5.0 out of 5 stars An epic futuristic story of 2 conflicting societies, 29 Oct. 2014
The book paints a fascinating and frightening picture of a futuristic city where technology is king and the citizens are oppressed and their every move is recorded and monitored. There is a love story in here, a criminal underworld, spiritualism, violence, dangerous journeys trying to evade the authorities – all ingredients for a potential Hollywood movie.
The pace of the narrative is exciting from start to end, an entertaining and thought provoking read. This book from a new author deserves to be a big seller
2 Feb. 2015
When I was reading this book, I could not help but think about C.S. Lewis’ words from Abolition of Man: “If man chooses to treat himself as raw material, raw material he will be: not raw material to be manipulated, as he fondly imagined, by himself, but by mere appetite, that is, mere Nature, in the person of his de-humanized Conditioners.” Senan Gil Senan does show throughout this book that the more people control Nature by technology, the more degenerate they become in many important respects. There is a nice boy in this book who can create amazing virtual dates, but he finds it difficult to ask out a real girl. River, the Hopi outlander, on the other hand, lives more in tune with Nature and appears to be the true master of himself. I like the fact that the author chose an American Indian as his hero. It seems that he understands their culture.
I am not a particular fan of science fiction, but I must admit that Senan Gil Senan’s vision of future technology is amazing and fun to read. I found it particularly scary when I read about new ways in which technology may deprive us of our privacy even more than it does nowadays. This is something very topical in my opinion. And so are other ideas Senan Gil Senan presents in his book. It’s about our possible future, but it also addresses contemporary problems.
I also enjoyed the romance between the Hopi outlander and the metropolitan lady. The whole seduction did not proceed the usual way and its bizarre elements of unpredictability made it only more exciting. While she dominated the Hopi man sexually at the beginning, she finally surrendered to him in a profound way. I read their love story as yet another symbol of Nature’s victory over technology, but I won’t tell more in this review as I do not want to spoil someone else’s reading. Their love story seems to suggest that technology may be reconciled with Nature. I am quite curious whether there will be a sequel to this wonderful book.
The tale begins when the lives of River and Nathan Carlson, a Citadel intelligence officer, intersect. As in Huxley’s story, River is a member of an isolated Native American remnant population living beyond the pale of modern society. In this case, they have refused to live in one of the 250 idyllic “Citadels” that now house the whole of humanity, and also harbor others that are similarly disposed.
The Citadels are enormous walled cities created not to protect their inhabitants from the dangers of the world outside, but to guard the recovering landscape from the hinted at but undescribed environmental depredations that humanity unleashed prior to the book’s opening.
The parallels with Brave New World continue throughout the book, although Senan’s treatments generally oppose rather than agree with the slants taken by Huxley. For example, while Huxley allowed the elites of the The World State to visit Native American villages out of curiosity, in Senan’s world Native Americans are pursued and captured, and then either integrated into Citadel life or destroyed.
Similarly, River’s father, like John Savage’s, is a member of mainstream society. Butwhile River is eventually reconciled and assisted by his father, John remains estranged. Population is strictly controlled in both worlds, and in Huxley’s book it drives the aprents apart. But in Senan’s story, it brings the parents together and sets up the plot for the next book in the planned series.
I was particularly impressed with the depth of Senan’s awareness of Native American customs and the landscape upon which the story plays out. The descriptions ring true and support the story in a natural way rather than appearing convenient and contrived. References to Native American belief systems and lifeways were largely subordinated, however, to descriptions of a spirituality system based more on yoga and Eastern thought, evidently the contributions of the non-Native Americans that have sought refuge in hidden canyons with their traditional inhabitants.
Like all good dystopian literature, the world that is imagined by the author is interesting and well developed, providing enjoyment from beginning to end as new details are revealed along the way. The pacing is swift, and the events that occur carry the plot forward naturally rather than feeling contrived simply to keep the action alive.
The book ends with intriguing hints of the events that will be explored in the next book in Senan’s Outlander series, and I look forward to reading it when it becomes available.
1 Feb. 2015
The book, although full of technical information, was never overwhelming in detail – it is as easy for a non-sci fi fan to pick up, as an avid reader of the genre.
