Exigency by Michael Siemsen


Many years’ travel from Earth, the planet of Epsilon C has given rise to two dominant lifeforms: the Threck – resembling amphibious ancient Romans – and the vicious, predatory Hynka. Above, a ragtag team of human researchers studies the alien world, orbiting in comfort until a suspicious disaster forces them to evacuate their station. Separated and stranded on the inhospitable surface of “Epsy,” they will fight for survival and reunion while uncovering secrets about the surprising true nature of life on the planet – just another day in Michael Siemsen’s fantastic sci-fi thriller, Exigency.

Like the novel’s title suggests, the book is chock-full of emergency situations – we are swiftly drawn deep into the action, thrills, and anxieties of Exigency, which is strongly flavored with the best elements of sci-fi action and a tinge of horror. The story is well paced and has a good dramatic arc, bolstered by the complex, rich, and sustained ideas surrounding Exigency’s vision of science, biology, and history; the novel’s fascinating pseudo-science and advanced technologies really shine from the page. Blessedly, Siemsen doesn’t spend too much time explaining his book’s sci-fi world, but lets us live and explore it, presenting the story and its universe to us as a mystery, ever unfolding and deepening. Although there are moments when it becomes a bit difficult to see precisely what is happening, it is also usually wonderfully impossible to tell where, exactly, things are going – Exigency is laden with surprises, yielding some marvelously magical and touching moments. Many of the lead characters are likewise compelling and well-defined, and there is a strong development of the dynamics between them. This is in large part thanks to flourishes of realistic human psychology and the quirky lingo and argot whose consistent use quickly feels logical and natural. The narrative voice also adopts the perspectives of multiple characters for a variety of insight, maintaining cadences that are witty, playful, and – above all – wise. A fun story of survival and endurance that hits some metaphysical high notes and exudes a special feeling of “cool”, Exigency is highly recommended to any big-hearted and sharp-minded reader in search of a sturdy sci-fi page-turner.

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