Dancing with Eternity, by John Patrick Lowrie: The Perils of Immortality

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WINNER OF THE FOREWORD FIRSTS AWARD

Dancing with Eternity ($17.95, 416 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-810-0), by actor John Patrick Lowrie, is a sprawling galactic odyssey that takes Steel, Mo and the crew of the starship Lightdancer on an incredible voyage of adventure, self-discovery, and revelation.

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“Dancing With Eternity is about life and death. It is also about love and loneliness, pain and joy, and what could happen if those experiences and emotions wither away. Most of all, the book is about loss—loss of intimacy, of loved ones, and of connections to other people as a result of technology.

“Readers of the genre will likely recognize the influences of Olaf Stapledon, Fred Pohl, Cordwainer Smith, and other writers from the early years of American science fiction. Lowrie has taken those influences and kneaded them into his own life experiences to produce a story that is at once fantastic and recognizable, populated by real people with real dilemmas against a backdrop of stellar travel and adventure. This novel well deserves its selection as the inaugural ForeWord Firsts winner.”

—J.G. Stinson, ForeWord Magazine

Featured book recommended by New Myths’ authors: “In the best tradition of A.E. van Vogt’s Voyage of the Space Beagle …. The author explores human relations in a future without death–or nearly so. In some ways, perhaps unintentionally, the book conveys an almost religious message:  Beliefs and sorrows spring from the past, and hope looks to the future, but only love transcends time.”

—Robert Enstrom, NewMyths.com

“Dancing with Eternity flows very well on the page and both the universe and the characters are revealed slowly with moments of tension, adventure, desperate situations and escapes, while twists and turns abound. The novel so impressed me that I had to reread it immediately after finishing it and then I appreciated even better the little tidbits whose full import the reader won’t realize until much later. Overall Dancing with Eternity (A++, top 10 novel of 2011) is a stellar debut that shows why science fiction is still the most interesting genre of today.”  Read more …

—Liviu Suciu, Fantasy Book Critic

“This truly is a fascinating take on our future and is something I think many people will enjoy with John’s imaginative (and at times almost foreshadowing), expansive and engaging storytelling. Needless to say, the reader is in for a fast-paced, fun and intelligent ride that never seems to let up.  With the witty characters and detailed story, it will keep anyone reading it engaged and wanting more.  For a first-time author, Mr. Lowrie knocked it out of the park like a true veteran of the genre.  I highly recommend this book to any fan of science fiction or a fan of adventure in general as it delivers on all fronts.”  Read more …

—Mike Angileri, Rely On Horror.com

“Every once in a while, a new novel comes along that is both epic in scope and, at the same time, focused on a very personal, human drama. John Patrick Lowrie’s characters do indeed dance with eternity …. This dense story is far richer than a capsule summary can suggest. In the best tradition of the best science fiction, the galactic setting is painted with vivid, believable detail …. I suspect many readers will find themselves holding on to their copy so they can return to this adventure at least one more time. Dancing with Eternity can’t be fully absorbed in one go. You’ll want to re-boot yourself—back to the first page.” Read more ….

—Dr. Wesley Britton, BookPleasures.com

“Dancing with Eternity crackles on every page … Lowrie has written an amazingly bright and witty story about our distant future.”  Read more …

—Chuck Sigars, Mukilteo (WA) Beacon

“Humorous and thoughtful, Dancing with Eternity [is] a fun read for science fiction fans with a strong interest in deep space travel and other elements of the far flung future.”

—Midwest Book Review

“As an ex-NASA tether specialist and consultant on the Shuttle tether missions, I found this a refreshingly accurate narrative of what it might be like to experience such life and related activities that [are] outside our normal realms.”

—Dave Lang

“This novel is lush and highly imaginative, and backed by the author’s encyclopedic knowledge of our world and his deep understanding of what makes us human.”

—Jerry Stubblefield, author of Homunculus

“A very thought-provoking novel of ideas. I spent many hours contemplating the moral, ethical and social challenges of ‘rebooting.’ Anyone who enjoys reading either Kim Stanley Robinson or Neal Stephenson will get a big kick out of this book!”

