapolation of our current times that contains a lot of originality; and I also appreciated Couzins' efforts to take this "Logan's Run" style sterile setting and incorporate much of the action into the dirty, gritty world of desert conflict and pre-industrial Native American villages. Although this particular novel has some deep flaws, and it shouldn't be mistaken for anything other than slightly above so-so, it also shows Couzins to be a writer of great promise, and I'm looking forward to the future books he might have for us down the road.
Out of 10: 8.0