Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book Review: 'The Turtan Trilogy' by John B. Rosenman

Virginia Author John B. Rosenman loves to write horror and sci-fi fiction and he has been successfully doing just that for years. His training has been through Hiram College and Western Reserve Law School, then back to Hiram College for English courses and on to earn his MA and PhD in English from Kent State. He taught in Canada, then in a Southern black college where he wrote his first novel, and moved to Virginia to teach in Norfolk State University where he nurtured his love of horror writing as the editor of Norfolk State’s litmag, The Rhetorician, and editor/reviewer of horror poetry for John Betancourt’s horror news magazine, serving for two years, from as Chairman of the Board of HWA (Horror Writers Association) and the editor of Horror Magazine and Dark Regions. Impressive credentials for a man who has written hundreds of stories and books.
As John has stated, ‘Ask me why I write horror/dark fantasy, and I’ll say I do it because life itself is horror. Health and happiness are anomalies. Either nature or circumstance is always trying to kill or maim you, as when my wife developed breast cancer. (She’s fine now, thank you.) I love all kinds of horror, from splatterpunk to erotic to psychological to Lovecraftian supernatural. In general, I think subtle, suggestive horror that is ambiguous and open to interpretation, is the best. But hey, I’m not proud, and will be glad to gross you out if necessary. I do like to write about religion. “The Last Snowman,” for example, appeared in Iniquities and features a young boy who fights Satan in order to save the world.

John’s writing style captures the essence of the bizarre atmospheres his imaginative mind creates. Letting get to know his main character Turtan immediately sets the pace – ‘What a godforsaken hole, Turtan thought. Tall and lean, he stood in his cloak and bright purple tunic gazing hopelessly out a window of the Overlord’s palace at the sandblasted terrain of Sircon IV. The centuries old scouting report he had read hadn’t lied. If anything, the deadness of the planet exceeded even official expectations. It was a barren husk, an exhausted relic of a dim, glorious past when its traders had spanned the stars and forged a vast federation of merchants. Now the traders were gone, doubtless to greener galaxies, and only the burned-out embers of a legend remained behind. He turned, hearing footsteps. The white-robed figure approaching with a staff differed from the holos he’d seen of other Sirconians only in being more wizened. Barely four feet tall, the alien’s impassive features reminded him of a monkey’s. Only the eyes, bright with intelligence, belied the simian effect. “His Imperial Majesty, Overlord Lucan the Four Thousand, Three Hundred and Tenth, has graciously consented to give you an audience.” Before Turtan could answer, the alien turned and shuffled off. Turtan hesitated before following, amused by the other’s pomposity. His Majesty has graciously consented… Yet the number of past Overlords gave him pause. Over four thousand? Even the imperial line in ancient Japan amounted to only a tiny fraction of such a number.’ Flavor, mood, ideas begin to bloom.

This is a trilogy and for readers to gain access to the adventure, relying on the synopsis helps: ‘The Cen, a cruel alien race, has attacked humanity and only one man can save it. Turtan, an Inspector of the Cross Empire, travels in suspended animation to distant worlds in search of a weapon or device that can defeat the enemy and end the brutal five-thousand-year war. Because he travels in frozen sleep, this elite agent is technically four thousand years old and has outlived many lovers and generations of his children. It is a painful and terrible burden, but duty comes first and always he must move on. His mission is rendered even more difficult by his own leaders who sometimes oppose his selfless quest to save humanity. In Inspector of the Cross, Book 1, Turtan confronts the deadly, mysterious Godstone on Sircon IV and then travels fifty years to meet Zontena’s giant, game-obsessed birds. Next, he must journey one hundred ninety years to the lethal center of the enemy empire, somewhere no human has gone before In Kingdom of the Jax, Book 2, Turtan travels across the universe. On Turtan 8 he discovers a strange and unique alien race who name the planet after him, and on Lauren he tries to rescue a human colony imprisoned by vicious Cen. In Defender of the Flame, Book 3, Turtan returns to a glorious homecoming at the Academy where he graduated four thousand years before. He believes he has finally found a method to deliver the human race from the enemy. The question is, can his solution work, and will his superiors permit him to use it?’

Walking with Turtan through this epic is rewarding – endlessly fascinating and as rich a sci-fi experience as any out there. John knows hi s craft and it shows – very well indeed. Grady Harp, November 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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