T. C. Southwell, Children of Another God (The Broken World Series, Book 1) Smashwords, 2010 Format: ebook (97,613 words) Free
In order to research the genre of science fiction and fantasy novels in preparation for writing one myself, I’ve been reading the novels of others. This book by T. C. Southwell is a good example of self-published sci-fi novels that are readily available today. Southwell has 31 novels available on Smashwords.com. They aren’t all free, but Children of Another God will give you an excellent sample of the genre. I recommend buying more if you like this volume.
Children of Another God tells the story of Chanter and Talsy. Chanter is a Mujar, a race of beings who can assume various forms, such as an eagle or horse, dolphin or human. A Mujar lives a hundred years exactly and cannot be killed for any reason, although they can be imprisoned in the Pits. Humans use and abuse Mujar for their own selfish or terrible ends, yet they hate Mujar because they have no emotional attachment to anyone or anything.
Talsy is an eighteen year old woman who desperately longs for adventure and freedom from the conventional human lot for women who are treated as little more than cattle. When her father captures Chanter and uses him for his own ends, then intends to imprison him in a Pit, Talsy rescues the Mujar. Then begins their complicated relationship which leads to surprising ends and to the potential salvation of the human race, which is not guaranteed by the end of the novel.
Southwell’s storytelling is well-done. The author’s considerable imagination concocts a world, or rather worlds, that reflect a dual judgment on humanity. People are truly evil but are capable of great good, and people can rise above their base nature with difficulty. One reviewer complained about Talsy’s deliberate endangerment of others by her actions, suggesting that this detracted from the story. For me, this was the heart of the story. Talsy represents those who want to be more but are bound to their debased humanity. It takes great effort for her to learn and rise above herself. Kudos to Southwell for telling such a story!
Another reviewer demurred the “blatant” Christian imagery. For me, the Christian character of this book was a pleasure. It was wonderful to see an author who used the Christian gospel as a tool to present the story of humanity and salvation without bludgeoning the reader with a gospel mace. The same reviewer felt that the picture of human beings as a pack of dogs was overdone. As a Christian, I felt Southwell did a tremendous job showing the reader how far the race of men can fall, how horrible its actions can be, when people operate on the level of the flesh alone. I suppose how a reader reacts to the Christian message behind the book depends on where he or she stands in relation to that faith.
All in all, if you want to read a valuable book, I recommend this one, but I add a couple of warnings. First, Southwell sometimes drags out an aspect of the characterization or plotting, and this can be a bit tedious. I prefer novels to make their point and move the action forward quickly, but that’s a personal preference. Second, Southwell spent too much time describing a gruesome dissection of the Mujar by men searching for knowledge but succumbing to brutality. The Mujar lived and survived with Talsy’s help, but the detail almost made me stop reading or skip ahead. An author should not do this to the readers. Yet, in the end, I admit the long scene was critical for the storyline. So, if you read it, persevere. You’ll be satisfied when you do.