By Dr. Bob Rich
Currently out of print from my searches. Information available on author’s site.
This book has won the Science Fiction category of the EPPIE 2001 Awards.
Retired film star Flora Fielding was diagnosed with cancer. Her solution: she had herself put into suspended animation, and invested her fortune in cancer research. She expected to return to life in five to ten years — but is awakened into an utterly different world, 1433 years later. She gradually learns the facts about the new society:
- There are only one million people on the planet.
- This gives material wealth to everyone.
- However, the right to reproduce is a valuable commodity. Men compete for women’s approval in every possible way, including risking their lives in deeds of daring.
- Everyone has an ‘implant’: a device that enables them to send and receive ‘images’, so that they are able to be with anyone else, anywhere.
- All the implants, and all the computerized machines on the planet, are linked to form a single intelligence: Artif, the ‘executive arm of humanity’.
- Flora makes friends, and gradually learns that she was awakened for a purpose: she is the pawn in a political duel between Abel, President of Control, and Mirabelle, Deputy President. These two are opposed on every issue, including the way to raise twelve year old Tamás, their son.
Kiril, a young man tortured by jealous love, commits the first violent crime in over a thousand years, and only Flora’s experience from pre-Cataclysmic times can sort out the resulting problems.
Different. This is also what you can expect from Dr. Bob Rich…different.
Slightly confusing and requires an open mind to the concept of a world of only one million individuals who are extremely different than our current world. Honestly, I’m not sure I would want to be part of their new existence.
I don’t know how to explain my reaction to this story. Looking back at my notes, I kept remarking on jumpiness…short chapters, switching characters…and hoping the ending explains it all. Not sure it does. I’ll let you decide and please let me know your thoughts.
There is one part with Kiril and the woman of his desire that I did find off-putting. I won’t give any details, but it hasn’t sat well with me. Coming back to this sentence, from when I first wrote it, no, this area of the book did not work for me at all. It points too much to the – not learning from our own history – for my comfort.
Handing on…another concept I hope never comes into fashion and that is explained as to how and why. It is and again, nope, doesn’t work for me. I want Flora’s story to be more dominant. Flora’s story is fairly dominant, but I can’t fully relate to her due to my own cancer experience.
If this is our possible future, truthfully, I would rather stay in our present. At least, work for a better future.
Dr. Rich puts a spin on science fiction that is fairly “out there,” more than what I’m used to reading. I don’t always mix with his stories, but I always know what I will get, even with some unexpected spin.
Recommend? It’s not that I don’t recommend, just know that you’re in for something…different.
By Dr. Bob Rich
1) What makes people–people?
Does a person need two legs, two arms, a head on a neck with only two ears and eyes? What design changes would you make to the human body? Must a culture look like ours to be classified sentient?
2) What person/people would you pick to populate a new planet and save the human race?
Would you take a murderer over a police officer? What if the police officer had to kill to survive? A farmer over a pianist?
3) Invasion or visitation…ask first and shoot later or just shoot?
If there are intelligent life-forms, not us, out in the universe, how should they let us know? If they’re smarter than us, maybe they wouldn’t…shouldn’t.
4) Who says life needs oxygen to live?
Are we really that arrogant to think every single intelligent life-form must require the same elements as us to live? Why?
These are the three short stories and novella presented in “Bizarre Bipeds: What IS humanity’s place in the universe.” Together they provide a thought-provoking good time.
Dr. Rich’s quirky look at people structure did make some sense…I still like our current model. But he proves emotions matter over shape.
His other questions are questions my dad often asked, still no answers.
While I’m not a big science fiction reader, Dr. Rich’s telling strikes the right balance. He simply asks his readers to think as they enjoy his tale. He blends science, hardcore and way off the normal understanding, into an easy believability.
“Bizarre Bipeds: What IS humanity’s place in the Universe” is a good break read.
The Start of Magic: Part I of The First Story of The Ehvelen
By Dr. Bob Rich
Prepare: Some sexual scenes within context of storytelling.
Have you ever wondered about mankind’s first meeting with Elves? Dr. Rich’s series “The First Story of the Ehvelen” reveals his version of this historical meeting. But, is it his version or the true tales of the Ehvelen People just found?
This is not a fast read. Dr. Rich offers a compact telling of a nomadic tribe that is used to killing and stealing females to give them sons, and through the sons, power. These people, the Doshi, are barbaric when compared to the Ehvelen. And, to the Doshi, the Ehvelen are “Midgets” who possess magical powers. How else could such small beings kill Doshi males? How else can the Doshi explain the “Midget” females wearing men’s clothing and killing like men?
This first part is told through the eyes of Heather, a young Ehvelen girl who learns to survive as a captured slave of the Doshi. Becoming their leader’s ‘woman,’ along with his other ‘women.’
Heather helps perpetuate the myths the Doshi men share about her people. All in the hopes of ultimately defeating them at their own game. Will Heather escape; survive the attempt; and warn her people of the war that is coming to them?
