May 25, 2020


Book Review - There Was A Silence: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol IV (by T.E. Mark)

Title: There Was A Silence: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol IV
Series: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark (Volume #4)
Author: T.E. Mark
Genre: Science Fiction, Anthologies
Publisher: Paragon Independent Publishers
Release Date: February 2nd, 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 422 

"A University of Chicago Neuroscientist, plagued since childhood with visions of a post-apocalyptic Earth, explores the 3rd degree of consciousness to confirm her belief that our world ended in a nuclear holocaust nearly 100 years earlier. THE 3rd DEGREE OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Peyton Webb is unknowingly creating alternate futures with his newest novel. And the survivors of one of those futures are desperately trying to conquer time travel in an effort to send someone back to 2019 to stop him from finishing it. THERE WAS A SILENCE

Capitoline-E is the world’s largest, most illustrious city-state. For those in the restricted sectors, it’s a vast open-air prison and an Orwellian nightmare. When Jin Cress’ family is targeted by the ruling elite, he must choose between his comfortable existence and a battle for the right to control his own mind. BORDERS

In this sensitive, often amusing tale of a failed screenwriter faced with execution over a drug debt, we are invited into Michael Lemont’s world of dreams, inadequacies and his struggle to remain a 17-year-old party guy. Along the way to understanding the supernatural forces which intervened in his murder, Michael will uncover the difference between what is fun and what is important. PLAIN AND SIMPLE"

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as "stories [that] examine the human condition in various contexts; in each story, a question is posited, an exploration made and conclusions are reached", and the synopses detail post-apocalyptic settings, paranormal events and mind-altering states which impact the choices each character makes. After reading and thoroughly enjoying the previous anthologies "Dreams Inc." and "Net 2.3", this next installment was a must.

The Good
"There was a silence" is a collection of 4 novelettes, some set in the near to far future, with each story exploring how our mind and awareness affect and determine our reality. But they're also grounded in today's world, looking into all too familiar current global issues: humanity's penchant for self destruction and war, immigration and close down borders, nationalism and fascism, technological surveillance and social propaganda... so even though the novelettes are set in post-apocalyptic futures, the characters still share the same human flaws, dreams and hopes of today, making each narrative feel realistic and relatable.

Written in a screenplay format combined with a lengthier narrative structure, each novelette could easily be adapted to a full-length movie or tv show, moving from scene to scene instead of chapters and alternating between different points of view and time frames. Fast-paced and thrilling with plenty of suspense and action sequences that will keep you on the edge of your seat, unexpected twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very last line, but also thought-provoking moments that will make you wonder what you might have done were you in the character's position.

Each story is unique and independent so the anthology doesn't feel like a variation on a single theme, but instead explores different possibilities in diverse situations. Because this volume deals with the mind, some stories are (appropriately) a little confusing at first when switching between different timelines, but the author manages to weave all the subplots together in brilliantly connected endings. The main characters are 3-dimentional and realistic, with recognizable and relatable doubts and insecurities, goals and motivations. Despite the short length typical of a novelette, each story is imaginative, evocative and with enough background details and information to gives us a strong sense of the worldbuilding and the characters.

"The 3rd Degree of Consciousness" -  Zarinah Fadish is a neuroscientist in her mid 40s who believes life on Earth ended 100 years ago. And if the world is dead, then who are they, where are they, and how much of the reality everyone perceives is actually real? Conducting a series of experiments in the 3rd Degree of Conscious, a chemically induced state where a person experiences reality free from the perceptions of the conscious mind and the fantasies of the subconscious, Farish hopes to find time capsules buried in a post-apocalyptic landscape that might contain the answers. But not everyone wants Fadish to uncover the truth. Rating 5/5 - a story that focus on humanity's drive for self-destruction and war and makes you question what's real and what's not, and how much our conscious minds dictate our reality; it got a little confusing when the main character's own sense of reality gets all messed up but it fits the plot with a brilliant twist and ending I did not see coming.

