L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 273, May 30, 2004
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on."
President George W. Bush, speaking at a Gridiron Club dinner, Washington, D.C., March 2001
Two Reviews of Flight from Eden
Both Exclusive to TLE
Review the First
I was just cruising through libertarian web-sites one day, and came across one hosted by Kathryn A. Graham. I looked through the site, and there were several short stories and a bunch of articles, some of which had appeared in TLE. I found that I enjoyed the stories and the articles, so I looked at the page which featured this book, Flight from Eden.
I ordered the book through Barnes and Noble, sat down and began to read it. Three hours later, I put the book down, having finished it in one sitting!
Since then I have re-read the book several times, as I always do with those books which are especially intriguing. I have to say that my copy of Flight from Eden is getting about as worn out as my copy of Hope is!
The basic premise of this book is simple, and terrifying. What would happen if a fundamentalist religious leader got his hooks into a "born-again" president, and used his influential position to finagle his way into power in the US? Sound like anything you might have seen in the news lately?
Through a perfectly plausible series of political moves and blackmail, this leader takes control of the US, outlawing most science, especially those things which might contradict the Bible.
The main protagonist of the book, Kristen Garrick, a pilot and astrophysicist, is recruited by the fledgling underground for her skills. The underground plans to use a mystery on the planet Mars to undermine the religious dictatorship, hoping that it will be enough to restore freedom without major bloodshed.
Kate's characterization is excellent, her story sense and plot timing are damned near perfect. The story moves along quickly, drawing the reader into the story and the lives of the characters, which are real people, not superhuman heroes. Raids, capture, escape, intrigue, combat, sabotage, personal and psychological problems, this book has it all.
I just have one problem with the book though. THE SEQUEL AIN'T OUT YET!!! Originally conceived as the first in a four part series, I can't wait for the rest of it!
Kate is an extremely talented person, a pilot, libertarian activist, 2nd amendment activist, CCW instructor in the state of Texas, private investigator, lecturer, and teacher. On top of that, she found the time to respond to a fan letter I sent her, and since then has become a friend, and more than that, a mentor.
I haven't gone much into the plot for a very good reason. I don't want to spoil the story for you. I guess you'll just have to read the book!
Kate, I know you're busy with about a dozen projects, but could you kinda put the next book in the series up near the front of the queue?
Flight From Eden is a novel set in the near future. The set-up is that the United States government has been taken over by a radical "fundamentalist" religious sect which has established a totolatarian government, outlawed any science and scientists disagreeing with the point-of-view of the religion, and set out to eradicate anything they dislike. We've been through this before in many stories, and I must say it smells unlikely to me. I happen to have grown up in a Southern Baptist environment, and I can tell you the Baptists will never let the Methodists dictate to them, and vice versa. But this is fiction after all, and for the sake of a whacking good story, a little unlikelyhood is a small price to pay.
And a whacking good story it is, at least the first one-quarter of that story, which is what this book represents. Yes, friends, there are 3 more volumes before the tale is finished of the telling. I don't know about you, but I hate waiting!
Graham develops realistic characters, and paints the picture of an America gone to the dogs quite well. The only real criticism I have is that, being written by a woman, the characters seem to mea manto spend rather a wee bit too much time talking about how they feel. After a while I just want to shake the book and shout "Enough about your feelings already, go do something!" At least, in between times of ruminating about feelings, the characters actually do do something. To be specific, they build a spaceship and send it to Mars, along with a crew of 6. They have a definite purpose in the Mars mission, rather an interesting one, but I'll leave it to the reader to find out what that purpose is.
During the course of the struggle to build the rocket I grew quite fond of the characters, so maybe there is something to that feelings stuff after all. Some rather horrible things happen to some of them, and the reader suffers right along with the characters.
All in all, a well-told tale. I just wish I had the next 3 volumes at hand to find out what happens. And that's why we read stories, isn't it, to find out what happens. Kathryn Graham kept me turning the pages, and wanting more. I suspect she'll do the same for you.
Flight From Eden
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