Stan I.S. Law Visions of Mankind's Future
Pretty much every one of us has some kind of vision for what awaits mankind in the future, for the sort of evolution that we'll be subjected to, generally based on the course we've taken in recent years. Some people are quite hopeful and optimistic about our prospects, believing that we'll eventually make the necessary strides in medicine, energy generation, and wealth distribution to create a sort of utopia, at least for most of the planet. On the other hand, there are others who see us as driving ourselves into the end times, slaughtering each other with as much zeal as we cut down forests and drill for oil, with an eventual mass extinction being inevitable. And then, we have thinkers like Stan I.S. Law who have a different way of looking at things, and it shows in his book Gift of Gamman where he presents us with a unique vision of what awaits us.
To keep this long story short, we are taken to a future where humanity is assailed by a rather strange enemy: a plague of placidity. Indeed, there's something making its way around the planet, turning people into lethargic and complacent vegetables who eventually just drift off into an eternal sleep. Slowly but surely, the human race is dying and there seems to be very little hope for its survival. As such, a 243-year-old astronaut, Adam, is sent on a one-way mission into deep space in an attempt to find some sort of salvation for humanity. Suddenly, he realizes that he is capable of manipulating energy in order to move through time and space. Upon returning to Earth, he becomes exposed to an extremely-advanced alien race, and so begins his grandiose awakening.
A Mish-Mash of the Elements
Those of you who are familiar with the author know that he doesn't like for his books to be easily-classified, with his stories diverging into many different genres at the same time, as did The Avatar Syndrome for instance. While Gift of Gamman might officially be classified as a science-fiction story, it's a whole lot more than that in my eyes. The backdrop is indeed futuristic, but there are many additional elements mixed into the plot stemming from the realms of romance, drama, adventure, science, mystery, spirituality, philosophy and even metaphysics. While there are a few action scenes sparsely peppered throughout the book, the brunt of the focus is placed on the characters and the many trials they must go through, most of them internal.
Speaking of the characters, I was pleasantly surprised with how wide and varied of a cast this book has. While I expected Stan I.S. Law to solely focus on the few main characters in as much detail as possible, he found a way of bringing to life a whole crew of secondary actors with a lot of depth. Not only are they all easily recognizable and unique in their appearances and voices, but their interactions with each other are always a pleasure to behold thanks to the author's acute understanding of how dialogue works. In my opinion it is one of the hardest things to do right in a story, with the slightest mistakes making an entire exchange feel unnatural... and Stan I.S. Law makes none of them.
For Thinkers and Adventurers Alike
In many cases, when authors try to write a story that is both profound and entertaining, they end up under-delivering in both categories; the story turns out short and predictable, while the meditations are little more than common sense apparent to everyone. I am certainly quite glad to Gift of Gamman managed to avoid this troublesome fate, being a strong contender on both fronts. While the plot could stand to move a bit faster in a couple of places, overall I'd say it flows very smoothly and easily, never leaving you bored as there is always something grand at stake or a mysterious phenomenon that needs to be understood. The characters are very easy to follow and in time we begin to care about them as much as the protagonist himself. There are enough twists, turns and complications in the story to keep you on your toes, and I can safely say that the moments where you're able to predict what's coming next are far and few in-between, barely existing at all.
At the same time as he progresses his story, the author finds a way to weave in his numerous philosophical introspections touching on a surprising number of topics from the domains of love, enlightenment and evolution, just to name a few. Like with every other one of his books, the author aims to make us think as much as possible so that we might one day draw our own conclusions about all those things that keep us awake at night. He never sounds preachy, nor does he force his views upon us; rather, he simply explores ideas and shares whatever observations he can come up with.
The Final Verdict
With all being said and done, Gift of Gamman is a well-written book that delivers on all fronts, just like the rest of Stan I.S. Law's novels. It entertains, makes you think, connects you with characters and is simply an enjoyable ride that you can take over and over again while finding something different to ponder on every time. It's a book I highly recommend if you enjoy philosophical science-fiction stories that place an emphasis on character development, introspection and spirituality.
