Brett Denton is a man in his 40s who seems to have failed in one way or another most of his life, at least in his own mind. Hopes of becoming an astronaut evaporated with a football injury while playing for the Air Force Academy. Dreams of becoming a success in business were dashed by downsizing and competition. And now, he finds himself in the middle of what probably is his last chance at doing anything meaningful with his life.
In truth, he did something else that mattered. He married the love of his life and fathered two wonderful children. Then, determined to be the main provider he struck out across country and lost it all. Now here he is with no one but his own guilt ridden life once again shooting for the stars – literally.
In Alpha Redemption, P.A. Baines, does a masterful job of telling the story of what would drive a man to accept a mission to be a human guinea pig on man’s first light speed space ship to the stars. Though having undergone a rigorous selection process and months of training, Brett is little more than a passenger in a ship piloted by a computer that must serve as his protector, confidant, friend and ultimately much more. To say anything else about how that plot plays out would be a disservice to the writer and reader.
There is much to love about Alpha Redemption. For a debut novel, the author shows a great deal of writing maturity in the way he immerses the reader into Brett Denton’s life and journey from page one. Here is a man who doesn’t believe in God or himself. A man who thinks he would be happiest if left completely alone. Yet when faced with the very real possibility of just that, he cries in the darkness for a light and a friend. He wallows in his failures trying to convince himself there is no need for redemption because there is no redeemer. As I have mentioned elsewhere there are four great themes in all worthy stories: Isolation – Love – Failure – Redemption. And, P.A. Baines explores all four in a most inventive and thought provoking way.
Others have explored the meaning of man’s existence in stories that involved nearly sentient computers before. Some will see shades of Arthur C. Clark’s computer Hal in 2001 and 2010. Other may recognize themes from a lesser known Sci-Fi movie, Silent Running. And, the ghost of Philip K. Dick lurks in the shadows as the ship’s computer assumes increasingly human like reasoning. And there the comparisons end. Science Fiction is such a great medium for Christian writers because it can ask big questions on a grand scale. But neither 2001 nor Blade Runner offer any answers – just despair.
When Brett challenges Jay (the computer) to read everything, he doesn’t know what he is bargaining for. Jay does read everything, including the revelation of the God Brett doesn’t believe in. And Brett has no reasonable response to the logical assertions Jay begins to make about the nature of existence and God. As a result P.A. Baines takes us places Clark and Dick could not.
If you love Science Fiction this is a great read. For those who don’t read Science Fiction this is a great place to start. The author cleverly tells a love story and the narrative of one man’s life in a way I would wager you’ve never read before. Plus there’s an ending that will make you go back again and again until like when the lights went back on for Brett you’ll smile and say, “Good for you Brett. Hope was not lost after all.”
Reviewed by Tim George,
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: SplashDown Books
Publication Date: September 2010
Review copy provided by Splashdown Books
This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 at 5:00 pm and is filed under Tim's Notes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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