Thought provoking sci-fi read…a definite read it yourself book. “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”—William Shakespeare, As You Like It
This Shakespearean quote aptly describes Ellison Blackburn’s Flash Back. Some time in 2024, man has discovered how to stop cell degeneration, reverse aging up to a certain point and physically take your body back in time through gene splicing and cell regeneration. Could undergoing Renovation, the above process, be the proverbial golden fleece for longevity? In the chronicled life of Charley, Blackburn makes a real attempt to address the real problems people face if Regeneration/Renovation was even remotely possible. Every good thing comes with a sacrifice.
Charley, at 52 years old, finds herself depressed and unhappy. She finds herself in a circular day in/ day out existence and she begins asking herself the question of “Is this It?” She also finds herself looking at her husband and marriage and comes to a disheartening conclusion that even though she loves her husband and he her, they are living a life of coexistence. Through the help of a psychiatrist, Charley decides that she will go through the process of Renovation as a means to give herself the chance to make different choices that would lead her to a different existence. Even though Charley goes through all the processes to make sure that she was doing the procedure for the right reason. Charley does not foresee trouble in certain fundamental aspects of her life namely: Michael and how she would be viewed by society/how society would view her. Charley comes face to face with the ramifications of the procedure and finds that life as she knew it would never be the same. She would become someone else and so would he.
While Blackburn makes an avid attempt of a true science fiction masterpiece, her story does not fulfill its true potential. Not in the fact that the scientific or writing aspect wasn’t down, it was in the deliverance of the story. While Blackburn does put in the prologue that the story you are about to read was a chronicled life of a Regeneration Xer, Blackburn lost me with the journal within a journal format, flashbacks, and dream within a dream. At some points of the book, I found I had to read the section twice/thrice to have a full understanding of what was going on and who was talking. Secondly, there were certain topics in the book, I thought did not lend anything to the main idea of Regeneration. While some of Charley’s self analysis was relatable, I could not say that most people would even have any of the thoughts she had. Thus, some of the relatabilty I once had in the beginning chapters died as I got further into the story.
All this said, Ms. Blackburn does have tremendous writing potential and this book I would say is the stepping stone of a brilliant science fiction story. I would read her work again.
Ab Fab Book Blog December 5, 2015