Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views (4/11)
I had high hopes for “Slipstream” because it had everything I love – alternate worlds, regular people mixed up in fantastic situations, and dragons. Unfortunately, it didn’t have a clear direction or a sense of passion.
The basics of the story worked for me. Locations like Atlantis and Olympus actually exist, as do mythological and fictional characters like Jason and Merlin. The twist is that they exist in an alternate world, although they do cross over into ours occasionally. With the basics in place, you’d think we’d get a strong story filled with epic adventure, but it just gets bogged down by simplistic plotting that didn’t seem to involve a lot of thought. The heroic main character, Joel, is a likable guy but it was too much of a stretch to have Elondra admit she was falling in love with him on page 17 when she just met the man on page 5. I also couldn’t get a solid feel for Elondra’s people. Much of the alternate world seems to have a “Lord of the Rings” feel, with flowing robes and soldiers armed with swords, bows, and arrows. It all felt very medieval until someone mentions going to a restaurant. Really? It couldn’t be a tavern or inn? It had to be a restaurant? Of course, it also seemed a bit unsettling that the people of this alternate Earth had anti-gravity drives, inter-dimensional portals, spaceships with torpedoes and laser cannons but still relied on swords when ground-fighting. Was Larrison going for “Lord of the Rings” or “Star Wars”? The story would have benefited greatly if he could have made up his mind.
Even with the disjointed characteristics of the alternate civilization, there was a larger problem that really destroyed the story for me. There are plenty of opportunities for awe and wonder, but those moments are destroyed because the writing lacks passion. Everyday guy Joel is transported to another world and he doesn’t appear to be affected by it. He meets talking dragons for the very first time in his life, and it seems like he encounters such wonders on a daily basis because he just keeps on going as if its business as usual. It’s impossible for a reader to feel wonder or amazement when the characters in the story don’t feel those things. Joel and the other characters are likable but they give the impression of actors who are just there for a paycheck, saying their lines on cue without delivering any real emotion.
Somewhere within the pages of “Slipstream” is a really good story, but it requires some polish and passion.