Monday, February 23, 2009

Banished to Eden


In his book, Banished to Eden, author U.S. Marine Sr. presents a science fiction story that takes readers to a futuristic world where society has become a government designed utopia. U.S. Marine tells a story of one woman’s struggle to find her humanity.

The world is the product of a tumultuous past between the United States of Americas and the Europa Union which caused people to move underground and live in sub cities. In the year 2245, the threat of nuclear war became realized and the result was overpopulation, disease, and famine that threatened to wipe out the entire human population. The Government took drastic action and put a chemical in the water that inhibited the human sex drive in order to stop reproduction. The Government then added another chemical in the water that reduced the biological differences between men and women. Laws were created where woman became the dominant gender and all references to sexuality, family, and relationships were outlawed. This included such luxuries as magazines, movies, music, and dancing. The Government becomes the all powerful entity controlling the future of its people.

Shannon is a chemist working in the water department. She is told by the Chief of the Water Department that she is being considered as her replacement. In order to replace the Chief, Shannon must volunteer to be a maternal candidate (become pregnant) in order to earn enough social credits to be considered for the position. Extra social credits allowed females to accumulate social points faster than males and this helped them obtain promotions over males. Shannon learns of humanity’s past and decides to stop drinking the water. As her physical features return, she becomes more in sync with her womanhood and her maternal side. An accidental miscarriage causes Shannon to take extreme and illegal measures to become pregnant again. Her plan involves the illegal seduction of the chosen father. When they are caught, they are put on trial for their crimes. The result is banishment to a new experimental world on the surface where they learn what it means to be human.

With its dystopian warning of the future, Banished to Eden is an intriguing and compelling novel that touches on many of the themes associated with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In Banished to Eden, humanity consists of dehumanized people dominated by a technological empowered government. It is a futuristic science fiction novel that delves into many philosophical and ethical issues regarding free will, the role of men and women and how they are defined by society, the social consequences of a government with absolute power and control, and the human condition as it applies to love, family, and maternal instincts. Readers will be drawn into the plot and empathize with Shannon’s struggle to find her true self.

In regards to the writing style, I did find some instances where there could have been a little more “show” and a little less “tell.” Although I understand that using names of real people, such as Neil Armstrong, for a few characters was a symbolic tool, it probably wasn’t necessary. Other than a few minor points, the author has successfully created a believable work of science fiction.

Banished to Eden is a novel that is worthy of much discussion. I could see this book being adapted as a movie script. It is highly recommended as an entertaining and compelling work of science fiction.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

The Ace


In the second year of World War I, a totally unprepared United States was forced to meet the threat of Germany's powerful air fleet, and in his novel, The Ace, author Jack D. Hunter tells the story of four Americans caught up in the military, industrial, and political chaos that surrounded America's effort to build an effective air service out of virtually nothing.

The story focuses on John King, a self-effacing 20-year-old living in the slums of Lackawanna, a steel factory adjunct of Buffalo, N.Y. John’s life changes forever when he rescues Bill Carpenter, an army pilot and rebellious free spirit, from the wreckage of a crashed “Jenny” plane. Jon and Bill instantly bond and develop a student/mentor relationship. John, encouraged by Bill, joins the army, where both he and Bill become entangled in the intrigues of greedy Congressman Thaddeus Slater, who enlists Bill to help him with his schemes to profit from the rise of the American military air fleet. Slater corners the nation's ash lumber supply and recruits Bill to convince the military to use only ash wood in the construction of its badly needed aircraft. Interwoven with this high-level and often corrupt in-fighting is John's emotional struggle as Mary Lou Whiting, heiress to one of the nation's greatest fortunes, falls in love with him.

Hunter delivers a passionate story with strong writing and intriguing subject matter. By incorporating factual historical accounts and documents of WWI in the fiction, he has foreshadowed the world we know today while offering an engaging and entertaining look at major themes, such as greed, the psychological effects of war, love and heartache, guilt, and blind ambition. As the plot unfolds, each character reveals humanities strengths and weaknesses. Through his relationship with John King, Bill Carpenter’s growth becomes one of finding his humanity. John King’s development involves an internal struggle with his own humanity as he faces the real human costs of war. Mary Lou’s desire to understand John’s pain reveals the emotional costs of war on loved ones. The emotional struggles of each character are a reminder of the painful human cost when war becomes a political and economic venture.

The technical details of WWI fighter planes and their performance in combat are well-researched and described in commanding detail. The most notable descriptions include plane types, specifications, and how they fared in the fighting that introduced the world to the concept of air power.

Hunter successfully shines a light on how America’s WWI aviation endeavors helped shape the military industrial complex of today. The Ace is highly recommended to historical fiction fans, war buffs, and aviation enthusiasts.

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