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The Seeker: A Novella of T.R.U.T.H. Paperback – November 28, 2014
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About the Author
Christopher DeFilippis is an award-winning author and journalist. His first novel, Foreknowledge, was part of Berkley’s official Quantum Leap tie-in book series. His short story “The Punk Meets the Godfather” won the 2012 Graversen Award, presented by the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers. His fiction has appeared in Space and Time Magazine and been featured on the radio program “Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction.” Listen to his award-winning radio show, “DeFlip Side,” at http://DeFlipSide.com
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This novella makes for a good confidence booster. DeFilippis has a concept that can't be shoehorned into an anthology-constrained short story format and, although it promises to yield sequels, isn't yet a full-sized novel. Fortunately, the advent of ebooks has created a space where a story like this can find its own length.
"The Seeker" follows a time-traveler named Billingsly as he encounters a collection of other adventurers as he is misdirected out of his native time stream and into the realm of myths and legends. His mission is ill-defined -- he's part of a collective of Seekers who are looking for absolute truth by delving deeply into the past where, apparently all the good ideas come from. They do this in order to capture insights that can be used to forearm humanity against bad decisions in the future. (Why they don't travel to the future where, one would assume, there might be more relevant good ideas is not explained, nor is the method of sorting through all the Ginormous Data for the best possible idea. Maybe in the sequels.) The plot quickly switches to a battle for survival against the monstrous inhabitants of this non-place.
(I should note hear that DeFilippis has written one novel prior. It is a "Quantum Leap" tie-in, which explains what I inferred was a "Swiss cheese effect" when Billingsly first arrives on the scene.)
The best features of this work is DeFilippis's facility for dialogue. He gives great patter. He is also good at shifting gears on the fly into short, declarative sentences that reflect a change of tone into action, suspense, or horror.
But he needs to broaden his game from here. Characterization would be a place to start. The two best-drawn characters are Billingsly and his companion Griffin. All we really know about either of them for most the story is that one is American and the other is British (and invisible). Coming in with the preconceived notion that Billingsly is from a far future in which nationalities are irrelevant, his being easily identified as a "Yank" gave me pause. We also are given little information about how or why he became a Seeker. DeFelippis would be well served to move beyond the generic hero stock character.
Unless his purpose is to lampoon such stick figures. Like I said, he gives good patter. His sharp-tongued dialogue could be better put in the service of skewering such characters than in trying to distinguish one.
As a self-published novel, "The Seeker" shows a few seams -- punctuation glitches, repetitive sentence structures, and so on -- that another review cycle would've caught. Still, there is a good deal of genuine wit here, as well as dramatic tension and some big ideas.
I'd like to publicly welcome Chris back to the authorial pool. I look forward to what he can do with the Seekers of T.R.U.T.H. as he develops his sea legs.