Author: Johanna Gedraitis
Genre: science fiction
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
One of the occupational hazards of reviewing books is that, when you tell somebody “I review books,” they may just hand you one to review. This happened to me recently at ConQuesT, a science fiction convention in Kansas City. My companions at the con expressed a hope that the book, Johanna Gedraitis’ novel Facilitator, would be better than the amateurish cover. Unfortunately, one can judge this book by its cover.
Like any author, I have received negative reviews, and they are not fun. In this case, I attempted to contact the author and offer to not review the book publicly. She has not returned my email, so I am publishing my thoughts here.
The basic concept of the book is interesting – two oncologists, one British and one American, are kidnapped while at a convention in Chicago and taken to Latebra, minus their spouses. Latebra is ran by augmented humans called vytoc, who consider themselves “facilitators” of the human settlement. The concept, in short, had promise.
Alas, the promise wasn’t realized. Our two doctors wake up in the stereotypical white room, and their abductor arrives to educate them about their new life. Despite the vytocs’ great ability, including enhancing themselves to superhuman strength and great regenerative powers, the food they are feeding the humans causes cancer. So, our doctors are tasked with developing a cure! Hello? The vytoc can make humans who can survive a car bomb with only a headache, and can keep a city stocked with breathable air, but they can’t cure cancer or figure out how to grow non-cancer-causing Earth foods?
Chapter 1 disposes of the succeeding eight years in a paragraph, and finds our doctors happily at work. Apparently they were abducted from our past, because one of the doctors misses his punch-card-driven computer. That’s the only hint of time I found in this story, so I didn’t know if it was deliberate or an authorial error. Later, we meet the vytoc AKA enhanced human head of security. He carries a Mauser C98 “broom handle” semi-auto pistol, obsolete even before the Second World War, and what’s worse, he loads it with blanks because it jams every time he fires it!
I also found the layout and mechanics of the book off-putting. The margins were too wide, and the lines were set, not at single space but at 1.5 spaces. This made the book feel padded. The book is told in third person, with no defined narrator, yet various footnotes, most of them not terribly useful, dot the text.
In short, I really can’t recommend Facilitators to anybody.