• Philip Raymond Brown

Excellent Review from MIdwest Book Reviews

The following is a verbatim reprint of a review from Midwest Book Reviews:

It Gives You Strength blends elements of sci-fi, historical fiction about World War I, and mystery as it presents alien anthropologist Tashan Zho, who is sent back in time to 1926 to take over the body of a dying man during a rescue mission. Unfortunately, that man was an alcoholic, and so his memory files are 'corrupted' and Zho's knowledge of his mission becomes murky.

Zho only remembers one sentence of his mandate: to find one Mike Kelly. But when he does, he discovers that Kelly leads a criminal gang of World War I veterans battling mobster Jack “Legs” Diamond for control of the lucrative Canada/New York rum-running market. And he's forced to become a member of that gang.

The story opens with a stealth drone's reflections on her mission when she's newly activated after she's waited for centuries in limbo between Venus and Earth.

Zho's future is linked to the fate of mankind, unbeknownst to the humans who both befriend and use him, and even to himself.  The rescue mission involves saving a young alien who has been sent to the Craig Colony as an epileptic— a colony which the aliens interpret as being a prison camp. As Costello's memory of his true mission returns, he also faces challenges in penetrating the Colony and preventing the invasion of Earth.

Philip Raymond Brown cultivates a wry sense of humor and social inspection that are unexpected in sci-fi writings. As Zho/Costello faces skeptical doctors in the Colony and finds his own future challenged, readers are given close inspection of a real historical setting and the logic of its purpose: "The doctor looked at his watch. “Look at the time! I have to get to my next appointment. I hope that your current attitude improves over the next ninety days. Otherwise, when I write my report for the judge, you will likely be with us a much longer time,” Harrison cautioned. “But don’t worry. A few of our patients begin to show improvement after two or three years.” “Two or three years?” Costello asked...Zho considered the irony of his situation. Outside the colony, he had lived freely as a bootlegger, regularly committing crimes and consorting with gangsters. Yet he was now effectively incarcerated by a New York State Court for the “crime” of having a seizure in public. He decided that the only actual medical advice that Dr. Harrison had given him was to rest."

From human rights issues to an alien's widening perception of the strange world he's landed in, and the seeming impossibility of the rescue mission he's charged with undertaking, readers receive a surprising blend of real history and fantasy. These offer unusual inspections of gangster activity in the 1920s, perceptions of miracles when galaxy-class starships are actually involved, and disputes that lead Zho to question the real purpose of his mission.

The story is a mashup of investigative, social history, and sci-fi genres that will attract readers from all three areas with a highly satisfying, recommended blend of action and confrontation.

© 2020, Philip Raymond Brown. Author of IT GIVES YOU STRENGTH