"There Was a Silence" - Peyton Webb is a 40-year-old best-selling novelist still reeling from the death of his wife and struggling to finish his latest satirical novel of an imaginary fascist regime. In the utopian world of 2245, 55-year-old Secretary General Carmina Bartome finds herself under pressure from the general assembly of the city-state of New Athens to step down, and in order to fulfill her father's dream of a united world, she must quickly devise a daring plan that will keep her in office. In the post-apocalyptic world of 2245, 55-year-old Science Advisor of the post-war Western Coalition Carmina Bartome works under constant attacks by wasteland gangs, desperate to find a way to send someone back in time to 2019 and stop the man who started it all. Rating 5/5 - a little predictable about halfway through but still thrilling and with a hint of humor; one of the timelines didn't seem relevant at first but it did show that, even in the best possible worlds, there are always those who choose power over freedom and those who fight for a better future.

"Plain and Simple" - Michael Lemont is a 31-year-old failed screenwriter turned small-time drug dealer after losing his family due to his own inability to grow up and take responsibility. Michael hides his failures and insecurities behind a mask of sarcastic humor and frequent partying with a select group of friends; but when a supernatural event stalls his own execution at the hands of his wannabe drug boss, Michael is forced to reevaluate his choices while trying to figure out how and why life gave him a second chance. Rating 4/5 - a slow-paced story set in current days Los Angeles that plays with the struggle of wannabe actors and screenwriters, who take on menial jobs in order to make ends meet while trying to make it in Hollywood; the way the author breaks the 4th wall as the main character interacts with the reader while recalling past and current events is a work of art, but it was hard to keep track of the different timelines, the lovey-dovey and epiphany scenes were predictable and the open ending frustrating so it lost a star... but that's a matter of personal taste.

"Borders" - In the first decade of the 22nd century the ancient Greek style city-states have been reinstated all over the world, segmented into closed and rigidly controlled racial and ethnic sub-sections, their population secretly monitored and controlled by the Guardians, trained to think for you, manipulate you, damage you and neutralize you. Jin Cress is a 19-year-old driven young man of latin descent assigned to Capitoline-E's Sector C16, who learns to think for himself and becomes a Knower not under the control of the Guardians. Feeling their power threatened by Jin's self-taught abilities, Councellor Royce Ami (a high ranking Guardian) and Commander Itani Tor (Capitoline E's Ministry Administrator) target Jin's family while Eric Federo, a rebel who spent his life moving people around from police-controlled restricted sectors to places without curfews, gangs and electromagnetic borders, has plans of his own for the young man. It's up to Jin to decide what to do with his knowledge and either join the system or rebel against it. Rating 5/5 - not the end I was hoping for but still a great tale about racial segregation, totalitarian regimes, mass control and manipulation, liberty of thought and freedom of choice.

Final Rating
"There was a silence" is an anthology of 4 fast-paced and thrilling novelettes set in a near and far future, written in a screenplay format with suspenseful plot twists but also thought-provoking moments. Recommended for those who enjoy sci-fi stories in post-apocalyptic settings that make you question the nature of your reality.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

"Life may be different than the way we perceive it. In many ways, it should be different.This is why I write."

T.E. Mark - Writer / Screenwriter

T. E. Mark is a Freelance Writer, Screenwriter and Violinist living in the United States. He was born in Bath Somerset where he lived for five years before coming to the US in 1981. He currently resides in San Francisco California.

Though best known for his fiction writing, he crafts articles for national and international magazines such as DISCOVER, ET Energy and Home Power, and often writes on education issues for major US universities.

His full-length novels and shorter Novelettes display his thought-provoking visions of our potential future and blunt, often sarcastic views of our present state of affairs. His screenplays are strong and compelling and always leave you with questions.

In a recent Author Interview, Mark was asked: What three pieces of advice he would give to new writers? He responded:
  • “Never use words like phlegmatic in print unless your intent is to piss people off. There are better ways to impress. Design an office block or bridge or something cool like a solar power car or skyscraper.”
  • “If you don’t have anything to say, read other writers’ books until you do.”
  • “Practice. Read and write every day and never quit.”
Mark also reads and writes poetry – publishing a selection of his personal favourites at the website titled: The Urban Scratch Project. When asked ‘why’ during a 2018 book signing he offered this response:

Ray Bradbury

TE Mark has studied Music, Architecture and English in the United Kingdom and the United States. He’s a member of Writers International, The International Writers’ Guild and continues to write and teach the violin and viola from his Bay Area cooperative.

Previous in the series: Dreams Inc.: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol II (book review)
Previous in the series: NET 2.3: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol III (book review)
Next in the series: Binary: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol V (book review)



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