Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle by Marie Harbon
|Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle by Marie Harbon|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Wide-ranging novel covering a timespan from the 1960s to almost the present day and told by various narrators in both first and third person. Exploring the human soul and the nature of reality through both science and spirituality, the series is one for the inquisitive, thoughtful reader.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: June 2011|
|Publisher: Magnetic Lion|
|External links: Author's website|
Following several main characters - scientist Paul, businessman Max, remote viewer Tahra and mystery woman Ava - across two time frames spanning the 1940s to the present day, Seven Point Eight blends science fiction and fantasy in a sprawling, absorbing, diffuse novel that will attract fans of both genres.
In the past, Max recruits Paul to observe and quantify the human soul using the scientific method. Paul wants to reconcile the rational with the spiritual, while Max wants money and influence - he sells psychic services to the military during the Cold War. When the pair discover Tahra, a beautiful young remote viewer, they find that her abilities lead their research in entirely new directions - into space and even beyond. Years later, Ava is troubled by visions. And there are things she just can't quite explain, about herself and about others around her. We can see at once that what happens to Ava is in some way a consequence of what Max and Paul and Tahra are doing years before. But how? And why?
The author says that Seven Point Eight has a structure like a TV show - and I can see this. I think she means the kind of sweeping show - Game of Thrones perhaps - which has several ongoing plot arcs and the challenge for the reader is to work out how and when they will converge. And, by and large, once you get into the book, this device works well. As you follow the main characters in the different time frames, it is both interesting and stimulating to think about what might happen and why. But it does mean it takes a while to get into it all. I spent the first few chapters wishing things would hurry up so that I could get a real sense of what I was reading. You will need to persevere with Seven Point Eight but it will be worth it.
There are some great ideas behind it all. What is the soul? Is the world we can observe the only one that exists? Can science and spirituality ever meet? These are the kinds of questions we all ask and Harbon presents them here in an interesting and original way. She also backs up this thematic background with meticulous research so that her characters are always acting with an accurate backdrop, given their time and social situation. Clearly, great care has gone into writing this book and it pays off in the reading experience.
For me, the writing can edge into wordy territory. I belong to the George Orwell school of never use a long word when a short one will do and so phrases such as absolute follicular rule and psychologically masticating the potential grate a little. But you might enjoy a bit of stretching vocabulary and I can't deny that it blends beautifully with the mindbending themes behind the plot.
Overall, I would recommend this sweeping blend of science fiction and fantasy, especially to fans of both genres. It will engage you, confound you, and make you think. It will open up potential you have probably never considered. What it requires from the reader, it more than pays back.
You might also enjoy The Reliquary Ring by Cherith Baldry. which combines fantasy, science fiction, alternate history and politics.
You can read more book reviews or buy Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle by Marie Harbon at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle by Marie Harbon at Amazon.com.
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