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Veterans of the Psychic Wars
‘Star Wars’ meets ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ is a fine description of Veterans of the Psychic Wars, as long as you realize that the hero isn’t a wimp like Luke Skywalker and that the amazing warriors of Crouching Tiger would be toast before this story hits its stride.
Roman Doyle is an ordinary guy. He’s a 25 year-old British school teacher in a situation many will remember quite fondly. Roman is out on a 1 a.m. run for peanut butter and ice cream for his pregnant wife. But, mere moments after grabbing some cash from a banking machine he finds himself battling for his life against 5 intergalactic thugs. Knocked silly and forced to begin strangling himself at the psychic command of one of the thugs, Roman is rescued by Chi-Ro Jin, a veteran of the Psychic Wars. After rescuing him, Chi-Ro Jin (fu manchu mustache and all) insists that Roman is really Armon Sakara, who must now be returned to his father, the Emperor Sakara Rey. But first they must steal the enemy’s space ship in order to get off the planet, and then they must further avoid the minions of Baron Seti Aljyk, Armon’s evil uncle, who has usurped his father’s throne and brought about another Psychic War.
Okay, so it does sound like Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Obi-wan and The Force. The choking thing sure seems like a nod to Star Wars, doesn’t it? But let me assure you, this is no made-for-the big screen, spoon-fed, pottage. In this story, we don’t have The Force. Instead, virtually every soldier is scientifically enhanced for psychic warfare and various forms of deadly martial arts. Like real life, some are good at what they do and some aren’t. The elite can create astral forms or become astral beings with the power to smite almost anything. One of the characters, a physicist, even postulates that the astral forms may be connected to black matter. As for others, the technical can only bring out and enhance what talent is already there.
In Star Wars, an overwhelmed Luke must quickly learn to use the “mysterious” force or perish; in Veterans of the Psychic Wars, Roman is already a master in several disciplines of the martial arts but finds them terribly inadequate for the challenges he faces: real science must help him multiply his inherent talents. And when Roman’s psychic power reaches a certain level, it’s only then he becomes a force to be reckoned with. One example of this is the ability to glean knowledge telepathically by sharing minds with his teacher, Chi-Ro Jin and later in the story, with his many enemies.
Okay, enough Star Wars and such. Writers borrow structure (plots) and ideas (androids, for example) all the time. Its what they do with them that matters. So, lets proceed on this basis: why should you buy and read Veterans of the Psychic Wars? First and foremost it’s science fiction all the way. It’s also strong story telling from someone who’s used to being behind a camera. Trotman, a veteran film maker, uses this experience to take us from one scene to another with blazing speed and precision. Unable to show us (visually) what’s in his view screen, Trotman must show us with words. This is something that’s all-important and that I think he does very well. Because, even though this is science fiction, good story telling comes first.
With what must have been strenuous effort and research, Trotman ties his story inextricably to Earth’s human history, builds a realistic but distant galaxy where we’re introduced to all sorts of people, embroils us in close-up and planetary scaled battles and bombards us with information—not just as it would come to the character in the book, but from within the minds of many.
Trotman has also created a language (maybe he borrowed one, but I can’t tell) for his book. Character names, spaceship names, planets, animals, phrases, etc. are all presented in this unknown language, and it took me most of the book before these alien words were rolling off my tongue with ease. This is something that will turn off many potential customers but should delight the true science fiction buff. Trotman doesn’t deal with “machine technical” unless absolutely necessary, but his attention to “language technical” is every bit as deep and intriguing as the former. An example of this would be the naming of each of the numerous and differing martial art forms and the way he describes some of the moves.
So, while I confess to having
difficulty with the first third of
Veterans of the Psychic Wars: the
author throws us headlong into a complex
alien war that’s waged with weapons and
techniques so advanced they seem like
magic, and he expects us, at the same
time, to follow a strange language which
peppers the pages… It all works in the
end: it’s as if we’re Roman, dropped
into an alien life, and our heads are
spinning with the newness of everything.
We’ll come around in a while. And I’m
just fine with that.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2011
A sweeping space opera resonating in the here-and-now
5.0 out of 5 stars
In my teenage and student years I was a very keen Sci-Fi fan with a strong liking for Heinlein and Bradbury in particular. Later I developed a liking for Julian May's multi-faceted Pleiocene Exiles series. Even though the Star Wars series was great fun, and for the time technically spectacular, it didn't push any narrative boundaries. So the genre lost its gloss for me to a large extent. In terms of storyline and character development if not execution, only Episode III has managed to redeem that franchise for me.
That's why I was thrilled to come across Veterans of the Psychic Wars. It really is a sweeping, old style space opera in form, but with a depth of detail and personality development beyond anything I have read in a long time.
Wayne Trotman's great success in this novel is the convincing melding of the here-and-now with vast conflict in deep space. Moreover, the "mundane" depth of feeling the hero Roman Doyle shows for his wife and unborn child are very genuinely portrayed and utterly convincingly carried through the narrative. Allied to the otherwise vast scale of the novel, it is this seamlessly executed zooming in and out that adds greatly to books enjoyment.
To have a hero who is just as confused as the reader at the outset but who then takes all his skills, passions and previously unimaginable abilities and pits them successfully against a truly gruesome and utterly evil enemy, is very refreshing.
The evolving personal interactions, not always positive, between friends, mentors and ambiguous allies old and new all serve to ground the narrative convincingly. It also has to be said, the ultimate enemies here are stomach-churningly gruesome.
Veterans of the Psychic Wars is very
clearly a snapshot set at a crucial
juncture in a well thought out greater
context. The highly complex
cross-generational (oh yes and
inter-galactic) web of relationships
seems flawlessly worked out although it
does take some figuring out initially.
This was a great read and I am genuinely eager to read the sequels and prequels.
Wayne Trotman deserves every success with this novel.
Fast paced sci-fi action
5.0 out of 5 stars
Veterans of the Psychic Wars was a
real thrill to read. I used to read
quite a lot of sci-fi, Asimov being one
of my favorites, but I haven't been
drawn into the genre for a while now.
Well this book has sparked my enthusiasm
There's never a dull moment from the opening scene onwards and the characters are really well developed. It has everything a good story should have with various sub-plots, conflicted characters, interesting twists and edge-of the seat alien encounters. The science & martial arts details are well-researched and delivered in a very fluid way, adding credibility to the storyline. At the conclusion the reader is left with plenty of questions to be addressed in a sequel. I can easily see Veterans of the Psychic Wars gathering a cult following and I can't wait for the next instalment.