Book Review: The White Light of Tomorrow by D. Pierce Williams

Brief Synopsis: Set far in the future, a knight is on a journey seeking forbidden technology to cure his adopted daughter-turned-squire of an unknown ailment.

There is a fine line between the genres of science fiction and fantasy, and as someone who often enjoys the first but rarely the latter, I frequently find myself face to face with it. It’s difficult to distinguish what makes a work fit in one category rather than the other. I’m inclined to label The White Light of Tomorrow as both, for a few reasons. First, there are elements of technology which do not exist in the actual world, such as civilian owned and operated spacecraft, artificial gravity, DNA storage devices that function like flash drives, and cloning technology. Additionally, as with all well-developed futuristic novels, there is an alternative history; snatches of it pop up occasionally throughout the book, but it is not explained entirely. Perhaps the most significant factor is the presence of sentient beings who are not human. Yes, there are non-humans in The White Light of Tomorrow, but they are not your cliche vampire/witch/werewolf/alien creature. They are not anything that would be expected in a fantasy novel (although to be honest, are there ever any realistic expectations for a fantasy novel?). These creatures are more along the lines of AI (artificial intelligence), which could play more towards a sci-fi definition. Ultimately, the genre is unclear as far as fantasy or science fiction. It is most definitely action though.

I really wanted to like this book. In the end, I just couldn’t. I was wary from the beginning of the use of the language of a crusade and knights in a futuristic setting. While I don’t want to be oversensitive, I was intensely bothered by the use of the term “Christian” being applied to something that is so far from the reality of my beliefs, or those of any modern Christian I know. It was also a major turn-off to read about characters who claim to be committed to a certain philosophy or worldview, but as soon as it becomes inconvenient or when there is no one of authority with the same philosophy around, they turn against it. This isn’t revisiting the issues of the early Christian Reformation with a new backdrop; the characters have no allegiance to anyone except themselves and perhaps a few friends. Their morals have no grounding and they change their minds flippantly. These are not people whom I can cheer for, and while I certainly don’t want to cheer for any of their opponents either, I simply have no desire to be a part of their world.

If all you’re looking for is action, then this would probably be a fine book. There are an overabundance of fight scenes. Does it really matter how the hero defeats the villains who outnumber him? To a point, yes, but I really have no desire to read about the actual swordsmanship or the gore that comes in his escaping yet again. The protagonist, Adrian, realistically would never have time to heal from one battle to the next and I highly doubt that anyone could carry on as he does for so many battles.

I’m struggling to find anything else that could possibly redeem this book. I finished reading it about a week ago, and it has taken significant time to attempt to write what I hope is a fair review while being true to the acute personal response I had while reading it. I suppose it was well written, as in there were no long lulls between the action, the plot moved fairly quickly (especially when you just skim the fight scenes), and there were no editing errors. However, this is far from enough to make up for the vulgar substance of the story. I haven’t even mentioned the awkwardness that is the relationships between some of the characters yet, and I’m not going to get into it; just understand that they are unnecessarily complicated and, at times, inappropriate.

Ultimately, this is what I got from The White Light of Tomorrow: Space knights attempting to carry out the Inquisition in the very distant future, and one of them has a daughter with a condition that causes people from various backgrounds to end up working together to solve a mystery. It’s graphic, lewd, sexist, illogical, and just plain disappointing. I cannot in good conscience recommend this book.

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