A very Christmas-y version of Fan Friday! Take a look at this review for Dancing with Eternity, a novel written by John Patrick Lowrie, voice of The Sniper from Team Fortress 2!
“What would happen if Odysseus met Captain Ahab in the Fortieth Century? Only Captain Ahab is a beautiful woman named Steel who owns her own starship, and Odysseus is an unemployed actor named Mohandas who’s stuck on the backside of a backwater moon because he won’t pay his taxes. Everybody almost everybody lives forever, and there’s a telepathic Internet that allows the entire population of the galaxy to communicate at will and even experience the world from another person’s perspective.”
When we interviewed John in October, his brief description that he provided was all I needed to buy this book on little more than impulse. I haven’t actually read a book in quite some time, but I’m glad that this is the one that rekindled my experience. It’s average length, 402 pages according to my Kindle, but it still manages to fit everything it wants to, which is always important for a single novel to do. Maybe I’m just so focused on episodic content that I’m not used to the marvel of finishing at the end of something, instead of there being more next time.
I don’t think I’ve ever been too crazy into sci-fi. I’m not a Star Wars fanatic or a Trekkie, but this is easily the best I’ve seen of the genre. Dancing with Eternity is set a few good centuries into the future, where the Internet has evolved to becoming telepathic and instantaneous. A time where Earth is just one of many homes. A time where once you reach a certain age, you don’t die, you just reboot yourself into a new body that you can customize to you own design. Setting a stage like this brings up many social questions, the main being what you choose to do with your life if it has no foreseeable end, and I feel like all of the questions presented are answered in their own unique way to the extent that they don’t need to be asked a second time. The story features Mohandas, an ex-actor who’s living off the Internet because his debt collectors have frozen him out. He meets a beautiful woman in the local bar and that’s just the beginning. Throughout the book, Mo and Steel are taken on a journey to several planets, including back to Earth to give the experience on just how much it’s changed. While the story could focus on that alone, it instead focuses on expeditions to other worlds, specifically worlds you’re not really supposed to go to. After all, where’s the adventure in re-exploring Earth when there are intergalactic rules to be broken?
John Patrick Lowrie has a very unique writing style, and it’s one that I grew to enjoy the more I experienced it. It doesn’t stop to hold your hand in terms of vocabulary, in fact most of the word choices seem to have been made with a thesaurus. Since I’m not an avid bookreader, I almost felt the need to stop and take a chance to consult mine to get a better grasp of the actual meaning. While this may be a draw back to some, it made me feel like I had to do my fair share of the work to keep up with the cast of characters in their own spectacular environment. For a good portion of the story, you get the sense that you’re being built up to the final climatic point. I think it’s about a third through the book where they finally say where the story will eventually end up, but it takes quite some time to get there. That’s not to say the story drags with needless exposition, quite the opposite. As I read, I felt like I was being presented with all sorts of new scenarios with their own unique questions that needed to be answered and understood before I could move onto the next one. It makes it seem like the novel is one big exposition, but in reality it’s teaching everything it wants to convey before you finish. In order to break up the tedium, it splices in just the right amount of emotion and comedy where it needs it the most. This makes it easier to digest the information, but without breaking up the flow of the story. There were moments where I would gasp in realization, only to chuckle at an anecdote casually thrown in to emphasize it.
Overall, I’m very happy to have experienced this novel, and I heartily look forward to the upcoming one John mentioned in his interview with us. Dancing with Eternity is a publication that tells so much on its own that I feel guilty revealing more than I have to in a review, so my only recommendation is to read and experience the wonders it has to offer for yourself. If you have a sci-fi novel fan in the family, I would highly recommend you get it for them this Christmas, or for any time you feel the need to give a gift.