“If There Be Giants” by Ellison Blackburn

“If There Be Giants” is a fascinating addition to the speculative fiction genre. Set in the very near future–it actually begins in the present, and then carries on to about 2020–it follows an archeologist who has made a startling discovery on a dig in Britain. Buried next to a henge stone is giant humanoid skeleton that is either a few thousand or several million years old. Has Mallory discovered the missing link between humans and apes–or the mythological race of the Nephilim?

Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it combines aspects of “hard” scifi and myth-based urban fantasy. The main characters are all trained academics who approach the question of what they have discovered scientifically, and yet there are also suggestions that what they are dealing with has a religious rather than a scientific explanation, something that some of them, at least, are willing to consider. Although this is not that unusual for stories like this (Indiana Jones is explicitly referenced on multiple occasions), it is well-done here, giving realistic details of the excavation process and situating the story in the realistic here-and-now, even as it gives tantalizing hints of something more.

The main focus, though, is not so much on the science and mythology but on the interior life of the main character, the lead archeologist on the dig. A complex and compelling character, Mallory wrestles with the scientific and moral dilemma placed before her, as well as her personal tragedies, which, it turns out, are also linked to the project. A strong female lead who doesn’t play into the stereotypes of strong female leads, Mallory is a welcome addition to the specfic genre. I definitely recommend this book for readers looking for smart, female-oriented speculative fiction.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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