PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: "An unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale." Sam Terra is having a bad week. He lost Molly, the woman he secretly loves, when she vanished before his eyes at the exact same time that ten percent of the inhabitants of Earth disappeared. Naturally upset, Sam follows clues about the global vanishing with questionable help from his friends including a misanthropic co-worker and a childhood pal. When Molly reappears in the body of a man during a night of monster-laden devastation, Sam finally learns the truth. Not just about her, but about the planet Earth and the entire cosmos surrounding it. What we consider mundane reality, others consider a game . . . and not a very good one. The whole thing is about to be shut down.
Eric narrowly averted a career in food service when he began working in tech publishing over 22 years ago. By day he works as the features editor for PCMag.com. By night he sneaks out of the house to write fictions. He currently lives in Ithaca, New York.
I've been on a run of post-apocalyptic fiction lately, having recently read (or re-read) The Stand, World War Z, The Road, and World Made by Hand. So clearly the "end of days" premise of Beta Test is one that resonates with me, and I was intrigued by the idea of "an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale" because, well, I think it's a neat idea to approach the subject matter from a different angle.
And it is, definitely, different than your run-of-the-mill end-times novel. This one is all-out, laugh-out-loud fun. And yet it's not strictly a comedy, either. The characters feel real enough that I came to care about how it all turned out for them, and unique enough that I never felt like anyone was just playing to type. The story itself is an interesting mash up of sci-fi/geek/comic book culture mixed together with some great chase scenes and some genuine pathos. A few mystery elements, too.
For an author's first time being published, this book is a great romp. He has very few of the novice habits and mistakes you might expect in a first book. After a slightly slow start, it really sucks you in with the complexity of the characters and plot. It is fast moving enough that you don't get bored, but slow enough that everything gets explained to the exact right point (not too much or too little). The author has some of the most creative descriptions and expletives I've ever heard.
The main character, Sam, is one of the few people in the world who realize the the disappearance of millions of people is just the tip of the iceberg. He embarks on a global (and universal) adventure to find out the reason for the dissapearance and to possibly even save the world. He's joined by a group of people that can only be summed up as zany. They are a congomlerate of every geek, nerd, and comic book fan you've ever known - in the best of ways. The characters are well developed and I found myself truly interested in what they were doing.
The author drew strongly upon his own childhood for some parts of the book. As a resident of Hornell NY (where part of the book is set) I enjoyed the little inside jokes and references to daily life here. Yes, it is quite accurate.
All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys science fiction, the end of the world, or learning new and creative ways to insult people.
Disclaimer: I'm a good friend of the author, so my opinion might have a slight bias no matter how I try to minimize it. I really tried to read the book & write this review like I would for any book, regardless of the author.
When I first started reading this book I thought it was like a “B” movie. I mean here was this story in third-person limited following this schlep, Sam, a big beefy, man who is secretly in love with a pixyish woman, Molly, at his office. His office is a Dilbert-ish office, complete with his best friend, office loud mouth Melvin.
Then the day he finds out that the girl he likes also likes him, she quits. He follows her down the stair and they share a sweet kiss. He offers to go with her, take care of her, unable to understand what is going on… when she vanishes. (GASP, what?!? Then what?)
Well that was certainly a sharp twist. Now I really want to read the story. This twist definitely moved it up to an A+ grade. Unfortunately due to computer error, I only received the first chapter… thus the gasp, what?, and a sharp cry because I SO want to know what happens next.
I give this preview a 4 out of 5, leaning toward 4.5 with the fabulous twist in the end of chapter one (be sure to read the excerpt).
This product or book may have been distributed for review; this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.
Massively fun and thoroughly entertaining read! Very well-written story with an intelligence at its core that will satisfy any serious sci-fi fan - but please check your sci-fi snobbery at the door. This novel is all about telling an exciting, action-packed story - with as many jokes and geek-culture references as there are globular, population consuming aliens! Absolutely brilliant use of footnotes - you'll just have to buy a copy and read to see what I mean!
Our world is a "virtual reality" video game for other beings. It's an interesting idea, and it made for a fun read on very long flight. At times it was funny. Not too demanding, just the thing for a travel read.