—Hugh Hastings, Actor

What would happen if Odysseus met Captain Ahab in the Fortieth Century? Only Captain Ahab is a beautiful woman named Steel who owns her own starship, and Odysseus is an unemployed actor named Mohandas who’s stuck on the backside of a backwater moon because he won’t pay his taxes. Oh, and everybody—well, almost everybody—lives forever, did I mention that? And there’s a telepathic Internet that allows the entire population of the galaxy to communicate at will and even experience the world from another person’s perspective.

John Patrick Lowrie and his wife, actress and voice artist Ellen McLain (the voice of GLaDOS in the video games Portal and Portal2) will read excerpts and sign books on the following dates/Washington locations:

September 10, 2011, 11-1 p.m.: Mostly Books in Gig Harbor
September 26, 2011, 7 p.m.: The University Bookstore in Seattle
October 2, 2011: 3 p.m.: Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island
October 12, 2011: 7 p.m.: Village Books in Bellingham
December 9, 2011, 6:30 p.m.: Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park
December 16, 2011, 7:00 p.m.: Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane, WA.

Watch a video of John and Ellen in action:

 

As a man of many talents, John Patrick Lowrie has put considerable thought into the relationship between his skill sets. “The one craft that all of these arts share is listening,” John says. “Listening is central to the actor’s craft. It is vital to composers. And it is crucial to any writer who wants to illuminate human behavior. The task—the obligation of the actor, the composer, the musician, the writer—is to let the audience see themselves, laugh at themselves, grieve for themselves, applaud themselves.”

In Dancing with Eternity, Lowrie has created a thrill ride of adventure, space travel, new worlds, and hard science projections. This thought-provoking novel explores timeless philosophical questions that challenge our traditional beliefs about love, sex, and spirituality.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Patrick Lowrie was born in Honolulu and raised in Boulder. At 16 he left home to make his way as a singer/guitarist/flautist/ trombonist in a rock ‘n’ roll band, sleeping in parks and communes. After surviving the draft, he graduated with highest distinction
from the Indiana University School of Music and for a few years managed to make a living as a composer and guitarist in his acoustic fusion duo, The Kiethe Lowrie Duet, garnering critical acclaim. He then decided to become an actor because the pay was better and the work was steadier (truly!). He and his wife, Ellen McLain, now reside in Seattle where they divide their professional time between acting in live theater and voice-acting for computer games and radio dramas. You may know him as the voice of the Sniper in the computer game Team Fortress II. You can find John on the Web by visiting his blog or his website.

For review copies, please contact Catherine Treadgold at Camel Press: Catherine@camelpress.com, (206) 414-7673.

To schedule an interview, please contact Jen Richards at Over the River Public Relations: Jennifer@otrpr.com, (201) 242-9637.

Read on for an excerpt:

I could see her relax, like she’d just found out she wasn’t going to have to shoot her dog after all. It made me tense up. I wasn’t sure I liked being that important to her, or anyone.

I was already second-guessing myself. What kind of job was it that made a person act like that when they found someone to do it? I couldn’t read anything in those liquid eyes but relief—a lonely, exhausted relief propped up and propelled forward by an almost frightening determination. For a moment we just stood there with the wind massaging us and roaring in our ears, the moss green cliffs arcing away to the north and south, cut here and there by lacy cataracts and free-falling horse-tail flumes. I could barely hear the pulsing white noise of the surf—far, far below us. I wanted to say, “Listen, Cat-Eyes, why don’t we forget about your little project and set up shop right here? We could have a nice little surf ‘n’ turf place at the end of the rail and sell shells to the tourists that say ‘I saw the other Vesper—Nohili Point!’ when you hold them to your ear.” I wanted to say it. But I didn’t.

It was interesting to watch her compose herself. She was very efficient at it. One or two short breaths and poise slid back over her like a curtain. “I’d like to leave right away,” she said. “You don’t need to go back for anything, do you?”

I looked at my new boss, trying to bury any romantic fantasies. “No,” I said, “I imagine I can get along without anything I’ve left behind.”

“Good. We have about five hours of daylight left and I’d like to use it.” She gave me one look of generalized approval, turned and walked briskly back into the forest. Ham lumbered after her.

“I’ll just follow along, shall I?” I said to where they’d disappeared, and started walking.

I caught up with them at the entrance to the tube. It was just a few meters down the trail to the beach, right under the monorail platform. It descended inside the cliff to the desalinization plant at the foot of the point. You wouldn’t think they’d have to distill salt water right in the middle of a rain forest, but the magma sink heat exchangers had a thirst that matched the temperatures they dealt with. Cat-Eyes (I didn’t know if I could ever think of her as “Steel”) looked at me as I walked up.

