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“Otherspace” by David Stahler, Jr.

23 Jan

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:

Oddly enough, I am about to review the third book in the "Truesight" sci-fi trilogy, having never read the first two novels. Fear not! Although I'm sure knowledge of both "Truesight" and "The Seer" would've enriched my experience, "Otherspace" works pretty well as a stand alone novel. Besides, author David Stahler does a capable job filling in the back story, so we quickly learn (or, for you veterans out there, are reminded) that Jacob was born without vision to a colony of Blinders on the planet Nova Campi. Basically, Blinders were genetically engineered by the shadowy Foundation to be sightless beings. Jacob's colony was repressive — they even employed a group of Listeners to monitor behavior — so when he mysteriously gained his sight as a young teen, Jacob had no choice but to flee the group. Along with Jacob's sight came a sort of visionary talent, an ability to see glimpses of the future in confusing, often fractured dreams.

As our novel begins, Jacob has decided to leave his home planet and surrogate family to follow the vision of a young boy who calls him to the remote world of Teiresias. There, Jacob believes he'll find a whole settlement of people just like him, ex-Blinders with remarkable talents. He also hopes to gain control of his visions and, ultimately, discover where his destiny lies.

From here, it's a flat-out space adventure, which, as a general rule, I tend to enjoy. "Otherspace" does not disappoint. Once Jacob boards the space vessel Odessa, we find the conflicted Captain Bennet, who seems torn by Jacob's very presence on the ship, and a disturbing fellow passenger named Folgrin. Ships in this universe travel long distances by entering something called otherspace (hence, the title of the book; nothing gets past me, right?). Otherspace, a sort of hyperspace through wormholes, leaves most passengers in a state of paralysis; for Jacob, it's a time when he becomes wonderfully alive to the streaking stars and the harmonic music of the galaxy. All this is intriguing enough, and that's before we even factor in space pirates; a witch and her bagpipe-playing husband (!); a luxury liner; a planet partially in perpetual darkness; an underground settlement; betrayal and redemption; a budding romance; and a race against time to save Teiresias from the clutches of evil. Good stuff!

I can't think of another way to describe this book other than as a rollicking adventure with a serious vibe. Mostly, it's plain fun, and after a bit of a slow start, it jets along nicely. While it's hard to get a good handle on some of the characters, the swift pacing, incredibly cool space details, and gentle philosophical overtones will keep you interested. This is an obvious recommendation for fans of the first two books, but, beyond that, I think middle school readers — and boys in particular — will enjoy "Otherspace." The book comes out at the end of April … look for it then!

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Posted by on January 23, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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