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The Watcher
by Nicholas P. Oakley
See Sharp Press, $13 trade paperback, $7 e-book, $5.59 Kindle, 230pp
Publication Date: November 1, 2013
The opening pages give the distinct impression that this story occurs on a future Earth that has forgotten its past and regressed to primitive tribal life. The story can thus be seen as an allegory, given the following interpretations by others:

From See Sharp Press: “Our latest science fiction novel. A fine coming-of-age tale with well-drawn characters in a far-future setting, brimming with social and political questions on technology, primitivism, ecology, and the uses and misuses of consensus process.”

From “Set in the far future, on the tribal world of Dodona, this debut science fiction novel tells the story of Tian, a young hunter struggling with loss of her childhood lover who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. When Tian's tribe is threatened by violent slavers, she receives help from a Watcher--a monstrous, mythical creature who is actually a genetically enhanced anthropologist from an advanced civilization. Through the juxtaposition of the pre-civilization tribes and the technologically advanced society of the Watchers, the novel explores themes of the role of ideology and tradition in daily life.”

I really enjoyed this. The philosophy is closest to Eric Frank Russell’s classic novel The Great Explosion, which also had a loosely organized culture, although they were more successful at avoiding the problems in this one: violent slavers, an evil empire trying to subvert from without, and inside leaders who don’t hesitate to lie and murder. So in this novel we address the issues of what can prevent or ruin a peaceful utopia, and how to deal with them. No easy answers like in Russell’s novel, but I’d still put the two together for thoughtful readers. ~~ Mike Griffin

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