Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review: Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson

Imagine you live in a 2014 that has been at peace for the last century.  There was something like the Great War, but it seemed to have ended as almost as soon as it started with the Great Armistice of 1914. After that, peace and prosperity. No Great Depression. No Hitler. No Holocaust.  No Second World War.  No lingering Cold War. No War on Terror. Just humanity, linked arm in arm, marching upwards together to the sunlit highlands. It indeed does sound like a paradise of sorts.

It’s certainly not our world, but it’s the world one Cassie Iverson inhabits. In many ways it’s probably preferable to our own, but as pleasant a world as it may be, Cassie, her parents, and others who are members of the secretive Correspondence Society suspect the awful truth: that human progress has being interfered with – even directed – since the dawn of radio communications, by an alien intelligence with its own indefinable goals. An alien intelligence that would do anything – including murder – to keep its secret.

Burning Paradise is Robert Charles Wilson’s latest alternate history novel. Taken with his earlier novels, Mysterium (1994) and Darwina (1998), it returns to a theme of a false reality – layered or overwritten upon our own by an external entity. It’s a similar theme expressed by Phillip K. Dick in many of his works, such as VALIS (1981).

I definitely recommend Burning Paradise.  Besides being well written, Wilson paints fully realized alternate 2014 with a few choice turns of phrase – no mean feat.  It’s another reason I like Wilson and consider him one of the spiritual successors to Phillip K. Dick. Verdict: very readable and thoughtful fiction.

What's Next?
As I slide another blog posting in under the wire, I note that the eight-episode miniseries based on Stephen King's 2011 novel 11-22-63 (reviewed earlier on this blog) has begun to air on Hulu.  I hope to be able to have a review of at least the early episodes for you soon.

Meanwhile, you can help out a poor unemployed writer by purchasing Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 and now The Key to My Heart, also $2.99 (all are free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.  Thanks.

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