What is Echoes of Olympus Mons?
Once they see you nowhere is safe.
Olympus One colony students Hal Leon and Akio Sato have made history. Their invention, a camera that images dark matter, has had its first successful test; but what it reveals may put human life on Mars in jeopardy.
Hal believes that the strange animalistic silhouettes hidden in the dark matter web prove his theories. The wiry, inhuman forms appear to look to the sky at some invisible threat before they’re wiped away by a wave of nothingness that resets the dark matter web to normal, until it all repeats again—a never-ending cycle.
That is, until something else appears in the dark matter web, and students and colonists alike start dying under mysterious circumstances. Can Hal and Akio figure out what’s causing these grisly murders, and does the dark matter camera somehow hold the key to the mystery?
Echoes of Olympus Mons is for anyone who’s ever wanted a Lovecraftian horror story set on Mars, like Lovecraft’s From Beyond and John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars.
I love science fiction horror. Sort of like how I believe cyberpunk is when you mix noir and science fiction, sci-fi horror is what I cut my teeth on. It’s been there more or less from the beginning with Frankenstein, was codified with Alien, and is pretty much the basis of a huge chunk of video games. After all, there’s almost always a mad scientist behind the latest zombie outbreak. I recently enjoyed Luke Hindmarsh’s recent COLD SLEEP, which is zombie outbreak on a cryogenics-based colony ship. So I was eager to get some more in the genre.
Eric Malikyte was also a name I was interested as well due to the fact I was a big fan of his book, EGO TRIP. Indie cyberpunk is another one of my interests and I felt that it managed to capture both the modern zeitgeist as well as that aggressive rebelliousness so many other stories in the genre didn’t. So, I decided to give ECHOES OF OLYMPOS MONS a chance.
The premise is that humanity has colonized Mars and society is continuing on much the same way as it always has. Individuals go there to study due to the offered incentives for education and colonization. For Hal Leon, it was a chance to escape his religiously abusive father as well as the general poverty of Earth.
Unfortunately, Hal suffers from terminal arrogance and constantly butts heads with his professors as well as forwards wild theories like the non-localization of consciousness. Hal isn’t a religious person, quite the opposite, but carries a lot of ideals influenced by his background. Indeed, his desire to prove “his” theories is driven by a need to disprove his father’s beliefs. It reminds me a bit of Prometheus in reverse where Doctor Elizabeth Shaw wanted to prove God’s existence via the discovery of the Engineers.
Well, like a modern day Frankenstein, Hal attempts his experiments on his own with the help of his associate, Akio Sato. Hal doesn’t quite cue to Akio’s real reason for helping him and no sooner do they dig their academic graves then he successfully alienates the last person on two worlds who gives a darn about him. But his experiment works! He’s certainly found something living in the dark matter (which has been proven to exist at this point in-universe)! Unfortunately, his experiment has attracted the attention of whatever it is he’s discovered.
Much of this story will be familiar to readers and it’s actually the places where it zigs instead of zags that make it good. At one point, after the bodies start piling up, Hal attempts to go to the authorities and explain what is going on. Their reaction? They look at the evidence and immediately try and start formulating a plan to deal with the obviously real problem rather than continue to deny it like lemmings.
The real selling point of the story is the character development that Hal undergoes throughout the story. He doesn’t become a hero per se but the realization that he’s responsible for so much of this (however inadvertently) as well as the emotional abuse he’s heaped on his friends is an interesting arc for a protagonist. Hal’s not just a mad scientist, he’s someone who was caught up in his own business that he couldn’t appreciate how much other people were sacrificing for him.
In conclusion, this is a solid and entertaining horror novel with a pretty good ending. I slightly prefer the original cover art and feel like the new cover spoils the reveal a bit but there’s something to be said for advertising what you’re all about. I definitely recommend this as a horror novel.