by Wendy Rathbone
On a far-flung “Earth” in a parallel universe, two factions are
fighting a decades-long psychic war. Young talented psychics are
being temporarily kidnapped from present day Earth, seemingly at
random, to serve as part of one side’s psychic army. They are put
under the control of spychiatrists, mysterious machines with many
limbs that have a programmed ability to travel time and space and
universes to kidnap and control carefully selected humans. The
humans never know they are being used; when their missions are
completed they are brought back to their universe through time and
placed back in their beds, their memories wiped.
Lacy meets the twins, Zack and Leo,
late one night in a bar and learns that her nightmares and Leo’s
match, along with matching scars neither remembers. They set out to
solve the mystery of the reality that exists beyond their dreams.
Kittin lives on a parallel Earth and has never known a world without
war. As a victim of psychic attack and its resulting madness, she is
whisked from her family and institutionalized, until one day at age
18 she discovers a psychic connection to a dangerous boy from the
“other side” and becomes part of the elite psychic army at
Ashao is the son of the ruler of the Walled City. His birthright is
to inherit his father’s kingdom, and the psychic army he controls.
On his 16th birthday he is given a spychiatrist to experiment with.
From that one gift, he learns a harsh truth about the tortures of
war, and must make a decision to follow his father, or become a
traitor and follow his heart.
“Pale Zenith” is the story of how all these characters unite to
overcome their tragedies in an alien environment of horrific
war-time abuse. Angst, humor, tragedy and romance ensue.
The shadows wound the tall corridor in muted gold, varnished brown.
It seemed as though they were in the bowels of a giant serpent
coiled outside time, outside space.
When they left the palace, a familiar sun flourished in a clear,
blue sky. But this wasn’t their sun. Not Zack’s sun. It was an alien
star burning within a different galaxy in an all too distant
universe. Zack looked up squinting, trying to see if he could peer
beyond the sky, beyond the pale of midday and into his own timespace,
but there was nothing. Only sunlight. Only the thin atmosphere of an
Earth not his own.
His back knotted again. Leo’s presence was a gelid space inside his
chest, empty. Always before he’d felt a warmth there, a sort of
pressure like someone’s hand pressed gently to his heart. He’d taken
Leo for granted knowing, the way a shadow falls when you block the
sun, that he was there around him, inside him: blood, air, salt,
brain, soul. They were genetic duplicates, twins, spiritual halves.
Without him, Zack knew the first icy tugs of panic.
6x9" Trade Paperback
Also available in PDF Format
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One Amazon Reviewer said...
Keep in mind that sci-fi is
not my current reading focus - I used to read sci-fi a lot
when I was a kid, all the classics, Heinlein, Time Machine,
Fahrenheit 451, Martian Chronicles, Childhoods End, all that
stuff. I think I moved away from sci-fi when I discovered
fantasy (Robin McKinley and Susan Dexter), and finally
started to read early Anne Rice from which came my deep love
of Historical fiction. Pale Zenith took me back to those
days, reading as classic sci fi with touches of fantasy,
which is, I believe, based on Wendy's use of poetical
language, which I loved to pieces.
Wendy uses phrases like, "The clouds were wolves of gold."
Holy cow...that's a hell of an image, and I had it in my
head for days, looking at the clouds, grey and spiked, or
dark and stormy and touched with gold in the setting sun,
and racing across the sky like a pack of wolves. Ah me, my
envy leaps up at writing like this. But in a good way. In a
"how can I reach my own poetry like this?" I think it takes
more letting go than I've been allowing myself, but I
recognize what the writer is doing, which is writing with
the door shut and her eyes closed (metaphorically speaking)
and just writing it, and out it comes. Of course, with years
of practice behind it, but you know what I mean. It comes
out because Wendy has not only built but maintained the path
to LET it come out.
Here's another good turn of phrase (and there were very
many!), but this one stuck with me perhaps because of my
love of Wendy's work with oceans and places where the ocean
meets the land.
"He was gone but Kittin could still smell his sea-scent in
the room, washing up kelp and pearls and polished stones,
essences he still believed were not his own."
What I love here is the way Wendy creates the scent in the
air, and you can almost see the foam brushing up on those
stones, to me the foam in that instant before it drops back
into the ocean are the pearls, but I think she meant real
pearls here....which is the way writing works. The writer
puts down one thing, and the reader takes away that, and
much else besides.
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