Monday, August 2, 2010

Joshua and Aaron: ITP Book Two

David Gelber
Ruffian Press (2010)
ISBN 9780982076347
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (07/10) 

Joshua Smith seems to be quite and quietly happy with his very mundane life, betting on horses at the local racetrack, hanging out at the Bar #23, and enjoying the company of various resident misfits, helping them whenever he gets a chance. It is one such act of goodwill that gets him in serious trouble and his life is at stake. He has, albeit unwittingly, seriously upset the plans of the evil industrial magnate by the name of Aaron Diblonski. Joshua is rescued by Geoffrey O'Donnel, who helps him establish a new life, one in which he will have to confront the ultimate forces of good and evil. The future of the entire humankind is in peril and Joshua is the man who could save the planet.

If I had to classify David Gelber's "Joshua and Aaron," I would venture to say that it probably fit best in the category of religious sci-fi, if such a category does indeed exist.  While I have to admit that the story does not get overly preachy, the constant undercurrent of religious righteousness permeates the book thoroughly. This was one of my least favorite components of the book, as were the very fragmented plot, the profusion of choppy chapters (well over a hundred, and if the author wants to know how well I paid attention to that, he should take a look at the wrong Roman numeral in the last-but-one chapter…), the two-dimensional characters and slightly stilted narrative. Also, while I definitely understand that this is a work of fiction, for me the best fiction stays close enough to reality to make it even more scarily believable, and Little Bit channeling Laika was a bit much to take. I remain intentionally vague here, so as not to give away the plot too much…

On the positive side, the story itself was intriguing and it moved quickly enough to keep my attention. I have also greatly enjoyed the author's imagination, as displayed in the descriptions of the world in the 22nd century. My absolutely most favorite was chapter 13, talking about "modern mental health," which left me chuckling for a good long while. In general, I found the author's observations on medicine, food and human interactions very insightful and quite memorable.

Overall, I believe that "Joshua and Aaron" shows promise, and I do hope that Mr. Gelber keeps on writing. Getting some professional advice and streamlining his stories a bit more would definitely be beneficial for his future work, but even as is, "Joshua and Aaron" is an interesting read and a good way to spend a couple of afternoons or evenings.