Monday, August 10, 2009
A 23rd Century Guide for the 21st Century Cynic
by Josh Smith
(CreateSpace / 1-448-61549-6 / 978-1-448-61549-0 / June 2009 / 190 pages / $9.99 / Kindle $1.99)
Reviewed by Dianne Salerni for PODBRAM
Thomas Gordon doesn’t have much satisfaction in his life. He has no living relatives, and he has never been in a meaningful relationship. His dead-end job as personal assistant to a demanding boss has just ended abruptly and unfairly. He is “fed up” with his life, with the city, and with the whole world. So when the opportunity arises to take a trip to the future via cryogenic preservation, he doesn’t think about it very long before agreeing. The future has to be better, right?
Thomas and his companions, Doug and Vera, are cryogenically frozen by a groundbreaking new invention in a place known as “the lab”. Their needs are cared for by pairs of employees carefully selected over two centuries, and eventually the three time travelers are awakened in the 23rd Century by Darin and Lyla, who have been selected to introduce them to the new world.
I have no complaints about the technical writing style and editing in Strange Future, and the narrative is sometimes amusing. However, the reader has to suspend a lot of disbelief in order to accept the new technology, and the plot structure is rather flat, without rising action or substantial climax. None of the three volunteers – Thomas, Doug, or Vera – really has a compelling reason to risk their lives by being frozen, no traumatic life change or disappointment to make them want to take such a drastic step. They are just unhappy and cynical about the human race, which makes it strange that they would think the future would be any better. Indeed, the first thing they do upon awakening is to complain about most of the things they find. The remainder of the novel follows the trio as they learn about the world of the 23rd Century. Once they arrive in the future, there is no central problem to be resolved or mystery to be uncovered. A budding relationship between Thomas and Lyla happens more off-stage than on, with dialogue used to point out the cool (and not so cool) aspects of the future rather than provide needed character development. Overall, the vision of the future in this novel could not sustain my interest due to the lack of a compelling adventure to hold it all together.
See Also: The Author's Website