Reviews of free sci-fi with titles beginning with a number.
**** sex = 5, action = 3, prose = 9
The first two thirds of this book is really a celebration of youth. There is talk about how doing something thrilling is a life changing experience, which is what almost all young people do. There is a lot of talk about how beautiful the women are, a lot of talk about surfing, hang gliding and other thrilling and beautiful things that were done by youths. It is being young that is the real thrill, though most of us don't know it at the time. There is talk about the universe loving the main character, and it is pretty normal to feel that way when you are young. It is very difficult to feel that the universe loves you when you are a 92 year old invalid, in diapers, in constant pain and lifting a fork to your mouth is your highest athletic achievement.
The characters are young during the late 60's, 70's and 80's, the 'baby boom' generation. It takes place in Australia, mainly in metropolitan Sydney. This time is during the big cultural shift, and if the story is accurate, it happened in Australia with none of the warfare that happened in the USA. There is more pot smoked in this book than there was at Woodstock, even my lungs got sore just reading about it. They don't worry about the law, they never face the hatred and violence of the previous generation. It could be fantasy, but I can believe it after talking to people from other countries that weren't the USA, even people from the Soviet Union. No country seemed to experience as vicious a backlash that we did in the USA.
The book is full of the philosophy of the times. There are many passages where people feel they are given insights by the drugs they are doing. There is a point when the main character starts to realize that the great insights are really drug dreams but that is not until later when the Sci-fi aspects of the story begin to appear. For most of the story there is little mention of the Sci-fi aspect of the story, and no need. The first two thirds of the book could stand without it, and would probably actually be improved a bit if you didn't know the California surfer dude wasn't really from California. For two thirds of the book there is no plot as such, it is more a biography of one person's life, relationships and philosophy.
There are some sexual encounters but they are not porn. There is almost no violence, the action is all surfing, hang gliding and the like with a couple gruesome accidents. The last third of the book contains the plot, which I won't spoil. The characters are the same and it does flow nicecly from the young hippie part of the story to the the Sci-fi adventure, but it is really two different books.
I liked the book mainly for the excellent characters, the excellent narration (though it does jump around in time a little at first) the breathtaking settings and the vivid capture of the joy of youth. My own youth was not the same in detail but I can definitely relate and loved being back in that time. I don't know how autobiographical this is, but it has to be a lot more than The Second Expedition which is my own take on the adventures of that era. There is supposed to be a sequel, I haven't seen it. I'm pretty sure the sequel will be more about the plot and less about capturing the essence of those beautiful days of youth.
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