A breezy sci-fi saga that will delight aficionados of both science and spirituality.

Soul Wars

An offbeat novel about a group of spiritually gifted beings that discovers a means to bring their peaceful message to other planets.

Scherer’s debut is a crafty, bizarre hybrid of science fiction tropes, New-Age didacticism and old-fashioned conspiracy theory. In 2013, archeologists Carla and Norman Wallace discover an ancient spiritual library lost deep in a jungle. Seven decades into the future—with a blessed lack of exposition—Talia Jensen sits in a room and explores the world using only her spirit, which is unattached to her body; she’s one of only a few people who have mastered the higher techniques of the Wallace Doctrines, lessons discovered in the jungle library. On her astral-projection journey, however, she has a run-in with a soul trap, which almost catches her. She quickly gets a team together, including the handsome Robin Sanford, to locate the soul trap in the real world. Although Robin is hardly a master of astral projection, he’s bold and bright; however, the author doesn’t prolong Talia and Robin’s cheeky romantic subplot, and this thoughtful brevity keeps the story moving. The team manages to disable the soul trap and gives it to a group of scientists to reverse engineer. They don’t know who has placed the traps or why, but the new technology allows them to quickly develop the ability to travel to other star systems, and they hope to spread the Wallace Doctrines throughout the galaxy. They also discover a wicked cabal, headed by a family called the Withermites, that controls banks, media and political leaders. Readers may find the plot a bit absurd, but the novel has a self-reflexive tongue-in-cheek style that makes it all good fun. The novel’s political and spiritual messages are unguarded: peace over war, harmony over greed, truth over deception. Such messaging sometimes pulls readers out of the plot, but in general, the prose is so precise, and the story so concise, that readers will forgive the overt ideology—and anticipate the sequel hinted at on the final page.

A breezy sci-fi saga that will delight aficionados of both science and spirituality.  

Pub Date: April 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482069099

Page Count: 260

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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