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Book Review - The Soul Consortium

Itís always fun to read pure speculative science fiction - not the stuff thatís popular among young folks today, with supernatural elements to regular life or dystopian societies, but actual galaxy-spanning tales that make you feel like youíre expanding your mind. The Soul Consortium by Simon West-Bulford, published by Medallion Press, is a novel of big ideas and cosmic imagery, and itís worth a read if youíre a bit tired of ďThe Hunger GamesĒ clones and such that are currently glutting the publishing market.

Iím still not sure I completely understand some of the concepts here, because theyíre giant, and complex, and universe-bending. But that doesnít mean The Soul Consortium a book thatís hard to read. And whatís interesting about it is that it doesnít sacrifice character development for the science-y visuals. In fact, it develops character in a fascinating way.

The story focuses around Salem Ben, the last human. His time, a few quadrillion years from now, is so far into the future that the concept is mostly meaningless. He spends his centuries immersed in other peopleís lives through a device called the WOOM - for, in this era, when humans are effectively immortal, theyíve found themselves choosing extinction over the limitless burden of everlasting life. Salem, having outlasted them all, is searching for ďthe ultimate experience,Ē with help from an AI named Qod (Quasi-Organic Deity), who is the last one of her kind also.

Salem Benís story frames several others, and it is these lives that provide some true, grounded substance to the tale. Tired of yearning for a sustained happiness, he turns his energies to discovering what lies beyond death. And thatís when he discovers Aberrations. 

Aberrations are a seemingly new-ish category of people's lives available for Salemís perusal. And they provide the author with an opportunity to really shine, since the four lives that our protagonist chooses to inhabit are so disparate.

The first life, chillingly rendered in the first person (as with the rest of the book), belongs to a serial killer named Orson Roth, from a time close to ours. Salem goes on to inhabit the bodies of a 16th-century Lombardy girl with witch-like powers, a monk from our distant future and his distant past, and a woman who created the Soul Consortium in the first place. The author, with these characters, rather skillfully touches upon the genres of Gothic-inspired murder mystery, philosophy, and psychological horror.

What do all these people have in common? Their lives have been invaded in some way by the presence of a mysterious entity who calls himself Keitus Vieta. Vieta is an anomaly - wherever he appears, he doesnít feel ďright.Ē And his malicious intent is obvious, from the beginning as he smooths the way for serial killer Roth and later, as we learn more about his monstrous designs among the monks in the Order of the Codex on Castorís World. 

There are parts of the book that can be confusing if youíre not paying attention - Queen Oluvia Wadeís memories, in particular, required a bit of re-reading before I understood exactly what was happening, thanks to semi-mystical and/or quasi-scientific concepts like the Prometheus Singularity, the Great AI, the Codex, the Continuum itself and the Soul Sphere - terms thrown around cavalierly and often. However, the story isnít obscurely dense or overly complicated, which helps make it more palatable to readers.

In the end, of course, there must be a reckoning between the hero and the evil bad guy, set among the stars, with the universe (the fourth universe) at stake. And while my mind is still spinning as I try to understand some of the finer points of the plot, the battle and the conclusion are clear enough.

Ultimately, The Soul Consortium is a complex, nicely paced, well-written read, and one youíll want to get through fast if only not to lose the thread of the developing plot (twice I put it down for a week or so, and on resuming I had to backtrack a couple of chapters to grasp what was happening). Itís available from Medallion Press for $14.95 and can be found on Amazon.com; I received a free copy for review.
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Content copyright © 2015 by Helen Angela Lee. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Helen Angela Lee. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Helen Angela Lee for details.


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