John Koetsier’s debut novel, No Other Gods opens in a futuristic Valhalla, where a collection of supersoldiers fight and feast an endless cycle. Or it seems endless, since none of them really remember any other life than waking up in battles, to compete with superstrength and stunning reflexes, and then healing any wounds in rejuvenative sleep pods, ready to fight again.
Geno is one of these warriors, motivated by both battlelust and a calmly intellectual interest in combat strategy. That seems to be all that motivates the soldiers, who basically shrug and go on with dinner when told they’re not so much in Valhalla as in a bootcamp for fighting the gods’ battles.
The crew of supersoldiers travel through time and space, awaking in historical battles to turn the tide for one side over the other. One soldier, Geno, is singled out for special assignments and cryptic messages by Hermes, the group’s leader, but it’s only when he encounters others like him, other strong, fast and massive supersoldiers, in the ranks of ancient warriors, that he begins to question who and what he is working for…
Without revealing too much of the book, Geno does start to develop emotions, as well as rediscover memories of his previous life, and even begins a relationship with Livia, another warrior, as he tries to discover who he is and what he’s doing.
‘No Other Gods’ blends myth and technology in the story of a futuristic warrior serving the gods. John Koetsier has created a scifi page-turner with enough historical detail to ground it. The science fiction world is fantastic, but still quite believable, perhaps thanks to Koetsier’s background in tech journalism. Ancient battles are depicted as a clash of disparate tribes or clans, each other slightly different motivations, which seems more genuine that the the typical, clear-cut narrative of an army battling another army. I look forward to reading more of Koetsier’s fiction.