Okay, this one is just plain neat. Stuff from Sci Phi has been kind of hit and miss with me– see here and here for details– but Ben Zwycky’s Beyond the Mist is not just good, it is occasionally even astonishing. In these jaded times where it often seems as if everything’s been done better already, this book serves up something I just haven’t seen before. This is, I think, another example of the crackpot idea that defies conventional wisdom only to end up demonstrating that conventional wisdom isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
Going by the blurbs, I was expecting sort of a science fiction version of Pilgrim’s Progress. Really, this is way better than that would have been. Though the story seems downright fantastic at first, when you get far enough in, it becomes clear that the author has a fully realized combination of technology and world building that explains everything. All of those moments that read like a straight up allegory for the Christian conversion experience…? They get the benefit of a sort of double whammy. The first time it’s because a fundamental biblical truth is conveyed in a way that slips past your analytical side, routes around your cynicism and then heads straight for the “wow” center of your brain. The second time, it’s when you start to ponder what sort of people would actually go and build such a thing as is described here.
This is not a devotional. This is not saccharine Christian™ literature like you’ll find on spinner racks in rural grocery stores, either. This is a book about ideas that is perfectly in line with the Sci Phi Journal tagline of “science fiction and philosophy”. I can’t say much about the the future setting where all this takes place without spoiling the story, but I can say that I am glad to see that this is “Book 1” of continuing series. Ben Zwycky has created a world that I’d like to see more of.
Note that this volume along with Ben Zwycky’s other books are currently on sale for 99 cents each!