April 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Robinson Crusoe 1.000,000 A.D. by Terry Sunbord
Clocktower Books Trade: ISBN 0743309014 PubDate: 04/01/04
Review by Don Smith

248 pgs. List price $12.95
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"It’s the end of the world as Alex Kirk knows it and he feels fine," to butcher the old R.E.M. song. Robinson Crusoe 1,000,000 Ad is, what appears to be, Terry Sunbord’s first novel in the realm of science fiction. Alex Kirk is a clone who emerges a million years into the future and tries to survive, while still being haunted by the "memories" of his former self.

The "world" that exists in Kirk’s time seems to be more reminiscent of the last few chapters of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine than it does that of Daniel Defoe’s original Robinson Crusoe. However, the creatures are more cat/bear-like than the giant crab monster at the end of "The Time Machine."

Robinson Crusoe 1,000,000 Ad bears some similarities to Sunbord’s real life experience. In the real world, Sunbord says he "was a prisoner of corporate America" until his job as a VP/Technology "evaporated suddenly." This forced him and his family to "painfully liquidate…a lot of debt including a large mortgage" and move from Silicon Valley to the relative backwoods of Michigan. Sunbord must have channeled his own senses of alienation and deja vu into his story, as other authors have before him.

Besides the obvious similarity to Defoe's work, Sunbord’s story also reminded me of Stephen King’s book The Drawing Of The Three (the second book in the Dark Tower series). The way Sunbord described the Kirk’s surroundings, I was ready for the "lobstrosities" to come "diddi-chumming" their way up the beach, but they did not. If King did inspire him, that would be only fair, as his own The Wizard And Glass (book three in the Dark Tower Series) owes a huge debt to the L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. Even essayist Annie Dillard did it with the short story "The Death of a Moth" when she unseated king of the mountain Virginia Woolf’s short story of the same title (written about four decades before Dillard’s).

Unfortunately, the author has not mastered the art of storytelling, and he moves jerkily from idea to idea, scene by scene without much charm or grace. Alex Kirk’s story is only a chain of loose narratives about a clone waking up in the future alone. I find myself feeling disconnected from Kirk most of the time. I'd suggest that the author enjoy himself, but understand that he has a long way to go yet before mastering the art. I do think that Sunbord has talent, as it peeks out here and there and seems to wave and then goes back into hiding. It may take a while before he can coax it out into the open for more than a page at a time, but he may yet do it.

For a first book, and a self published one, it's not terrible and the author has no where to go but up. Personally, I hope he keeps trying.

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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