Beyond Terra by R. V. Johnson is a novella I decided to read and review to look at the authors writing voice. When I went to the Amazon author pages I found the negative reviews of Johnson’s longer work, Beyond the Sapphire Gate, outnumbered the positive ones and the comments regarding editing and typos are the things that make me want to abandon a book in mid-reading. I had received an author request to review the longer work and replied to the author saying I did not think I could give a favorable review if things I read were true. The author replied stating that he realized there were editing problems, that he had changed editors, and that I would receive an improved copy of the novel. Meanwhile I found a free download of the novella Beyond Terra. I invested my time in reading and writing a review of the shorter work before deciding to review the longer one. Based on the novella, I was impressed enough to buy the longer one (making it a verified purchase). I will submit a review of the longer one in a few weeks.
I believe Beyond Terra continues the adventures of Trenton after the first novel (and maybe the second). It is a fascinating stand-alone novel on its own if you don’t mind that there is no conclusion. There are still characters whose fates I will wonder about. I don’t have a problem with that; if you are a reader for which this is a problem you might want to avoid this. Also, this is not a genre I usually read despite wanting to read novels that are of interest to my son. I usually find it too much work.
This novella is not too much work. I found it fast paced enough that I read it in one sitting during a morning before I went to work. It was a pleasant start to the day. The imagery stayed with me throughout the day. There is a lot of high-tech stuff for which the author needs new vocabulary. In one section we have ““It’s a variation of plasicrete, not a bio-structure.” (loc 297-298) The author does not tell us about plasicrete or what bio-structure might be. He lets his characters do that. In other words, the author showed, not told, a story.
The novella is not without reader demands. There is sometimes switching between characters just when I was getting interested in their story. But I read on thinking that when I met the character again, I would find out more. I didn’t completely succeed in the novella; I am looking forward to the longer works to do that.
Trenton is a former denizen of something called the lower realm. Physical damage to his legs have limited his future. An entity called Palltech had helped him medically and given him training in using some high-tech equipment such as an encapsulating body suit that almost turned him into a super-hero. As long as the power held out. The help from Palltech came at a price, Trenton needed to complete a mission for the company. He wasn’t sure quite what the mission was or what final goal was to be reached but that was not important. He was to be guided every step of the way by Katy, a faceless but undoubtedly attractive dispatcher. She would answer all questions and be an over watch for him on his mission.
The mission involved climbing a mountain, defeating any defender attempts to hinder his climb, and covertly enter the headquarters of the high Realm. Katy would inform him of what was to come next. Things almost worked out. Somewhere on the journey he acquired a valuable artifact, purpose unknown, but it propelled him into an alternate world. There Mother Lore, The First Light, Khiminnay, and Daramay would all attempt to steal the artifact that propelled him there. They all have different motives; some are good for Trenton, some not. Trenton gets out of this world to yet another one (although not his original one as he wanted). There he meets Crystalyn and Sabella, among others, and must adjust to life here before he can attempt to get home. The novella ends with Trenton arriving at a gate which we believe might take him home. I am not sure I would look forward to going to a home where I had to continue my attack on a central headquarters of the Higher Realm sequestered in a Dome, but that’s why this is fantasy.
The only part of the novella for which I had no feeling was the romantic life of Trenton. The guy falls for Daramay despite some disturbing information he finds. He falls for Khimimay, who doesn’t like Daramay. He falls for Crystalyn. He falls for Sabella, the wife of an innkeeper and there is some mystifying ritual of bell ringing. Of course he is in love with Katy the dispatcher, despite her young age. But the amazing thing is that they all fall for him. I can empathize; I have led a similar life.
This novella is escapist fantasy. I will read more of Johnson’s work. Maybe it is good to escape my favorite genre from time to time.