On a Beam of Light, by Gene Brewer

on-a-beam-of-light-by-gene-brewer coverGenre: Science Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Published: 2002
Reviewer Rating: three stars
Book Review by Lynn Nicole Louis

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I was standing in front of the bookshelves in K-Mart when I saw On a Beam of Light. At the top of the cover: The sequel to the cult smash K-PAX. Now a major motion picture. I’d seen K-PAX about a week before, after reading a review of it on. I didn’t know K-PAX had been a book, but I enjoyed the movie (good but not great) so I snagged On a Beam of Light.

It picks up pretty much where the movie (and I’m assuming the book) left off. Prot (rhymes with goat) is gone, leaving behind a catatonic Robert Porter and a ton of questions. He did, however, promise to be back. And in On a Beam of Light, he is.

Gene Brewer is the psychiatrist who’s still trying to help–he believes Prot is a splinter personality of Robert’s. But how to explain the extraordinary things Prot can do? And will saving Robert result in the destruction of Prot?

There’s a lot of New Age stuff here–take care of each other, exercise responsible control over ourselves and our planet, etc. Prot doesn’t hold out much hope for humanity. Although I found myself agreeing with much of what Brewer espouses, he mainly offers only generalized solutions to his criticisms, such as “be nicer”, “get rid of money and religion”, and the like. After a while, these enigmatic proclamations grow stale and repetitive. By the end of the book, I was tired of the main character’s smug superiority.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book; I did. It’s light fare and not too long, with an interesting psychological mystery slowly (yet easily and unconvincingly) unraveled by Gene. I breezed through it in a few evenings.

Labeling it science fiction is, in my opinion, not correct. It’s more like philosophy, a sort of feel-good self-help book that doesn’t really make you feel good or offer any help.

If you saw or read K-PAX and enjoyed it, you’ll probably like this. If your reading stack is depleted and you’re standing in K-Mart and it’s there, pick it up. But don’t make a special trip.

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