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Bucknell Magazine, Winter 2013

The Mind and the Muse: Reviews & Criticism

Alan R. Davis ‘68

Singularities of the Soul of Stephen Xi (Authorhouse)

Since retiring as professor of computer science and mathematics at St. John’s University, Alan Davis inhabits other worlds, worlds of his own making in the Family of Man science fiction series. In the latest volume, Singularities of the Soul of Stephen Xi, he considers the significance of creation myths and those who fall from grace. His protagonist, Stephen Xi, must follow his shattered sould through the land of the Foreverones, where humans are a minority among the Airclimbers, Roboworms, Ssstiessens and other species who present an array of physical and mental challenges for Stephen. Davis succeeds in melding the cerebral with action in a richly imagined world.


Review of The Fifth Prophet by Richard Bunning, Dec 14, 2011 on Amazon

This is the first book in a long project to follow the "Family of Man", from this Order's conception in the mind of lottery winner Sam. Vague ideas grow from the tiny seeds of concern Sam has for the future of Mankind. Eventually, in the subsequent books Davis takes us on a journey out into hyperspace as from small beginnings the Family comes to be the saviour of our species. As I write this review, there are already an additional two books in this series. At this point in the grand saga we suspect that ideas were planted in the mind of Sam by a creative spirit, or a dying civilisation, but will we ever know for sure? Imagine a just passed time-line, which is the history here, a chronology that in the next book heads off into outer space.

Imagine a present that had gone just slightly differently than it did from the 2008 U.S. presidential run. Imagine a new order that grew not out of mirrored and combative fundamentalist religious doctrines or out of our traditional political philosophies, but out of the work of those who look to the most substantive inheritance of our forefathers. I mean our fundamental science. I take you back to Capernicus and Galilao, to the new religion of scientific logic which grew out of the Renaissance. By October 2007 ideas were cementing themselves in Sam's head. "What we need to do is kill Religion, and let God live!"

This is a fantastic, and a fantastical idea. Davis has created a huge concept, of which this book is its "foundation". It could never have been mathematical exactitude, but then it would be rather frightening if science fiction ever could be. However, there is still the probability that this story could still have many parallels with reality. The fact that we have already progressed someway beyond the start is actually something of a relief. We can be left to enjoy the story without any fear that we are reading the lecture notes of some "religious" prophet.

Watch the birth of new "empire", the beginning of Davis's vision of the flow of science into the future. This is true science fiction, a "mathematically" plausible future, even though the course is already deviated. I have read the series so I know plausibility will not be lost however fantastical this story, or our real journey, becomes. True Science Fiction is the projection of logic into distant futures. Fantasy can be given reign to swirl within the frame, but we need the frame. Mathematics provides the rhythm, the beating heart of life on which we build history. The "Fifth Prophet" builds a history from which Davis's future vision steadily soars.

There is more detail here than is easy: as there is in even the simplest of binary mathematics, as there is in any possible "genesis". Only a base equation is easy, and never its application. Every profound exploration needs a solid weave in its structure, and the weaves of the hyperthreads of our future are no different. This book is followed by "Time Travelers Are Schizophrenic", which shortly after you have read this I predict you will be reading. Oh! But for the detail Dr. Davis! It does work, I assure you, though at times I sort of wonder if some of it could have rested in the record, in "The Book" we never read, rather than on the page. Readers of Isaac Asimov will have some idea of what I mean about sometime detail, but that hasn't stopped that man being the greatest writer of the possible future that fiction science has yet seen. Am I getting carried away? You are the judge of that. I am not suggesting that Davis is a new Asimov, but I do believe there is the foundation of something special here.

If you are looking for the most exciting SF book you can find this isn't it, but if you have any interest in probability, possibility, and roads untraveled I genuinely believe you will enjoy it. In case I have given the wrong impression there is nothing dogmatic, or over difficult here. This is just a good fiction read. And the excitement, well that builds into the future as well, rather as in that greatest of true fantasy, Tolkien's Middle Earth.


Review of Weeds Of Eden by Richard Bunning, Aug 13, 2011 on Shelfari

This amazing book manages to draw together disparate themes from sci-fi, speculative fiction, dystopian science, mathematics and religious and social philosophy, and still be a really exciting space adventure.

The Fishman species roam space as buccaneers raiding and destroying weaker and alien forms, like mankind. These level 3 creatures operate as, supposedly unauthorised privateers for the level 1 Foreverones’ Empire. This vast conglomeration of subjugated species is a dominant force in our Universe. Before the Fishmen attack planet Earth and mankind’s colonies on the Moon and Mars, humans hadn’t even come to the notice of the Empire, and so we remain as an unclassified prey species. What is left of mankind abandons the Earth to hide in isolated groups in the Multiverse. We particularly follow one group whose spacecraft crashes on Al Theris and struggles to survive like pioneers in the “Wild West” of 18-19th Century America, only in a far more alien world.

Under the guidance of a spiritual leader, Krizel Kane, they learn to rebuild and enhance the elements of the physical “contex”, allowing the expansion of thought and a form of telepathic communication. This type of brain expanding implant allows individuals to think on many levels solving different mental problems at the same time. Eventually mankind must face slavery or stand against the Empire. There is a good deal of originality in the construction of space and its variant life forms, but also plenty of connections with a hundred years of science fiction.

The book is very well written, in an easy style. The first, and short, part of the novel needs reading without worrying about detail, as this book is a sequel to “The Fifth Prophet”, and “Time Travellers are Schizophrenic”. I read this third book first, and very quickly caught up with the essential elements of the story, and am delighted I made the effort. A very great amount of scientific and artistic thought has gone into this creation.

If in any way the human mind doesn’t merely predict but predetermines the future, then this vision is helping create a very interesting physical world. We have in Alan Davis a SF writer who adds true originality to our eclectic visions of futuristic times.

I have just started reading the Fifth Profit- Hooked already.


Comments/Review of Time Travelers Are Schizophrenic Jan, 2010 on LibraryThing

I was returning books to the Rockville Centre liberry, when a book leapt off the shelf to land at my feet. Being a sensible lad, I picked it up and carried it with me to the check-out counter. I don't want to have the Powers That Be get ticked at me and cause a fender-bender to make me go back into the liberry or something. (This sort of thing has happened to me more than once.)

So, the book that fell...Time Travelers are Schizophrenic by one Dr. A. R. Davis. Self-published. Don't know as I would ever have bothered to pick it up, but now it's on the TBR pile with a 2-week time bomb attached (due date). Weird.

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Time Travelers Are Schizophrenic is currently exerting a strange fascination upon me. What an imagination this author has. I like this book so far, but can't review it yet...no second read done. Still...unless something completely falls apart...I'd say look into this one.

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Time Travelers are Schizophrenic...eh? sounds about right...and the synopsis promises a bug-eyed read..if nothing else...What a hoot!...Beware of what you pick up, no?? .... definitely on my Wishlist (but i'm keeping my fingers crossed for good JuJu)..;-}

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