Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Book Review: 'Glossolalia' by Tantra Bensko

California author Tantra Bensko has published ten books and I included in a number of anthologies. Her degrees include an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop and she has studied the methods of social engineering through manipulation of mass beliefs which she blogs about social engineering at Agents of the Nevermind. Tantra teaches fiction writing through UCLA X Writing Program, Writers.com, and her own Online Writing Academy. GLOSSOLALIA (‘Glossolalia or speaking in tongues, according to linguists, is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables that lack any readily comprehended meaning’) is a psychological suspense thriller that is Book 1 of her series The Agents of Nevermind.

Tantra pulls us into her well titled novel with a mixture of all the elements we will encounter as the novel move forward – the bizarre, humor, concepts awaiting to be developed, and a fine image of our protagonist – ‘What was the sound outside D-CIDE’s office window? Clinks and bangs. One boom was so loud Nancy clasped her pale, slender hands over her ears. Tuning things out was her superpower. “Have any plans for the weekend?” the tall secretary, Martha, loudly asked her, leaning over her desk in the office, as she grabbed a floating hair lit up by the evening sun. Martha elaborately waved her hands in front of Nancy’s face as she did so. Nancy got confused by the motion and forgot what she’d been thinking about. Oh yes, the weekend. It was Friday already. “Fighting.” Nancy spoke with her head high and her shoulders back, her rosy cheeks plumped with a confident smile. D-CIDE’S saleswoman, Betsy, looked Nancy up and down and said, “What, shadow boxing?” Nancy laughed and said, “You know, uncle Geoff told me I was so upset by my shadow when I first noticed it, I pounded my fists on the sidewalk trying to beat it up.” (Geoff was pronounced like Joff.) “He said I didn’t know my own strength. And that’s when he first decided I should have fighting lessons. Been studying ever since.” She chuckled, “And fighting off my shadow, too!” “Who’s winning?” chirped Betsy, grinning. “Honey, if you could team up with your shadow and fight together, I’ll bet you’d be able to take us all on at the same time.” “I’d never have pictured you as a brawler, Nancy-Pants. More like a fashion model.”

It is so rare to find a writer who can combine abuse, mind control, corporations bent on destroying the environment, and government conspiracies with cocky humor and a sci-fi overtones. But Tantra does just that. In her synopsis enough of the story’s secrets are revealed to entice the curious reader – ‘ What if your subconscious determined the fate of nations? No one but her uncle Geoff would hire Nancy, considering her habit of snapping out of amnesiac fugues, wondering where she got her bruises and the scent of men's cologne. When she sees a crime of poison in progress at his company, D-CIDE, she chases the truck carrying away the chemical legally deemed too toxic to use or to dump. Her pursuit leads to a convoluted world of political intrigue, esoteric rituals, an arcane Elizabethan spy code, and assassinations she never imagined – though her imagination is what holds that world together. This conspiracy novel introduces a young woman with an ambiguous past involving herself in a killer organization with one layer after another of her psyche. Through a fictionalized intelligence agency, the books in this series dramatize the shady side of covert experiments, creating destabilizing coups for profit, media theater, psychological warfare, and illicit methods of funding dark ops. The Agents of the Nevermind series dares to explore the edgiest controversies and the convoluted lives intelligence agents must endure as they create bizarre delusions for the world in order to hide the truth about their nation's financial foundation.’

Tantra’s story is mindboggling – in a good way. While films and television series attempt to push borders of belief with the help of CGI, Tantra accomplishes this goal better with just words. She is extraordinarily fascinating. Highly recommended for thinking readers. Grady Harp, April 17

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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