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The Krilov Continuum
J.M.H. Lovegrove
TV Books, 351 pages

The Krilov Continuum
J.M.H. Lovegrove
J.M.H. Lovegrove is an alias of James Lovegrove, an Arthur C. Clarke Award short-listed author. He uses it to differentiate The Guardians from his other work. He was born on Christmas Eve, 1965. Despite the rumour and the year and a half he spent in Chicago between 1995 and 1996, he remains inarguably, ineluctably, irretrievably, irrevocably British.

James Lovegrove Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond

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Based on the book jacket, one might be misled into believing that The Krilov Continuum is inspired by a show from the Sci-Fi Channel. After all, the Sci-Fi Channel logo is prominently featured on the cover, and the publisher is TV Books. However, that's not the case. The Guardians: Book 1, The Krilov Continuum is the first book in a three volume series whose only association with the Sci-Fi Channel appears to be the above mentioned logo. It certainly confused me for a while.

To put the story in context, you have to know a little bit of the background. Tens of thousands of years ago, a group of para-terrestrials (aliens, extraterrestrials, EBEs, etc.) took an interest in mankind and began nurturing and guiding the human race. A great civilization arose and then things went disastrously wrong. Mankind's inherent greed took over, and after a small taste of the para-terrestrial's knowledge, our ancestors tried to take the remainder of the knowledge that the para-terrestrials had been withholding. They were easily rebuffed and to teach us a lesson, the para-terrestrials toppled the great civilization of Atlantis, and forced us back to the Stone Age. Reminders of that time remain, however, in the form of the pyramids and other great wonders.

After almost 4000 years, they decided to resume guiding mankind, albeit with more caution. The para-terrestrials were not in total agreement over this decision. A small minority felt that mankind was too dangerous and unreliable and should be destroyed. They were outvoted, however, and the remainder of the para-terrestrials, the Librans, carefully mapped out mankind's future progress. To implement their plan, the Librans carefully selected a group of human men and women to act as their agents. This secret group would erase every trace of an idea or invention that the Librans deemed beyond mankind's current level of maturity. The members of this secret, worldwide cabal are called the Guardians and they have dedicated their lives to maintaining worldwide stability. At odds with the Librans are the Anarchs. Their goal is the destabilization of human civilization, accomplished by giving certain individuals knowledge and tools that mankind is not ready for.

The Krilov Continuum opens in 1908 on the western edge of the Central Siberian Plateau. A Guardian, Valentina Aleksandrovna, has tracked her target, Professor Anton Krilov, to an old farmhouse, where he is at work on an experimental flying machine that is centuries beyond the Wright Brothers' invention. Valentina disposes of Krilov's guards and confronts Krilov. Knowing he is about to die, he begs for the chance to test his invention before his execution. She acquiesces, which proves to be a foolish move on her part, as Krilov has no intention of dying alone.

The story then cuts to the present, where we briefly meet Tony Byrne, a researcher at a top-secret government research facility in Nevada. In London, Cecil Evans, a homeless man, is seized by a vision on the street. This is obviously not the first time this has happened to him, because he immediately calls John Rattray, a Guardian, to communicate the experience to him. Rattray immediately begins searching for a connection between the two events in Cecil's vision: the Tunguska explosion of 1908 and the Roswell crash in 1947.

Soon the link becomes apparent. Somehow, the antigravity engine that Professor Krilov invented in 1908 keeps trying to re-emerge. The Guardians must figure out why they have been unable to suppress Krilov's invention, as well as prevent its rediscovery. A decidedly mixed Guardian team is assembled. The team leader is Lucretia Fisk, current leader of the Guardians and a renowned modern sculptor. Her three teammates are Bill MacGowan, Piers Pearson, and John Rattray. MacGowan is a former SAS soldier, and Pearson is a character straight out of a 60s British TV adventure series. Rattray is unique among the Guardians. Over a hundred and fifty years ago, the Librans modified Rattray to be stronger and faster than normal humans and gave him the ability to heal himself quickly. His abilities and experience make him the Guardians' chief trouble-shooter.

The team travels to Nevada to rendezvous with one of their North American counterparts. The team then splits up to unravel the mysterious connection between Tunguska, Roswell, and a secret US government research laboratory.

The Krilov Continuum is quite clearly meant to introduce the reader to the Guardians, the Librans and their archenemies, the Anarchs. There are plenty of explanations worked into the story, so that no outside information is needed. I thought this was a very thoughtful touch on Lovegrove's part. I found the whole premise to be very interesting: an ultra-secret organization, guided by unseen aliens, that is responsible for preventing mankind from learning too much too soon and causing their self-destruction. However it is also a bit disturbing. While the goal of the Guardians is admirable, their methods are not. They are willing to use any means necessary to achieve their objectives, including kidnapping and murder. By the end of the book, I certainly did not classify the Guardians as "the good guys." The underlying darkness of the Guardians comes through quite clearly in the novel. While they appear to completely set aside their own personal feelings for "the good of mankind," it's clear that some of them have their doubts. Mention is made of a previous incident where a Guardian broke with the organization, evidence that not everyone's conviction is absolute.

The Krilov Continuum is the first of three books in what promises to be an entertaining series. There is some setup for future intrigue and possible betrayal that may prove interesting. And the series could exploit any number of conspiracy theories, government cover-ups, suppressed inventions, and ancient mysteries. The story possibilities are endless.

Copyright © 1999 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.


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