The Forgetting Time

forgetting time

On her 39th birthday, Janie gives herself a present in the form of a vacation to Trinidad. There she meets married Jeff of Austin.  They share one night of passion, and then he’s out of her life forever. The one thing Janie brings home from the encounter is her son, Noah.

Janie adores Noah, but there are problems. He refuses to take baths, and any attempt on her part to bathe him results in frantic screaming. He knows about things that he’s never been exposed to. He tells Janie every night he wants to go home, to his “other mommy.”

Things get serious when Noah starts talking in preschool about handling a very specific kind of gun. Janie takes him to countless doctors and psychiatrists, with a possible diagnosis of schizophrenia. Desperate, she casts around on the internet and finds Dr. Anderson, a researcher who has spent his entire career documenting cases of past lives.

Anderson, at 68, has been diagnosed with aphasia, a degenerative disease in which he will lose his capacity to read, understand and correctly use language. With the recent loss of his wife, this is a tremendous blow, and he feels he has nothing left to look forward to. Until Janie calls with a request to meet him. Perhaps this is the “strong American case” he needs to finally get his book published, and his lifelong work accepted by mainstream scientists.

After their meeting, Anderson is convinced that Noah is experiencing memories of a previous incarnation. Janie is reluctant to believe in any of this, but her desperation leaves her little choice but to give it a chance. She just wants Noah to be “cured” and to be happy.

Anderson’s increasing aphasia causes him to miss some important clues in his research, and they initially visit the wrong family, a family that had lost their son in a drowning accident. The meeting is painful and wrenching, and Janie vows to be done with it all.

But Noah gives them an an important clue that leads them to Denise and her teenage son Charlie, an African American family living in Ohio. Denise’s 9 year old son Tommy had gone missing seven years ago, and it nearly destroyed her. Her meeting with Noah, Janie and Anderson will finally bring to light what happened to Tommy all those years ago.

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of reincarnation, and I tore through this book in a week, enthralled with the story and its implications. It stirred up questions of my own, so I wrote a post about a strange, recurring childhood dream that may have been not only a dream, but a memory.

Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, The Forgetting Time is an absorbing, entertaining read, and may even leave you pondering the nature of life, death, and reality itself.

 

 

 

Star Trek: Beyond

star trek beyond

Is it me, or does it seem like the Enterprise gets destroyed in every Star Trek movie ever made? Maybe not, but I had that funny feeling of deja vu as this incarnation tumbled out of the sky to crash and burn on an alien planet, the crew scattered and confused, but up to the challenge in typical Starfleet fashion.

Despite this familiar trope, I did enjoy Star Trek Beyond for what it was: a space adventure with our favorite Federation crew. Well, okay, Picard/Riker had been my favorite captain/number one for a long time, until this hot new Kirk/Spock pairing came along. At any rate, although Beyond doesn’t have the emotional heft of Star Trek or Into Darkness, it delivered on sci-fi action and the witty character banter we’ve come to love and expect.

Having been lured to this planet on a supposed rescue mission, the Enterprise is attacked by a swarm of bee-like ships, and it crashes in spectacular fashion. Kirk (Chris Pine) realizes the resident lizard-like alien Krall (Idris Elba) is after an ancient artifact they’d been storing after a failed diplomatic mission. His crew is also being used by Krall as some kind of weird energy suck. So their mission is three-fold: keep the artifact out of Krall’s hands, rescue the crew, and find a way off the planet.

Help comes in the form of an alien named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), who has been stuck on the planet for years ever since her own people had been lured there by Krall. She’d been living in an abandoned Starfleet ship called the Franklin, and you just know that Scotty (Simon Pegg) will get the old ship in flying mode again.

kirk spock bones
Karl Urban (Bones), Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) in Beyond

There’s some personal struggles thrown in, like Kirk contemplating a desk job and Spock breaking up with Uhura to focus on rebuilding Vulcan culture. But after their adventure with Thrall, they decide to keep on and finish their “5 year” mission. This Trek fan is glad to hear it, and is looking forward to more installments of their foray into the final frontier.

 

 

Mack Truck

I recently tore through the book The Forgetting Time, by Sharon Guskin (review to come), a story about a 4 year old boy who seems to remember a past life. Reincarnation has always been a fascinating subject for me, and while I can’t say that I completely believe in it, neither am I willing to dismiss it. Kind of like ghosts, aliens, ESP, out of body experiences and the like: who am I to say? There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy…it’s one of the reasons I like to write in the fantasy/paranormal genre, to explore the possibilities, the what ifs.

