Christopher Zyck’s Mosaic Caverns blends science fiction and thriller genres to tell an otherworldly tale of human discovery.
In 2005, a team of archaeologists heads to Colombia to investigate a site bearing traces of a pre-Inca civilization. Puzzling human remains and a mysterious tablet lead the team to Mosaic Caverns, deep in jungle territory preyed upon by drug mobs and paramilitary forces. Inside the caverns, two archaeologists and two military men encounter a guide who educates them about a new, technologically advanced humanoid civilization hiding on the fringes of the known world. However, the military conflicts escalating around them threaten not just their future lives but the fate of a country.
Zyck’s swashbuckling archaeologists and suggestions of alien interference recall Indiana Jones, although the book then veers toward an odd mashup of science fiction and military thriller. Plot and stakes are hard to follow as scenes are disjointed, quests are fragmented, and abrupt jumps in point of view muddy the action.
Stakes finally emerge late in the novel as Zyck reveals his otherworldly premise and the scenes of violence and carnage surrounding attempts to eliminate Colombia’s drug trade become the battle for control of a country. As a whole, however, the novel seems to exist as a setup for a futuristic sequel, a preview of which follows the epilogue.
The action might make more sense if readers had time to care about any of the many characters, but even the two with the most page time, archaeologists Catherine and her lover Jürgen, are at best thinly developed. Ubiquitous grammatical errors and clunky imagery weigh down the prose style, and the pauses for lectures on organized religion and the travesties of human history grow tedious even for those who share the author’s viewpoints.
In summary, this is a promising idea that requires revision to become an enjoyable book.