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Category: Science Fiction
Tags: dystopia, ESP, freedom, future, medical policy, paranormal powers, space colonies
Series: The Hidden Flame
Publisher: Ad Stellae Books
Author: Sylvia Engdahl
When starship captain Jesse Sanders is detained by a dictatorial medical regime on the colony planet Undine, he is plunged into a life involving ordeals and joys unlike anything he has ever imagined.
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Assessed by Awesome Indies
January 28, 2014
Raises Valid Questions
ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Crime is considered illness, untreated illness is crime; ambulance crews are the only police. Dead bodies stay on “life support” forever. Can anyone gain freedom?
When burned-out star-ship captain Jesse Sanders is seized by a dictatorial medical regime and detained on the colony planet Undine, he has no idea that he is about to be plunged into a bewildering new life that will involve ordeals and joys beyond anything he has ever imagined, as well as the love of a woman with powers that seem superhuman. Still less does he suspect that he must soon take responsibility for the lives of people he has come to care about and preservation of their hopes for the future of humankind.”
This book is of the futuristic dystopian variety, yet with a situation that resonates strongly with where we might find our current technology taking us here in the 21st century on earth. The plot begins well, and is engaging and interesting. Unfortunately it peters out from the point at which the main character begins his mind training. There is a lot of dialogue, and it feels like sitting in a heavy duty psychology/parapsychology class. Everything else that happens later in the book is predictable, and the ending is very abrupt. Which rather than inspiring me to go on to purchase the next book in the trilogy, just leaves me feeling a bit cheated. Yes, we want to be lead into asking what happens next, but no – we don’t want to finish this story with so much unresolved.
This book is approximately 460 pages in length, and is told from various points of view, usually indicated by a paragraph break and easy enough to follow. There is a lot of detailed dialogue for roughly 300 of the 460 pages, with bits of action interspersed briefly in between. The copy editing and proof reading has been done to a good standard, but the plot does suffer from pacing issues. The ending is abrupt and feels unfinished.
If you enjoy dystopian novels, or are interested in paranormal psychology then you might well enjoy this book. Although it is set in an off world location in the future, I would not really class it as Science Fiction, it has elements of that to be sure, but not enough to plant it firmly in that Genre. The narrative raises valid questions for where we find ourselves in this day and age with all of our medical and technological advances and abilities, and the many issues that are arising with regard to individual rights of privacy – especially in relation to the internet and all that that entails. However, the voice in the story is strongly one sided, and doesn’t furnish us with any alternative viewpoints at all. So in many ways, it can feel a bit like the reader is being told what to think. Whilst there are no major structural issues, or editing/proofing mistakes, I do feel that the plot pacing has problems. It is for this reason I do not feel able to give this book any more than 4 out of 5 stars.