The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
January 18, 2020
It is a brand new year, so how about exploring brand new worlds? The first book to be reviewed in 2020 is "First Encounter" by Jasper T. Scott. As in many of the sci-fi movies and shows we love, a smart and adventurous crew flies through space to planets never explored, in search of life and a first encounter with an alien race.
In "First Encounter" they have no idea what to expect on landing. They find a beautiful and exotic landscape and a plethora of strange animals. Or are they intelligent beings? I think it would be foolhardy not to question. I'd do a lot of questioning myself, and utilize a healthy amount of caution to go with those questions. But at their landing, they plunge forward into the unknown. And then they are backtracking, running for their lives. After reaching their spacecraft, they are running for home. Back to Earth. One encounter and they flee. You'll have to read "First Encounter" to find out why, but I'll leave you with a little teaser. They are not alone!
The second selection of this review starts out on Earth, the year 2065. In "The Far Shore" by Glenn Damato, the reader is dropped into a future where Global Harmony reigns. Global Harmony is actually the governing body created to bring about real global harmony. All humans have been put into a point system and points can mean the difference between food and safety or devastating poverty leading to government ordered death. The more one becomes docile and compliant, the more points gained. Points are displayed to all by a chip like device installed in the brain, pictured through the eyes making them a conduit of computers, turning them into a virtual reality source without the need of goggles or glasses. Their influence follows you everywhere, even into your dreams.
The more points one has, the more popular people become because being around people who have lots of points, gains points for others. There is no real freedom or choice anymore. But there is peace, because people learn not to buck the system. Are you getting the gist here?
Global Harmony runs the numbers and everyone falls in line. Well, except a rogue few. The story becomes complicated when the rogues strike out on their own. It involves spaceships and a nail biting trip heading to Mars with a mission to populate the planet and once again form a free society, filled with personal choices and the resurgence of individuality. There is a lot of technical writing and angst, if you love either. Read to the very end for an example of true well earned humanity.
Which brings me to "Lulu is a Rhinoceros" by Jason Flom. Yes, this is a picture book, simply written and illustrated, but packing a wallop of a lesson. After reading the first two sci-fi books, it was evident that humanity is forever in the process of growth and self-improvement, whether on this planet or others. We face lessons of acceptance of those who are different than us and lessons of how precious individual rights are in any world. Lulu is a rhinoceros. She believes it, feels it inside and no other dog or cat, pigeon or squirrel, can make her un-believe it. Though Lulu looks like a bulldog to others, she finds herself in the rhinoceros pen in the zoo, and they accept her. She feels she's home. It only takes one friend to make the rest of her life content and complete. Having a friend who believes in her and accepts her as she is makes all the difference.
Isn't that what we all desire? To be ourselves? To be accepted? No matter where we land, this world or in a world far far away? May we all find our peace in this chaotic, crazy place. May we have a friend and be a friend. May we always respect and treasure individuality for ourselves and for others. We can turn chaos into contentment by opening up to a universe of opportunities and possibilities. And be true to our own hearts.
*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.