‘Star Wars’ meets ‘Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ is a fine
description of Veterans of the
Psychic Wars, as long as you realize
that the hero isn’t a wimp like Luke
Skywalker and that the amazing warriors
of Crouching Tiger would be toast before
this story hits its stride.
Clayton Clifford Bye (Ontario,
See all my reviews
Roman Doyle is an ordinary guy. He’s a 25 year-old British school
teacher in a situation many will remember quite fondly. Roman is out on a
1 a.m. run for peanut butter and ice cream for his pregnant wife. But,
mere moments after grabbing some cash from a banking machine he finds
himself battling for his life against 5 intergalactic thugs. Knocked
silly and forced to begin strangling himself at the psychic command of
one of the thugs, Roman is rescued by Chi-Ro Jin, a veteran of the
Psychic Wars. After rescuing him, Chi-Ro Jin (fu manchu mustache and
all) insists that Roman is really Armon Sakara, who must now be returned
to his father, the Emperor Sakara Rey. But first they must steal the
enemy’s space ship in order to get off the planet, and then they must
further avoid the minions of Baron Seti Aljyk, Armon’s evil uncle, who
has usurped his father’s throne and brought about another Psychic War.
Okay, so it does sound like Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Obi-wan and The Force. The choking thing sure seems like a nod to Star Wars,
doesn’t it? But let me assure you, this is no made-for-the big screen,
spoon-fed, pottage. In this story, we don’t have The Force. Instead,
virtually every soldier is scientifically enhanced for psychic warfare
and various forms of deadly martial arts. Like real life, some are good
at what they do and some aren’t. The elite can create astral forms or
become astral beings with the power to smite almost anything. One of the
characters, a physicist, even postulates that the astral forms may be
connected to black matter. As for others, the technical can only bring
out and enhance what talent is already there.
In Star Wars, an overwhelmed Luke must quickly learn to use the “mysterious” force or perish; in Veterans of the Psychic Wars,
Roman is already a master in several disciplines of the martial arts
but finds them terribly inadequate for the challenges he faces: real
science must help him multiply his inherent talents. And when Roman’s
psychic power reaches a certain level, it’s only then he becomes a force
to be reckoned with. One example of this is the ability to glean
knowledge telepathically by sharing minds with his teacher, Chi-Ro Jin
and later in the story, with his many enemies.
Okay, enough Star Wars and such. Writers borrow structure
(plots) and ideas (androids, for example) all the time. Its what they do
with them that matters. So, lets proceed on this basis: why should you
buy and read Veterans of the Psychic Wars? First and foremost
it’s science fiction all the way. It’s also strong story telling from
someone who’s used to being behind a camera. Trotman, a veteran film
maker, uses this experience to take us from one scene to another with
blazing speed and precision. Unable to show us (visually) what’s in his
view screen, Trotman must show us with words. This is something that’s
all-important and that I think he does very well. Because, even though
this is science fiction, good story telling comes first.
With what must have been strenuous effort and research, Trotman ties
his story inextricably to Earth’s human history, builds a realistic but
distant galaxy where we’re introduced to all sorts of people, embroils
us in close-up and planetary scaled battles and bombards us with
information—not just as it would come to the character in the book, but
from within the minds of many.
Trotman has also created a language (maybe he borrowed one, but I
can’t tell) for his book. Character names, spaceship names, planets,
animals, phrases, etc. are all presented in this unknown language, and
it took me most of the book before these alien words were rolling off my
tongue with ease. This is something that will turn off many potential
customers but should delight the true science fiction buff. Trotman
doesn’t deal with “machine technical” unless absolutely necessary, but
his attention to “language technical”is every bit as deep and intriguing
as the former. An example of this would be the naming of each of the
numerous and differing martial art forms and the way he describes some
of the moves.
So, while I confess to having difficulty with the first third of Veterans of the Psychic Wars:
the author throws us headlong into a complex alien war that’s waged
with weapons and techniques so advanced they seem like magic, and he
expects us, at the same time, to follow a strange language which peppers
the pages… It all works in the end: it’s as if we’re Roman, dropped
into an alien life, and our heads are spinning with the newness of
everything. We’ll come around in a while. And I’m just fine with that.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2011
5.0 out of 5
stars A roller
coaster of Space Opera, 23 Jan 2011
This is a well written and well thought out book. From the outset it brings
together the 'ordinary' in the main character (Roman Doyle) and the vastness of
the galaxy with the psychic wars, spread over many worlds and beings.
obvious that much work went into working out the background (in the full book
there are appendices on the characters, medals, and a glossary of terms from the
Talisian language and the story).
The many characters are well crafted and
do not change throughout the book (except due to events in the story). I found
that I got a bit lost in all of the names, however, the author does ensure the
reader knows the main names by using them often and in context.
It is not
obvious from the Product Description of the vastness of the story world; during
the initial stages of the book this is hinted at through Chi-Ro Jin, who
provides history and background for Roman (and hence the reader). However, in
the latter stages of the book, the reader begins to feel at first hand (through
Roman himself) the hugeness and importance of the world that he is forced into.
The book had some of the imperialistic feel of Dune (Frank Herbert), the
ideas from the Matrix (training within dream worlds), the Primes within the
Talents (Anne McCaffrey), and the technology of Babylon 5 and Star Wars.
While I made rather heavy of the reading, I enjoyed the book and its ending.
For Kindle readers: this is the first 'self-published' book that I have read
that has not had typos in it and was well laid out.