Verdict: Safronoff creates a riveting story, beautifully written, which--though it borrows from other sources--achieves a high level of tension.
The End War is over. The Collective has taken control, running their operation from a towering building known simply as The Spire.
“Maladjusted” people are given “plug and scrub treatment”, a genetic enhancement using designer drugs to make them conform. But other more dangerous drugs are being tested on unknowing subjects, who are being chosen based on certain characteristics and life histories.
The central conflict of the story—which include strong fantasy elements cooking side-by-side with the sci-fi–exists between The Collective’s police state, the ‘samples’ or persons exposed to their drug experiments, and those making and distributing illegal drugs for profit.
The fantasy part of the story includes characters that grow fangs, talons and one who turns into a dragon. Is it real or hallucination? Apparently real, based on the damage done by the drugs. Dragon, aside, many of Safronoff concepts—loosely based on recent developments in our own world—are merely elevated to extreme levels.
The main characters include Joshua Falken, who survives his drug experience but is baffled by his ‘bad trip’, and Sara, with whom Falken falls in love, who is also being sought. Chemist Gabriel Beaumont is being hunted for his knowledge along with Eve, originally an “enhanced” Collector who has turned is being sought for termination for not carrying out orders.
The writing style is at times almost poetic and very descriptive during the drug haze sections, as well as the one-on-one battles. A beautifully composed section about ladybugs could easily fit into a literary work. There are many original vocabulary words, but most readers will work out what they mean without too much trouble.
Safronoff creates a riveting story, beautifully written, which–though it borrows from other sources–achieves a high level of tension.
Reviewed for IR by Joe DelPriore
Purchase Spire from Amazon