Above the Lower Sky (Book Review)

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Above the Lower Sky
Written by Tom Deitz
Published by Avon Books, 1994
ISBN: 0-380-77483-6

Sequel: The Demons in the Green

It is late in the first quarter of the twenty-first century. Society has been changed by the native American discovery/creation of cheap and effective solar panels, giving them a large source of income, and financial independence. Using this, they, along with other disposed native people, have created a new capital in Central America, a new city, full of wonder and technology.

And magic.

This is a story of three people. Kevin Mauney, an American writer living in Ireland. Carolyn Mauney, the estranged half-sister of Kevin living in the new capital and working to study the cetacean ocean natives, and scratching her head and horrible mutilations and beachings of dolphins. And Thunderbird O'Connor, a Cherokee dancer also living in the new capital, and who refuses to believe in magic.

The novel alternates the POV of these three individuals, rotating from one to another in a spiralling circle, as they are slowly moved into place by a mysterious force, in order to fight another mysterious force. In a world of cybertech like technology, though without the depressing failing of typical cyberpunk, magic is real, and it is coming back to change humankind, or destroy it.

This is an interesting novel. I admit, I first picked it up years ago because of the dolphin and killer whale on the cover. It was also, as I recall, a fairly hard read until about half way through. Not sure why. There were certain characters I preferred, and I may have been impatient to get back to them. Having just re-read it, I found it was a much quicker read, and much more absorbing. Maybe I've matured, or maybe I knew the story and was willing to let it build at its own speed.

The transformations are not described in great detail. No shifting of muscles, stretching of bones, etc. The longest is about a paragraph. There are a few chapters spent in a different form by one of the characters, but that is it. It is about transformations though. A transformed world, a transformed enemy, and what could ensure given certain rules such as conservation of mass.

The science makes sense, though the magical solar panel is a bit much. But then, something like that is needed to set up the background human culture the story is set in. Even though they are magical, the effects of the cheap electrical power are well thought out. And, there are certain other neat ideas of near future tech to drive the imagination.

And, it is nice to have a cyberpunk-like world, without the cyberpunk baggage.

The characters are well drawn. There are tiny bits of infodump, but the reaction of the characters to the realization that their worldview is wrong is far more accurate than in most cases. None of this oh magic, neat! reaction. Lots of denial, which, to me, is more realistic within anybody brought up in today's modern technological beliefs.

Be warned that it might be hard going at first. But, it is worth it towards the end. And, everything spirals into a neat conclusion. A bit slam-bang-flash-boom-done, but then given what has to be done, there isn't really any other way to do it. The victory is well earned though.

Oh, and one more thing -- the sequel sucks. If you really want to, dig it up. But, in my opinion, it is sadly not worth it.