Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review::Astra: Synchronicity by Lisa Eskra

Astra: SynchronicityAstra: Synchronicity by Lisa Eskra

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Astra: Synchronicity By Lisa Eskra

I enjoyed reading this one. It's a bit of a light in most ways though Lisa Eskra took on an ambitious task and approached it from a slightly different angle than I've seen in the past. For a first effort I think she did fairly well, but the most important part is that it gained my interest and kept it throughout the book. There was a slight shock factor when getting to the end and realizing it's the end and wanting to have more story. But this is a trilogy and there will be more. This; at the very least and best is not like those serialized snippets I've too often seen here.(The ones that are 16 to 30 some pages and barely have time to introduce the characters.) This is a full fledged 200 some page book that to my estimation qualifies as a novel and even though some points are left unresolved the reader is left at a place that is in no way less than where some of the John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs novels often left the reader.

Synchronicity takes on the question of psions in a world that hates people with psychic abilities. This is reminiscent of the book Slan by A.E. VanVogt. But Lisa Eskra takes her own slant on the issue.

In the Astra universe Earth has been ruined and is no longer habitable the process that caused this has possibly created a whole new branch in the tree of mankind that have psionic abilities. In a sort of dystopic way, but in this treatment it takes a back seat to the story, the Psion's have to renew their energy by sucking the life out of normals(Mind Rape, which is fatal).(Although they can also suck the life out of each other if it comes to that.) What they suck is the Gamma-mine, a neurotransmitter that regulates the psionic potential. Mankind has left earth and colonized other worlds and have split into three main factions the PAU, AF and UE. None of the faction have any affection for the psions and they each have their different degree of tolerance towards them. In most cases they try in some way to regulate them when they are not trying to kill them.

Magnius Zoleki one of the main protagonists is a psion who has been hiding his abilities. He's even successfully hidden them from his present wife, Lyneea. That wife hates psions because they murdered her parents so it's understandable that when she discovers the secret she files for divorce. This whole scenerio puts Magnius in danger because his secret is likely to come out to the whole of Astra. Magnius has many more secrets including that hes running from the Psion's; in specific the leader Aliane and her consort Zingeri who send an assassin named Tiyuri to capture Magnius.

Amii Martin has amnesia, with a condition described by one character as a fugue state though it might be a specific type with selective amnesia because she has not created a whole new identity and she has clear memories that allow her to function on a high level with many complex tasks. She finds out she is the alleged daughter and assistant of Dr. Xander Adams who is attempting to create a functional android or robot. The Dr. is on the run and being pursued because he has stolen valuable equipment to continue his work. Dr. Xander claims that Amii Martin was struck on the head which is not a consistent factor with fugues so we'll have to wait and see how that works out.

Through some quirk Magnius and Amii are brought together along with the crews of two ships, the Kearsarg and the Schenectady(captained by Lyneea's sister Ardi.) And they are introduced to Nadine Taylor who is a well know psion married to a politician of the AF.

If that's not enough, there has been a first contact situation involving Schenectady and the aliens known as Xurianian's.

Honestly speaking with so much going on; 260 pages was really not enough to do total justice to the story.

This results in a slight disjointedness as we seem to fast-forward through and past some important elements such as the actual point of contact in the first contact. So if I had any nitpicks it would be that there needed to be about a hundred more pages of narrative.

Lastly I can't go without mentioning the grammar errors. Because I try not to include them in the star score I try to be sure to mention them for the picky reader. There are a larger number than normal (for some people zero is normal but for my taste I can abide a handful.) Probably the only one that sticks out in my mind is the recurrence of the word lied where lay belongs, which is almost understandable since lay normally takes an object such as 'lay the book down' and lie does not have the object such as 'I lie down' and the problem comes when the past form of lie is lay and not lied. Anything else in the grammar and sentence structure that created problems were mostly transparent where the lied just stuck out like fingernail on chalkboard.

I think this is a good light read for people who like SFF for young adults with less emphasis on the Science part of the science fiction. There were enough interesting mysteries in this one to make me interested in following up with the rest of the series to see how those resolve.

J.L. Dobias

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