I was quickly drawn into the first part of the story, it flowed nicely as you are seamlessly introduced to the two main characters, Hopi and Nathan. The descriptions of their very different lives is well done, it is descriptive and paints an easy picture, which shows the authors attention to detail.
As the action unfolds, you follow their adventures – complete with new technologies which invade or help society? (you decide), and friendships – some of them strange (I will come to that in a minute), and Hopi’s efforts (or not) to get ‘home’.
The only part I had felt uncomfortable with was the relationship between Hopi and Audrina (Nathan’s daughter). As a ‘romance’ reader, I found her dominance and, sometimes, cruel sexual preferences uncomfortable. In my opinion, she didn’t treat him well at all – but like I mentioned, this could because I’m a fluffy, romance reader!
I won’t reveal any end ‘spoilers’, but there were enough pointers for me to guess that this book is the start of a series?
I will check this author’s other books out, and I recommend you do too…
Although a Sci-fi novel, this is not what I would call ‘hard’ sci-fi in the sense of an Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke novel; it doesn’t entirely rely on immersing the reader in far flung advanced technology or totally alien concepts, concentrating instead on developing the characters and what they’re doing, giving the book a real depth to it. The time period being set in the relative near future ensures that the technology and science, although highly advanced and with a definite sci-fi feel to it, are still very much rooted in the science of today thereby giving the book an added authenticity. Some of the themes will be familiar to sci-fi fans, namely the Dystopian concept of an enclosed technology based society surrounded by a less (technologically) advanced native population and the almost paranoid and obsessive monitoring and control of its citizens, having already been explored in both print and on screen – there are definite echoes of Brave New world, Shape of Things to Come, Nineteen Eighty Four, and Logan’s Run to name but a few, but the author treats these concepts with an original approach and with the added hindsight of current advancements and the potential of the emerging technologies of today.
I did feel however that the period in which the novel s set, i.e. circa 2060, was a tad too early considering where we’re at in society today and the immense engineering challenges the new world in habitants would have faced, not to mention the time it would have taken for society to recover from its original collapse. There were a couple of very minor typos and grammatical issues that might well have been picked up by one last line by line edit but certainly not so much of an issue to diminish my enjoyment or my 5 star rating. Overall though, this was a totally believable Dystopian sci-fi story, exceptionally well researched in relation to the native culture and background of the ‘outlanders,’ as well as the financial machinations that might well yet lead to the sort of collapse as befell the society of the book. The story is well concluded, providing a comprehensive round up of events, as well as a brief glimpse beyond – and best of all, the conclusion begs for a sequel, which I will surely be reading when it comes out. Great book!
I am not necessarily a fan of this genre so I am all the happier to report that Senan may have converted me. The personal relationships between closely connected characters and those on opposite sides of the fence so to speak are very well drawn and the themes of love, honour sacrifice and duplicity while common place in most well written stories, are handled here with a simplicity I enjoyed in his new world creation. Senan has clearly not only done his research on Native American culture, but he has applied it with thought, to inject a very unique feel for the reader.
I really enjoyed this book and the more I got into the story the more I wanted to rush to the end to find out what lay in store. Five well deserved stars for Beyond the Pale, pick it up if you like a cracking book filled with adventure.
The characters are well-drawn and the imagery is good. The dialogue is good and although the narrative and dialogue sometimes sounded stilted, I thought it added to the futuristic nature of the story. By `stilted’ in this context I mean as if it were people speaking English as a second language.
Why then did it work for me? Simply because in a post-apocalyptic world I imagine there would be so much re-learning and adapting by many cultures and sub-cultures. I believe language and dialect would be affected.
Why 4* and not 5*? Perhaps as a fellow writer I am continually aware of typos and grammar and on a few occasions these made me pause. I believe that with another edit, the minor issues I discovered would have been spotted, but I know the feeling myself.
Those things aside, within this tale you will find adventure, love, friendship, deceit and self-sacrifice and a lot more besides. Relationships are formed and maintained, while emotions are taken on a roller-coaster ride in some cases. Human traits are kept alive however far into the future this story has leapt. I was particularly pleased to see the Native American influence being utilised.
Apart from those superb areas I have already mentioned, I think this story worked for me because there were sections of incredible detail and in several areas. This points to personal experience or good research and for that I applaud the author. For me, detail and sense of place help to transport the reader to the world of the characters. That makes for good fiction.