Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reviews 13 -- Psychic Technology by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Reviews 13
Psychic Technology  
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

The week before last we looked at some novels from the Heroic Point of View.

Last week we examined the depiction of the Hero.

This week we will look at 2 novels (in different series, by different authors) one labeled by the publisher (RoC) as Science Fiction and one labeled Fantasy.

I love both these series.  And I don't see any difference that could account for the different label.

Here are the two novels in Mass Market Paperback - the Market we discussed last week.

And a 2011 release, #7 (of 8) in the Allie Beckstrom series

Use the LOOK INSIDE or Devon Monk's Amazon page for the series list.

I've mentioned the Allie Beckstrom series before.
It's a very strongly Relationship driven series, where the personal details of other Characters' lives and decisions drive the decision making of Allie Beckstrom, the Hero of the series.

She is the heir of a man who invented a way to "pipe" Magic around a city (like water or electricity) -- and make Magic available for use by everyone on a routine basis. 

Her father dies, she dives across dimensions sort-of to rescue him from Hell, ends up with him stuck riding in her head (like being Possessed but she can fight back and stay on top).

Meanwhile, The Authority that tries to regulate natural magic users becomes corrupt, and she has to fight the hierarchy there.

She acquires friends, and becomes a member of a Group of ESP users called Hounds.  She wins leadership of this Group.  Each of her followers is important to her for reasons of their unique characteristics, and hers.

In other words, the entire plot except for the premise (Magic as Technology) is Relationship driven.  There is entre of The Dead from another dimension, and ghostly stalkers, but really this is science fiction, published as Fantasy.

VACANT by Alex Hughes is in her Mindspace Investigations Series.

I discussed Mindspace Investigations in these 3 posts:

I can not recommend this series more highly.  It has a Love Story driving the plot -- and for me, that Love Story qualifies as Romance because, if consummated, that Union will change the world as the Characters know it.

The titles in order are, CLEAN, SHARP, PAYOFF, and MARKED.  Then comes VACANT.

Alex Hughes has evoked the ambiance of the classic Police Procedural within the framework of a Future World where ESP Talent has been officially recognized.  Talented are trained, educated and regulated by an officially recognized authority.

The series is told in First Person by a guy who was a Professor with the ESP organization's university, was sucked into a research program which left him addicted to a drug, then thrown out of the authority for being addicted.  The novels pick up where he is getting CLEAN, has a job as a consultant to a cash-strapped police department, and is using his Talent to reconstruct crime scenes.

He's not a badge-carrier, just a consultant.  But there is prejudice against ESP users, and against druggies -- and though he is friends with a Cop (woman; Love Interest but not Lover yet) -- he is always at the edge of being fired.

By VACANT - he is really employed on sufferance, and because of his actions undertaken to comply with his sense of morality and loyalty, he ends up jobless.  Because of his friendship with this Cop who urged him to get a Private Investigator license, he is now able to open his own Investigations firm.  Because of all the trouble having him in her life caused her, she likewise is jobless, so they throw in together as Partners.

I eagerly look forward to more in the Mindspace Investigations Series.

You can learn a lot about Marketing, about writing craft, and about worldbuilding to explicate theme from reading these two series side-by-side and comparing the worldbuilding.

The Allie Beckstrom novels are built on a "Darker" platform, with less faith in the underlying goodness of human nature than you see in Mindspace Investigations.  Or perhaps the goodness is deeper down in Allie's world.

Allie is trying to "fix" her world, battling forces outside herself that just won't leave her alone -- her father left her in a complex predicament.  But Allie doesn't see a way out -- has never had life be really good, doesn't know anyone who has "made it" and is living a Happily Ever After.

In Mindspace Investigations, we ride inside the head of a man who has had it all, knows many people who think they have it all, have it all together, and are satisfied with the way the world is.  But at this point in his life, when his "story" is happening (as discussed here these last two weeks), he has lost "it all."

He is miserable beyond expressing, he is being targeted by organized crime (because his Investigations are a threat to criminal operations), he has little idea of the extent of the organizations against him, and all he wants is to get BACK to his "happily ever after."

During these 5 stories, each with its own criminal to chase down, he not only makes some progress toward his return to a good life, but he falls in love with the woman cop he's been working with.  He can not see how it can possibly happen that he'll get back to a Happy life, but the concept dangles like bait in front of him, keeping him going.

Allie Beckstrom has never had that, knows nobody who has it, and is not charting a path through life toward such an HEA target.

That difference does not make one Fantasy and the other Science Fiction.

I think I like Mindspace Investigations more than the Allie Beckstrom Series, but possibly it depends on the reader's mood which will strike you best.

With Mindspace Investigations, some readers who liked the first novel find the series veering off in "the wrong direction."  Others, like me, are eager for more novels.

Do read the comments on Amazon if you are thinking of entering this Market.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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