Book Review – Elthea’s Realm
by John Murzycki
Average rating (all reviews) :
2 Bloggers’ Reviews
|Dale E. Lehman
“Elthea’s Realm” straddles the border between SF and fantasy
Philip Matherson, slaving away at his inglorious job of Fourth-Level Assistant for Reviews and Reports, receives a strange email requesting information on the Utopia Project, a college paper he completed years before with a group of four other students. When he ignores it, a threat follows. Nor is he the only target. Soon the Utopia Project leader, now a wealthy tech magnate, invites the whole gang for a reunion at his remote cottage in the Berkshires. While there, they are attacked by a terrifying group of adversaries and mysteriously transported to another world where they learn that human technology has spawned several races of sentient beings, some good, some evil. And the most evil of all, the Bots, want to use the Utopia team in their conquest of Earth.
Author John Murzycki characterizes this as a tech-based fantasy novel. That’s a fitting description. “Elthea’s Realm” straddles the border between SF and fantasy. Aspects of it will remind you of technology-run-amok SF while others call to mind epic quests of the fantasy genre. It’s a unique and intriguing story, even for a skeptic like me who looks askance on the very idea of gizmos achieving sentience.
Although engaging, it’s not a perfect novel. The writing is clean enough but could stand considerable tightening. There’s a bit too much explanatory dialogue, and sometimes the thoughts and feelings expressed by the characters are either too generic or too trite. I like these characters. I just don’t think we get to see them in as much detail as we should. The interplay between the main action and the flashback scenes to the days of the Utopia Project are handled well, but the project itself lacks detail. I think Murzycki may have written himself into a bit of a corner by taking on something so big. After all, how do you create Utopia? You don’t. (The word literally means “nowhere.”) So what’s the point of assigning this project to college juniors? Do the students realize their professors have intentionally tossed them off the deep end? And what, specifically, has Phil and the gang proposed?
Given that this is a first novel, I’ll go easy on it and allow the story 4 stars and 3.5 for the writing. Overall that’s good enough to call it a slightly weak 4.
This review will feature in his blog www.DaleELehman.com
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