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Set in a world that is ridden with lethal radiation from a cataclysmic event, J. I. Rogers’s debut novel and the first novel of her 942 series is a definitive addition to the science fiction genre.
Life in The Korpes File is lived almost entirely indoors and relies highly on the advancement of technology to support life on a planet that is no friend to the living. Technician Nash Korpes is a member of the Diasporan people, who face harsh discrimination from the Korlo people of Korlune, where this saga is set. Nash is a genetic anomaly that gives him the appearance of his ancestors long ago. Because of this, he is recruited as an official subject within the government research organization KMR & D.
Nash has his reasons for signing over his life; his mental state is deteriorating, and his growing medicine regime are becoming too much and even dangerous, he decides he has to find a way out.
Spanning ten years of rising tensions across Korlune and within Nash’s mind, The Korpes File is packed with a large cast of characters told from numerous points of view. The interlocking plotlines can be hard at times to keep track of, but Rogers kindly includes a handy character index and map for reference, and they’ll need it. Readers are immersed straight into Nash’s world of unquestioned conformity and strict societal expectations. Still, the story itself is unapologetic to readers and rarely takes the time to explain itself, which, in a way, is its defining quality.
The truth is hidden deep, and J. I. Rogers scatters little details calling back to earlier points that help to unravel the overarching mystery. In a way, there are two mysteries. One within Nash’s mind and the nature of his condition and subsequent treatment, whereas the other is of a resurfacing war of destruction that will change life in Korlune forever. For both these mysteries, Rogers’s narrative style involves abrupt changes throughout the novel that are frankly disruptive. Still, they are useful in creating a sense of chaos one would face in a world of rising tensions and competing realities.
When presented with a large number of characters, it may seem like a daunting task to achieve necessary amounts of character development, and Rogers does just that, again and again. Just as attachments begin to form, the chaos prevalent in the novel tears them away from the forefront. Nash himself is present throughout the story but becomes a very different person from the beginning of because of all the mental, emotional, and physical trails he goes through spanning the ten-year passage of time. The story is only just beginning, however, and Nash’s story is far from over.
The Korpes File is a dynamic debut from J. I. Rogers that is sure to delight any die-hard science fiction fan looking for something new. The second novel of the 942 series was published this past March and continues the trials and tribulations of Technician Nash Korpes trying to find his way in a turbulent and dangerous world.
The Korpes File won Grand Prize in the CIBA 2018 Cygnus Awards for Speculative Science Fiction.