A Vision of Fire

January 28, 2015 - 1:00 pm No Comments

A VISION OF FIRE – BOOK ONE OF THE EARTHEND SAGA
by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin
Simon & Schuster; 292 pages; £12.99; hardback
Reviewed by Michael Jones

Gillian Anderson will of course always be known for her role in the X-Files (yes, that Gillian Anderson!), but she has since moved on to become a quite highly regarded stage and screen actress. In collaboration with established writer Jeff Rovin she now makes what the publishers describe as her “thrilling science fiction debut” with the first volume in a Saga of as-yet unspecified length. In point of fact, it may well be that Rovin has provided the majority of the writing while Anderson’s contribution is largely confined to providing her supposedly prestigious name to be put on the cover.

It tells the story of how child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is called in when the teenage daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations becomes severely disturbed after her father survives an assassination attempt. O’Hara discovers that other cases of disturbed teenagers have occurred in such unlikely places as Iran and Haiti, cases which appear at first glance to be different although certain points of similarity are to be found. Eventually a connection emerges in the form of a kind of possession by a spirit force seeking escape from a fiery cataclysm and O’Hara also becomes affected. This volume ends with her having discovered something of the nature of this mysterious influence which seems to arise from a civilisation of the remote past in the Antarctic, but a full understanding will, obviously, not emerge until it is explained in the later volume(s).

Meanwhile, a highly secret and very powerful Group hidden within something called the Global Explorer’s Club is pursuing its own agenda and clearly knows already a lot more of what is involved than O’Hara has yet discovered.

This is all a lot less thrilling than they would have us believe. The characters spend a lot of time just talking and thinking about things instead of actually doing anything and trips to Haiti and Iran are described in unnecessary detail which contributes to the sense that it has all been padded out beyond the length the story is naturally capable of supporting. Learning more of what the shadowy Group are seeking to achieve might have made it more interesting or even exciting, but again that may have to await later opportunities for revelation.

Overall, the writing is pedestrian and the style and structure of the book are strongly reminiscent of a mainstream novel where the general lack of originality might be less noticeable. On the other hand, there is an impression that the book would be readily suited for adaptation as a film script, which may be indicative of future hopes and plans.

There is perhaps some scope for subsequent volumes in The Earthend Saga to redeem the shortcomings of this one, but the signs are not hopeful.

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