Book Review: Origin Mystery Series by A.G. Riddle

This is a series of three books. The Atlantis Gene, The Atlantis Plague, and The Atlantis World. They are science fiction, involving different alien worlds, and deal with climate change only in passing.

However, those few climate change references were rather interesting. I learned from this series that the most severe short-term climate change event of the last 2000 years happened in the years from 535 on. It has its own Wikipedia entry titled “Extreme weather events of 535-536“.

That was a global cooling episode, probably caused by a volcano eruption. In the novel the Plague of Justinian is one of the consequences. That is one of the key events in this series. It is caused by some of the aliens in the novel for reasons I still don’t completely understand. The back story in the alien world involves complicated interactions with multiple alien races and factions thereof.

Another historic cooling event I learned about was the Toba supereruption around 70,000 years ago. That was a really large volcano eruption that sent temperatures way down in a short interval. The relevant Wikipedia page discusses the idea that this sudden climate change in turn lead to a bottleneck in human population reducing it to  between 3,000 and 10,000 individuals.

That is somewhat exaggerated in the novel, where the author has one of the alien characters save the last pair of living humans by changing their genetic code, giving them the first part of the “Atlantis gene”.

Another reference to the consequences of global warming comes later in the series. One of the alien characters sets off some explosives in the Antarctic and melts all the ice there instantly. The consequence is a sudden change in coastlines, San Francisco becomes submerged. And some of the characters have to deal with the tsunami that reaches Africa.

I liked the first book the best. It has the strongest foundation in actual science. As the series shifts more to the imaginary story of multiple alien civilizations, it becomes difficult to follow.

But I do have some interest in genetics as well. Part of it is from the fact that my second son has Down syndrome. I know first hand about what that means. And contrary to what one might expect, it is quite open to debate if living with the less developed intelligence level that comes with this particular package is a bad deal or not.

Another part of that comes from the fact that my grandfather Fritz Lenz was one of the leading genetics scientist in Germany in his time.

Anyway, the main theme of the whole series is the interaction of the alien “Atlantis gene” with human evolution. The Atlantis gene helps humans to take over the planet in early history. Later on in the novel there are some hints on taking humans another step further in their “brain wiring”. But we never find out how these humans of superior intelligence actually use their capabilities.

As a reader, I liked the things I could learn from the series about past sudden climate change events mentioned above. I also liked the character development, the suspense, and the writing in general. I had some problems with the last book, which I was not able to completely understand because the complexity of all those alien races and factions thereof was too much for me. Maybe I need an upgrade in my “brain wiring”.

As a writer, I would like to learn from this book to keep things simple. And I learn that one can write a science fiction global warming genetics novel. I might want to try that with one of my next fiction writing projects.

A final note in passing: “A.G. Riddle” probably is spelled out “Atlantic Gene Riddle”. I don’t need an update in “brain wiring” to note that much.

Update: The author kindly replies over Twitter. My guess about this name seems to be wrong. I wonder if there is a hint to the real solution here.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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