I Hope the World Can Take It

Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 22, 2007

I Hope the World Can Take It by Artemus Shelton

Nine people showed up at A. T.’s house to discuss the new novel by Reading Group member Art Shelton. The book tells a near-feature cyberpunk science fiction tale full of action.  The story follows a data courier who gets into trouble when carrying some especially secret information. One member had read Shelton’s work before, in a writing group. Eight of us started the book, and five finished it.

The story starts with a bang and never lets up. Most of us got involved with the main character and action quickly, and the story kept us going until the end. The surprise twist near the end is well-executed. Some of us felt that the story reads like a screenplay.

This book works well as an action novel. We really did not see as many new concepts and technologies as we would prefer in a science fiction novel. Most of the sf ideas here seem to come from the fiction of William Gibson, and a couple of us thought this book felt like a sequel to the film Johnny Mnemonic.

Our favorite supporting character was the Asian grandmother that gets pulled into the adventure. We thought she had a lot of potential, and wished she could have taken on a larger role in the story.

The writing shows promise. Shelton exhibits an ability to write action. There are several nice passages of descriptive prose. We wished some of the supporting characters had been developed better. A couple of us were bothered by inconsistent use of italics, but were not sure if this was the fault of the author or the proofreader. We think the author needs to learn more about writing in first-person voice, which is notoriously difficult. For example the narrator is portrayed as an uneducated person, yet he sometimes uses vocabulary that such a person would not know.

Overall we were pleasantly surprised by this early work of Mr. Shelton. Many of us know several aspiring writers, and we feel that Shelton has accomplished more than most by completing the book and making it readable. We encourage him to continue writing and to dreaming up big ideas.

After the meeting, we had a nice dinner at Mongolian Grille.

–A. T. Campbell, III