Trevor Cloud is a reclusive genius who has invented a machine that can go anywhere, endure any environment, and is powered by any energy expended around or upon it. His focus on the development of his extraordinary machine, an egg-shaped contraption he calls The Cloud, has left him only dimly aware of the fact that the clouds of Earth are curiously in absentia. It isn’t long, however, before Trevor, and his less reclusive brother, Russell, learn the nefarious source of the missing clouds—an extra-terrestrial agent that is siphoning away Earth’s vapor for reasons unknown.
Brother Russell Cloud could not be more different from his brilliant sibling: athletic, outgoing, upbeat, philosophical, and perhaps somewhat prescient. Nevertheless, the two brothers confide and trust in one another completely.
The story meanders a bit as Trevor and Russell explore the fascinating capabilities of the Cloud, here and there unveiling some new (but invariably important) function, but this is mere winding of the crank before the brothers come into contact with the aliens. Soon circumstances require them to deal with the threat. Indeed, after witnessing the technological capabilities of the visitors’ machines, and the paltry attempts humanity makes to thwart them, Trevor and Russell realize they and their machine may be the only thing that can stop the aliens.
James Field has created a fascinating exploratory device in the Cloud and novice adventurers, the Cloud brothers. Who wouldn’t want to test the capabilities of a nigh self-sustaining machine that could go anywhere and guarantee the safety of its inhabitants? Best of all, improbable as it may seem, Trevor describes the function of his machine and its many failsafes with a scientific literacy and tone that makes the device seem entirely probable.
To my surprise, despite the variety of experiences and entities we encounter on our journey with the Cloud brothers, the most interesting of all were the inanimate characters: the Cloud ship itself, seemingly invincible, infinitely adaptable, and all but unstoppable, and a gadget that identifies itself as Aidme. Part of the fun in reading this story is learning how Trevor will tweak his ship with a few hours of coding to navigate the latest challenge.
This is the maiden voyage of the Cloud and the Cloud brothers, and their first adventure was a doozy. It might be difficult to top, but I hope it isn’t their last.