Sunday, June 25, 2017 This Week's Paper


// By Steve Van Gorder

Local author Steve Van Gorder combines elements of science fiction and spy thrillers in his debut novel.

The first chapter introduces the main character, Troy Colt. A former Navy SEAL, he joined the Central Intelligence Agency after completing his military service. He comes across like Jack Bauer on the television show "24." Colt is tough and resourceful. The author suggests that Colt may be involved in a CIA division that engages in illegal espionage. The fact he is carrying out a mission in Colorado, as opposed to foreign, suggests that may be the case.

"Eplayza" has a major drawback – the editing. It is absolutely terrible, by far the worst I have ever encountered reading a book. This is clear by the third sentence: "Just the Way, Troy Colt liked it." Throughout the book there are words that are capitalized that should not be and ones that should be capitalized that are not. The first chapter introduces a character named Tysha. Within the next few pages her name is Tasha and Tyasha. It is amazing that slipped through the editing process.

Colt had decided this would be his last mission and he would retire upon its completion.

The chapter ends with Colt taking a test flight on an experimental aircraft. The engine malfunctions and he looks for a place to crash land. This segues into the second chapter, where Colt awakens in a hospital after being in a coma for a week.

He had visions while in the coma. Upon his release from the hospital he returns home to Seattle. The visions continue. He is at a lake where he observes a man with a long robe. One day the vision becomes reality. Colt has what might be called a spiritual experience. He is transported from Earth to another place, the place of his visions.

In the third chapter Colt meets the man of his visions, whose name is Shamah. He imparts much wisdom onto Colt and assigns another character to train him in the use of the deuce, a magical type of sword.

Soon Colt is bouncing about the universe on missions, where he combats evil and protects the good and peaceful beings on various planets. He travels in a manner similar to how characters on "Star Trek" went from the Enterprise to planet surfaces. Colt has no need for a spaceship; he simply is whisked from one location to the next.

On one planet he encounters a beautiful young woman bathing at a waterfall. He sees a giant lizard about to attack her and comes to her rescue. The grateful maiden invites him to visit her tribe. They fall in love, adding an intriguing romance angle to the book.

He returns to Seattle, where he is strumming his guitar in a park near his home when suddenly the woman appears from out of thin air. She first appears as Arlenea, but her name is spelled several other ways throughout the book. For consistency's sake, she will be Arlenea for this review. She comes from a culture of primitive hunters and gatherers. Modern Seattle is a culture shock to her, to say the least. It is the year 2036. Colt lets her stay in his home and shows her around. He buys her an iced coffee at Starbucks and takes her shopping at Albertson's. Both stores have holograph employees. Wanting to show her a real night on the town, he takes her to Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma for dinner and gambling. The blackjack dealers are holograms, as are the cards they deal.

The two get married. Soon after Colt takes his bride to meet Shamah, who sends them on a honeymoon to Eplayza. This a planet that could be described as the Las Vegas of outer space – a place for pleasure that attracts tourists and businessmen attending conventions. Eplayza has floating hotels, restaurants and stadiums. This is made possible through a technology that utilizes crystals from the planet's six moons. Colt and his wife love Eplayza so much they buy a house there.

The evil Hissins, from the planet Hiss, covet these minerals and hatch a plot to steal them all from the peaceful Eplayzans. Colt steps into a leadership role to defend his new home.

A faceoff between Colt and the Hissin military commander recalls Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in "Star Wars" in its striking divide between good and evil.

Van Gorder has a vivid imagination and has come up with an interesting plot. But his writing style needs to be cleaned up by a competent editor.

"Eplayza" is available at King's Books and on ebook from Amazon and Google.