- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (September 18, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0151004722
- ISBN-13: 978-0151004720
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,022,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Soulsaver Hardcover – September 18, 2000
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
James Stevens-Arce's Soulsaver has had a long genesis. It began as a short story in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazinein 1983; in 1997, a novella-length version shared the UPC Prize for Science Fiction. Now comes the novel.
Set in Puerto Rico in 2099, Soulsaver features an all-too-believable future in which the U.S. has become a repressive Christian theocracy whose corrupt leaders use entertainment and technology to cement their power. In this world of televised miracles, overpopulation and poverty tempt ever-increasing numbers of people to suicide. Suicide remains a mortal sin, but most "self-inflicteds" can be restored to life--like it or not--by soulsavers trained in advanced medical procedures. Juan Bautista Lorca is a rookie soulsaver whose faith in the righteousness of his actions is absolute. But his faith is about to be tested by revelations. Or, rather, Revelations--the Biblical kind. The Last Days are at hand, and the Second Coming will be televised, "with extra special guest: Our Lord Jesus Christ!"
Despite its SF trappings and satirical barbs, Stevens-Arce's tale is traditional Christian fare. Far from being the Orwellian satire it appears at first blush to be, Soulsaver comes to praise the Christian God, not to bury Him. Juan Bautista's journey from callow youth to mature manhood, and the concurrent tempering of his faith, may appeal more to young adult than to adult readers. Still, despite faltering at the end through a regrettable literalism that deflates much of what has gone before, Soulsaver is a fast-paced, amusing and often insightful first novel from a talented author. --Emerson Cooper
From Publishers Weekly
Based on a novella that earned the 1997 UPC Prize for Science Fiction (Barcelona), this first novel is a satirical near-future adventure with SF trappings and a clear mission to unmask the money-grubbing, cynical powers behind a particularly pernicious form of fundamentalist Christianity. The world of 2099 is controlled by hellfire-and-brimstone TV preacher Reverend Jimmy Divine and his gorgeous, soul-saving sidekick, the Shepherdess. Divine's secret bastard son, Juan Bautista, has just started a great job with the Suicide Prevention Corps of America, scraping up the bodies of recent suicides and speeding them to Saint Francis of Assisi Resurrection Center for healing and soul-saving. His partner, Fabiola, an SPCA veteran, is far less upbeat about the job. She's old enough to remember when church and state were legally separate, before the "Great Miracle" that "illuminated" the souls of believers of other religions and made them all Christian. When Juan is asked to inform on her by Church leaders hoping to learn the location of the outlawed children known as the Twin Messiahs, he naturally accepts, but soon enough begins to question his own faith as Fabiola reveals to him her point of view. In the end, it comes as no surprise that Reverend Jimmy's Bible-backed crusade is merely a well-disguised attempt to feed his own greed. Stevens-Arce's background as a writer for film and video is obvious from the novel's breakneck pace, convenient plot twists and thin characters. Although there's little here that will be new or surprising for the SF reader, the author's biting humor and sense of the absurd are bound to entertain. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This book is an interesting and fast-paced satire. The protagonist, Juan Bautista Lorca, is a callow youth blinded by the society in which he lives. That Stevens-Arce chooses to tell his story from this little twerp's viewpoint is daring for the reader doesn't take immediately to him. Stevens-Arce carefully mitigates that problem in several ways.
First, he doesn't get inside his head much until the character begins to change, and to grow. We can never be certain but I believe this was a conscious decision because poor Juan doesn't have a deep thought stored anywhere in there, anyway. It is a perfect approach to this kind of character building.
One of the difficulties of using this method is that the reader gets less insight into the character than we have become accustomed to. Any we do get comes from the dialogue and/or what is happening around Juan. There is an advantage here, as well. The action moves forward very quickly and we find ourselves immersed in the time (The Year of Our Lord 2099) and the place (San Juan, the capitol city of our 52nd state). And, surprising, this is enough. The author has carefully balanced what the reader is likely to miss with what she gets.
As Juan develops and finds his own depth, we find that Steven-Arce is a writer with a first-class instinct for words as well. For those of us who long to see, hear, and feel when we read, this novel is not a disappointment. We must wait, but we get wonderful similes like, "...the sun...looks like a communion wafer pasted against the sky," and "...the Swiss cheese of pigeon holes cut into the ancient wall..." Stevens-Arce has crafted a book where there is only straightforward, uncluttered writing until the reader is hooked. Only then do we find passages that are pure poetry. By that time we find ourselves literally gobbling it up.
Stevens-Arce has one more trick to keep the reader hanging in there while this shallow youth ogles breasts, bounces to the music blasting into his headphones and relishes his own benign happiness with himself and the god-awful world he doesn't see around himself. He uses present tense. I hate present tense. Yet I hardly noticed. It propels the novel forward when it needs momentum. After it has done its job the reader becomes so used to it, it is no longer a factor.
If I were still teaching English, this book would become one of my texts. It's not often that one finds first person, present tense put to such carefully crafted use. It's also not often that one finds a book that lauds the often-maligned ability of thinking for oneself. Next to Holden Caulfield, Juan Bautista Lorca may be the best literary example for youth in recent times.
I didn't know what to expect when I read this book. And honestly were I not a member of the same writer's workshop as James Stevens-Arce, I would not have bought this book. It is just not my thing. Don't get me wrong. A lot of people in the workshop really loved this book for the story, but as I said, satire is really not my thing. To me it was just a nice relaxing evening on the couch-I don't get very many of those-so this was well worth the price to me
The thing that most impressed me about this book is the speed with which you can read it. It just draws you in and really does a better job at it than just about any book I have ever read. It was amazing, I read this book in just about two hours and forty-five minutes. This makes the book especially relaxing to read I think.
So is the book good? I think you will need to decide that for yourself. However, one thing I will say is that James Stevens-Arce is without a doubt the hardest working author I know. He always takes the time to go that little extra mile for the fans..
addressed. One of the Christ children said
all humans are God's children. The bible
would beg to differ. john chapter 3. One of the children said salvation was 100% up to the individual. john 3:16 romans 10: 8-10. but i will leave the concept of reincarnated messiahs alone after all ut us scifi.. I do love the part where the kids say many Christians focus more on holyness than they do with good deeds with fellow man