Clarity (Epsilon Book 1) by R. James Stevens
In the year 2077, the world is stricken by an epic natural disaster, sounding the death knell of modern technology. Sent back to the Dark Ages, billions perish in the aftermath. Seven years later, the scattered populace is left to fend for themselves against rogue organizations that seize the opportunity for a power play in a world without power.
Three individuals; three separate paths. All will be irreversibly entwined as they search for the answers in an attempt to reassemble the pieces of their broken lives. But will they find what they seek, or will they stumble upon the devastating truth that lies just beyond their reach?
The Epsilon series explores the events seven years after the catastrophic death of a technological society.
The first installment, Clarity, begins in 2084 and focuses both forward and back on the raw, emotional journeys of former friends and partners. Will they band together to help right wrongs and restore order to the scattered remnants of the populace? Or will their quests for individual fulfillment tear apart an already worn bond?
“Ambitious, character-driven dystopian novel”
Five Star Review on Amazon By Michael Meyerhofer
I had the good fortune to stumble across this book a couple weeks ago. I “met” the author online and he gifted me with a free copy, in exchange for an honest review. Right away, R. James Stevens scored points with his professionalism, though he won even more with his writing.
As other reviewers have noted, this is not a “traditional,” linear story. Instead, it features lots of flashbacks that give it a somewhat postmodern feel, which I appreciate. In another review, I saw “Clarity” referred to as a “thinking man’s” book. I completely agree. This is one of those books that I had to read slowly–not because of any deficiency on the part of the author, but because I wanted to really appreciate the obvious care put into the narrative.
On the surface, this is a sci-fi dystopian novel with some dark/horror elements, but what I really appreciate is its ambitious way of weaving together several different character arcs, with all the characters feeling distinctly unique and different from the others (a rare feat in spec lit). I often complain that too many modern speculative writers trust usual settings and/or dramatic events to win the day. Not so with “Clarity.”
Stevens wisely keeps the emphasis on the characters, so that in one sense, this novel is something of a character study. However, Stevens supplies plenty of well-written action to keep things moving. I also appreciate that he avoided the impulse to provide “infodump” and only hinted at the backstory (especially the government’s fall), leaving the reader’s imagination with some fun work to do. In that sense, despite their different genres, he reminds me of George Martin or Raymond Feist, with a little Stephen King and Mary Shelley thrown in.
Put another way, this is a book that thinks highly of its readers and conveys a great deal of respect for its genre. It asks a lot but it pays off the reader’s investment tenfold. I’m anxious to read more of Stevens’ work and I wish him much success!
About the Author
R. James Stevens, born in a small, sleepy town in Western Pennsylvania, had always taken a deep interest in reading and creative writing as a young boy. While focusing primarily on Sci-Fi and Fantasy as a child, he also found reading historical novels fascinating. Several of his literature teachers throughout his academic career encouraged him to pour his mind out onto paper when doing assignments, which freed his ability to write stories they way he imagined them, rather than sticking to strict conventions of storytelling. During his time in the US Air Force, he met his wife. He happily put writing on the back burner for nearly 15 years while he worked at his career to support his growing family, hoping that some day he would find a reason to put pen to paper once more.