How should I describe The Protocols of Uma? Imagine yourself aboard a space vessel, returning to your home planet for the first time in 200 years. So far, you’ve spent more than 900 years trying to locate a new home planet for your species, only to fail. Upon your return, you comingle with the natives of your home island. Except they live in conditions like the Stone Age. They view you as god-like, although you are an average person. Only by chance were you chosen to be a Journeyer when you were a child.
Welcome to John Brage’s The Protocols of Uma.
The book blends the sci-fi subgenres of space exploration and colonization well. There’s something for every sci-fi fan in this book. No matter what flavor of sci-fi you prefer, The Protocols of Uma will suck you right in. With such a variety of threats looming for the Umae race, the book hit close to home with reality (climate change, COVID-19, etc.).
Let’s go a bit more in-depth now.
Essential Book Information
Series: The Journeyers’ Tale (Book 1)
Author: John Brage
The Protocols of Uma Summary
Long ago, possibly many millennia, a race of humans from the planet Uma nearly made itself extinct. Since then, many spacecraft called Journeyships deployed, searching for a new home planet, aka Haven. Once per generation, a Journeyship returns to each Uma community to recruit new Journeyers and help those left behind.
Many threats to the Umae exist. Another species, the Hek, will eventually evolve to overtake Uma and likely make the Umae species extinct. The Umae live in population-controlled communities at a Stone Age-level of life. Few people, known as Chroniclers, have access to all technology, and they can misinterpret laws and act maliciously if they so choose. Oh yeah, and an alien parasite is starting to assimilate itself among your people. Not good.
ATTENTION! SPOILERS BELOW!
From Cataclysm to Critical Closure
The Cataclysm marks a significant event in the Umae civilization. The Protocols of Uma barely detail the actual event itself. Readers can infer it nearly wiped out the Umae race and was related to the use of technology somehow.
Critical Closure marks the forecasted period where the other species of humans on Uma, the Hek, will evolve and make the Umae extinct. Mysterious Directors wrote The Protocols for the Umae. The Protocols outline strict rules to guarantee their race’s survival.
The Umae built and sent 200 Journeycraft spaceships out, searching for a new home planet, referred to as Haven. The remaining Umae on the planet lives in secluded communities with minimal technology. Think of Neolithic Stone Age for a decent comparison. Thus far, the Journeycraft have yet to find Haven.
It isn’t that precise. Prior to Critical Closure, a period called ‘Looming’ takes place. Once Looming starts, Critical Closure could follow anywhere from something like a few hundred ellipses (years) to a few thousand. Every group’s technology, even the Heks’, is accelerated by the work of a few exceptional individuals. It is impossible to predict how often such an individual might arise in a particular society. If it happens at a relatively high rate for them, the Looming period will be much shorter.Jack, answering Bal’s question about Critical Closure
But Wait, There’s More!
As if extinction by another species local to Uma wasn’t enough, Brage threw in a new threat. An alien parasite named Frhsgetdfes (I’ll leave it up to you on how to pronounce that) poses an even more significant, imminent threat to the Umae. I have to give Brage credit here. Although not an original concept (then again, what is in sci-fi now?), the author came up with a menacing, frightful alien. It’s nearly indestructible and permeates anything.
It is actually multiple organisms. There is a central executive connected to hundreds of sub-agents by protein filaments. These filaments create a quantum connection between the executive and the sub-agents that continues even after the filaments are severed.Olm, infected with Frhsgetdfes, speaking to Gull
How the hell can the Umae – who aren’t even aware of its existence yet – protect themselves from it?
I love how the author intertwined many story timelines into a single brilliant book. That’s no small feat for an author to pull off, and Brage made it look easy.
Another aspect of The Protocols of Uma I loved was Brage’s use of ‘morningside’ and ‘eveningside’ in place for east and west. If you’re facing morningside, then one side (left) is the ‘heart side,’ and the other side (right) is the ’empty side.’ It’s brilliant.
Yes, I Do Have Some Gripes
Let me offer one caveat here. None of these gripes amount to anything that ruins the book. They’re small things that bugged me while reading.
1. There’s a prologue in the book, and I don’t get how it associates with the book. Or I missed something.
2. I need more Hek! Brage keeps his other species on Uma out of reach for relevant details, leaving them mysterious. By the end of the book, however, I wanted more. I guess I’ll have to read book two, Blinding Sky, to find out.
In an interaction between the Hek and Altans, a Hek leader was taller and leaner than the two other muscular Hek. I need to know if the taller person was an Umae from the Land Bridge community. Is that the reason the Hek race advanced quicker than the Directors forecasted?
3. I want to know more about the Citadel and what happened to all the other Journeycraft. Did they find Haven and leave the Altans behind?
4. Min uses The Long Bridge community’s Chronicler’s Hall to learn what happened during the Cataclysm. As the giant computer(?) sends the information to Min’s body via a blinding white light, Min collapses to the floor. What happens next?!
5. Dom nearly kills Lin by backing her off the Land Bridge’s high stairs, then grabs her arm to save her. That left me wondering why Dom did that. Did he transfer some of the alien parasite to Lin? What will happen to May, Cap, Pol, Joba, and the rest of the Charges?
As you can tell, all my gripes are playful. I ended up rating The Protocols of Uma a 5 out of 5 on Amazon and Goodreads. You can buy the book on Amazon here. My gripes reflect my impatience when lacking certain information from a story. Luckily for you and me, Brage released Blinding Sky, book two in The Journeyers’s Tale, and Journeys End, book three. All three books are available on Amazon for both Kindle and paperback versions. I just clicked “Buy Now” for the two other books in the series. You should, too.
Oh, I forgot to mention. I checked the reviews for all three books on Amazon. They all score over 4.5 out of 5 stars with plenty of reviews. There’s a smattering of social proof that should trigger your FOMO to buy them too.
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The Protocols of Uma
- Great blend of space exploration and colonization
- Complex society blends Stone Age with Space Age brilliantly
- New take on extinction made it an exciting read
- Could have added more about mysterious Hek
- Ended with a cliff-hanger without concluding any story lines