by Marc Rokoff
Phillip has dedicated his life to achieving cross-time communication through the NOLTEX assembler, an invention he’s kept secret to avoid being ridiculed by the physics community. He only breaks away from his work once daily to visit his comatose boyfriend, Justin, in the local hospital.
When a technological breakthrough allows Phillip to talk with himself three months in the future, there’s plenty of reason to celebrate the success. He has single-handedly invented one of humanity’s greatest scientific achievements. But joy leads to confusion when Phillip begins receiving strange messages from himself in the future. Adding to the intrigue is a curiously timed spatial anomaly that appears to be approaching Earth from a distant point in deep space. Are the two first-of-their-kind scientific phenomena coincidentally happening at the same time? Or is there some kind of connection between Phillip’s communications with the future and the approaching anomaly?
When a shocking global event upends Phillip’s attempts to investigate, he suddenly finds himself alone to resolve the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.
Concurrence was one of those books that called out to me when Mr. Rokoff offered me a copy in exchange for my honest review. I mean, I’m a science fiction guy and this one has all the right elements in it: a grieving lover; time distortion/communication; a strange alien force; a nice plot; scientist on a quest. I mean, what’s not to like?
Concurrence is a well written, well executed novella, thoroughly enjoyable and carries its plot well crafted throughout. A nice, enjoyable read.
Phillip – Phillip, the questing scientist on a mission to search for a way to somehow solve the persistent vegetative state his lover, Justin, was in following the accident. Anything to somehow bring the love of his life back. Never mind that everyone around Phillip, his family and friends, were extremely worried about his deteriorating conditions. His life had turned into a never-ending quest.
“Meeting Justin had been an extraordinary stroke of luck. They’d met at a Science & Art Convergence event fundraiser. Phillip was interested in learning more about creating educational science apps at the time and there was a speaker there, Elana Marshall, who was well respected for her coding. Phillip met Elana and also her quirky painter friend Justin – an adorable blonde smartass who painted stunning impressionistic scenes of massive trees, portrayed with the use of brilliant short bursts of color. The dazzling trees were all spectacularly offset by the dimly lit, barren desert landscapes in which they grew. Justin later admitted he’d been instantly drawn to Phillip’s awkward behavior and far too serious mentality.”
Concurrence is a good, solid science fiction trope. The scientist, considered rogue by the rest of the science community for different research lines and findings, urged on his quest by the sudden loss of the love of his life due to an accident. Justin is trapped in a vegetative state and Phillip is desperate to find a way to communicate with the future so he can warn Justin. What Phillip doesn’t expect is the end result of his successful research. I mean, who knew there were alien entities out there that could detect time anomalies?
This is a well written novella, well carried out and executed. This is solid writing that I’d like to see more of in the future with a more unique story line. His writing really deserves it.
The whole time anomaly communication with his future selves is well carried out, no hiccups or WTF’s, it flows seamlessly coupled with a really good ending – sorry, no spoilers here.
For a novella the timing and length is just right, however I’d have loved to know a bit more about the aliens, otherwise it’s a really enjoyable read.
THREE QUESTIONS FOR LISA
- What did you think of the story line?
- Did you enjoy the back and forth with his future selves?
- What did you think of the ending?
First time novelist, Marc Rokoff didn’t let himself off easily. Instead he took a very heady subject and saw it through. I can’t fault him for plotting or arc, but to have made this really work I needed to like the main character more.
To some, his awkwardness came across as endearing but his quick temper, obsessive nature and little tolerance for mediocrity was a barrier that pushed many away – even those he loved most.
Phillip – Scientist, introverted, gay and on the brink of mankind’s biggest discovery.
Side Characters –
Justin – comatose
Renee – concerned
Mother – concerned
Future, Past and Far Future Phillip – Still unlikable.
Phillip has isolated himself in his home laboratory working on a scientific breakthrough that the rest of the scientific community has ostracized him for. He has huge motivations for wanting desperately to see his invention work; his boyfriend is comatose but just maybe there is a chance at righting some wrongs.
His NOLTEX Assembler allows Phillip to speak to himself in the future. While this is an epic discovery for Phillip I was somewhat unimpressed by the impact of the event. After just a moment of speaking with his future self he basically says – cool, I’ll call you back in a month. I mean, for me, I wouldn’t ever cut off that connection. While the science is intriguing, again, the human aspect just didn’t make sense to me.
Mr. Rokoff has talent. I believe with some more experience he will be able to engage the reader more fully and drive his work to reach a wider audience. The sci-fi aspect of this book is solid and intriguing, even thought-provoking, but it’s the human factor that is missing. And in fiction, particularly fiction with a romantic bent, that human factor is going to make or break the read.
THREE QUESTIONS FOR OJ
- Did you like Phillip?
- Do you feel this satisfied your sci-fi needs?
- Gotta ask. The diaper?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marc Rokoff is a science fiction writer who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. His short stories have been published in the science fiction anthology ‘Just a Minor Malfunction…’ and in the SciFi magazine Perihelion. He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in video/digital media and has worked as a freelance videographer, a professional video editor and a Photoshop artist. In recent years Marc has transitioned into product marketing. All the while, however, he has been capturing his fiction stories in empty peanut butter jars and storing them under the bed until he was ready to share them with the world. In 2016, he started – finally – to let those stories see the light of day. Follow him on Twitter @MarcRokoff
© 2016 Marc Rokoff
All rights reserved.
Cover design by Marc Rokoff
Cover images licensed from depositphotos.com