Publisher: Travertine Books (2015)
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At the dawn of the 24th Century, seven corporations or “families” known as the Sisters dictate every aspect of human life. “The Spoon Feed” spits out the latest curated news while Marcom, a marketing communications group, composes “The True Story,” their version of reality for public consumption. Tight control of information is necessary for total corporate domination of all planetary enterprises and the Sisters are willing to go to extreme measures to maintain their stranglehold on humanity.

Driven by a thirst for new information, exoarcheologist Evan McElroy makes a discovery that takes him outside of the perceived safety of the “True Story” and hurls him into the nearest glome, a wormhole-like space portal, where he runs for his life.

His discovery, an ancient artifact from the extinct Versari race, contains data with the potential to dismantle the control of the Sisters and destroy the carefully crafted society they’ve created. A discovery worth killing for.

From the first sentence to the last, The Great Symmetry is a science fiction thrill ride. Opening with Evan in the crosshairs and missiles of Affirmatix (a family of companies within the Sisters), he is forced to take a leap of planetary faith. Evan sends out a final coded message then, with the artifact safely tucked into his EVA suit, he steps out of his runabout craft and propels himself into deep space to escape obliteration by the Affirmatix.

With a dwindling oxygen supply his only hope is that expert pilot and longtime friend Mira Adastra will decode his message before death or Affirmatix takes him. But Affirmatix is already targeting all of Evan’s known associates and Mira has had her own run-ins with the Sisters. It’s only through the unlikely help of Evan’s ex-partner, Kate DelMonaco, that any of the three have a chance to make it out of Evan’s giant leap alive.

In this stunning debut novel, James R. Wells has assembled a great cast of interesting and complex characters embedded in a well-planned dual narrative. Pitting the infoterrorists – seekers of reality and truth – against the corporate, profit-before-people decision makers of Affirmatix creates a dynamic “good versus evil” scenario that allows for a deeper understanding of the motivations that drive each side. The shifting narrative also enables the reader to travel between unique environments that reveal rich and clever world-building components.

With its Kafka-esque view of an escalating, dominant corporate presence, James R. Wells’ The Great Symmetry echoes the timeless social messages of truth, freedom and sacrifice embraced by science fiction greats like Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and the author’s own great grandfather H. G. Wells. Its powerful premise gives voice to the perils and challenges of our current society and reminds the reader that even the smallest person can change the world. A great read!