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WE x 00 (World Equation Times Infinity) Reviewed By James Broderick of Bookpleasures.com
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James Broderick Ph.D

Reviewer James Broderick, Ph.D: James is an associate professor of English and journalism at New Jersey City University. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he is the author of six non-fiction books, and the novel Stalked. His latest book is Greatness Thrust Upon Them, a collection of interviews with Shakespearean actors across America. Follow Here To Listen To An Interview With James Broderick.







 
By James Broderick Ph.D
Published on June 13, 2011
 


Author: Charlie Pederson

Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 978-1-4327-5889-9



Click Here To Purchase WExoo: Face the Terror of our World Equation

Author: Charlie Pederson

Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 978-1-4327-5889-9

I learned a new word reading WE x 00: “E-Quel.”

In the book’s prologue, author Charlie Pederson explains an E-Quel is “a visualized novel in a quasi-screenplay format. An E-Quel is usually an adaptation of another novel delivering a story reorganized in a dialogue-based format so the reader can view the book in a form that is adapted to eye and mind friendly E-reading or E-viewing on PCs, smart phones, etc., but still works in traditional hard and soft cover.” And that’s what Pederson has produced – an E-Quel derived from his earlier, more traditional novel, 2007’s Turn of the Century: 2100.

While I applaud the pushing of literary boundaries beyond traditional constraints, Mr. Pederson has given me pause here. If E-Quels are the future of literature, I think I’d like to remain stuck in the past. More on that in a moment.

The idea at the heart of this work is an intriguing one. Scientists from the 22nd Century have sent a probe back in time 100 years, alerting scientists of the present day that a series of five “oracles” will soon arrive on Earth, offering a dire warning about some situation that will prove cataclysmic unless action is taken. The probe is vague about what, precisely, the crisis is, or will be. But the scientists who receive the information take it seriously and alert the heads of world government about the cosmic communiqué.

As the world leaders prepare to convene a United Nations meeting to hear what the oracles have to say, various private corporations and rogue spies try to steal the information before it is unveiled.

There’s some cloak and dagger intrigue as the book builds towards the climactic U.N. meeting. The narrative bounces back and forth between world capitals, with government agents, scientific officials, and rogue spies meeting in clandestine locations, all plotting their next move. The overarching idea behind the book is pretty compelling.

My problem with WE x 00 had more to do with the execution than the story. Because of the form the author has chosen, the book is weighted down with long, talky passages when what’s sometimes needed is some writerly prose, sweeping us along in the story. Listening to scientists and governmental officials in meeting rooms talk to each other for 250 pages – which is what this E-Quel essentially is – is to challenge both writer and reader. There are some scenes that if rendered in a more novelistic manner might provide some relief, but in an E-Quel the author is locked in to having to tell rather than show. (For example, an early bit of stage direction lets us know that a physics experiment that is being conducted in one scene “is visual and awesome.” But we have to take the author’s word for it.)

To make maters even more complicated, Pederson decides to load his climactic scene at the U.N. with lots and lots of scientific charts (which the 22nd Century probes project in a kind of space age PowerPoint presentation). These charts contain eye-glazing scientific data that take up page after page and ruin any narrative momentum that had been building to that point. Imagine reading the footnotes for Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and you get some sense of the slog that awaits the unwitting fiction lover.

From publicity materials and book jacket summaries, Mr. Pederson’s scientific credentials appear to be impeccable. And readers who demand scientific precision will no doubt find themselves rewarded as his scientists debate quantum physics and the feasibility of time travel. But for those of us who like a well-told story, fleshed out with the trappings of traditional fiction, the E-quel is certainly not the Equal of the novel.

Click Here To Purchase WExoo: Face the Terror of our World Equation