A computer manager gains otherworldly powers in Tumbler’s (Seb Cage Begins His Adventures, 2014, etc.) latest novel.
As his prophetic name might indicate, Thomas Beckon is no ordinary man. His everyday life bears all the marks of normality: He’s married and has two daughters and two cats. However, he discovers that he can use the cats as vehicles to observe the behavior of people’s souls, independent of their bodies. It turns out that he’s an Inlooker: a quasi-human, supernatural entity with the ability to examine the contents of anyone’s soul, and he uses that power to carry out his own brand of justice. Soon, and with careful practice, he learns how to transcend his own bodily limitations. He takes possession of an abusive acquaintance, causing him to crash his car and die in a coma. Soon, his malevolent, volatile powers can’t be contained, and he applies them to the pursuit of industry, first mastering the manufacture of an advanced, alien-derived transportation technology and eventually dominating the world’s governments. Tumbler’s strange, even outlandish novel is a highly original remix of standard sci-fi thriller concepts laced with Beckon’s witty, sardonic asides, which guide readers through each chapter. The narrative eventually becomes overly detailed, and it lags when Beckon’s worldly aims become loftier and more complicated. Nonetheless, this is a playful, even funny, book—one with sharp edges, a dark underside, and quirky, metafictional streaks. It also has more than a few things to say about the psychology of sociopaths like Beckon and creates a futuristic version of society that’s neither completely utopian nor dystopian. The protagonist’s habits, which range from acts of violence to sexual reconnaissance and manipulation, will likely prompt readers to consider the limits of power and the importance of privacy.
A thoughtful, eccentric sci-fi novel that’s as creepy as it is comic.