Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE
Author: Michael S. VischiPublisher: Outskirts Press
Had The Phoenix Gate come out in 1969 or thereabouts, I’d have been tempted to label the book psychedelic science fiction. No, no, I don’t mean sex, drugs, and all that.
Well, there’s no lack of graphic sex in The Phoenix Gate. In particular, the main protagonist, Evrikh, has such magnetism that virtually every woman he meets wastes no time in seducing him. Perhaps the strangest of them is Lorelei, an alluring creature that seems to be part soil, part plant, part, well, the stuff of myth. But she’s not the main love interest. Determining just who is takes some time and some sensuous experimentation. Lucky Evrikh.
But what makes me think of mind-altering states are all the mental trips Evrikh endures from beginning to end. He doesn’t understand what he’s experiencing—dreams, visions, memories, time jumps? He doesn’t remember much of his past or who he’s supposed to be. Apparently, he’s on a future earth after an apocalyptic war ruled by a Council opposed by a Resistance of “unfamiliar” humans the Council has banished from the cities. Both sides want something from Evrikh and he’s surrounded by many characters that might be friends, might be spies, might be from his past, might know pieces of the mystery he can’t put together. And the future of humankind, if any, is what’s at stake.
This New Terra is a violent world with no shortage of explosions, vicious fights, brutal deaths, and “unfamiliars” like Evrikh gifted with astonishing powers. Many settings include very bright, flashing lights, humans morphing into transparent beings, humans becoming lightning fast fighters or biological weapons, not to mention powerful time travelers popping in and out. In short, very trippy.
All these elements are woven into a very fast-paced and jagged saga that presents puzzle piece after puzzle piece continually surprising the reader. The Phoenix Gate is not for young readers, and those who join the quest should expect to be challenged by the swirling events as four hundred pages will go by before any resolutions become clear. And then Part Two begins. It’s cerebral sci fi full of the unexpected and you don’t need any recreational chemicals to enjoy the kaleidoscopic ride.
About the author: Born in upstate NY in 1979, Michael left for the US Navy after high school, where he served for 14 years, 10 of which were spend forward deployed to Japan. During his military service, between operations and downtime, Michael wrote his first novel. Considering his imagination to be one of his most powerful tools within his tool set, after departing the Navy Michael moved to Kentucky, where he continues working on future projects.