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February 9, 2019

Junction by Daniel M. Bensen ~ a Review

by MK French

Daisuke Matsumori is a nature show host in Japan and finds himself on an alien world. He joins others through a wormhole that connects Papua New Guinea to a world that is a combination of different alien ecosystems. He and the biologist Anne Houlihan are accompanying soldiers and civilians, but it's more than just the dangers of nature that are a threat to them all.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

January 2019; Flame Tree Press; 978-1787580961
audio, ebook, print (240 pages); science fiction
Daisuke is our entry point into the novel and the world of Junction. He's fairly likable from the start, even knowing that his marriage is failing, he is disillusioned with his job and frustrated with the theatricality of having to perform dangerous stunts for others' amusement. Anne is abrasive toward the military and has absolutely no filter, only becoming more personable when talking about biology and science. I like that the plant life on Junction isn't exactly the same as it is on Earth, where even the underlying fundamentals of how the plant life works is different. Instead of sap, the plants in the initial staging area uses alcohol to dissolve and transmit nutrients. Bumping into them realistically leads a soldier to have anaphylactic shock, and even our spit can damage them because of the enzymes in it. Other areas have creatures that have acidic blood and are completely different from the animals we have on Earth but conform to their own kind of internal sense. I really like those little touches to show just how alien this new world is, and that nothing we know can be taken for granted on this world.

The inevitable posturing between countries' military personnel and the nonmilitary is a source of conflict from the start. It's certainly believable and does also hint at a larger conspiracy leading to the exploration of Junction. All of the people present are rather volatile personalities other than Daisuke, and of course, the military people and Islanders aren't very forthcoming. There is a sense of foreboding as the group travels back to the wormhole leading to Earth, as well as Daisuke and Anne coming together emotionally. I'm not too fond of most characters in the book, since they have difficulties communicating and some of them are downright unpleasant. Still, it's fascinating to see how they interact, which makes me feel like a naturalist just as much as Daisuke is. The dangers from the other humans involved aren't quite what they seemed, so it's a surprise until the very end of the novel.

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Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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