The Twig Book Shop, San Antonio – June 5, 2010, 2pm – 4pm
Included in the “Best First SF List” by Paul Levinson, Paul’s list of the best first novels by science fiction writers.
I’ve been fortunate to have some very well written reviews, reviews that make me look at what I wrote from a different perspective, or in a different light.
Below you will see reviews from other authors (Paul Levinson, William Dietrich to name a few), from journals and newsletters (such as The Bleeping Herald), from SciFi reviewers and sites (Mutiverse Reviews) and from Amazon top reviewers, who write some very indepth reviews.
Review at SF Signal, May: 2007
REVIEW SUMMARY: A promising first novel.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: After most of humanity slips into a coma, two factions fight over the future of mankind.
PROS: Engrossing; fast-paced; intriguing premise; uses real-life Mayan Prophecy.
CONS: Signs of First Novel Syndrome.
BOTTOM LINE: An engaging scientific/supernatural thriller.
The opening scene of Larry Ketchersid’s Dusk Before the Dawn introduces the reader to the Mayan civilization. The ancient Mayans exhibited a profound knowledge of astronomy. They created a cyclical calendar that showed the rise and fall of societies and which eerily predicted events that have since come to pass. (Insert Twilight Zone music here.) The Mayan calendar ends in the year 2012 – December 21st, to be exact, so note that fast-approaching date. Some believe this to be their prediction of when the world will come to an end.
In Dusk Before the Dawn, the end of the world isn’t here, but it’s pretty darned close. Most of the population has mysteriously dropped into a sleep-like state except for a select few. Among others, there’s Janet Grayson, a nanotech scientist who awakens to find herself a captive of her former colleague, Dr. Gerard Tooney; Joseph Davis, a medical technician and father whose family remains affected by the mysterious illness; and Julius (Julian) Rodriguez, an American-educated Mayan who was expecting, and prepared for, the global catastrophe. But just what was it that knocked out most of Earth’s population?
The true nature of the catastrophe is not revealed before the first third of the book. Until then, great tension is built up as we see the survivors fall into two camps. One is led by Tooney, who uses the current situation as a way to further his megalomaniacal tendencies. As the misunderstood villain, Gerard Tooney would fit perfectly in a 70’s James Bond movie. The other camp is led by Julian, who uses drugs stolen from Tooney to “resume” people from their unexpected slumber. Both men use the resumed to effectively create armies that they will use to decide the fate of the post-apocalyptic world.
The character of Julian gives the author a chance bounce the premise against the backdrop of the real-life Mayan Prophecy. I got the same pleasure out of this as I did when reading Bill DeSmedt’s Singularity, which was based on the Tunguska Event. Any work of fiction that sparks an interest in real-life history, the most feared of all school subjects, makes it that much more interesting. (In a bit of destiny that could never have been predicted, a documentary about the Mayan Prophecy aired on the History Channel while I was in the middle of the book. Sweet!)
Ketchersid blends several interesting elements into his carefully constructed plot: nanotech, environmentalism, a megalomaniacal genius, betrayal and intrigue, apocalyptic fiction (see an excerpt for a good example of this) and mysticism. The mysticism comes in the form of internal Qi energy which some of the characters use to accomplish supernatural feats. This part was somewhat far-fetched, but it did provide a good mechanism for the author to play out the theme of destiny vs. free will. And while the plot construction and pacing shows great skill, the signs of this being a first novel do not go entirely unnoticed. It could have used a bit more editing, as evidenced by a small handful of distracting grammatical mistakes.
But as first novels go, this one was pretty darned good and shows excellent promise. Ultimately the story is an engaging scientific/supernatural thriller. As the title of the book suggests, this is a new dawn of mankind. There is a sequel in the works and I’m interested to see what the new day looks like.
Review from “The Bleeping Herald“, April: 2007
The Mayan Long Count calendar ends in 2012 when the winter solstice sun crosses the galactic equator of the Milky Way. Modern interpretations of the Vedic Yuga doctrine place the end of the descending Kali Yuga in 2012. Michel de Nostredame, the great seer of the French Renaissance, predicted great changes around this time.
