Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ascending Spiral -- Dr. Bob Rich, PhD

Humanity's Last Chance
Marvelous Spirit Press
ISBN: 978-1-62599-186-0
ISBN: 978-1-61599-187-7
March 2013
Philosophical Novel – Purchased by reviewer

The story begins in 2011 when Dr. Pip, a psychologist, is communicating with his patients, and then he tells the reader his existence spans 12,000 years. The suffering he has endured has steeled him for his job to help save humanity. The remaining story is divided into some of his reincarnations beginning with Padraig, who lived in the early ninth century AD. Padraig meets this being’s love for the first time, a woman named Sheilagh. The name changes but she reappears through the story. Their island community is raided by Vikings. Then Pip goes through life as Dermot, an Irish Rebellion rebel, who ends up transported to New South Wales, Australia. His next consciousness is as Amelia, a woman trapped as a possession-wife. Pip even goes through a period as an intelligent plant on another planet (not so farfetched for someone who already believes in plant intelligence), and then as the being whose sins begin this soul’s journey. The last part is Pip’s life which is also plagued with prejudice, bullying, hatred, and abandonment. Pip also works to overcome his own negativity but delivers the final warning to all humanity.

Each short story of Pip’s character evolution contains emotional situations, adversity, and also some awareness of previous lives, plus a historical placement. This gives Ascending Spiral: Humanity’s Last Chance aspects of both a historical and a science fiction novel that evolves into psychological character studies about the human condition. While it has philosophical and religious overtones, it is not about either. Who the intelligence talking to Pip after his many deaths is unclear and left questions about what was beyond his sentience, and whether this is Pip’s last life. Will he evolve again, or is it a situation where all humans must reach a certain level of ethical integrity to save ourselves and our world? This is left to the reader to judge.

As a reader, I agree with the precept of the novel’s final warning and found Pip’s many incarnations entertaining. The idea of the other characters also being on their own transformative journeys but in groups that influenced each other repeatedly in different lives seemed somewhat strange, and that these souls were at different stages in their development raised questions that distracted me from the reading. A few long sections of a character telling of their past rather than enacting it slowed my reading. However, the ideas behind the novel make it a worthwhile and thought-invoking read.

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