Friday, March 16, 2018

Macky Reads Aldo and Futura

Every so often, Smith Publicity gives me a chance to review a couple of their books. As part of my bid to venture out of my comfort zone, broaden my horizons and just learn a thing or two by reading things I won’t normally read (but won’t drive me batty), I said yes to reviewing these books and I am pretty pleased that I did. 

Aldo is a story about Dr. Isabel Canto and the events that transpired around a period in this book’s history where genetic engineering was nearing a turning point. Specifically, it was the kind of breakthrough that would eventually lead to the prevention of genetic diseases on a scale that could only be described as a “boon to humanity”. 

The story is told through Dr. Canto’s narrative to her son about the fateful events of those times and how her life managed to be linked to a significant pseudo-terrorist threat that opposed the genetic engineering research she and her colleague had been doing at the time. 

The blurb at the back of the book says this is a mystery/thriller/love story and it is absolutely all of those things... exactly in that order, as a matter of fact. It’s most certainly unique in that it manages to (in my opinion) capture the essence of all three genres by smoothly transitioning the narrative mood from one type to the next, mostly through the clever use of the kind of narrative style that involves weaving emails, Facebook posts, tweets, news articles and blog posts into the storytelling. 

The “mixed media” approach softened the transitions for me as “the camera” zooms out on Isabel’s life and paints the world she lives in, then zooms back in on other parts of the story to build the mystery (which was not long drawn out, thank goodness). It keeps the slow drip of thriller steady, and beautifully tells a simple story about love that is sincere and uncontrived. 

One minute, you’re reading about a woman trying to survive the suddenly turbulent waters of her personal and professional life. The next, you are sitting in the front row to watch how a movement started on ethical grounds becomes a sinister force acting with good intentions… until finally you find yourself reminded that these events are narrated by a woman who just wanted to tell the truth she had been long waiting to unburden herself with by telling. And it's also about how love managed to spring from such terrible circumstances and that it’s never too late to grow up and face the future no matter how dark the present might be.

Aldo by Betty Jean Craige | Publisher: Black Opal Books | Publication Date: March 24, 2018 | Source: Copy received from the publisher (Thanks!)



Futura is a novella about a young woman named Ruby, living in a hyper futuristic world where, through the power of technology, everyone on the planet has their basic human needs met, leading the human race to abandon survival and pursue loftier things instead. Health, wealth, pleasure… the perfect techno-utopia. 

That’s how Ruby's story starts out. Jordan Phillips paints a pretty nifty technologically surreal landscape to be the backdrop to Ruby’s very personal journey. The science fiction-y angle (in my opinion) is that no matter how “good” life gets, the human journey towards finding what you want to do on this planet that matters, remains one of the greatest roller-coaster rides of all time. 

I was half expecting the book to careen towards a “how has life and love changed in a perfect world” but in the end, the things that happened to Ruby could very well have happened today or fifty years ago. You grow up, learn to fend for yourself, see from friends what you may want or don’t want for your life and proceed to go about your days making sure you get what you aim at. 

Ruby’s journey in this alternate future we here in the real world can only really dream of having, is one of freedom, truth, love… and finally, beauty. It’s almost like a four act play or short film with an insane budget (because who doesn’t love robot waiters and fancy tech?). 

It’s not my usual fare for sci-fi and I certainly would not classify this as a romance. Slice of modern high tech life? Whatever genre this is, it’s a quick read (I finished the book while waiting to edit one of our book haul videos) albeit the exposition at the start is chock full of historical setup and feels like an audio commentary about the “modern world” before it finally finds its true focus on Ruby’s innermost life. 

I almost feel like I’m back in college and my lit professor would make us read this as part of the curriculum just so we can have discussions about the human journey from a regular Joes (Janes?) point of view. If you have the imagination and inclination for books like this, it’s pretty stunning “visually” in the mind’s eye. And poignant as well. And who doesn’t like poignant?

Futura: A Novella by Jordan Phillips | Publisher: CreateSpace | Publication Date: January 2, 2018 | Source: Copy received from the publisher (Thanks!)

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