Sunday, January 22, 2006

Title: Transmutation
Sub-title: A novel about Eternal Love
Author: Lydia Bisanti
Publisher: Buenos Books America
ISBN: 1-932848-12-6
Genre: Spiritual Fiction
Presentation: Soft cover
No. of Pages: 116

Transmutation is a Spiritual novel by Lydia Bisanti. It is about transmutation of the individual man to a Universal Man. The hero of the novel, Rene Eagle goes through a series of personal catastrophes (as seen through normal eyes) which push him over the precipice and help his ego to refine/ dissolve/ sublime.

Transmutation is a word used in alchemy and in nuclear science. It means changing one element (a base metal like lead or iron) into another noble element (like gold). The Philosopher's Stone is a 'mythical' object which is supposed to help the alchemist to transmute a base metal like iron and lead to gold. Philosophically, it is the transmutation of an egoistic soul (which because of its limited vision is naturally selfish) into an Universal Soul (a soul which becomes the whole universe and thus has no scope for being selfish). The purpose of each soul is to transmute itself into the Universal Soul. To achieve that, the ego has to achieve a sacred union with that missing complement soul, to which it is compellingly drawn. Till then, shadows of such soul (egos that have some semblance to that real mate) will attract the individual, resulting in infatuations, addictions etc. The objectives of various prayers, meditations and other rituals is to prepare the individual ego for this sacred union, which is the real fulfilling union. Eternal Love is the natural result of such an union. Till then, the ego goes through several planes of existence.

The author succeeds in bringing out these concepts well, which are not really new to eastern minds. The story is well told and grips the reader through out. Rene becomes Siva, the three-eyed God (the third eye representing true knowledge and wisdom), though the author doesn't use that specific name.

The book could have been edited better, but fortunately the communication comes through. I strongly recommend this slim volume if you have any leanings towards spiritual matters. Even without the spiritual connection, it makes a good read.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Title: Fighting Time
Author: Oskar Frankfurt
Publisher: Llumina Press
ISBN: 1-59526-514-7
Genre: Science Fiction
Presentation: Soft cover
No. of Pages: 204

Fighting Time by Oskar Frankfurt is a SF novel set forth in contemporary America but spanning into a few thousand years into the future and at a few places, into the past too. The book deals with gene therapy and its application to immortality and cancer treatment. It also deals with all the scientific, ethical, moral dilemmas that go with path-breaking research in any branch of science. There is not much of science in it for the hardcore SF fan. However, the ethical and moral issues of immortality, of premature human trials due to pressures etc. are nicely brought out.

The style is rather pedantic. At places, it reads more like a book on philosophy and ethics. The author uses the technique of dreams and their interpretation to make the characters speak of their sub-conscious thoughts and fears. A book within a book is a novel technique, atleast to me.

The story is not really that strange. It is predictable at many places. However, it is told in sufficiently good style to hold the reader's attention.

The book deserved better editing than what it received.

All in all, a good read if you are of the scientific bent of mind.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Title: Tattered Flesh, Resilient Spirit
Author: Craig H. Collison, M.D.
Publisher: Llumina Press
ISBN: 1-59526-169-9
Genre: Medical/Self-Help
Presentation: Hard-bound with dust jacket
No. of Pages: 171

When I read the press release about the saga of survival of the author, a medical man himself from flesh-eating bacteria's ravages, I was very much interested in learning more about the interventions that helped him. So, when an opportunity to review the book came up, I was very happy. And I am not at all disappointed with the result.

The author succeeds in holding the reader's attention all through with a fairly detailed and at the same time, highly readable account of the main factors that proved critical in his pulling through a gruesome and potentially fatal illness. The excellent medical care, the support of the family, esp. his wife Michelle and his own grit pulled him through the ordeal. Faith and prayers played an important part (that is the support part) and Dr. Collison is now quite willing to share these aspects with all patients and thus help them in their own recovery.

I would have preferred to see a more detailed account of the disease and the reconstruction (with possible figures, sketches and photos), since a picture is worth a thousand words. Also, the author could have discussed the possible source of his infection to alert the readers about similar possibilities. The photographs of his family inside the book could have been in color.

The book is very well written and the editors should be complimented. A few typos remained in the book, possibly escaping the proof editor's eyes. I felt that the price is a little on the higher side.