Reviewed by Morgan
Title: A Solid Core of Alpha
Author: Amy Lane
Narrator: Paul Morey
Heroes: Anderson Rawn/CJ Poulson
Genre: MM Paranormal/Sci-Fi
Length: Book – 320 Pages / Audio – 10 Hours, 58 Minutes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: Book – August 8, 2011 / Audio – September 28, 2012
Available at: Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Audible and iTunes
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: In an act of heroism and self-sacrifice, Anderson Rawn’s sister saved him from the destruction of their tiny mining colony, but her actions condemned the 13-year-old to 10 years of crushing loneliness on the hyperspace journey to a new home. Using electronics and desperation, Anderson creates a family to keep him company, but family isn’t always a blessing. When Anderson finally arrives, C.J. Poulson greets him with curiosity and awe, because anyone who can survive a holocaust and reinvent holo-science is going to be a legend and right up C.J.’s alley. But the more C.J. investigates how Anderson endured the last 10 years, the deeper he is drawn into a truly dangerous fantasy, one that offers the key to Anderson’s salvation – and his destruction.
In spite of his best intentions, C.J. can’t resist the terribly seductive Anderson. Their attraction threatens to destroy them, because the heart of a man who can survive the destruction of his people and retain his sense of self holds a solid core of alpha male that will not be denied.
Review: Anderson is thrown onto a ship by his sister just as his home planet is being destroyed. In an attempt to keep the planet’s memories alive, the ship is set to fly to a distant star system 10 light years (10 actual years) away, and he is the only living soul on the ship. He’s twelve.
What a set up!
The first half of the book is 12 year old Anderson using the technology aboard the ship to create an alternate universe of “friends” and helpers made with holographic technology. In this world, Amy Lane has created various pulses of magnetic energy and air can create touch and other sensation, but lacks scent or taste.
Anderson grows up on this ship with his helpmates but is saddened as puberty hits because he has inadvertently created all heterosexual playmates set to the “standard” the computer came equipped with. But… he has created his playmates to be sentient, so they grow with him, and they actually create various suitors for him once it is realized that Anderson is gay.
Once puberty hits, new “files” are opened up – the Health and Hygiene files, with reams of adult books, movies and porn. Needless to say, there is a lot of cyber sex going on for those first post-pubescent years.
As time goes on, it becomes clear that there isn’t enough energy to keep all these holographic figures running if they are going to make it the full 10 years to the next space station. Tough decisions have to be made, and it takes someone with strength to make them. That person happens to be Anderson’s “husband” Alpha. (Who also abuses Anderson horribly.)
Eventually, they arrive at the space station, and Anderson disembarks to meet CJ and his sister and her husband. The space station is specifically equipped to handle these sorts of space/psychological situations (travelling for years at a time in a tiny ship can mess a person up!), and so they prepare to treat Anderson like any other lost soul. But… CJ can’t help but be caught up in Anderson’s story and in the man/boy himself. Though he knows it’s terribly unwise (how can Anderson not be completely crazy after what he has endured?), CJ is drawn to Anderson and needs to protect him – even if that means protecting him from himself.
Let me start off with a few facts: I don’t like “space stories”. I love Amy Lane. I put this book off even though I have read and loved all her works because of the “space”. Finally, as I was in the car for hours on end, I decided I really wanted to listen to this.
Let me just say – I couldn’t stop listening!
It was amazing. So hard to listen to, but worth it. The story is mind-boggling in its anguish. I can’t even imagine being in space for 10 years by yourself. As a child!
Anderson’s “rules” that he set up – which were essentially to save his sanity, ended up nearly killing him, but that begs the question – what is real and what isn’t? In Anderson’s mind, his “friends” were real. So when he had to “turn them off,” he felt like a murderer. There is no way that it could be anything else but for him to accept that his friends were real so he wouldn’t be alone. You can see the dilemma.
All of his “friends” were parts of himself, so killing them was like killing himself as well.
Anderson had to decide to preserve himself and the data for the purpose of having stories live on but at the expense of his own “family”. I’m sure there is a Shakespearean or Greek story that mirrors this. Amy Lane is a freaking genius and has probably read everything in the English language. But I’m not sure of a direct correlation.
All I can say is – though it is amazingly painful to read/listen to, it was brilliant and thought provoking and achingly tender.
If you have a spare 11 hours, I highly recommend listening to this. Paul Morey, as usual, did a fantastic job, using various voices and accents and was just excellent!
Overall Impression: It was amazing
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*