Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Review: Syncing Forward

Synching Forward
Published By: W. Lawrence
Publication Date: June 15, 2014
Page Count: 488
Buy it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Source: Kindly Provided by Author
Adult - Science Fiction

Martin James is the world’s first time traveler. Well, not exactly. He was hunting down some terrorists when he was captured and injected with a drug that slowed his body down – way down – to 1/4000 the speed that the rest of us live at. In order to communicate with the “outside” world, Martin has a computer screen that doctors and family can leave messages and news items on. Keep in mind that at his slowest (the time ratio changes throughout his ordeal), every minute that Martin experiences takes nearly sixty-seven hours for the rest of the world. If I were Martin, in the time it took me to type this sentence just over a day would have passed in the normal world. Doctors are only able to speed him back up temporarily and can only do it occasionally; he ends up only being able to interact with people normally every few years, and then only for a few hours. How will Martin find the people who did this to him? Will he ever be able to live a normal life? 

Syncing Forward is an idea book. The pacing was slower than I expected, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – this book is less plot-driven than idea- and character-driven. If you think about it, how fast can the plot move when the main character is not only bed-ridden but can’t communicate in a timely fashion? Still, the ideas and characters are enough for the book to work well and provide plenty of discussion fodder for later. I loved seeing Martin’s daughters grow up. Lawrence had great insight into the traits that people have as kids that carry over into adulthood, and how they can become both strengths and weaknesses. I also appreciated how the James family dealt with the trial of having a semi-absentee member. 

 I enjoyed the way Lawrence handled Martin’s increasing time differential through news headlines. Because he can only communicate via computer, his daughters leave him news synopses that he reads the way we might scroll through a Facebook newsfeed. The headlines themselves often have what I imagine are intentional shout outs to other science fiction authors. For example, there was a headline about soldiers with smart exoskeleton armor that seemed to be a nod to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. I also noticed headline homages to Orson Scott Card and to Firefly/Serenity. Finding these was like getting a wave from an old friend. I’m sure there are some that I missed, so if you find more, please let me know! 

As for the medical science in the novel, there were ups and downs. For instance, when Martin begins to slow down for the first time, he experiences problems like his eyes drying out because every blink for him takes many times as long as for the rest of us. If an average adult blinks every six seconds, that would mean that Martin’s eyes are open for over 6.5 hours between blinks. Martin’s eyes become very dry and his vision becomes quite fuzzy until the doctors figure out what is happening and get him on an eye drop regimen. As time speeds forward relative to Martin, the doctors come up with more and more sophisticated methods of keeping his eyes from drying out. However, Lawrence did not address the issue of bed sores at all. I would imagine that lying in a bed 24/7/365 for years on end would wreak havoc on the skin, yet I don’t recall a single mention of having people turn him to different sides in order to avoid this. (If you don’t trust me that bed sores are nasty things worth a mention at least, google it sometime.) 

But, as I said before, Syncing Forward is an idea novel. If you can suspend your disbelief about the medical “how” of Martin slowing down and focus on what the novel is about, you will be rewarded. Because it isn’t about what you think it is. 

Final note: I had to write this review with calculator in hand to figure out how long it might take for Martin to perform various tasks. Any mathematical errors in this review are my own and not W. Lawrence’s. ☺



Travel to the future - it will only cost you everyone you love.

Attacked and injected with a drug which slows his metabolism to a fraction of normal, Martin James becomes an unwilling time traveler who hurtles through the years. His children grow up, his wife grows older, and his only hope is finding the people who injected him in the first place- not an easy task when one day for Martin lasts four years. And while Martin James strives to find a cure before everyone he loves is gone, others are uncertain if his journey can be stopped at all.

W. Lawrence weaves a future history filled with the best and worst of humanity, highlights the blessings and curses of technology, and pushes the limits of faith and hopelessness. Above all, Syncing Forward is a tale of one man's love for his family, and their devotion to saving him from being lost forever.
 

1 comment:

  1. Great review. Convinced me to buy it. Only $.99 at present.

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