In The Far Future, A Silver Train Glides On A Cushion Of Air Across The Wild Mountains, Carrying Within Its Plastic Walls The World Of Orphans Its Destination Nowhere The Illegally Born Must Live Out Their Lives Inside This Computerized Train Admin Wills It So But Young Garland, An Orphan Musician, Seeks A Different Destination Freedom in exchange of an honest review I loved this book Ms Piper s book has magical affect on me Simply because it was different from the stuffs I ve been reading for past few months Different in a feel good way The book is full of delightful characters Little Byte, my favorite and the dialogues are exquisite Story though simple is full of computer jargons which reminded me much of an onerous IT course, I went through in graduation I had my days, sigh The plot is structured through three tiers of the silver train Orphan, Landed and Nomads put in hierarchically, where Orphans are least privileged ones and had most of the restrictions on their way Garland the main character is ambitious and knows his destination as he breaks through the structure to find his way out.The book is descriptive and sucks you in a well knitted dystopian world With many themes associated it is bound to appeal readers from different genre Sci Fi readers would definitely love it as it s a fresh twist from other books in market My only problem was I d to rush through the last chapters to get the book completed in committed time whereas this is a kind of book I found I can read throughout the year slow and steady It s so good and hence you want to keep it coming in bits Maybe I ll give it another read soon.If science fiction is your food, you better stop starving and get this one Besides good story, if you re looking to hone your vocabulary and get acquainted with computer terminology this book works just fine. Train to Nowhere is a very creative sci fi journey that portrays a strange future society on an Earth ravaged by overpopulation if I ve read the clues correctly It doesn t provide any straightforward recounting of the history of this new world but lets you learn as you go based on the lives the characters lead In general I much prefer the subtlety of this style, although I did find it a little difficult to come to a full understanding of this unfamiliar era and could have used maybe just a bit structural background.The main characters are set up to be compared and contrasted at every turn and, personally, I was fascinated by the ongoing nature vs nurture undertones But make no mistake, the two characters, Garland and Hedge, are nothing alike in the end as it builds to a suspenseful conclusion.All in all, Piper has created a very imaginative world with well nuanced characters and leads the reader through a captivating story My only complaint is that in the context of this post apocalyptic world the characters story lines, while surely symbolic, seemed a touch mundane considering the epic nature of the changes our world had undergone I kept expecting things to tie together into a larger narrative that effected everyone we had been introduced to But regardless, it is an enjoyable, exciting read, and one I can definitely recommend. I can summarize this descriptive, dystopian book with a consideration about dreams never stop dreaming And the corollary attached to it be careful what you dream, your dreams might come true.Three, almost unconnected, societies castes each of them revealing the author s thoughts about our future, a pessimistic one, for sure share an Earth that is very different from the one we now know A future ruled by an AI Admin morphed into an almost divine overseer, keeping people separated in Nomads, Landeds and Orphans, in order to rule them easier The ruled know only what they need to know, and they are pushed to despise each other Yet, information is always a slippery thing that likes to mock any controller, and that s why, from all characters, I prefer Dos, the librarian he is the proof that Admin s mind conditioning can be overcome by determination, not by luck.And, to close, one of the most appealing things about science fiction fantasy novels is that they usually take place in fantastic and imaginative worlds, bringing up exciting images in a reader s mind Orphans world is one of them I received a free copy from the author. 4.5 starsTrain to Nowhere is set in a dystopian world in which a population crisis led to the three castes Orphans, Landeds, and Nomads The two main characters, Garland and Hedge, come from two different cultures Orphan Garland lives on a train that travels aboveground permanently Hedge lives among the Landeds, a relatively moral society than Orphan This coming of age story focuses on Garland who, na ve at first, has to grow as he s thrust into the Landeds world and has to struggle to find out who he really is and where he belongs.Hedge s dark and manipulating nature is fascinating to read about while Garland comes out as indecisive and na ve The strength of the book lies in the world building, from the interior of the Silver Snake to the Western World of the Landeds with carriages and horses to the Nomads with clan like, reminiscent of Native American tribes Orphans and Landeds are controlled by a computer AI known as Admin part human and AI It s not made very clear in the beginning why the AI looks after the Orphans, but it s implied that some of them become the AI.The beginning of the book with the Orphan jargon is quite jarring and, unfortunately, and frustratingly, needs a lot of rereads Had the book started with Hedge, it would have been relatable and an easy digest for the reader It took time to get used to and for me to understand and figure out the meaning of the jargon I ended up quite lost and rereading dialogues after dialogue Readers are, oh, so impatient these days, but it s worth keeping at it as the three worlds are so well described The Nomad world, which combines the physical spatial freedom and the freedom of expression both that Garland yearns for is not without its faults The elders of the tribes clans trust in the spirit instead of choosing modern medicine and facilities the Landed citizens have Garland nearly dies from sickness.Even though the story is well developed and structured in three parts, I didn t connect with any of the characters, but it was an enjoyable read nevertheless Other