Saturday, August 17, 2013
This is the Kirkus Review of Book #3, "The Saeshell Book of Time Part 3: Paradise Lost". The review sounds a little overly harsh in some ways about how challenging the book is. Still, it is correct in that it is not "beach reading" --- it is a very thoughtful read which will leave you contemplating the possibilities afterwards. Here is the review:
THE SAESHELL BOOK OF TIME PART 3: PARADISE LOST
Illus. by Curtis, Matt
CreateSpace (330 pp.)
$14.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1470100346; October 1, 2013
In the third installment of Biesele’s (The Saeshell Book of Time: Part 2: Rebirth of Innocents, 2013, etc.) sci-fi/fantasy series, two Earthlings embrace their destinies as allies and enemies complicate their path.
The story picks up on the planet Sophista, where evolutionarily advanced non-corporeal energy creatures live symbiotically with telepathic humans. The Sophistan collective is testing Stefan and Tova2—a powerful, mated pair of human hybrids, born on Earth, who have evolved into “new and unique life forms” and are fated to rule Earth and protect its telepaths. The Sophistans are ruthlessly logical and expect Stefan and Tova2 to rule rationally, but their own
motivations are murky. Tova2 is forced to create and destroy a helpless life form, and, later, she and Stefan confront a nightmarish creature that has caused a Sophistan energy-matter hybrid to become sinister and violent. Later, Tova2 and Stefan find out that they, along with Stefan’s gifted younger sister, Aleah, are part of a creature called Atreyeu that exists outside of time. Stefan and Tova2’s future unborn son, who travels through time with Atreyeu’s offspring, also visits them at significant moments, watching as they negotiate challenges and locate telepaths on Earth, including the young Tyco and Ty. Along the way, author Biesele also provides substantive commentary on rationalism versus empathy, aggression versus passivity, and time paradoxes. Given the story’s vast complexity, the first two installments are required reading. Even then, this book’s many secretive characters, cacophonous telepathic conversations, ambiguous innuendos and non-sequential events will likely make the book quite difficult for casual readers to enjoy. It’s a dense amalgam of drama and philosophy that, even for aficionados, may require another installment to fully clarify.
A dense sci-fi tale that will likely appeal primarily to fans of previous books in the series.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
I heard from a reader the other day that my first book, while not especially terrifying on the first read, had made them think about what it would be like for humanity to encounter an alien culture. And then they came to the conclusion that the book had been pretty realistic about that and that aspect was pretty frightening. Most authors wonder at some point where a particular part of their novel comes from. Writing, in its initial stages, is largely an unconscious effort and little epiphanies like this along the way are part of the journey of self-discovery that is an innate part of writing. My self-discovery was the mental root-source of my models of alien encounters: the 1970 British science fiction TV series by Terry Anderson called “UFO”.
I led a relatively sheltered life as a child and when I saw this series, it was very shocking in its realism. Almost every episode ends in a tragedy. We capture a human looking alien and give it truth serum to get their stoic and powerful mind to open up (this alien was an older teen). The serum was incompatible with their metabolism and they die right there in front of you in horrible agony. The aliens come from a dying planet where everyone is sterile. So they view us like cattle — as a source of transplant organs to keep themselves going. When some random citizen dies at their hands, the forces battling the UFOs keep the death a secret. So the relatives and families of the loved one pine for years hoping that their family member will be found, when actually the relative is simply dead. And then there is the story of the people in the secret SHADOW organization, the ones battling the UFOs. Their family cannot know what they do. So sometimes, family needs are sacrificed as they ignore them to deal with a UFO crisis. A child dies when a dad can’t deliver needed medicine in time because a UFO crisis erupts. As you can see, going from the always happy ending world of childhood TV to this series would be pretty shocking.
This TV series is a wondrous source of ideas in how encountering an alien culture might play-out and the realistic problems that might arise. UFO was a very cynical series because of the fatalistic thought patterns that frequented television during the cold war era. My aliens actually have a great deal of empathy which they learned over the centuries of dealing with humans. Yes, “learned” because empathy is not necessarily required for all life forms as I clearly demonstrate with the lizards in book #4.
But there are a few things that standout about humans that can lead to frightening prospects when we encounter an alien culture. We are a self-repairing, totally autonomous creature that can be very easily molded to fit the needs of aliens. Rather than being solid and unchangeable, like a rock, humans have an editable DNA that controls everything about how they work. We are designed to be changeable. And our mind is very easy to mold too. All one has to do is solve the brain interface problem to where experience and knowledge can be rapidly streamed into our minds, and our brains will rapidly form into a device for the computations presented. In short, we are the perfect tool for advanced aliens. Like UFO, the aliens in the Children of Sophista ruthlessly exploit this. The question becomes, “What alien will control the humans and how will they keep the other aliens out.” When you read the Children of Sophista Series, you learn the frightening yet realistic truth about how this could be accomplished.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
I thought it would be interesting to compare Trisha Conway from the 1970’s Tomorrow People Season 4 (left side of picture) with the Federation Police Officer character on the right side. The Federation Police Officer (FPO) is a major character in The Saeshell Book of Time and she does have a name but revealing it would reveal some of the plot of the book. When I saw Trisha while watching the series, it gave me the idea for the FPO.
Trisha is an interesting study because in the 1970’s, writers were still having trouble understanding what a woman in a more dominant, driving character role would look like. Trisha started out being the secondary character to Col. Masters of the British military intelligence branch that did research into ESP. Their initial mission was to use ESP as a weapon and thus they attempted to intimidate and blackmail the Tomorrow People into being their weapon. This leads to a seemingly irresolvable conflict in that the Tomorrow People only have stun guns whereas the military has real guns. The resolution is most unexpected and I encourage you to watch the third season story, “Secret Weapon”.
In the fourth season, Col. Masters is killed and Trisha is thrust into a lead position (without a rank or a uniform). The character becomes very interesting because she becomes a mix of the obligatory female vulnerability and the strength of a leader, though the strength she is allowed is not nearly strong enough for such a lead role. Trisha eventually does become a Tomorrow Person and is sent off to be trained to be a Federation Police Officer and is thus dispatched to oblivion in the series.
There are all sorts of interesting things that were left on the floor in the series surrounding Trisha. Roger Price, the series creator, was facing the Zombie Apocalypse at this point as this one season series had failed to die. Now he was in season four and wondering where the story was heading next. Luckily, I have yet to reach that point.
So I approached my FPO a bit differently. She was born in the Federation as the privileged daughter to a leader of the Federation and her vulnerability as a prized (spoiled child) starts there. Daddy dearest decides that in the “violence free”, dystopian Federation, a soft daughter might have a limited lifespan. So he sends her off to the Federation Police Academy, which is the equivalent to Earth Special Forces. Her two tools are a stun gun and a device for sterilizing people against reproduction (covertly). So it’s only her toughness and infiltration skills that allow her to survive trips the uncivilized words, such as Earth. When she encounters the very emotional, sentimental, and overwhelmingly powerful Children of Sophista, her emotional side begins to reemerge. This turns the 1970’s problem with the Trisha character upside down, with my FPO having to rediscover her soft humanity while maintaining her capability as a Special Forces officer.