New Reviews

I’m thrilled to tell you that Mind in the Gap has been getting some very positive early reviews! Here are a couple of excerpts from three fantastic book bloggers here on WordPress.

Alexandra Peel says:

“On a superficial level, one could read these as sci-fi stories. The author’s understanding of science terminology is clear, and so we experience Artificial Intelligence (A.I), quantum physics, immersive technology, black holes, futuristic drugs, and insect sized cameras. There’s a whole world of technology on this level.

On another level, it is about human connectedness, the unconscious mind and our place,, not only within the world of technology, but the world, nay, universe as a whole.”

You can read the whole review here, along with Alexandra’s thoughts on other books, writing, and life in general.

Gavin Jefferson says:

“The science fiction is strong throughout, and some of the ideas blew me away. Some are heart-warming, some are terrifying: one felt as if I were reading a long-lost Hayao Miyazaki story. C.R. Is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors.”

You can read the whole review here, along with Gavin’s other reviews, thoughts, and writing journal. I had the privilege of reading his forthcoming novel Almost Surely early too and I highly recommend checking that out. 

David from The Gallifreyan Buccaneer blog says:

“The stories are surreal, short, sharp shocks that transport you to possible futures and are full of bold visions.”

“Sure, it’s metaphysical and tackles some huge issues but it feels to me like a real labour of love. An outpouring of a very clever and very creative mind. It’s literally bursting with ideas and has left me questioning the nature of reality.”

You can read the full review here, along with many other great book recommendations.

Eating Robots – Stephen Oram

Dystopian future fiction and sci-fi short stories

Imagine being a hedonist forever’…

Eating Robots is a collection of 30 short stories, offering bite-sized future visions based on technological advances, while holding up a mirror to our current social tendencies.

Most often I find compilations of short stories a bit hit and miss: there are powerful pieces, but hidden among weaker ones. As such I end up stalling, and taking much longer than usual to complete a book. Eating Robots is not like that at all. It is a strong collection with no weak links, and I couldn’t put it down. The stories are very short, sometimes only a page, and yet even in such brief pieces Oram manages to make a big impact. Of course, there is little space for character and plot development, but it is the concepts that are important here and they are conveyed in an innovative and distinctive way.

How do you think the world might look if we had an electronic universal credit system, whereby everyone received the same income? Where everyone would have adequate funds for food and clothing? It sounds wonderful. And yet maybe there would still be social outcasts; maybe new prejudices and poverties would emerge, because maybe that’s the way the human race works.  Continue reading “Eating Robots – Stephen Oram”

Fluence – Stephen Oram

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This has been on my ‘to read’ list ever since I finished Stephen Oram’s first book Quantum Confessions, which has stuck with me ever since like a vivid dream. I’m glad I got round to it because this is another illuminating and imaginative glimpse into a potential future for humanity.

This time we are introduced to a world in which social media influence is treated as currency (called fluence) and directly decides which class (strata) you belong to and therefore which privileges you have access to. The stratum are give the names of rainbow colours; red being highest, violet lowest, and white reserved for the disabled. The reds are the ruling strata, seemingly taking the place of government. There is also a group of people who have dropped out of the system altogether known as outliers. We get a taste of the way each strata lives, and the various struggles they face.

The central plot follows main characters Amber, Martin and Max in an intertwined way. All three are struggling with the system that contains them, and seeking the gold at the end of the rainbow. Every character is realistic and believable, which means they are not always likeable, but definitely relatable. Continue reading “Fluence – Stephen Oram”

Toxic Nursery – Carlie Martece

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Toxic Nursery is a semi-autobiographical coming of age story from the point of view of a girl with Dissociative Identity Disorder, more commonly known under its previous appellation Multiple Personality Disorder.

People with an already unstable sense of identity could possibly do without the name of their affliction being changed, but the previous name had been somewhat misleading, as none of the patients actually had more than one personality. They merely had a single personality that had been dismantled into component parts, with each fraction thinking that it was a separate person on account of a dissociative barrier between itself and the other aspects’

This is an illness I knew relatively little about at the beginning, though my recent reading of The Divided Self by R D Laing meant that I did have a good grounding in the ways our sense of identity can warp and split. This perhaps made me more sympathetic to hearing about such an experience from the inside as opposed to from the perspective of a psychiatrist, or maybe that was because I empathised with the particular concerns expressed. The sub-cultures and locations featured in this book are familiar to me, as are the benefits of art as therapy, and the feelings of being misunderstood by peers and professionals alike due to the stigma that is sadly still attached to mental illness. Continue reading “Toxic Nursery – Carlie Martece”

The Twenty-Four Hour Mind – Rosalind D. Cartwright

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Rosalind Cartwright is a leading sleep researcher, with expertise in behaviour and neuroscience. Her work has led to her becoming known as the ‘queen of dreams’ in her field. In this book she shares some of her theories and findings from laboratory tests and experiments with sleep patients.

Dreaming is a big area of interest for me, and although I largely subscribe to Jungian analysis I am always interested to keep up to date with new research on the subject. It is an area which, according to Cartwright, it is fairly difficult to obtain funding for, due to the application of knowledge about dreams in general being unproven, and being costly in terms of time and resources. The Twenty-Four Hour Mind describes why it is so important, and how furthering our understanding could be beneficial in the treatment of mental illness, behavioural problems, and even in law.

One of the most interesting sections of the book for me was the write up of some work the author did in exploring the link between depression and dreams. Cartwright follows the theory that dreams are part of our information processing function. While we sleep, our unconscious mind takes the new impressions received during the day and tries to match them to similar experiences in our memories. It is in effect filing things away for future use to keep the conscious mind current and clean. But when we become preoccupied with something, for example when a strong emotional impression is left by an event that is new to us, we can’t match it to anything and don’t immediately know what to do with the information. Continue reading “The Twenty-Four Hour Mind – Rosalind D. Cartwright”