Dusk Before the Dawn, is definitely a novel that embraces the concept of global change. A layered tale set near the largest of the ancient ruined cities of the Maya civilization in El Petén, Guatamala, it takes the best kind of James Bond world ends at the hands of mad scientist plot, and then weaves through it elements of enlightenment and environmentalism. As a result it is an action driven story, mellowed with intent and contemplation as the more enlightened protagonists work to make the best of a bad situation.
Or is it a bad situation? Yes, nanotechnology run amok in the wrong hands is the means of the world-ending, but the question quickly arises, Is this really about the world ending? Or is it about the world beginning? Unlike James Bond, where the characters are clearly the goods guys versus the bad guys, Ketchersid populates his novel, for the most part, with people of good intent (with one definite exception). Life is a complex place with infinite variables, and so is the human mind and heart. Free will is the issue here, for good or for ill. Until humanity reaches an enlightened state, who can judge the difference?
A fast, enjoyable and thought provoking read, Dusk Before the Dawn has been chosen by the first round of judges in ForeWord’s Book of the Year Awards.
Review from Paul Levinson, past president of the Science Fiction Writers Association, author of The Plot to Save Socrates
One of the best novels I’ve come across this year – I liked it so much, I added it to my best first science fiction novels list here on Amazon. A really fine mix of ancient culture, modern-future nanotech, written by a sure hand. Ketchersid offers just the right mix of science and myth, packed into a fast-paced story with lots of unexpected twists and turns. Highly recommended, especially for fans of what I think of as anthropological science fiction.
Review from William Dietrich, author of Napolean’s Pyramids, The Scourge of God and other novels
I thoroughly enjoyed his debut effort. This is a novel with a big idea – if our planet is truly threatened by human population growth and technology, what is the ultimate solution – and what is the morality of that solution? At what point does the idealism of a genius become insanity? And is there a need for a change in human consciousness, and can this truly be achieved? This is a lot to bite off, and the author has constructed a very fast-paced story that covers a lot of ground within an apocalyptic scenario. It is a novel of ideas more than character, and I suspect Ketchersid’s skill in deepening his characters and developing his descriptive skills will grow as he continues with this science fiction series. Recommended to those with interest in the conflict between science and technology, in nanotechnology, in the Mayan calendar, and in meditation and altered states of consciousness. Its themes reminded me of books such as Childhood’s End, Jurassic Park, and Canticle for Leibowitz. It will be interesting to see where the author takes his saga.
Review from Dr. Phil Rhyne of Multiverse Reviews
There has been much debating, much watching, and much meditating at the El Templo del Gran Jaguar in the Tikal complex in Guatemala. Even those holding vigil are uncertain of what will come, but come it will.In North America and around the world, human life changes in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, but there are few left to hear what may be mankind’s last trumpet. Those few who do remain seem to have something special about them or, in the case of those artificially maintained, there is often something base about them.Who will save the world? Will it be a pure technologist, a scientist who is learning that all is not what we would have it be, or a group of people who think that mind does matter? More important, can they save the world and is it worth “saving” in its pre-event version?In Dusk Before the Dawn, author Larry Ketchersid does not ask us to suspend our imagination; he asks us to expand it and provides us the technical and historical backgrounds to begin doing so. Many novels have asked us to look at what would Earth do if humans gave the planet a break. Larry Ketchersid’s may be the most successful attempt since the hippies-era classic Ecotopia, although it is certainly not covering the topic in the same manner as the older book. No…this is fresh ground.Technology is a tool and like all tools requires the end-user to possess knowledge, skills, and (as the technology advances) wisdom. In the end, it is just a tool, unless it becomes sentient (not an issue in this book).
If tools don’t shape the world by themselves, then what does? Possibly, it is the human mind working through pure thought and meditation and, most assuredly, it is shaped by tools and human hubris working directly. Ketchersid asks us to look at the potential of the former and to question the continued viability of the latter.
For those of you with the time and interests to delve into the world(s) of quantum reality and mediation, it is certainly worth the effort. But don’t feel it mandatory, because Ketchersid will take you to an alternative future in Dusk Before the Dawn where you can learn and question. You’ll find it a thought provoking trip.
