Genre Science Fiction Publisher Authorhouse Year Published 2006 Review Posted on 2/18/2008 Reviewer Rating
7 out of 10
Alpha Rising, by G. L. Douglas
Reviewed by Paul Weiss
If you've read this book, why not
Alpha Rising opens with an exciting bang-up hard core sci-fi flourish in a world only a few years beyond our own. Four astronauts have been lost beyond our solar system and Commander Bach Turner has been sent by NASA on a perilous rescue mission. But that mission, in its own turn, falls prey to the vagaries of a dangerous and capricious universe. Lost in a cloud of plasma, whisked away by some mysterious means and forced to land on an entirely unknown planet, the remainder of Turner's crew is abducted. Evading capture by the merest stroke of luck, Turner finds himself under the wing of a kindly Altemus Rider whose genius is focused on the rescue of not only his own planet but the remainder of his solar system from the evil that seems intent on the destruction and the attainment of supremacy in their galaxy.
There are lots of great things to say about Alpha Rising as a debut novel. Even though her scientific reach sometimes exceeds her grasp of the topics at hand, GL Douglas has definitely got the right stuff when it comes to evoking interest from the hard sci-fi geeks among her readers -- real time thought driven computer input, instant DNA identification, particle beam accelerators, warp drive, surveillance technology with high resolution at galactic distances and mirrors that can reflect an image in three dimensions. She also seems to have a knack for turning a unique and interesting phrase. When asked where they ought to go next, Douglas had one of her characters replying with a crackerjack phrase that might have come straight from the lips of Dorothy of Oz, "Somewhere from never before"! When our stalwart crew landed on the planet Shushan, Douglas brilliantly characterized its permanent polar climate, "Even with the environmental suits and the head gear, it was plain that Shushan's thermostat was set at stun." Character development is strong -- Bach Turner is a confident, even-handed, calm leader who positively thrives on music; Luke Lynch is well portrayed as a multi-talented supporting male figure; and Lavender Rose comes across as an exquisitely devious scheming siren entirely focused on Turner's seduction.
Sadly, despite all of this obvious enormous talent, Alpha Rising fails utterly as it is ultimately a right-wing fundamentalist Christian re-creation of virtually the entire biblical Old Testament -- Noah's Ark, Moses and the Ten Commandments, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, archangels and angels, God vs Satan, Sodom and Gomorrah with only the righteous escaping the wrath of God, the Tower of Babylon and much, much more. In that Douglas's sole source for the underlying plot is the Bible, the story is completely derivative and the presentation is actually quite repetitive -- trips to planet after planet after planet to seek out the righteous and to rescue the animals for their transportation to a an empty planet miraculously created by a divine being for their use. Douglas didn't even flinch when she had her pioneering colonists discussing the planet in terms of being a New Jerusalem. At the close of the novel, despite this new Garden of Eden planet having a population of only 26 adults, 13 possible pairs, Douglas has the temerity to insist on the inclusion of a rule "No marriages, no babies"!
Douglas's writing is good enough that I actually read to the end ...quite eagerly, if the truth be told! But, this is not science fiction. This is an author using a modern sci-fi setting to wear her beliefs on her sleeve, to wield them like a hammer and to attempt to brain an unsuspecting reader with them right between the eyes. I was not amused and, frankly, I felt cheated.
I loved this story's great blend of philosophical, scriptural and esoteric events that play out in the hands of entertaining, well-written, engaging characters. Alpha Rising has set a precedent for copycat novels in the future, and provides an excellent opportunity for dialog and discussion across all ages.
Posted by Gerry Rzeppa on 3/3/2008
I thought that Paul Weiss and I had read the same book -- until I got to his assertion that "Alpha Rising... is ultimately a right-wing fundamentalist Christian re-creation of virtually the entire biblical Old Testament." Well, I've read the Old Testment many times and I'm familiar with Christian doctrine of all varieties. And I assure you, that is not what Alpha Rising is all about. It is, as suggested by the appropriate introductory quote just inside the front cover, "a light-hearted and playful romp through the world of science fiction [that] might uncover interesting viewpoints to difficult questions." It seems that Mr. Weiss has mistaken a couple of allusions to well-known Bible stories for a steady stream of obnoxious Bible thumping! Touchy, touchy!
Posted by Yodacat on 3/1/2008
Hey, it worked for Lahaye, didn't it? Or whatever his name was.