2 out of 4 stars
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While on the rooftop discussing their future, Pedro and Ludi Perez are stunned when a crash of thunder and lightning strike suddenly and almost simultaneously. The strange and unusual bolts of lightning leave behind something bizarre floating above their heads. Soon after, a bang and ball of light reveal a mysterious glowing pendant engraved with odd lettering covered in a greenish cast on the ground. They inspect the object and decide to show it to their family. However, it is Dona Galleta, their family’s neighbour, who takes a keen interest in seeking the origins of the pendant. In doing so, she claims to be channelling spirits from a spacecraft sixty years in the future. Is Dona’s experience real, or are all her tales of the future spaceship responding to an extraterrestrial’s distress call a figment of her imagination? If not, how are these events connected to Pedro and his family?
Sessions with the Seer: A Tale of Four Planets by David Taylor is a science fiction novel that takes readers aboard the futuristic Smoke and Mirrors spaceship through the eyes of the Seer. The ship takes off on a mission to the Alpha Centauri star system (our solar system’s nearest neighbour), where the crew visits two different planets and encounters three distinct alien life-forms.
What I liked the most was how creative the narrative was; the story felt original, and it sparked my imagination when the strange new worlds and their creatures were brought to life. I also enjoyed the relationship dynamic between some of the characters. I appreciated the humour in Norma and Tipico’s (Ludi’s grandparents) interactions and the palpable tension on the spaceship between Captain Taylor and Deborah (the ship’s chief medical officer).
The first chapter of the book was amazing. I thought the author did a great job with the descriptions, and the writing was impeccable. I also found the first set of characters fascinating and felt that they contributed greatly to the air of mystery in the narrative. However, after the first chapter, I felt the quality of writing slowly begin to drop—there were numerous grammatical and typographical errors. Even though the errors in some parts of the dialogues were intentional, the fact that the prose is marred by similar errors is very distracting. Additionally, the rest of the book was littered with errors, such as unnecessary punctuation marks, incorrect grammar, misspelt words, and awkward sentences that, at times, made the text difficult to comprehend. On top of that, there were a few instances where sentences halted abruptly halfway through only to be completed on the next line.
Another issue I had was with the dialogue tags. I couldn’t understand why the author chose to use past participles intermittently because all that it did was distance me from the characters’ world. Instead of showing, the author told and reported the characters’ speech and emotions using ‘had’. Examples of this choice include Location 1298—‘ “This week, tonight,” had said Rotonda, “not next week.” She had shaken her head with finality’—and Location 1300: ' “Prepared for the boredom?” had grumbled Placido'. I felt the use of ‘had’ created an unnecessary disconnect that made the characters’ speech and events seem even more distant. It would have been better if the author simply stuck to using the simple past dialogue tag ‘said’ and focused on showing the characters’ emotions and feelings more than telling them.
This novel was definitely not a quick and easy read; there were numerous subplots that I felt didn’t add much to the main story. What’s worse is that some chapters and themes dragged on more than was necessary. There is no reason why the back-and-forth between the men and women in Pedro’s family about going to see the Seer should have taken up over twenty-eight pages only for the characters to finally step outside and begin discussing a water pipe. This dragging of pace, of course, resulted in spells of boredom that made reading the book feel arduous.
All in all, this is a novel that could have benefited from additional revision and thorough editing. Therefore, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. Even though there were elements of the story that were creative and entertaining, all the issues I encountered while reading the novel negatively affected my experience. I would recommend a revised version of this book to fans of the science fiction or fantasy genres. Those who have an interest in mysticism and dystopian societies may enjoy it as well.
Sessions With The Seer
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