than population crisis, it wasn t very clear how the worlds came to recede to such Western like carriages drawn by horses The climax of a competition about performing left me quite baffled Both protagonists are talented, one flamboyant than the other My expectations somewhat revolved around Garland fighting the main evil who stay in power by keeping the castes separate and each prejudiced against each other Garland v s Admin. An imaginative and enjoyable sci fi adventure which benefits greatly from a strong, descriptive narrative and the two contrasting main characters, Garland and Hedge There was enough in it to warrant a re read as I m sure I ll enjoy it a second time, plus pick up on other things I may have overlooked It s well structured, unique and knows its audience an impressive effort and a recommended read for sci fi lovers in particular. This absorbing novel is a sci fi story mixed with an element of fantasy In it the two main characters, Garland and Hedge, are in conflict through an event in their past which does not become obvious to the reader for quite a while The Train to Nowhere is on a continuous journey with its passengers of Orphans and Landeds for reasons that are never explained There is another community, Nomads, who are free to roam and trade outside the train Garland feels a strong need to be free and to escape his controlled but comfortable life on the train I liked the way that the author plunges the reader into life on the train and into the contrasting lives of Garland and Hedge My curiosity about how this future came about led me to continue reading and the tale of each protagonist grabbed me from chapter 3 But I was disappointed not to find out what had caused the situation they were in For example why was the train pulled by a team of 21 horses And if there was no power available for transport how come there were computers everywhere, on and off the train, which would require much electricity Had there been a catastrophe on Earth that led to overpopulation, or was overpopulation a major cause of this strange resulting stratification of society While I am a strong supporter of letting the characters in a book reveal the reasons behind the context in which they find themselves, I thought that there was not quite enough information given to explain some of the things that bothered me at the end However, that is not to say that I didn t enjoy Gloria Piper s novel, because it was just that novel It was well written generally, with the exception of a couple of editing issues and the use of some expressions that did not sound correct For example The trail faded at an upsurge in the prairie jarred my senses because upsurge is better referring to feelings rather than objects And often characters rotated to look elsewhere when the simpler, appropriate, verb turned sounds normal and less like an acrobat.I cared about Garland and was rooting for him and Mystery Rider right up to the last page The relationship between these two and between Garland and Little Byte was very well done and Ms Piper shows a real talent for describing a characters inner thoughts and fears There were many passages in the book when I would have liked to have seen fewer full stops and commas and semi colons etc In other words a lot of times the frequent use of very many, very short, sentences had a kind of staccato effect which detracted from the descriptive flow of the scene portrayed on the page.Fans of Orwell, Wyndham and Bradbury would enjoy this fascinating tale of conflict and sci fi suspense The imaginative use of computer terminology in everyday language, such as deleting and VR to mean dying and unreal the skilful handling of emotions and her originality for a tale well told leads me to conclude that the author will attract many fans in the future. TRAIN TO NOWHERE is much darker than Piper s other books It explores the roles placed on individuals by society It s as if Huxley s BRAVE NEW WORLD and Twain s THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER became intertwined With the best ideas from both.In the book we travel with Garland as he moves from the very structured Orphan society on the Train which is run by The Admin , to the Landed society in the cities, which is ruled by public opinion not informed opinion, just opinion and the Nomads ruled by tradition.There is a lot of depth in this book, but don t let that stop you from enjoying it Its focus is firmly on the characters, mostly Garland and Hedge.As a villain Hedge is great, he worked hard to get to his position in Landed society, so when his Landed Privilege all the soft advantages or in this case not so soft afforded to him by being raised in Landed society, are taken away he is angry at all those who have taken away the fruits of his labors So he while being an entitled a hole, he also does have a legitimate gripe, he did actual work hard to get his position.Garland is the hero, but not a perfect hero, he is on the edge of ruthless in pursuit of his dream Not really understanding the line between compromise and selling out, not that those around him make it easy.All and all this is a very readable book with great depth. The novel plunges the reader into an Orwellian nightmare, and as I ve noted from other reviewers, it is difficult to get to grips with the text in its opening chapters However, for science fiction fans in particular, I feel the author does a praise worthy job of engendering a new language, a computational alternative to traditional discourse akin in its adept handling to Tolkien s Middle Earth vocabulary, to offer a rather poor comparison Although I found such terminology as Virus taken somewhat jarring to begin with, I felt that as the story progressed I began to comprehend this dystopian alternative reality and its nomenclature The general language is straight to the point, simple, but with a refreshingly detailed eye and some wonderfully piquant descriptions The characters, Garland, Little Byte and Hedge, albeit difficult to empathise with at first, endear themselves to you the former anyway , and the relationship between Hedge and Garland grips the reader in its clawed throe This is not usually my sort of reading material, but it was a refreshing change Any seemingly negative comments I have made regarding the difficulty of empathising with the protagonists and