Monday, April 27, 2009
A Voyage Beyond Reason
A Voyage Beyond Reason:
An Epic of Survival Based on the Original Journals of Benjamin Wade
by Tom Gauthier
(Outskirts Press / 1-432-71234-9 / 978-1-432-71234-1 / March 2009 / 408 pages / $18.95 / Amazon $17.05 / hardcover $30.95 / Amazon $27.85 / Kindle $6.40)
Reviewed by Juliet Waldron for PODBRAM
The first person who walked between the glaciers into a pristine valley, and then managed to come back and show the others how to get there, had a certain gene. Nowadays, this particular gene doesn’t get a workout very often, but here’s a story about a young man who possesses it, and what it made him do. A Voyage Beyond Reason is a novelization of the journals kept by Benjamin Wade during a voyage by kayak that took him from Baja to Colombia.
The title is apt. Ben Wade was in good physical condition and knew how to handle his craft, but other than that, there seems to have been little understanding of what his plan would entail. He cheerfully heads out equipped with a road map of Mexico, which obviously doesn’t contain information about the treacherous tidal currents of the Sea of Cortez, the place where his journey begins—and very nearly ends. He doesn’t know Spanish, he has little knowledge of the political situation in the various countries whose borders he’ll be crossing, and he isn’t an experienced seaman. You wonder if he’ll make it. There are storms, bad water, disease, hunger, fear, loneliness, and the occasional shark looking for a light snack. In short, it’s standard reality show fare: a more or less unprepared person pitted against Nature and his own limitations. In this case, however, there is the very real possibility that Ben Wade isn’t going to survive.
Survive he does, though, rescued (when necessary) by dumb luck, the kindness of strangers, Providence, and his own strength and perseverance. Ben has a lot to prove to himself, and a lot of growing up to do, but he seems, pretty clearly, to have done both during his journey, which does indeed end where he’d hoped, in Colombia.
A Voyage Beyond Reason is a fine adventure story. There were occasional grammatical/typographic errors, but the book is generally well put together and easy to read. There is what I’d call an “inspirational” subtext which some readers may like, but which may grate on others. My other caveat is that at 389 pages, it is far longer than it needs to be. This is something an editor could have remedied, but I put it down to the affection the author clearly has for his young subject. If you are a fan of the “true adventure” genre, ocean-going, exotic locale variety, or, if you are a Survivor junkie, you’ll probably enjoy this one.
See Also: The Hardcover Version (note the different reviews)
Tom Gauthier's Authors Den Page
Tom Gauthier's Website