24 August 2014

Dead men tell all

Sci-fi | Reviver | Seth Patrick

Sci-fi, after a long time. (Yay). Seth Patrick thought: what if you could revive the dead? And then, in true sci-fi style, proceeds to follow the paths that arise.

In the near future, one person begins to revive the dead. Merely for minutes, and mostly to be able to say goodbye to their loved ones. Others, too, turn out to have this talent.

One of the most capable ones of them all, Jonah, is part of the Forensic Revival Unit. These help detectives to find out who killed murdered people. Of course! That's an almost inevitable thing if such revival is possible, right? In Victorian times, detectives used to photograph the eyes of dead people, thanks to the belief that they retained the last image of what they had seen. Then, we have all these mediums that speak to the dead. (None of whom have anything useful to report other than platitudes). So, good idea, and from a rich heritage. The thing with new SF is, then, basically, what does the author do with it?

And then it all goes Christian horror movie on us. One of the dead says 'He is coming' in some terror. It's the Devil, or something very close to it.

Troubled Jason approaches researchers who had been disbanded, but are continuing their work in more limited fashion. He gets his revival-enabling drug dosage changed, and in his spare time, starts to investigate.
The discoverer and populariser of Revival, who is now a recluse, is then found dead. His best-selling books enable his daughter (what's with daughters of dead people teaming up with the hero as a trope??) to get Jason to help out in chasing down his killers. But she's wary of involvement.

Now, the other thread you should expect is anti-revival people, right? For whatever reason, most religious. They are willing to do absolutely anything to stop it, partly because they are fanatics that bomb places, and partly because, they, too, have found out the rumours about the Devil coming back. Yes, we always wonder, in the wee hours, what if the fanatics are right, after all?

But there is a rich man who sponsors the research to get this great power into the world, and hides it from the world (trope warning! Beep! Beep!) and is convinced that his work is good and for the benefit of mankind. Again, predictable, right? James Bond makes a living taking such guys down. 

Yes, you can surely tell it's not benign, can't you? You've seen the movies. And more than one character has shown signs of knowing the Devil is around. So that's another hint.

Only the hero can save mankind! Despite the misguided scientists, the military/FBI, and private guards. Isn't it strange how movies and books have these tough guys who phlegmatically follow orders despite apocalyptic scenes all around and every sign of the end of the world. I particularly wonder why the Umbrella Corporation retains security guards who are little more than gun-toting robots, and even more, why there are still promotions being worried about in the zombie endtimes. How experiments continue, and a profit-making culture is slavishly adhered to, in a total collapse of the world economy. And all the while Alice wears skimpy dresses and even skimpier expressions. It only makes sense in a video game, yet there is a thriving movie series.

But back to the book. Withal, well written, and Seth Patrick travels far enough into the thickets of thought experiments to show you how simple things can cha
nge the world, and inevitably get militarised along the line. Yes, somewhat predictable to the sci-fi crowd, but remarkably good for a first-time author. I can smell a serial from the end of the book, but it's complete in itself. The challenge for the author will be to keep the second book self-contained, rather than something only for the fans of the first book. I predict many more sales in his future, though.

I apologise for the camera flash in the picture, but the picture without the flash is even worse.

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