We cover a lot of science-fiction here at The Book Closet, some of it classic like The Time Machine, some of it awe-inspiring like Rendezvous with Rama, and much of it simply the sheer unadulterated fun of sci-fi comics such as The X-Men. We love science-fiction in all its myriad of facets and aspects, but nothing gets us truly excited like the possibility of a thought-provoking science-fiction literary classic-in-the-making looming just over the horizon.
Such is the case with Finished with Life, the first novella in the new Unable to Die series by Scott Bartlett. Here’s the plot:
“At ninety-one, Michael Haynes feels his death would solve a lot, for both him and his family. A terminal diagnosis brings him relief, but unexpectedly, there is no goodbye. Michael wakes from a coma to find he has undergone a miraculous new procedure. Shortly after that, he survives a car accident that kills his son.
As the government starts taking an interest in him, a shocking secret about how the universe works is unfolding. Michael must contend not only with continuing to live, but with stopping his family from tearing itself apart.”
Now that sounds cool enough all on its own from a science-fiction angle, but we believe the best and most staying science-fiction comes not only from a place of cool concepts and inventive ideas, but also from a serious place of self-reflection on the human condition, what it means to be a human individual, and what it means to be a human as a part of a larger group. This was the case with the classic fiction of Robert A. Heinlein, with groundbreaking works of fiction such as Stranger in a Strange Land (which examined humanity through the lens of an outsider while challenging religious and sexual norms), The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (which took on xenophobic attitudes and the plausibility of a Soviet point-of-view in a time when that was controversial) and Starship Troopers, which skewered the military industrial complex.
It is Bartlett’s pedigree as an independent author that has us waiting with anticipation. His first novel Royal Flush was a biting satire that was one of the only examples of truly perfect prose authorship in recent memory, with humor compared to that of the legendary Monty Python.It was awarded the HR Bill Percy Prize by the Writer’s Alliance of Nova Scotia. His second novel, Taking Stock, won the Percy Janes First Novel Award, as well as the Lawrence Jackson Writers’ Award. A departure from comedy, the novel dealt with the series issues surrounding mental illness and suicide. His short story “The Proletarian” placed 2nd in Grain Magazine’s Canada-wide Short Grain competition, and another story called “Author’s Note” was shortlisted for the Cuffer Prize. In 2012 he won an international environmental blogging competition, travelling to Rio de Janeiro and blogging for the United Nations Environment Programme at World Environment Day.
He is an exceptionally thoughtful multiple award-winning author who excels in every genre he applies his considerable talents to, his a range that allows him to handle laugh-out-loud comedy and personal tragedy with exacting perfection in both.
We haven’t seen an author with this kind of dedication and attention to detail tackle science-fiction with an original idea yet in this decade. Every decade needs their ground-breaking science-fiction author with their fingers on the pulse of society, what it needs and the issues it needs voiced in the sort of outsider-in perspective that only science-fiction can do. Me may have it now, finally, with Scott Bartlett’s Finished with Life.
The book, and its sequels, will be available for digital download at the end of the month with print versions to follow later in the year. Don’t miss it!!