Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Distant Cousin by Al Past
(iUniverse, Inc. / 0-595-37292-9 / 978-0-595-37292-8 / October 2005 / 390 pages / $21.95 / Kindle $5.00)
Note: This cover is not the usual online version. There is a special, subtle quality to the cover that is not evident at B&N or Amazon. Just keep in mind that if you order the book, you will get a slightly better cover than is evident from the online JPG posted at Amazon and B&N. If you squint, you will see a face in the cover I have posted here. Now on with the show!
Distant Cousin is the best novel I have read in a long time. I can name about ten that I like better, and then I run out of titles. In what should be considered an appropriate fashion, the cover blurb (the same one you will read online) refers only to the first few pages of the book. The many pleasant plot twists of a book like Distant Cousin should never be given away for the sake of advertising. The author has added a new version at Amazon that provides a bit more information, but probably the less plot details you know, the more you will enjoy Distant Cousin.
Distant Cousin is a screenplay waiting to become a Spielberg movie. You cannot escape the visions in your mind from E.T. and Close Encounters as you read through it, and the magic so aptly personified in those two movies is also prevalent in Distant Cousin. The book is a SciFi love story with an adventurous plot. A human from another planet comes for a visit. She looks like Barbie, or the beauty from Species, except she is not a monster wearing a Barbie suit. She lands near Alpine, TX, which makes the landscape backdrop look like that in Wavelength, another movie with stylistic elements in common with Distant Cousin. A young journalist who has become somewhat bored with his job spots Barbie in the library, and he is fascinated by the combination of her beautiful innocence and the scientific books she is studying. The subplots begin to roll in, and that's all I'm going to tell you.
Al Past is a very accomplished, literary author. The sequel to Distant Cousin is already out, and I know you SciFi fans love sequels. The author thought about, researched, and studied the details of his concept for many years before releasing Distant Cousin, and the depth of his effort shines from the pages. Yes, the usual number of ubiquitous grammatical and typographical errors are present in the book, but that is my sole complaint. When the characters and plot are this good, holding up for the entire, considerable page count, I won't let the boo-boo drivel tarnish a book that deserves at least five stars. The closest thing to cheating that this book does is have a plot related to many movies, and the author has told me that he has seen less movies and television than the average American. If I never review another book, Distant Cousin has proven my thesis once and for all. There really are regular novels out there published by iUniverse that have not cheated with an appeal to obsessive genre readers, and they are outstanding! I am not a SciFi fan nor a romance fan, and I read about equal numbers of fiction and nonfiction. Distant Cousin will stamp its wonderful magic on your soul.
See also: Interview with Dr. Al Past
Review of DC2: Repatriation
Review of DC3: Reincarnation
Review of DC4: Regeneration
The 2007 PODBRAM Awards
Dr. Al Past's Blog