Book Review: Ascending Spiral: Humanity’s Last Chance, by Bob Rich

I bought this book (Kindle version) because the author kindly commented at one of my recent posts about my first global warming science fiction novel “Great News”, available as a FREE PDF file here.

I think this is an excellent collection of short stories and novellas. Most of these have not much to do with either environment or global warming issues. And some of the ideas are rather crazy.

I like that.

I also like the fact that the author says he’s actually a tree. Reminds me of Tasneem, that.

The way these short stories are tied together is with the Buddhist idea of rebirth. Each of the stories ends with the protagonist dying. And then the next one shows him back as some other person. “Person” includes one incarnation as a SENTIENT DEATH STAR and another one as a plant walking around on eight legs (Hi, Tasneem). Did I mention I like this kind of crazy idea?

Somewhere in the book there is the idea that environmental destruction might be caused by an alien (the SENTIENT DEATH STAR), in which case humanity might stick together for a couple of moments to try fighting the common enemy.

That’s actually pretty close to Khalmorot in “Great News” and “Tasneem”.

The subtitle of the book is “Humanity’s Last Chance”.

The SENTIENT DEATH STAR is now on earth, living as a human being, and telling humanity that we should change our evil ways. Live a more simple life. Forget about making a lot of money.

I don’t think it will work. If your plan to save the World requires everybody to give up on their wish to have a better life, well, then the World won’t be saved. That is especially true for those people in the developing countries that want to get out of poverty.

While I don’t agree with the solution presented in this book, it has been a great read. I was not able to follow who was supposed to be which other character throughout the different stories; this was too complicated for me. But I just ignored it and enjoyed these stories anyway.

The author says that one of the things a writer needs is empathy, the ability to actually become one of the characters. I think the writing in this book shows an excellent example of how to do that.

Bonus typo hint: Search for “all he same”.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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