“We’re under a fairly acute time constraint,” she said, and she looked at the tube entrance. Then that wry smile came back. “But I need to see what kind of shape you’re in. Come on.” She started off down the trail.

In a few meters we came to the edge of the gorge cut by the waterfall we’d ridden over. The trail switchbacked down the south wall. “Trail” may be an exaggeration. It dropped the thousand meters to the beach in just over a kilometer, a meter down for every meter forward. But some stretches were fairly level, which meant other parts were watch your feet and hope the root you’re clinging to doesn’t pull out of the cliff. It had never been built, just worn into the rock and jungle by the employees. This was before the syndicate, in its infinite mercy, decided to let them use the tube to go swimming. I guess they finally figured out that it was cheaper than re-booting them when they fell off the trail.

I’d been down and up it before—one of the things I did to keep healthy after I got kicked off the net. I didn’t know how she knew about it, I didn’t know why she wanted to use it, and I didn’t know why we were going down to the beach in the first place. All in all I felt the master of my own destiny.

The work started right away. To get over the lip of the gorge and onto the south wall you had to scramble fifteen or twenty meters, maybe the height of a six-story building, down a web of strangler fig roots to the first ledge. Twenty meters of root ladder can be kind of airy in any circumstances, but this one was at the top of a thousand meter drop, with a jet of water off to our right that we could watch falling and falling and falling, down and down until it shattered in a small pool that was still only a third of the way down. Then another long fall into another tiny pool and the final, timeless plunge to the minuscule strip of sand at the base of the cliff. The hammered steel ocean was softened at the shore by tiny white fingernails of surf.

Steel hesitated at the edge. “Wow,” she said.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

She just stood there for a moment. I think she was hesitant to show any weakness to me. “When we came up this it was foggy. You couldn’t see anything but the route in front of you.”

“Why didn’t you take the tube?”

“I didn’t know about it.” Determination hardened her. “Let’s go.” She grabbed a handhold and swung down onto the web, picking her footing, but moving with speed and grace.

And why were you down there in the first place? And how did you get there? And where were we going, and why? And several other questions of that general ilk. I waited for her to get a safe distance below me and started to descend, Ham bringing up the rear.

Everything was still wet from the rain; it made the bark as slippery as a politician’s promise. There’s nothing quite like the rush you get when your feet start to slide with nothing under you but air. Your arches cramp, it shoots up your calves, through your inner thighs to your groin, your stomach does something very strange and then—POW! Your pulse rate triples, it zings down your arms, and your palms and inner wrists ache from how hard your fingers are gripping. I made it down to the ledge with my dignity fairly intact. Ham climbed like his arboreal progenitors. Of course, he had two more thumbs than I did.

The ledge at the bottom was comfortably wide and descended steadily but moderately for a while. Cat-eyes, or “Steel,” or “Captain Steel” led us downward, sometimes with staggering views of the falls and the ocean, sometimes burrowing through leafy tangles of shrubs and vines. As often as not we would be scrambling down root ladders or bare rock. The roar of the falls would crescendo as we approached, then recede when the trail switched back the other way, in a regular, soothing rhythm. Steel kept up an impressive pace.

The gorge enfolded us like a green womb. Each measured negotiation of a fractured rock face, each heart-pumping glissade down the grease-slick, ropy chaos of a root system pushed the lip of the falls farther above us. Each quiet, leafy tunnel, each thundering, misty turn behind the diamond column of water brought us closer to wherever we were going. As the silver ribbon of the monorail bridge receded above me so did the last ten months of my life. ’Burbs place and vacant idleness, Sheila’s room and the sad, mechanical physicality that never would have blossomed into intimacy, the oppressive, corrosive sterility of the ’works. Time had stopped for me in Spam-town, and Cat-eyes had started it again.

And what would I do with that time? Before Spam-town had been Shaughnessy and the show. We’d played forty cities on fourteen worlds in the last five years. And before that, other companies and other shows, other tours, other cities, other planets. I’d been an actor for most of the twenty years since I’d last re-booted in Palermo on Mondoverdi. Before that … Before that was the last time I’d been old, truly old.

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