terminology is eradicated as the book progresses and one realises the author has very patiently built relationships and enigmatic backgrounds most successfully I would suggest perhaps another edit to eliminate some of the typos I noticed, although these weren t prominent and the book reads professionally I commend the author for formulating a detailed, fascinating, wondrous and paradoxically deadly world within these pages, and working the novel towards a thrilling stand off in conclusion. Train to Nowhere was an interesting and thought provoking read It has several strong components going for it, the most colorful of which is the setting and how the setting is portrayed The characters and plot are compelling, and the story is told in a fashion that is effective and crisp.Diving right into the world building one initial observation regarding the setting is the explicit yet smoothly integrated particulars embedded in the character dialogue This vocabulary perhaps slang , which appears relative to the setting scene character, is a quick and colorful introductory mechanism into the world In parallel, other aspects of the setting, such as behaviors, practices, and scenery, are revealed at a measured pace like honey from a spoon This pace allows the reader to become engrossed in such a way that the intricacies of this unfamiliar place became familiar and almost comfortable like a hot bath done right, i.e not entered abruptly.The setting deserves an additional note due to its ingenious structure There are three classes Orphans, Landed, and Nomad the classes are purposefully both culturally and geographically separate entities note the Orphans and Nomads are primarily mobile , and one wonders throughout the book whether or not these classes are equal to each other, which seems to be a thematic question posed to the reader For example, the Orphans ride on a train for life for all practical purposes but have the best of technology at their fingertips, whereas the nomads wander under the broad skies, but live a harsher, basic life than the Orphans so which is preferred I may have missed it, but the fundamental reason for the existence of the three classes was never quite clear to me Though it is stated that the existence of the Orphans is based on the fact that only one child is permitted per couple, and therefore additional children must be moved to the Orphan trains so it was not an entire mystery The reader can make some logical assumptions in any case Foremost it appears that the region or world is in post apocalyptic recovery, which has potentially forced the formation of the three cultures But what of their behaviors The differing behavioral expectations of the classes, while mysterious to me, was fertile ground for conflict, and compelling for that reason Examples include anything from jealousy of another culture s privileges this is explored through Garland, the Orphan who wants to leave the train for Outside to the challenges of cultural cross over there are times when the classes actually do cross paths, which creates an interesting dynamic between them As previously noted, Train to Nowhere s world has depth and complexity, but of course the story is not about the world itself that simply acts as a successful framework for the characters and plot The characters are interesting, and though it seems that they can be at times somewhat one dimensional other than the protagonist, Garland, who s complexity exists in his struggle to determine what he truly wants out of life , this does not come across as an oversight but rather a deliberate choice by the author meaning that most of the characters have straight forward interests and desires which very well may be a reflection of the cultures they have been brought up in Case in point, the two primary characters are Garland an Orphan , and Hedge a Landed which is a stationary, Amish like class sprinkled with progressive culture and technology Both are musicians, and both live in separate class structures, yet share similar desires expressed in different ways put simply, to improve their circumstances This motivation is pretty clear cut and singular for Hedge For Garland the protagonist , positive change is initially represented by a desire to escape from his life as an Orphan on the Orphan Train, and to explore and live among the freedom of the sunlit world but not only does it take time for to truly become a passion and not just a fancy , it grows in complexity as he experiences the world For Hedge, the Landed, change is represented by his desire to climb the corporate ladder of his Guild, and become one of or perhaps the most famous entertainer musician among Landed society Their twin paths continue in parallel, until fatefully their tracks ultimately collide, sending each into new and unexpected territory Both are ripped from their familiar comforts and confronted with new and trying circumstances, from which challenges and opportunity arise In this way, the novel explores the fertile ground of cultural cross over, a compelling struggle to shadow as an observer In general, there are times when I would have preferred some quicker pacing, and in an almost counter request an opportunity to smell, taste and truly feel what the characters were smelling, tasting and feeling the descriptions as they stand were effective and as I said, the world itself was genius , but at times the expressions could have been evocative for me That said, following these characters and the ensemble cast they intersect with throughout the book brings the reader along a thought provoking journey not only because of the character arcs and inevitable interwoven climax between the main players, but also because of the world that is revealed to the reader through their eyes, and its implications not only to them, but translated back to us, the readers, as any meaningful work will do.
When working in biology, I missed art When working in art, I missed biology It took a bout of multiple chemical sensitivities to limit me to writing At last here was a niche in which I felt old clothes comfortable At last I could indulge all my interests, from art and science to nature and spirituality, from reality to fantasy My most recent awards range from honorable mention to editor s cho
- 383 pages
- Train to Nowhere
- Gloria Piper
- 13 November 2019 Gloria Piper