Distant Cousin: Recirculation
by Al Past
(CreateSpace / 1-460-94624-3 / 978-1-460-94624-4 / February 2011 / 324 pages / $13.95 / Kindle $4.99)
Let me begin by saying that this is one of the most accurately proofread books I have reviewed for PODBRAM. I found exactly one extraneous word and the use of ellipses in dialog is a little overdone, but the buck stops right there. However, there are a few glitches in the formatting of the print version that I read. I cannot speak for the Kindle version, of course, and I am aware that the majority of the readers of Dr. Past's legendary Distant Cousin books read them on a Kindle, so maybe these formatting issues are somewhat irrelevant. The problems boil down to two issues. First, the front matter is all but nonexistent, and this makes the printed book appear amateurish at first glance as soon as the first page is turned. Al could spend a little time on this and the book would have a much more professional look. In contrast, the back-matter is outstanding! The final page, describing Ana Darcy's personal website, should be added to the first four books in the series. (Of course I realize this is out of the question for the print versions, but this page could easily be added to the Kindle ones.) The second formatting issue is more complicated (and more annoying). Recirculation should have been only about 200 pages, possibly lowering the price even further. The font is too large, the text is not justified, and each page begins with a new paragraph. I understand technically how this happened, but I am sure most readers would be quite confused by it. The result is that many pages containing a few large paragraphs show large expanses of white space at the bottom. Pages with many short paragraphs of dialog are less affected. Readers of a future DC6 would probably appreciate it if Al would work on some of this technical mumbo-jumbo.
I can see it coming already. Ana's half-alien, genius son will be exposed by nosy media personnel. Somebody in the editing room will see that boring footage that the gossip show left on the cutting room floor and all hell will break loose! The best thing about Recirculation is the storyline and the Spielbergian character development, as is the case with the four previous Distant Cousin books. This part of the friendly space alien saga features the teenaged twins, Julio and Clio. We learn much more detail about Julio's engineering acumen and Clio discovers healing powers she did not realize she had. There is a section of the book that takes me back to the Don Juan books of the wonderful Sixties when Clio goes to Mexico to meet with a traditional healer. Ana's flying pod takes the crew on yet another adventure, leaving the reader salivating for DC6. What more could the readers ask?
There is a lot I could say about the plot, but of course I won't. If you have gotten this far in the series, you already know what to expect. The best thing about the Distant Cousin books is that the reader can so easily visualize the movie in his or her head with very little provocation. The storyline is new, yet familiar. The essence of Spielberg's Close Encounters or E.T. remains pervasive throughout. The characters and dialog tell the story. The whole thing is show, don't tell in a manner that any reader can appreciate. The storyline flows, the characters develop comfortably, and you feel as if you are so glad that you know these people! I was particularly pleased with the pacing of this fifth in the series, the way it begins slowly and gradually accelerates to the end. Personally this is my third favorite, behind Reincarnation ( DC3) and Distant Cousin, and clearly ahead of DC2 (more action and less character development) and DC4 (emphasis on new ancillary characters rather than Ana Darcy). My final grades are: formatting C-, editing and proofreading A+, storyline A.
"Hey, Joe, come over here a minute. Have you seen this? I know most people would think that kid is just shining on his captive audience for a goof, but I've heard of that fancy thing he's talking about. It's been discussed in certain scientific papers. Some experts think it will be a real breakthrough. I'm going to make a few calls...."