Thursday, September 17, 2009

Distant Cousin--Professional Reviews

Distant Cousin is the best novel I have read in a long time. I can name about ten that I like better, and then I run out of titles. In what should be considered an appropriate fashion, the cover blurb (the same one you will read online) refers only to the first few pages of the book. The many pleasant plot twists of a book like Distant Cousin should never be given away for the sake of advertising. The author has added a new version at Amazon that provides a bit more information, but probably the less plot details you know, the more you will enjoy Distant Cousin.

Distant Cousin is a screenplay waiting to become a Spielberg movie. You cannot escape the visions in your mind from E.T. and Close Encounters as you read through it, and the magic so aptly personified in those two movies is also prevalent in Distant Cousin. The book is a SciFi love story with an adventurous plot. A human from another planet comes for a visit. She looks like Barbie, or the beauty from Species, except she is not a monster wearing a Barbie suit. She lands near Alpine, TX, which makes the landscape backdrop look like that in Wavelength, another movie with stylistic elements in common with Distant Cousin. A young journalist who has become somewhat bored with his job spots Barbie in the library, and he is fascinated by the combination of her beautiful innocence and the scientific books she is studying. The subplots begin to roll in, and that's all I'm going to tell you.

Al Past is a very accomplished, literary author. The sequel to Distant Cousin is already out, and I know you SciFi fans love sequels. The author thought about, researched, and studied the details of his concept for many years before releasing Distant Cousin, and the depth of his effort shines from the pages. Yes, the usual number of ubiquitous grammatical and typographical errors are present in the book, but that is my sole complaint. When the characters and plot are this good, holding up for the entire, considerable page count, I won't let the boo-boo drivel tarnish a book that deserves at least five stars. The closest thing to cheating that this book does is have a plot related to many movies, and the author has told me that he has seen less movies and television than the average American. If I never review another book, Distant Cousin has proven my thesis once and for all. There really are regular novels out there published by iUniverse that have not cheated with an appeal to obsessive genre readers, and they are outstanding! I am not a SciFi fan nor a romance fan, and I read about equal numbers of fiction and nonfiction. Distant Cousin will stamp its wonderful magic on your soul. (PODBRAM)

What if our First Contact from another planet was a human? What if the first real alien to visit Earth from another solar system was a woman on a mission to find the distantly related cousins of her own people? What if she brought with her a warning of an impending disaster of apocalyptic proportions? And what if nobody believed her?

Al Past’s novel Distant Cousin is a most unusual science fiction story with a most unusual heroine. Ana Darcy has jeopardized her mission and cut herself off from her own people to bring a desperate warning to Earth authorities. Astronomers at a Texas observatory don’t believe her, but the US military is willing to interrogate her—under custody of course. Her astonishing escape from Army detainment is our first hint that she may be more than she first appears and capable of more than we imagine. While the military scrambles to locate and recapture the woman they call “Gidget from Outer Space,” Darcy realizes that her journey to Earth has placed her in the path of the oncoming destruction and she will suffer Earth’s fate if the calamity is not avoided.

Befriended by ordinary people as varied as the family owners of a Texas dude ranch, a mild-mannered reporter, and an Olympic contender from Barbados, Darcy conceives a daring plan to evade government capture, while hiding in plain sight, and to deliver her warning in a manner which cannot possibly be ignored. Afterward, she might just fall in love … if she can trust her own feelings … and if she can trust her boyfriend with the truth about her origins. This is a science fiction novel which might better be described as a love story with scientific speculation. The premise of humans on another world is startling, and the author reels out details about Darcy’s homeworld so sparingly that our curiosity is cleverly aroused. It is only when unexpected arrivals provoke a sudden crisis of diplomacy that we learn exactly what Darcy gave up in accepting her mission to Earth—and what she might be running from. Distant Cousin is the first in a set of three books about Ana Darcy, her people, and the reaction of Earth to their existence and arrival on our planet. (High Spirits Book)

“Distant Cousin” is an interesting and eccentric book that manages to cross a number of genres – a little bit science fiction, sprinkled with alterna-sociology, a generous dash of techno-thriller, several roman-a-clef conventions gently folded in, and a rather sweet love story. Oh, and finding a place in the world for yourself; not the easiest thing for anyone, let alone for the young woman who calls herself Ana Darcy. Ana Darcy appears very early one morning at the University of Texas’ Mt. Davis observatory with an urgent warning; the Earth will be in terrible danger from a so-far-undetected asteroid. Ana knows this for certain, because she is much, much older that she appears, and from a good bit farther away than the place she first claims to have come from. Which is the moon…

She is, in fact, a scientist from another planet, sent to observe the earth from a distance on behalf of her own people, who may have originated here – hence the ‘distant cousin’ – but Ana has good reason to keep quiet about many things, even among those friends she makes in the course of her quest. And she is an endearing person, both as a character and as written; observant, studious, given to sudden impulses and often quite uncertain about herself. The various stories unfold at a leisurely pace, but seem to conclude in mid-arc – not surprising once the reader realizes the final quarter of “Distant Cousin” is a careful set-up for not one but two sequels.

Much of the story is set in the mountains and deserts of West Texas around Alpine, or in southern New Mexico; the scenery, the culture and the cuisine are observed in close details, as an alien like Ana would see them. Mr. Past has included a few local characters and locations, which must especially amuse readers who know that part of the country well. This is a very readable diversion, and what is revealed about Ana’s own culture and civilization is worked out in considerable and convincing detail.(Blogger News Network)

This will be the shortest rave review you have ever read. Because Al Past's just-published "Distant Cousin" is a pure delight, too good to give away any of the details. However, one must say that it is the story of a petite blonde underdog from far, far away, who must overcome insurmountable obstacles in order to save...well, that is already telling you too much.
Al's first novel is one of the best reads I have ever had. He has grounded the story in the unmistakable reality of West Texas, with characters you will not only believe in but love. Each chapter is a wonderful surprise that leads you on to the next. There is no doubt that "Distant Cousin" would/will make a spectacular crowd-pleasing movie. And, guess what, a sequel to this delightful story will be published next month!
Don't miss it! It is so heartwarming and fun, you will want to give it a great big hug.
Margaret Moser, Beeville Bee-Picayune, June 17, 2006

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