Rating: 4 of 5
Author: John R. Johnson
Working at the very large array surveying the cosmos for any sign of extraterrestrial intelligence, Dr. Anna Koppernick and her colleagues receive a message – clear, and unambiguous. However, the nature of the message’s source is such that it is impossible to track its origin. Stonewalled by national security agents, Anna contacts her estranged husband – Dr. Niklas Koppernick – for help. Not only is Niklas a Nobel prize winning astrophysicist, but he also the director for MOLO – Mobile Lunar Observatory – the largest and most powerful observatory available to man. Niklas too has made a discovery – an anomaly in space that according to his analysis is older than the universe itself. Though this contradicts everything Niklas and Anna previously believed to be true, the worst part is the anomaly is growing and accelerating throughout the cosmos. Threatening everything in its path, the anomaly races toward Earth as Niklas and Anna work to understand its secrets and if perhaps there is help from somewhere else in the cosmos.
John R Johnson’s Purusha’s Urn, is somewhat reminiscent of Carl Sagan’s masterpiece Contact. An extraterrestrial message is received but instead of a coded signal instructing humanity to build a machine, Johnson’s offering provides not a signal, but a question and a warning. The race against a cosmic cataclysm and the potential that it is all but predetermined evoked the same feelings I had while reading Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clark or while watching the Nicolas Cage movie Knowing.
There is enough science in Purusha’s Urn to provide plausibility to the speculative fiction offered though hard core science fiction fans may take issue with a few items. But for me, I was frequently drawn to this book finding myself stealing moments away from my daily routine to try to read just a few more chapters. As a result, I completed the novel in just a couple of days and thoroughly enjoyed the ride along the way. While there are some thought provoking questions about the nature of reality and the fabric of the universe, I found the questions surrounding the end of humanity more captivating much like those found in Children of Men.
Johnson’s writing is crisp and the action paces the novel. Pursha’s Urn is an engaging, entertaining, escapist adventure perfect for a summer read. Enjoy.