Posted by: Craig Woolheater on August 27th, 2014
Crypto-fiction review: Kronos Rising
Reviewed by: Matt Bille
Far From the Tree Press
2013 (updated edition)
“Creature” novels usually have two faults: the hand-waving of the science and the inability of the author to keep our attention when the creature is off stage. Hawthorne’s novel succeeds on the second count and is entertaining despite holes in the science.
So to give the good news first, Hawthorne can write. Some of his characters (the two-fisted lawman, the woman scientist) are tropes of this genre, but Hawthorne writes them colorfully and sure-footedly. Everyone has an interesting backstory, which helps us cheer on the heroes and slightly humanizes the villains. (One odd note here: the novel’s repeated reference to champion fencers being national figures and having a professional tour is so weird I assume Hawthorne means it as a kind of running gag.)
Hawthorne knows the sea, and the ocean scenes are authentic and suspenseful. We spend time on several ships, and all of them are described in interesting detail. We feel the rocking of the waves and smell the salt air.
Finally, Hawthorne is good at plotting and pacing. The book races along, and only the drawn-out climax seems too long.
So it’s eminently readable. The science needs some work.
Hawthorne’s villain is an evolved species of kronosaur, close to a hundred feet long and weighing a hundred tons. That’s a lot bigger than any historical pliosaur, but this IS fiction, and I give Hawthorne a pass there.
Other mistakes are harder to overlook. That baleen whales echolocate is a thuddingly obvious error, the kind that primes you to look for more errors. And, in the nonfiction background, there are plenty. Species are the wrong size, in the wrong habitat, and they behave however the story requires.
The knonosaurs’ survival to the present is unsatisfactory: Hawthorne presents a story that puts two kronosaurs in a volcanic cone after the K-T asteroid impact, but then leaves them there: presumably they reproduced in a self-contained ecosystem, but it’s not clear. Real kronosaurs didn’t echolocate, although if they’ve been evolving for 65 million years you can’t say it couldn’t happen. The animal’s complex thinking and emotions, like its fast-healing ability and its habit of laying eggs on shore, are well outside plausibility.
This won’t bother anyone just looking for a fun read, because Kronos Rising delivers on the fun: it has plenty of plot twists, roller-coaster suspense, colorful characters, and action. On that score, I got my money’s worth.
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.