Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: Beyond the Void Darkly by Douglas Tanner

Beyond the Void Darkly
by Douglas Tanner

30283948Can a man and woman separated by a century and a half be destined for each other?

In a love story which spans from 2031 to 1883, a man wrestles with questions of faith, love, and destiny. Matthew Walton is a man on a mission. As a pharmaceutical scientist working on a top-secret time travel project, his one goal in life is to find a cure for his mother's cancer. But when he sees a beautiful young woman in 19th century Kansas, the daughter of a doctor who may have stumbled across the cure, Matthew becomes enraptured and begins to wonder if there is such a thing as love at first sight. But she can't see him, hear him, or feel him. To her, he is a ghost.

As he gets to know her from reading her faded old diary and repeated trips through time, Matthew's desire to make contact with Elizabeth grows in urgency, because he has seen her die. And only he can save her.

Weaving in issues of philosophy, heartbreak and loss, Christian faith, and ultimately, hope, "Beyond the Void Darkly" will remain with you long after you have finished the story. It will make you believe in love again.

My Take:
Matthew Walton is a pharmaceutical scientist driven by his desperate race against time to discover a cure for cancer, to save his mother's life. With a team of scientists, he is sent back in time to the late 1800s to find a little known doctor who may have stumbled on the cure. The clues to the cure, the ingredients needed, are in the doctor's diary, which was partially destroyed at the doctor's death. 

But while back in time, Matthew falls desperately in love with the beautiful daughter of the doctor, though she can neither see nor hear him. He follows her from her bedroom into the doctor's lab, just before they are brutally murdered right before his eyes.

While traumatized, Matthew insists on being repeatedly sent back in time, on the surface to retrieve the final ingredients to the cure, but underneath is the desperate desire to save the girl and her father from the senseless act of violence.

But if Matthew manages to change the past, what disastrous changes could that make in the present? 

Drug Content:
PG - In the advanced society there is a significant amount of drinking socially. Matthew wakes up at home and doesn't remember how he got there because of his state of inebriation, once. There is virtual reality addiction, and (like smart phone usage today) there is widespread digital isolation to the level of an addiction, almost universally.

PG - The doctor and his daughter are murdered before Matthew's eyes. More than once or twice, as he attempts repeatedly to thwart their death or warn them somehow. A soldier threatens one of the scientists with a gun, and another soldier goes into the time machine and gets blown up in it.

PG - I don't remember any gratuitous cussing in the novel, though I won't say there wasn't any.

Adult Content:
PG13 -  Matthew's former girlfriend drops quite a few hints that he could have her back, and uses derogatory terms in relation to the girl back in time, who keeps dying. Matthew's brother is addicted to a virtual reality girlfriend.

Christian content:
Quite a bit. Matthew has several meaningful conversations with his believing mother about life and the hereafter, the importance of love, and the destiny God has for each of us. Matthew struggles with atheism and in his life, only his electronic virtual assistant seems to have solid Christian words of advice. The Void is a dark realm with no life at all, not memory or thought, almost, through which Matthew must travel to reach the past. Matthew equates it with death, which is the atheistic view of death. The only thing that makes this transition easier is love for another, and later, his faith.

Final analysis:
Beyond the Void Darkly is a poignant saga of love and loss, a bit slow-starting but action-packed. While it is science fiction and romance, the science is not overbearing and the romance isn't overwhelming. It's message of love at first sight, and the desperate drive to save someone you care about deeply, will resonate with most readers. It's pretty well-written, though the scenes could do with more description. The depth of character for the main character and a few of his supporting cast are well-depicted and dimensional. Some others, are simply unlikable and rather one-dimensional. It was entertaining if not depressing that the supporting character with the most dimension was a VR construct. Four Stars!

About the Author:
Douglas Tanner lives in North Carolina with his wife, son, two daughters, and a small Schnoodle named Snuffleupagus (Snuffy for short). He has been writing since fifth grade when he began sharing his stories with friends.

He studied at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri and Labette Community College in Parsons, Kansas, and has been a lead vocalist in rock bands; a radio DJ and news director; and a provisioning analyst and team leader with Sprint in Kansas City.

Doug's first adult novel, "Beyond the Void Darkly", a Christian time travel romance, is now available.

Other works by Douglas Tanner:
His initial book, a creative non-fiction self-help manual entitled "A Truly Successful Life: Ten Principles for a Life of Meaning and Purpose," was published in 2008. He followed up with a middle grade/young adult series of inspirational horror novels; "Alec Kerley and the Terror of Bigfoot" (2013), "Alec Kerley and the Wrath of the Vampire" (2013), and "Alec Kerley and the Roar of the Dinosaur" (2014). The fourth book in the series, "Alec Kerley and the Revenge of the Werewolf", is due to be published in October 2016.