About the Author:
Paul Collins was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He began freelancing in the film business in 1994 and had his first book, 'Prescience Rendezvous', published in 2003.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
1.5 out of 5
King Without An Empire
The author generously sent me a free review copy of this book all the way across the Atlantic. I'm therefore saddened and feel a little guilty to say that I absolutely hated it. There seems to be three or four separate stories going on simultaneously in this book, with the author switching between them seemingly at random, although they all feature the media mogul Michael Bassett.
In one Bassett, troubled by the death of his girlfriend, decides to fund an expedition to Alpha Centauri. In another a mysterious race of callous but physcially perfect beings run a totalitarian regime which is disrupted by Nazi scientists fleeing the loss of WWII. Yet another has Bassett exploring strange planes of consciousness using hallucinagenic drugs and a device called the Star Chamber. There is also another in which a liquid-based alien attempts to make telepathic contact with Bassett. Individually these stories may well have made for fascinating reads, but together they become confused and confusing, giving the book a fractured story structure. As someone who enjoys a strong narrative flow, I found this very difficult.
I really liked some of the ideas Collins introduces, particularly the concept of the liquid alien who is actually an autonomous organ of a life-form that covers an entire ocean planet. However, just when an idea would get me intrigued, Collins takes the book off in a completely unrelated tangent. A couple of other things that I found irritating were the constant repetition, the self-contradiction (for example, at one point Bassett's girlfriend is described as 'good-looking' and then in the next paragraph; 'She was no beauty, but was average looking') and the way in which the author gives a page-long biography of each character introduced, as soon as they're introduced. This latter means that of the important characters there is little to be discovered later on and of the unimportant characters there is far more information than is needed to move the story along.
All these factors combined to make this one of the least enjoyable books I've ever read. However, whilst reading it I looked at other online reviews and they were largely quite positive, so I wonder if there was just something I was missing that these other reviewers saw.
1 out of 5
Mystery Of Everyman's Way
Once again, the author was kind enough to send me a review copy of his book, for which I am very grateful. This book revolves around Gregory Henry Case an American physicist working at Oxford University. Straight away we see a maturation of the author's skills since 'King Without An Empire' as Case's character is slowly built up in the first few chapters, creating a strong and believable protagonist. A man too introverted to maintain a connection to other people, Case's world is turned upside down when he discovers his own aged body from the future. He soon finds himself in Everyman's Way, a sort of psuedo-fantastical interstellar community, and becomes involved in the royal politics therein.
As I say, this book is a clear step up from the previous one, but once again, I just didn't enjoy it much. I believe the fact I didn't enjoy it stems from the dual facts that mend-bending explorations of other planes of consciousness aren't really my thing and the fact that at times I simply didn't have a bloody clue what was going on.
Whilst the prose is far more structured than 'King Without An Empire', the author still has a tendency to make confusing leaps in both plotline and logic. The book also isn't the easiest flowing one either, seeing as how it took me an entire month to read its 218 pages.
2 out of 5