Project Amber

Project Amber ISBN: 9780987619815, speculative, suspenseful, sci-fi, intergalactic e-book by Carl Lakeland.

Plot: Angel (earlier Angelique), a journalist for the Empire Networks, Australia, is preparing to interview the American Secretary of State, finds a way around the delayed timeline insisted upon by her and asks why that country’s nuclear aircraft carrier insisted on entering Australian waters when they had been notified two weeks before that it had not been cleared by their Nuclear Safety Commission. The Secretary walks out, the action goes viral, the Prime Minister secretly is pleased and the story begins to unfold around a plot purportedly engineered by The Guardianship Group – former top military and other officials of numerous countries – that settled into the Outback area of Australia with the project ‘Amber’ to destroy humanity. From this point a complexly twisted plot unfolds including Angel, her close friend Jenny, secret guardian/mentor Nathan, ‘foster’ mother Maggie and several other characters as they attempt to avoid earth’s destruction.

Discussion: The book’s opening and following twenty to thirty percent appeared to be offering a most interesting thriller – a strong intelligent woman with a tragic childhood in Alice Springs (about forty-fifty miles into Northern Territory and centrally placed) now in a prominent journalistic position championing a cause. Unfortunately we learn little about her, except that she is lesbian, but open to a possible male relationship, and suddenly with no explanation or evidence of seeming adequate abilities, inclination or introductory training, enters the Australian specialized anti-terrorism training and is assigned as a leading member of the task force fighting Amber. The book’s action is almost non-stop, the lesbian aspect is not emphasized and the sci-fi/alien aspects will appeal to many. Regrettably, there is too much unexplained material with respect to purpose or reason for much of the activity, too little characterization to provide credibility for their performance and too many questions left unanswered for this reader to enjoy an otherwise interesting scenario.

Conclusion: Well-written, interesting, complex, fast action plot unfortunately flawed for this reader, as described.

3* Interesting fast action plot unfortunately flawed for this reader.

String’s Cross

String’s Cross, Heron Drive Press, a novel copyright 2015 by Guri P. Essen.

Plot: The main theme follows the lives of immigrants Rosa Maria Ambuehl, her siblings, her eventual husband Irving, and their children, espacially String. Rosa’s father was a displaced resident of Switzerland who settled in the orchard dominated section of California. Thus she was raised in a rather pastoral existence while Irv was a German Jew, product of New York City’s Jewish ghetto, the third largest such gathering in the world. Additionally, Rosa was a headstrong anti-Semitic young woman explained in part by the fact that she was a staunch Lutheran and was anti almost everyone not WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). Irving was an avowed atheist whose two grandfathers were rabbis. He volunteered for WW I, was assigned to Hawaii as a bugler and when discharged from Schofield began his west coast sojourn. From a quite thorough description of the early beginnings of the development of the California citrus area, the author then sets forth a well and rather completely described evolutionary pattern of the early United States as it moves from pre-WW I, through the post war expansion, the ‘flapper’ era, Prohibition, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, WW II, the Korean War (earlier referred to as the Korean ‘Police Action’) and beyond. Included are musical compositions of the various times from early 1900 Ta ra ra BOOM de aye, to WW II’s White Cliffs of Dover and then Chattanooga Choo Choo, String of Pearls , Sleepy Lagoon and more by big bands of Harry James; Glen Miller, Artie Shaw and others; early entertainers such as Gloria Swanson and Theda Bara to Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, George Burns; early radio ‘crystal sets’ to TV and programs Mandrake the Magician, Flash Gordon, Dick Tracy with a wrist radio precursor by eight years to an actual model; other inventions such as the Model T by Henry Ford and the camera by George Eastman; and on to the McCarthy Hearings, sentencing of the Rosenbergs to finally silicon valley. Five aberrant chapters, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17 are labeled First through Last Aside and deal first with the author’s explanation of his relationship with the publisher with respect to finishing the book for medical reasons. The second, third and fourth set forth considerable material with respect to his own life, both personal and with his less than successful entrepreneurial activities and how he was able to cope and adjust. The last a rather extensive presentation of the demise of his father. The book ends with a follow-up of characters included in the narrative.

Discussion: First, this is an extremely well written book from the standpoint of description. The characters are complete, the theme well followed, the individual ‘eras’ well depicted, the examples set forth make recall easy for knowledgeable readers and provide superb new material for those not acquainted with the times depicted. The interjection of the author’s autobiographical data is somewhat startling and its continuation in advancing chapters a bit disconcerting. However, he does provide a most pertinent reason at the very beginning of his story. He quotes Saul Bellow quoting Alberto Moravia: “Every novel is some kind of higher autobiography” and follows with the fact that his relay of the usual disclaimer: “This is a work of fiction…” and follows with: “That legal caution attended to, you should be told that almost everything ever written is fiction” and proceeds to explain why. So, albeit it slightly annoying to this reviewer, it is totally an acceptable practice. As such, most readers will find a fascinatingly presented phase of American History. I believe I should be remiss, however, if a caveat were not included with respect to the detailed presentation of diagnosis and treatment procedures for prostate cancer, similar, but slightly less detailed for breast cancer and similar for the final approach and ultimate demise of a parent. For this reader, such material adds a depressing element and really, for any reader, adds nothing to the main historical theme.

3* 5* Well-presented period of history; believe caveat required, as described.