Review: The Guardener's Tale by Bruce Boston

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Guardener's Tale by Bruce Boston
Sam's Dot Publishing
ISBN 1933556781; Paperback, 273 pages

The Guardener's Tale comes from the personal files of Sol Thatcher, Guardener, G-21, retired.  It is written semi-informally as a scholarly investigation of and reconstruction of the aberration of Richard Thorne.  We're somewhere between Brave New World and the role-playing system Paranoia--no specific date is given, but tech has moved a bit beyond ours, and the society is recognizable.  Wars have made large swaths of the Earth largely uninhabitable, and society has "learned from its past mistakes", has rebuilt itself, and is expanding outwards ever so slowly, with no enemy but the past--the structured and cultivated city reforming the slums.  Advancement is possible from any rank, though a well-formed "flower" of a mind is required for citizenship.  This flower can either be natural or conditioned in; and tending and pruning the flowers is the bailiwick of the Guardeners.

Bruce Boston has a light touch, and while neither the world nor the story are light-hearted, it is, on the surface, a simple tale and a swift read, with just enough humor to ease you through.  The story follows several primary players--Richard Thorne, his chosenmate Diana Logan, Daniel DeLyon, and DeLyon's half-sister Josie.  Richard is the aberrant that the story revolves around--it is his choices and actions that our narrator seeks to understand.  All of the other characters are stripped down to their causes and intents, but Sol is at a loss to explain the eventuality of Richard Thorne.

As a scholar coming to the story after the fact, the narrator has full foreknowledge of events--he is seeking, through the recreation of Richard's story and all the details therein, to understand Richard's fall; and through that, how to keep others from such pained ends.  We are constantly having events foretold, but where this would usually offput me no end, in this tale I find it fun, and even tantalizing.

We learn how Richard meets Daniel, and through him, Josie; see a few chance encounters grow naturally to greater things; we learn of Diana's hopes and fears, and through them learn about the society; see Richard and Diana struggle with their relationship; and Richard and Josie struggle with theirs; and eventually have to accept the consequences, and at least consider the premise that there is no perfection while free will exists.

"The Guardener's Tale" is told plainly, with simple characters that let the society shine through them.  As with any dystopian story, it's a "cautionary" tale of modern society, a story about the society envisioned by the author as much as about any of the individual characters.  It's a fun romp for those who love dystopias, as I do, and filled with interesting technologies and things to contemplate--bacchanalian "personal freedom nights" hearken to Brave New World, and "Halls of Expression" Star Trek's holodeck, while "virtual vacations" have more the taste of Total Recall; and glideways bring a smile to my face with memories of "The Roads Must Roll".  And amidst it all is just the tale of humans struggling to exist and co-exist.
- reddit, digg, facebook, stumbleupon, etc... please! ;)
posted by kaolin

16 comments; 0 subscribers

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 05:46:33
Post a comment with the phrase "I NEED A CYBERSCAN" and we'll put you in the raffle for our copy (and possibly one more). Entries will be accepted through July 24. We'll only ship to the US.

And let us know what you think of the review and/or book. :)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 06:56:00

it's just been so long since my last one aha "]
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 08:05:47

I like the review. It gives a full description of the book without giving too much away.

As I wonder with all book reviewers, I wonder how you came to choose this book. I had not heard of it before.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 08:12:48
As the author of The Guardener's Tale, my thanks to Kaolin for the review and to GUD for posting it. However, I found this review a bit simplistic and incomplete, and consequently misleading.

TGT is a darker novel than the above indicates. It includes murders, betrayals, and incarcerations. Two of the major characters have their memories wiped and their minds reconditioned.

The main protagonist of the novel is not Richard Thorne, as stated above, but Sol Thatcher, the Guardener of the title. At the level of character, TGT is the story of a middle-aged man's loss of faith in the beliefs that have directed and sustained his life. Through the other characters, it explores the themes of romance, love, friendship, family, and personal transformation.

At the level of structure, and also to some extent theme, TGT is a metafiction, a novel about a character writing a novel that comments on the nature of novels and the experience of writing a novel.

Events are not foretold, but foreshadowed. This is why Kaolin found it tantalizing rather than off-putting. And many of the central events in the narrative are not foreshadowed at all.
Other reviews have noted that TGT has a complex plot that is full of surprises.

For what I consider a more balanced view of TGT, please visit….html
where you can find quotes from reviewers and readers, and links to online reviews.

And if you don't win one of the two copies of TGT up for grabs, but would still like to read the novel, email me (link at my website), mention GUD, and receive a 25% discount off the cover price.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 08:13:49
We've basically got an open call out, trying to spread the word of small press offerings. We knew Bruce Boston through Issue 0, in which he had a comic (co-produced with Larry Dickison), "Gut Busters"; but we also post the odd bulletin on MySpace about it and I've made a note that we do reviews part of our MySpace "thanks for the add".

I think there's only a small handful of books we've got on our plate that we actively sought out. Our goal at the moment is to review any small press item sent to us, good, bad, or indifferent.

I appreciate the feedback!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 08:22:20
Hmmm I wonder how that feels?
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 08:32:31

Great Review, and cool looking cover.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 11:50:53

The book sounds very interesting ;-)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 15:22:37
"I NEED A CYBERSCAN"...I really do!
After reading Bruce Boston's Flashing the Dark (a collection of 40 short stories), it'd be great to experience The Guardener's Tale. I'd love to win.
Pick me - Pick me - Pick me!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 15:56:07

Sounds good and seems like a good review (without having read it).
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 / 16:18:30

Sounds great!!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007 / 14:37:43
Saturday, July 21, 2007 / 06:26:26
Monday, July 23, 2007 / 17:13:34

I'm not very good at contests.
Thursday, July 26, 2007 / 13:59:18
Funny, Sal. :)
Thursday, July 26, 2007 / 14:06:38
The winners are ares and JL_Benet. I'll be contacting you by email--congratulations! And thank you all for participating.

Subscribe to this feed to keep up to date with reviews:….xml

Or on livejournal:…_reviews/

Do you have a comment? Log in or Register; registration is quick, painless, free, and spam-free (unless you ask for it)