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Beta Test Hardcover – December 20, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
They can also be very dry and humorless reads, nearly devoid of emotion.
This is anything but the case in Eric Griffith's debut novel, Beta Test.
The author shatters the illusion of the dry-as-a-desert-planet sci-fi novel by crafting a fun, well-written plot that follows a group of mega-geeks led by one Sam Terra as he embarks on a quest to save the Universe as we know it. While not overtly a comedy, there are plenty of laughs to be had along the way, but make no mistake - this is very much a story for adults, and at the heart of the novel lurks a concept as intelligent as any you will find in the pages of traditional sci-fi reads.
As Sam and his pals uncover the mystery of The Vanished, Mr. Griffith sprinkles references to classic sci-fi movies and TV shows of the 70's and 80's throughout the book, and as if that isn't fun enough, the author makes clever use of footnotes - once the harbinger of universal reader boredom - to flesh out the characters in short, witty anecdotes, avoiding pages and pages of flashbacks. Or flash-forwards. And - since this is sci-fi - flash-sideways!
If you are a fan of traditional science fiction novels, and have a sense of humor, give this book a read. Is it groundbreaking? Probably not, but that's a term that's usually reserved for the serious books anyway. As for breathtaking - if that means big laughs, then yes!
If you're not a fan (like me) of traditional sci-fi novels, definitely give this book a read! The author will have you enjoying all that highly conceptualized sci-fi hoo-ha by using his razor-sharp wit - and a crotch-sniffing dog.
The first few pages, frankly, left me unimpressed, and at first I thought the way the author had footnotes to his own jokes interrupted the flow of the book. But after the book settled into a rhythm, the footnotes seemed to take on a point/counterpoint reminiscent of 'the Word' on the Colbert Report, and added a new dimension to the book for me.
Once the book got into the real meat of the plot (which happens pretty quickly), I found it fascinating. Griffith really 'gets' geek culture - I could see my own friends easily filling some of the roles in this book with the way they talk, what they joke about, etc. And the plot is based on exactly the same kind of existential questions asked by any self-aware geek who wants to understand the meaning of life and turns towards tech analogies to do so.
Unusually lighthearted? Sure, but it also leaves me pondering some of the 'bigger questions', much like Joss Whedon's TV show "Dollhouse" did. I'm hoping to find other people who have read it, just so I can discuss some of the philosophical implications. No real plot holes, which frankly I find unusual for a first time author, and its got a warm ending that would make it worthy of a made-for-tv movie.
One more thing I like about the book - I don't think it leaves room for a series or sequel based on the same material - its a self-contained story. I'd like to see more from the author, and I like that he'll have to create a new environment to raise the 'big questions' in.
And it is, definitely, different than your run-of-the-mill end-times novel. This one is all-out, laugh-out-loud fun. And yet it's not strictly a comedy, either. The characters feel real enough that I came to care about how it all turned out for them, and unique enough that I never felt like anyone was just playing to type. The story itself is an interesting mash up of sci-fi/geek/comic book culture mixed together with some great chase scenes and some genuine pathos. A few mystery elements, too.
I would not have guessed this was the author's first novel. It doesn't read that way. It's pretty polished, and it's definitely a good read. Highly recommended.
All done? Good.
The story begins with a series of sudden mass disappearances. Then things really get weird. Despite the obvious connection to Rapture novels of the "Left Behind" school, this is in NO way a religious novel, unless you're the sort who thought The Matrix was a documentary. It's a desperate bid to save reality as we know it by a couple of guys from a Dilbert comic, a cougar, a crotch-terrier, an ex-soldier who could only be played by R. Lee Ermey, and a heroine transgendered in ways that get funny looks even in San Francisco.
All of this comes to us in a form that reads like the case notes of an omniscient observer. The text even includes footnotes to explain just how funny this book is. The style doesn't so much require getting used to as forgetting the way you're used to reading fiction. It's a new and unique approach, that leaves you thinking, "I didn't know you could write a book like that!"
You can't. Eric Griffith can. And it works. Tells you something about his literary prowess, doesn't it?
Read the book. Tell friends about it. Demand more like it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When I first started reading this book I thought it was like a "B" movie. I mean here was this story in third-person limited following this schlep, Sam, a big beefy, man who is... Read morePublished on July 15, 2012 by Mindy W.
An unusual twist on a familiar sci-fi tale but one that works. I often find myself bogged down by unnecessary technical details. Read morePublished on March 3, 2012 by William Kays
I have been a science fiction fan for years. I even have taught science fiction at the college level. Read morePublished on February 16, 2012 by Amazon Customer
Small-town schlump Sammer saves the world, with his misfit "brother" Paulie, Bonk the testicle-smashing labrador, and Melvin, the schmoe who secretly loves him. Read morePublished on January 13, 2012 by Brian C. Wilson