Dawn of Man by Elbert Lewis
Writers Club Press Trade: ISBN0595185878 PubDate: July 2001
Review by Rob Archer
408 pages List price 20.95
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I personally enjoy reading the early forays of an author into the jungle of book publication. Dawn of Man, a recent work by Elbert Lewis Jr. is an example of the creativity that can often be found in these stories. He takes some of his personal experiences and combines them with his wonderful imagination to spin a really interesting tale of science fiction and adventure that will have the reader turning the page long after they plan to put it down (though this could also be because several chapters were on the healthy side of 40 pages).
Lewis does a good job of jumping right into the story and beginning the introduction of the two primary characters all in one fell swoop. He sets the context in due time, but the character development begins immediately. It is during these early pages that we are taken back to the time that Mark Olson (The character in Dawn of Man...not the accomplished NESFA Critic -ed) spent in Vietnam and how his experiences there will shape the rest of the story. Flashbacks can be hard to accomplish in literary form, but Lewis handles this very nicely, jumping back and forth in time to provide additional details as needed. From beginning to end, the author’s ability to handle action sequences shines through. He is able to describe quite vividly the battles that at times range to include G.I.’s, North Vietnamese, white supremacists, aliens (of course!), and MAN. I really enjoyed the way the story was able to paint the picture of combat in a manner that wasn’t cliché or over the top.
The story moves along two separate plot lines with several characters playing important roles in each. Lewis shows how each impacts the other from start to finish and by the end they are completely intertwined. However, along the way we come to what could be considered two quasi-climaxes. The first instance leads to the circumstances of the second, having wrapped up much of the racial tension that drove one of the plot lines.
During the final conclusion and action scenes the author juggles several simultaneous developments adroitly. There are certain aspects of the closing chapters that bring to mind the movie Independence Day, but thankfully without Bill Pullman’s (or was it Paxton? Can anybody tell them apart?) hokey speech! I suppose this can be expected though since there are only so many large scale battle scenes between Earth and invading aliens that you can come up with. In fact, I most certainly enjoyed Elbert Lewis’ manner of dealing the coup de grace, though I suppose our good friends down under might not feel so charitable.
Perhaps most lamentable is that after the dramatic closing battle scenes on land, air, sea, and most importantly space, the Epilogue ends up in no man’s land. I would have preferred ending the story with the close of the last chapter, or with a fuller final accounting in the post script. I felt sort of in limbo with an idea of how most of the characters finished up, but still grasping for a bit more information and a fuller understanding of the resolution to the quandary facing one of the principal characters, Logan in the final pages. Is the author leaving the door open for a continuation?
As Dawn of Man is self-published (iUniverse), the benefits of professional editing is evident by its absence, but I liked his style and story line. I generally lean towards alternate histories and the odd fantasy series but this was is pure Science Fiction story and I'd recommend it to readers who enjoy creative action adventure.