In most documented cases of past lives, children seem to have memories of the previous life within the first few years, and then tend to forget by about age 5 or 6. Often, the remembered previous life had been ended by some kind of violence, murder or an accident, something that had ripped the person out of their life. Thinking on this, I remember what I thought was a dream as a very young child, maybe 2 years old; it’s perhaps one of the earliest memories I have. I seem to remember waking up from the dream and seeing the bars of my crib around me, if you can believe that.

The dream is that I’m riding in the cab of a large truck, like one of those Mack trucks, going down the highway at night. I seem to be a child, though thinking about it now, I’m unsure. I know that I wasn’t driving the truck, and that I might have been sitting between two other people. As the truck  barrels down the road, it suddenly smashes into one of those green traffic signs hanging over the highway. I don’t know how this could be, I can’t imagine any truck being that tall. Maybe the sign was low. Who knows? But always on the point of impact, I wake up, staring at the ceiling above me, and I swear, the bars of the crib around me.

mack-truck

I seemed to have the dream several times, always the same thing, the truck, the sign, boom, and then after awhile, never again. I didn’t think about it again for a long time, but for some reason or another, it came back to me when I was older. And I thought: what on earth? Why did I dream about being in a Mack truck at that young age? What did I know about Mack trucks? And why a collision? It baffled me; I had this fear that it was a kind of premonition, that I would die in a car accident some day.

And then, very recently, it occurred to me. What if I had been remembering a past life? I was very young. The dream contained elements I couldn’t have possibly known about at that age. And the dream ended with some violence. I made the connection before I read The Forgetting Time, but the book has put me in mind of it, and now I’m curious.

I’ve often flirted with the idea of past life regression, just as a lark, but now I possibly have something to focus on. And it’s a little freaky. It’s said that we forget for a reason. Do I really want to remember?

Would you?

 

 

Smoke

smoke

Imagine a world where your “sinful” thoughts are visible in the form of smoke emanating from your skin for all to see. This is the premise of Dan Vyleta’s novel “Smoke”, which takes place in an England reminiscent of Dickens’ soot-stained London. Only this time, the sooty grime is the result of people’s accumulated sin rather than the smokestacks of industry.

Thomas Argyle and Charlie Cooper are attending Oxford, studying not only the usual curriculum of such an education, but also Discipline in controlling their smoke. Both are gentlemen’s sons, but the boys couldn’t be any more different: Charlie is good-hearted and kind, while Thomas is impatient and abrasive, with a family secret. Still, they are fast friends, especially in the face of Julius Spenser, a sadistic fellow student who conducts impromptu “questioning” of the younger boys of the school to test their smoke discipline. Julius, it seems, never smokes.

But not all is as it seems, as the boys find out on a school-sponsored trip to London. There, they witness the lower classes living in a den of sin and vice, and watch an execution in which a woman is hanged for murder. In the chaos that follows, Thomas sees a mysterious person scraping the soot off the dead woman into a collection jar, and Charlie spies a strange, crook-necked man who doesn’t smoke amid all this bedlam. They leave with more questions than answers concerning smoke and its nature.

Over the winter holiday, the two boys stay with Thomas’s relative, Lady Naylor. Here they meet Livia, Lady Naylor’s rigid, nun-like daughter, and find out that Julius is actually Thomas’s cousin. Lady Naylor has secrets of her own, as they discover she is conducting experiments on soot and smoke, while her husband, the Baron, lies stark raving mad in one of the upper rooms.

When the boys leave the estate, with Livia as an escort to the train station, they’re attacked by an unknown shooter, and Thomas is injured. On the run and in hiding, the three young people embark on a journey that takes them from the coal mines of the countryside to the sewers of London. They search for answers concerning Lady Naylor’s plans and motivations, and struggle with their own smoke-infused emotions as a love triangle develops between Livia and the two boys.

I enjoyed this complex, original novel that examines the nature of sin, class, power, ethics, and love, through odd and interesting characters and a vivid setting. I was a bit frustrated with the ending, as it leaves a rather central question unanswered, but I have since found out a sequel is in the works that will surely satisfy on that point.

I recommend this alternate history/fantasy blend to anyone who enjoys those genres, or those who like to plumb Big Themes with a good adventure story.