Monday, March 17, 2014

Virtual Tour: John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars

Publisher: Logikal Solutions, May 30, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1-939732-00-2
Category: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Tour Dates: March, 2014
Available in: Print, ebook & Audio, 272 pages

Synopsis: What if the Mayans got the start of the end correct because they had survived it once before? What if our written history was just as accurate as the old tale about three blind men describing an elephant? What if classic science fiction writing and television shows each got a piece of it correct, would you know which ones? If your eyes can only see a tiny portion of a collage do you know it is a collage?

"John Smith" ties together Atlantis, cell phones, the Mayans, God, the Egyptians, and the outcome of the terrorist attack yet to come all in the form of an interview between the last known survivor of the war and a reporter for the largest newspaper of its day, serving 5000 people twice monthly. There are both blatant and subtle nods are made to such works as "1984", "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", "Peter Pan", "Battlestar Galactica" (the new one), "Star Trek TNG", and "Babylon 5." 

My take: This is a difficult review for me. I almost always can give high marks to the review request books and virtual tour books that I read because I carefully screen the books I agree to review. The synopsis really grabbed me. Roland Hughes has developed a fantastic premise. I liked the idea of tying in all kinds of SF writing and television shows into a fantastic piece of fiction. I had great expectations....

But, I have to be honest (and I only do honest reviews), this book was not, ultimately, for me. The interview format really got on my nerves. The entire book is all tell and no show. No action--none.  Even when John Smith is describing what happened it has little effect because it's all dialogue and he sounds like he's giving one long lecture about absolutely everything from what a computer is to why the Hebrews had dietary laws to where the Atlantians went to how the Druids and Mayans figure in to finally answering the question his interviewer came to ask in the first place--what happened in the Microsoft Wars. And he does it all in such a condescending manner.

I also did not care for the antagonistic tone against the sexes. The reporter obviously doesn't care for men although her comments are few and far between and John Smith repeatedly makes incredibly misogynistic remarks about women throughout the book. My "favorites":

The longest lifespan known, or at least told to me, was roughly 250 clock years for a man and 325 clock years for a woman. The stress of living with a woman really does kill a man. That much has remained universal throughout all cycles. (p.133)

Women can't resist making things up for no reason at all and being mad about them for years but that isn't the story we are telling here. (p. 150) [So, your point in saying this is?]

The tone is bad enough...but it might be useful and understandable if Hughes explained why these people are like this.  What motivates them?  But he doesn't--we're supposed to accept this, apparently, just because that's the way it is.

There are also great inconsistencies...for instance, the reporter supposedly lives in a society that has developed after the Microsoft Wars. Everything has been destroyed.  Pretty much all knowledge of what came before is gone--Smith has to explain what computers, dvds, satellites, submarines, etc. and ad nauseum are--even hard copy encyclopedias and maps--and yet the woman knows what socialism is? Seriously? Her people have retained no memory whatsoever of tangible physical objects and yet she understands an obsolete abstract concept. 

If you like unusual story-telling formats, then this book is for you. If you like incredible amounts of dialogue, then this book is for you. If you are interested in conspiracy theories and an explanation of what happened to Atlantis and the "truth" behind every UFO siting ever....then this book is for you. 

I really am sorry that I cannot give this book a stellar review. But it just did not live up to my expectations and, overall, I just didn't become engaged with the characters. I'm giving it two stars--all for fantastic concept.


Anonymous said...

This sounds, to me, like something that really started out in another medium (video game of maybe a TV script) or that might have started off in that way - the interview concept can work but it needs a payoff (like say, to pick an obvious example, INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE) - this is sounds exactly like the kind of thing where the blurb reads much better than the book - shame.

Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for taking part in the tour!

fredamans said...

After your review and those snippets, I don't think I'd enjoy it much either. Great and honest review!

shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

Hmm not something that appeals to me based on your honest thoughts. Thanks for sharing your Eclectic Reader Challenge review

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

Charlie (The Worm Hole) said...

It sounds pretty frustrating; perhaps it would've worked better as an essay of sorts? Even if it's fictional. Though the views don't sound very appealing. Well done on What's In A Name, though :)

Joy said...

Hopping over from the What's In a Name Challenge.

Too bad since the summary is stellar. I turn down so many review books because the summary is badly written, now I wonder if some of them are hiding good books!

Joy's Book Blog