Another Space in Time Kindle Edition
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|Length: 380 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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The fugitive "Arrival", now pursued by E.T.T. (Earth Trash Terminators) runs for his life, helped by some local friends, who can read his mind and his fantasies, but eventually manages to get rid of his hunters and prove his innocence. That makes the second part of the book more alert, after the long, descriptive passages in the beginning that introduce the reader, and the protagonist, to the parallel world.
Had the author cut some of the expository dialogue and focused on the narrative, it would have delivered a page turner, a sci-fi political thriller. But even so, he entertains, challenges, and warns us with his allegory about a new "Arrival" (new comer, immigrant) in a strange world where he is to serve as a scapegoat, rather than an equal human being. Isn't it akin to our present-day world?
The book reminds me of Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld because of the afterlife aspect, Pratchett's Discworld for the world building, and The Fugitive due to the tone once the story gets into gear.
The book is exceedingly English, which works in its favor. The author created a world highly influenced by our own, making it both familiar and alien. The new reality is fantastic in many aspects, but they feel downplayed in favor of character moments and cups of tea.
The book has a few quirks that could win or lose a reader. It's written in first-person present, and has rather long blocks of dialogue as the characters discuss life, the universe, and everything. The first section of the novel is heavily dedicated to Richards' induction into a new life and his attempt to cope with it, so it takes a while for the meat of the story to really get going. And just a heads up, the book deals with some touchy subjects in sci-fi, like agnosticism, theistic evolution, and genetic memory. The author, Richard Bunning, has a strong voice, and I was quite engaged as I read the thoughts of his main character dealing with an increasingly desperate situation.
I found Another Space in Time to be an interesting mashup of philosophical meandering and violent confrontations, making for a unique reading experience. It's an unusual book, and that's a good thing.
First, a warning. I read it on a plane, which was a big mistake. Planes are tiny spaces where people are crowded in very closely together, and you're surrounded by squalling babies and screaming toddlers. It's not the best place to read a novel that forces you to think deeply. When you buy this book, find yourself a comfy sofa, get a cup of tea and prepare yourself to use a part of your brain that--if you're like me--needs to be dusted off a bit.
It's speculative fiction, and the author will make you reexamine your ingrained concepts about religion, reality and the nature of grief. The book is also one of the best, most profoundly compelling depiction of what life after death might feel like. I am and was a great fan of C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce," and there are similarities. But "Another Space in Time" is not focused on explaining a specific theology, but on asking fascinating "what if" questions.
The story concerns one Rodwell Richards, an aging family man who is murdered while lying sound asleep beside his wife. Rodwell wakes up in another world with no memory of his death. We follow this prosaic Englishman through his new world, which is enough like Earth to keep him completely mystified. Many books die in the middle--it's one of my pet peeves about modern fiction. "Another Space In Time," takes off instead. Rodwell experiences a horrible trauma that forces him to discover a new man inside himself. It's a very clever plot twist, as it allows the author to neatly underline (with his story structure) what is surely one of his main points--death is no ending at all, but a new beginning.
I gave the book five stars, although there are a few rough patches. The author doesn't trust the reader enough, and at times belabors explanations and descriptions. But he's an excellent writer and his blades will cut deeply. He will pry open some of your stereotypical thinking, as well as satisfy your need for a good story, well-told. Just don't read him on a plane.