Robert P. Bennett, Blind Traveler Down A Dark River
reviewed by Jerry Wright
Blind Traveler Down A Dark River|
Author: Robert P. Bennett
Trade Paper: 205 pages
Available July 5, 2005
One of the neat things about this job is that occasionally, I get to see books before the rest of y'all. Once in a while, a writer will ask if I would be willing to review his book, and I will say, sure... Send me a copy. In this case, Robert Bennett, the author of Blind Traveler Down A Dark River (shortened to "Blind Traveler" for the rest of this review) was still going over cover art and such with his publisher, and so sent me an MS-Word DOC file.
I read the first couple of chapters and said, "This is pretty good, for a new writer." But reading a novel from the computer is not real practical, and the alternative, printing out 400 pages, wasn't terribly attractive, although I've done it before. Then I got my E-Book Reader, and everything changed. I stuck Blind Traveler on the Reader, and voila! I could, and did, take it everywhere, and read almost compulsively, and stayed up way too late.
Blind Traveler is a combination near-future SF/Mystery novel. And both the SF trappings, and the mystery, are well done. In fact, the mystery couldn't have happened without the cool gear owned by Douglas Abledan, a blind man who gets around using special GPS enabled equipment specially developed for the blind.
The world that Abledan inhabits is not that big of a jump from our own, but a few years from now, the Earth's magnetic fields have shifted, and you think we have problems with earthquakes NOW? Just wait.
Anyway, a corporation has just created and is getting ready to market a new construction material they call Plasteel; lighter, cheaper, and stronger than steel. Just perfect for construction in earthquake ravaged areas. What's not to love? Well, evidently a lot, because the CEO is killed in what seems to be a random drive-by. Only there was a witness. Douglas Abledan, blind man, saw the whole thing happen. The problem? He was half a city away.
As he is walking to work one day his navigation device malfunctions. Suddenly he seems to be in a part of the city that he does not recognize, surrounded by images and sounds that confuse him. Through a series of missteps he stumbles upon the scene of a murder about to take place. As far as he is concerned, his equipment just malfunctioned, but when he hears a radio report about a missing man a few days later, the scene he “witnessed” starts to make sense.
Now we have several mysteries to solve. Whodunnit? As far as the police are concerned, it was a random drive-by shooting. Sad, but it happens all the time. And Abledan, confused and disoriented, physically a long way away, but according to the device he desperately needs to live a normal life, he was there, at the scene of the murder. If he can't trust his new senses, what can he trust? So Abledan investigates. And he finds way more than he bargains for.
Robert Bennett has written a taut, well-constructed puzzler with interesting characters, and an involving SF world. I don't think the book is quite available yet, but if you are interested in getting a copy, contact the author at RBennett@btis.com and he'll get you a copy, either dead-tree, or electronic version.
Copyright © 2005 by Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories