REVIEW: Ascension by Nicholas Binge

Ascension by Nicholas Binge is an epistolary novel where well-respected physicist, Harry Tunmore, documents the investigation of the scientific team he is a part of, who are exploring the bizarre appearance of a giant mountain that has formed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Ascension by Nicholas Binge | WaterstonesAlthough immensely bright and talented, Harry is a loner who has isolated himself from family, friends, and loved ones. This self-inflicted penance has allowed Harry to excel in his scientific field, travelling the world, building his reputation, and leading him to be respected enough to be a part of this exploration team. He has hardened his heart when it comes to feeling and emotions.

This makes it slightly surprising that he writes the letters expressing the strange and beyond comprehensible happenings on the mountain to his niece, Harriet. The letters act as chapters and occasionally feature editor’s notes which usually reference the letters’ dates or conditions (how worn etc…), adding an extra layer to the peculiarities that take place on the mountain.


The above statements were on the advanced review copy I received for this novel and intrigued me enough to start reading straight away. Ascension gripped me from the moment I started reading, and, throughout, is a high-octane, science-fiction thriller, littered with intelligent and dynamic set-pieces. Approximately 70% of the novel takes place on the mountain yet this narrative never becomes dull or predictable.

Ascension by Nicholas Binge | GoodreadsBinge writes well, with real clarity as he brings the drama to life, set against this almost otherworldly backdrop. Some sections of Ascension are science-heavy, relating to and referencing many theories that are far too advanced for my understanding. This did not take away from my enjoyment, and, if anything, heightened my empathy for the characters as they, some of the cleverest minds on the planet, were left baffled by the unexplainable.

Ascension features some excellent character creations and these are brought to life by Harry’s descriptions and impressions regarding personalities and motives. High-intensity adventurer Bettan and military affiliate The Warden are great supporting characters, as is the scientist Naoko, whose path with Harry has crossed prior to them being reacquainted on the mountain.

Around 20% of Ascension is comprised of flashbacks and although I did not enjoy these as much as the scenes set around investigating the mountain, they are a welcome change in pace and culminate excellently (although slightly predictably); shedding light on the reasons for Harry’s isolation and almost stoic nature. These past events are normally revealed to coincide with an update that occurs on the mountain and feature knowledge-nuggets that enhanced the main story timeline. For example, indicating why he is writing to Harriet, and explaining the relationship situations with other members of his family.

Ascension is a stimulating and hard-to-put-down 300-page science thriller. It is complex, clever, thought-provoking, and thoroughly intriguing, with some fascinating concepts with regards to time and predicting the future, and our understanding of humans, nature, and the universe. 8/10.


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James Tivendale

James Tivendale

Reviewer. Sober. Runner. Peer Mentor. Pool Player. Poker Player. Fitness. Metal. Rap. Mario Kart. Zelda.

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[…] Review originally posted on Grimdark Magazine. […]