Shadow Guardians is a science fiction novel that steps away from warring aliens and warp drives to delve into individual potential. The premise focuses on how one would react if extracted from normal life and inserted into a totally new construct of so-called “life” while retaining all of your previous life’s memories. Would you take death instead?
Lawrence starts his story with Abigail and Dennis Webster who have just celebrated their anniversary with a special dinner at a fine restaurant, ensconced in the warmth of their closeness in the cockpit of their Piper aircraft. They are taking off from Tacoma, Washington, toward their temporary home in Everett. Abby and Dennis’s affectionate reflections are interrupted by the raucous noise of another craft’s intrusion in their airspace. There is scarcely time for thought before a crash sends them heading downward into the frigid Puget Sound.
That same evening, Lindsey Maguire, a beautiful but self-serving and arrogant bank executive, is abducted by a hired killer, destined to be pushed over a bridge railing to her death.
Instead of dying, the would-be victims find themselves groggily awakening in the alien confines of an interstellar spaceship, the “Starlight Mistress.” Each reacts differently to the news that they have been rescued and transported by two representatives of the distant planet of Majora—Milankaar (or Mil), a humanoid born there, and his companion Miriam, a human rescued from Earth some time ago, who has joined Mil in his mission of learning more about Earth and its people.
The fascinating difference between Lawrence’s captivating sci-fi novel and most others of this genre is his focus on the personalities and feelings of the rescued beings of our era and their reactions to the knowledge that their lives will be continued on the planet Majora. Their initial shock and disbelief evolve in different ways, which Lawrence deftly paints. The survivors are offered an impossible choice that, regardless of their decision, ensures their old life is over. But Mil—an intelligent, generous, and thoughtful character—seeks to help his guests deal with their present reality and look forward to a new life on the relatively peaceful and pleasant planet of Majora—especially Dennis and Abby whose marriage threatens to crumble under the strain.
The interspatial action heats up when a Chelonite slave-abducting ship attacks the “Starlight Mistress.” The pages fly by as fast as the spaceships when Mil draws the slavers to the rocky surface of the moon in an effort to evade or destroy their attackers. Lawrence’s precise descriptions of the lunar landscape, skillfully drawn from America’s moon landings and explorations, lend reality to the death-defying chase, skimming over mountains and diving through the Valles Alpes. If Mil can’t out fly the Chelonite vermin, he’ll have to outwit them.
As Brett Lawrence says in his bio, if all goes well for the Shadow Guardians, we might just see a sequel to this, his first published novel. This reviewer, for one, certainly hopes so, because Shadow Guardians gave me an exciting ride and a thought-provoking great read!