The Message by Bill Harvey
In my last review for Bill Harvey, I expounded on the difference between science fiction and fantasy, and eventually came to the conclusion that, as Ray Bradbury puts it, “Science fiction is really sociological studies of the future, things that the writer believes are going to happen by putting two and two together, it’s a logical projection.”
I lauded Harvey’s last book, Pandemonium for its thoughtful, exciting and at times scarily accurate projections of the future. His latest masterpiece, The Message, serves as a another entry in the same expansive world. Touching on modern day social, economic, political and technological issues while simultaneously weaving an enthralling science fiction narrative that is just as fun as it is provocative, The Message is a must read for science fiction fans of any variety.
Instilled with the quiet knowledge that he was always destined for a greater purpose than an anonymous military life, Martin Williams is the perfect reluctant hero protagonist. His uncanny hunches, guided by “the advisor in his mind,” have made him a renowned military man, but hint that his instincts may be heightened by dormant psychic abilities. The world is changing, and the weapons of war continue to evolve.
On the other side of the world, buried in a nuke-proof bunker, is the Russian’s Psychotronics division and the disarming young psychic, Nastassia Slayevsky, whose immense power and mischievous mind make her a dangerous and seductive geopolitical weapon. Just as money, power, sex, and loyalty begin to blur, an androgynous voice invades and unites the minds of every psychic on the planet, sending an enigmatic message of unity, purpose, and a joint destiny that transcends life and death.
JUST AS FUN AS IT IS PROVOCATIVE
My favorite aspect of the book is the fearlessness with which Harvey dives into tech, ideologies, military procedures, and philosophy. His storytelling flair for flowing in and out of detail while still providing enough content and background for readers to understand the concepts he introduces keeps the rhythm enticing and the read addictive. Modern topics like the influence of the tech sector, military arms races and the imperialist overreach disguised as aid are prevalent throughout the novel, but are executed in a fashion that avoids reading like a treatise and causes readers to think just as much as they have fun.
While time jumps and transitions can be a bear for some to follow, I thoroughly enjoyed Harvey’s implementation of them. I found that rather than creating a clunky and difficult-to-follow mess like they often do, Harvey uses them to create suspense, intrigue and engagement by teasing readers with future events that beg the question of how the story developed to that point.
The Message is simply an absolute romp. Providing enough action, drama and conflict for readers of genre fiction while being thoughtful and provocative enough to prompt more veteran readers to think about the questions posed long after the last page, I can without a doubt recommend this book to anyone. As with Pandemonium, The Message reminds me of science fiction greats such as Asimov and Neal Stephenson, and I’m positive that Asimov would be proud and that Stephenson will be overjoyed to have Harvey as a contemporary.
Publish Date: 11/14/2022
Author: Bill Harvey
Page Count: 212 pages