Dusk Before the Dawn gets a four (4) spaceship rating. You’ll find the “bad” people are often not totally bad, just ethically and morally challenged (ah…political correctness is a wonderful thing…NOT) and the good people have enough Jesuit in them that they can live with “the means justifying the ends”–this begs the question why is one wrong and the other right and is just another reason to get this book and start reading. I hope Dusk Before the Dawn won’t be Larry Ketchersid’s last novel…he needs to get more of us thinking.
Review from ReaderViews (www.readviews.com):
Reviewed by Joanne Benham for Reader Views (12/06)
Right before I started reading this book, I watched a special on The National Geographic Channel about the ancient Mayan Calendar and scientist’s interpretation of it. The Mayans’ calendar was based on their knowledge of the skies and the way the Earth moved in conjunction with the planets. For example, they were able to make highly accurate predictions of such things as the summer and winter solstices thousands of years in advance. The Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012 and scientists are divided as to whether they are predicting the end of the world or the beginning of a new Golden Era. Then I read this book and it seems like the author has addressed this question and given a highly plausible answer.
Joseph Davis, a medical technician at a local hospital, and his family are at the beach enjoying a day of sun and swimming when suddenly the people around him, including his family, drop to the ground in a coma. Frantic, Joseph rushes his family to the closest hospital, which happens to be the one where he works, only to find the personnel there are also passing out. Within minutes of arriving at the hospital Joseph finds himself passing out too, his last conscious thought of his wife and children.
Joseph wakes up in a new world, taken over by a mad scientist who has destroyed half the people on earth, forced to work for the scientist in order to keep his wife and daughters alive.
But there’s a small group, seemingly unaffected by the scientist’s potion. Who are these people and what magical powers do they possess that allows them to remain conscious while the rest of the world rests in a coma? And can these few people save the rest of the human race from the mad scientist?
I enjoyed “Dusk Before the Dawn” and I hope there is a sequel planned that will answer a few questions I have, such as how long were the key characters in their comas. Was it a week, month or even years? That question nagged me through the whole book, so Larry; I hope you answer it in the next.
Review by FrontStreet Reviews (www.frontstreetreviews.com):
Reviewed by Jenny Salyers
What would the world be like if ninety percent of its population suddenly fell asleep?
In the Tike National Park a group of Mayan shamans led by Julius, a Mayan villager who has been educated in the United States, sit on the top of a temple waiting for the important event, the event predicted hundreds of years before as part of a cycle change in the Tzollhin (the Mayan calendar). At the same time, hundreds of miles away, Joseph Davis watches helpless, as his family falls asleep before desperately asking a stranger for help. Janet Grayson, PhD, a well known nanotechnology scientist, wakes up in a hospital to find that the last things she remember happening did occur, but several months ago, not the day before.
Welcome to a world gone wrong. Gerald Tooney, a scientist who decided that nature needs saving over humanity. introduced a devastating, even deadly, nano-virus into the worlds water supply. This is to prevent the mass extinctions that he has come to believe will happen if humanity continues on the path it has been taking. The survivors are either dependent on a temporary vaccine that keeps them awake, or on the help and knowledge of enlightened practitioners of ancient techniques.
Dusk before the Dawn is the first book in the Enlightenment Cycle. Larry Ketchersid has created a world in conflict. The author weaves his tale together with scientific technologies and oriental mysticism to show the struggle between Gerald Tooney, who made this life affecting, world altering decision, and the growing resistance group working against him. These men and women are led by an enlightened Mayan scientist and his student Carlos who are trying to search out other survivors and find a way to re awaken the sleeping humans.
This is Larry Ketchersid’s first novel and it is the first book in the Enlightenment Cycle. It is an excellent work of fiction. I found the story slow to start, but soon it became engrossing, and ended leaving me wondering what was going to happen next. One of the things I enjoyed most was the attention to detail and the descriptions of the martial arts and ancient practices that he shows us in his story. I will be looking forwards to the next installment in the series.