Posts

Pennsylvania Omnibus

My Review:
I’ve posted reviews of Pennsylvania, Parts one and two, and now this review is of the five installment omnibus, the novel. I will gloss over many of the finer plot points because I don’t want to be a spoiler for anyone. 🙂

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I’m a fan of Michael Bunker. So he would have to do something completely out of character in his story for me to have issues with it. But like always, he is consistent, and the remaining three installments of Pennsylvania lives up to my expectations.

Since this was my first Amish Sci-Fi, I didn’t know what to expect. Would everyone be named Yoder (although there is ONE Yoder family)? Would the story center around quilting and wood furniture sold to tourists? With those caricatures aside, I find the story to be entertaining, while at the same time showing a segment of religious stalwarts thrust against a technological future and having to find their niche in a hostile world. I also find Pennsylvania refreshing because it’s a science fiction story has room for God, and not in a derogatory fashion. While the book isn’t Christian fiction, it shows a people that rely on their faith and their God while having to deal with the actions of others.

When Bunker speaks of the “plain” people, you can tell that he has taken pains to pay due respect to a people that has resisted societal ebbs and flows. His writing is genuine concerning them, and it makes for a realistic story foundation. The story itself moves along well, with many plot twists and turns. For a while in the thick of it, I found myself second-guessing character actions and motives. I think that makes for some good reading.

There are a couple of d*mns and h*lls, and several instances of battle violence. I appreciate Pennsylvania not because of this, but at how sparingly Bunker used them. I didn’t have to worry about hard cursing, graphic violence, sex, zombies, or vampires. It makes for a novel that I would have no trouble recommending to my mother (if she ever asked me for a good Amish Sci-Fi book). So in all, if you are looking for a good science fiction read, then pick up the Pennsylvania Omnibus. You will not be disappointed.

Pennsylvania 2: Non-Electric Boogaloo

My Review:

Pennsylvania: Episode 2 – Return of the Jedediah

I think my subtitle (based on a successful 80’s movie) for the second Michael Bunker short story I’ve read is cool, but not as cool as Non-Electric Boogaloo.

Michael ratchets up the action by 10 in the second installment of the Pennsylvania series. We find our young Amish hero fully immersed in the events of New Pennsylvania. Without giving too much away, he finds himself in a strange world where foreign forces are battling, using technology that is foreign to him. Why they battle, he doesn’t know. How he fits into it all, he doesn’t know either. No one is telling him anything, but one thing he does know is that he’s important, and people are risking their lives to keep him safe.

Michael’s prose is strong and clean, adding needed detail to tell a full story but leaving out the purple. He does well developing his characters as the story moves along. In all, Michael delivers in this second release to the Pennsylvania series. If you’ve read the first, get this to see where the story goes. If you haven’t, go buy the first and read it, then buy this one.

Pennsylvania Cover

Pennsylvania

My Review:

Hmm, science fiction plus Amish. Future speculation versus anachronism.

At first when I found out about Pennsylvania by Michael Bunker, I naturally assumed it had to be a satire; a poor man’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or something like that. How can a work of science fiction incorporate a people known, by religious ideology, to shun some technological advancement? So what I expected when I started reading and what it turned out to be were two different things.

Michael spins a great yarn in Pennsylvania. Jed is the name of the protagonist in the story, a young Amish man that is destined for great things. His great thing is moving to New Pennsylvania, a foreign, alien world with as much promise as the foreign land his forefathers inhabited when settling in America. New Pennsylvania is the utopia, the land flowing with milk and honey. But as young Jed finds out, things are not always what they seem, especially in New Pennsylvania.

It’s interesting to see how Michael relates Jed’s experiences to the reader. A wide-eyed, innocent Amish boy swept up in a world that is foreign to his comprehension. His reactions to situations carry the story along nicely and makes for an entertaining read. Many stories I read, especially Sci-Fi, typically contain one or two items that puts me off from the larger narrative, either religiously, morally, or ideologically. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do that. That’s the beauty of stories, that expression of varied ideas. What I’m saying is that it’s not often I read a story that I can so easily embrace. Pennsylvania is one of those few  stories. There’s no cursing (it is an Amish protagonist, after all) and no sexual situations. To me, it’s the type of story that would fit well with younger adults and children, yet it’s not necessarily young adult literature.

Plus, the cover is great. I mean, a horse and buggy with an ICBM (I think) launching in the background. You can’t beat that.

Luckily I came across this short story on the heels of Michael releasing the second part to his story, Pennsylvania 2: Non-electric Boogaloo. This means that I don’t have to wait long before I can indulge myself in the continuing journey of Jed and his companions. I’m sure the quality of the next installment will equal the quality of the first.