Article written by David ben Efraim (Bookwormex.com)
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Recently, at my writer’s group, a fellow writer who is beginning her chosen art form told me that she was advised to not write above an eighth-grade level. I remember several seconds of stunned silence between us before I asked, “Who told you that?” Based on her troubled countenance, I don’t doubt that the horror of this suggestion came through in my tone. I’ve also been told that my facial expressions convey exactly what I’m thinking, so I hope I didn’t overwhelm the poor woman with my response. I wanted her to run screaming, just not from me. If I didn’t scare her off, I’ll make sure I soften my reactions when discussing such matters in the future.
Still, I am shocked that this type of bad advice is floating around writer’s groups. The last time I checked, there were still twelve grades a student in America needed to complete. Somebody please tell me if the progression of education stopped at grade eight. That would mean my child, currently a senior, has read nothing beyond an eighth-grade level for the past four years. That’s insane. Then again, I recall the small heart attack I experienced when I saw Stephenie Meyer’s The Host on the high school reading list. Which piece of classic literature found itself guillotined at the inclusion of that piece of tripe?
I have suspected for a long time that the art form of writing was under attack. My fellow writer’s comment confirmed this. So when did the dumbing down of American literature begin? I don’t know if I can actually pinpoint the precise moment it occurred, but I can tell you the moment I became aware of it. (And shame on me for not being more vigilant if it took place sooner.)
Dumbing down is the deliberate oversimplification of intellectual content within education, literature, cinema, news, video games, and culture in order to relate to those unable to assimilate more sophisticated information.
I remember the day I saw a t-shirt printed with the statement “underachiever and proud of it.” I had another moment, not quite as intense as that with my fellow writer, but one in which I was completely baffled. I could not fathom a person or society comprised of people who willingly settled for mediocrity in anything and a world in which one did the bare minimum to get by. There is no hope of success when one functions under such a principle.
And yet, this is exactly where we, as a society, have fallen twenty-five years later. It’s as if those who bullied the smart kids for hanging out at the library weren’t content to just harass their fellow students. They wouldn’t stop until the smart kids not only condoned but encouraged this stagnation of the intellect. If you don’t get on board—don’t hold yourself back from seeking knowledge or temper your drive and ambitions—you’ll be labeled a snob in the least and intolerant at the worst.
So again I ask: why this attack on art? Because art is dangerous. Art tells the truth. Artists are freethinkers who challenge the status quo. It was a novelist and playwright who said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” A gold star to anyone who can tell me who said this. Here’s where the problem of proud underachiever comes in. The generation in which this concept became acceptable doesn’t care enough to find out who said the above-mentioned quote or what the quote even means. They are too lazy to want this information for themselves and are disdainful toward anyone who does. If it isn’t required of them in school, and based on the poor quality of curriculum in American schools I doubt that it is, they won’t reach out and grasp the knowledge.
That’s pathetic when you consider that we live in an era where knowledge is readily accessible. No more searching through the card catalog or plowing through large volumes of encyclopedias. You don’t even have to go to the library. Just ask Alexa, Cortana, or Google what you need to know from the comfort of your couch. Be sure to wait until the commercial or you’ll miss the best part of your favorite recorded TV show.
What troubles me about his indolent attitude is that it’s creeping backward and contaminating older generations. Hopefully it won’t pollute the writing of those already established and feeling pressured to churn out more or older writers just beginning to pursue their passion. As for me, I am personally committed to fighting this process of dumbing down by writing the best literature I can and by seeking to improve myself in every way. I am not afraid to compete, to go for the gold. After all, why run the race if I don’t intend to win?
I’ll most likely be among the first to die if America ever succumbs to an oppressive regime because we all know how much tyrants fear artists. But If I can leave behind a written work that the next generation, possibly the survivors, smuggle from home to home and hold up as an example of what they should strive for, then my art—my writing—will not have been in vain.
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