As I mentioned, this isn’t a fast or easy read Dr Rich developed a complete tribal history for the Doshi never painting them as completely evil beings. The Ehvelen people’s history is sparingly shared via Heather’s internal comparisons and her conversations with the other women.
At times “The Start of Magic” reads with the calm quiet voice of a land’s Native People and, at other times, with the crashing and dominating destructive voice of an egotistical bully.
You must realize that this story is being told to us via an Ehvelen storyteller. This isn’t just a straightforward story of groups of people discovering each other. It is a written history of a mythical race of people that very few believe in anymore.
Between all there is pride of self; belief in self and ways of life; and that the other way is wrong. An interesting view of a classic tale of one people forced against another.
A very different Elf, Ehvelen, story.
The Mother’s Sword: Part II of The First Story of The Ehvelen
By Dr. Bob Rich
We’ve all heard the grass is greener on the other side, now we get a chance to hear it through their own words.
“The Mother’s Sword: Part II of the First Story of the Ehvelen” contains much of the same history as Part I; however, this time we see it through the Ehvelen’s eyes.
If you’ve read my earlier review of Part I, you will know that these are the stories of how humans and elves first met. They met via death and slavery. The Doshi murdered fifteen-year-old Heather’s Hunt Party and took her and Oak as breeding slaves. Oak escaped, but Heather was captive for about a year before she escaped.
Either Part I or II can be read first, neither are dependent on the other. This is where my interest lagged. Having read Part I, I found Part II to be slow and it never quite grabbed my interest. I’m not sure if the same would have been said if the parts were reversed, but the possibility exists.
What is offered is a look at the internal workings of the Elf/Ehvelen history that is not based on magic or superior secretive knowledge. The Ehvelen People, in Dr. Rich’s tale, have no knowledge of the world beyond their forest. It could be said they are quite primitive when compared to the larger world. However, the Ehvelen are intuitively smarter than the “Orges” (as they call us Humans). The Ehvelen quickly grasp new tools, bows and arrows, and sadly realize to survive they must learn to kill or be killed.
Dr. Rich has taken an interesting angle with his tales. He writes them as a lost civilization’s scrolls recently found and deciphered. Maybe they are?
I wanted to feel more for Part II; however, I ended up a little disappointed…in the other side telling of a same story and my own reaction. I believe if Parts I and II had been combined they would have created a much stronger piece.
I’m currently reading Part III and my initial reaction is much different…I’m falling into the tale with ease.
I would recommend reading Part I or Part II alone, at first, taking your pick as to which story side to explore. Then give yourself a break before picking up the other story side.
As always, Dr. Rich offers a different view on an old favourite genre.
The Travels of First Horse: Part III of The First Story of The Ehvelen
By Dr. Bob Rich
Can one person stop a lifetime of warring?
Horse, Heather-the-Mother’s son (the same Heather from book I) decides he must travel the world to learn how to defeat the Doshi. An enemy of the Doshi may just be the friend of the Ehvelen.
“Travels of First Horse” is a long detailed read. I know I did not give it the justice it deserves due to time restraints; however, that doesn’t lessen the enjoyment I had reading it.
Dr. Rich has me wondering just how much is true and how much was just his imagination. Don’t miss his bio at the end of the book.
Dr. Rich incorporates a multitude of people’s history and culture. His notes throughout add dimension to the translation of the Ehvelen’s tale.
Seeing these people (some being Egyptians, Ethiopian, Danish, Jews) through Horse’s eyes was an entertaining puzzle; I couldn’t always figure out their modern counterpart. I wouldn’t mind reading more about some of the people Horse encountered.
“Travels of First Horse” is as much fun and dangerous adventure as it is fantasy. I laughed at parts and raced through others.
I’m even curious about what was happening while Horse was away. The glimpses of Heather reading Horse’s letters weren’t enough.
When Horse returns home will he be instrumental in ending the war of his lifetime? I’m not telling.
THE MAKING OF A FOREST FIGHTER
By Dr. Bob Rich
A thousand years from now, how will we be viewed? Our enemies?
Once again, Dr. Rich takes us back to the translations of the historical stories of the Ehvelen People. This time the story is Ribtol’s, a Doshi warrior. A Doshi peacefully speaks to the Ehvelen and in return they record his story? Yes. Ribtol approaches the Ehvelen lands in the hope to stop his nightmares.
I find myself mixed with this tale. Dr. Rich presents vast histories and cultures of people as seen through their eyes and their enemies eyes. At any time either could be questioned as to who was the good guy, who the bad.
This led me to thinking of our own global history. When we are nothing but dust and words on paper (screen?) how will history remember any of us?
Dr. Rich’s Ehvelen/Doshi series should be read under far more forgiving time than I, as a reviewer, can offer. Dr. Rich includes a world of information that I’m at a loss how he kept it straight. The characters are numerous, yet are not lost amongst the telling.
If you are tired of the old tales of Elves, try Dr. Rich’s translations; after all he “has lived in 700BC, among the Ehvelen.” Well, this is according to his “About the Author” bio.