New Novel has Arrived
The Astral Imperative
Volume V – North Country
Growing Pains: Humanity Comes of Age
The Prequel to Vol. IV, we meet poet/warrior John “Seneca” Wallace as a teenager in post-apocalyptic America circa 3000; and we encounter Allwyn Mai-Her, the cloned, irascible, transgender genius growing up on Mars. And we follow the life of Jen-na Soulstar, Avatar, from childhood to adulthood, expressing the powers and ideas that will challenge our understanding of the universe.
“And it all hurt so much, that sweet sorrow that was our youth . . .”
Imagine a future that is manifest in the heavens, where humanity realizes its remarkable potential in the far reaches of the stars, a time and place where life strides the galaxies in myriad of forms and formations that defy all logic and expectations, where birth and death and the God of all things and beings and paradoxes meet on the edge of reality in a far corner of the universe that is the source of everything and nothing.
Imagine the journey to Mars and the moons of Jupiter, to the outer edge of the solar system and beyond. Envision the kind of men and women who will take us there and stretch our imagination and challenge our limitations – the kind of people who will die so that we might live and learn and evolve in spite of our pettiness and small mindedness.
Imagine the next Ice Age, the ever-stiffening cool breeze that blows across the Earth whispering the end is near while a Machine of our own making ascends to consciousness and our heroes roil in the redundant mux of red dirt and rocky canyons that comprise Mars.
Imagine the loneliness, being stranded on the dead, red planet alone with your thoughts, free of Earth; imagine the gravity of the situation. Imagine your thoughts when you see the moon from another point of view and see the Earth as a fading impression. What would enter your mind – if not who?
And you discover another form of life and you receive a message from far away place that is distinctly alien, yet strangely familiar, and you begin the think that you’ve been on Mars before, that you’ve seen it all in another life.
How is all this possible?
Imagine sitting at home on Earth, trying to explain the miracle of all this madness to your children, arguing about it with your husband or your lover or your wife, then talking about it to your clergymen—all trying to fathom this remarkable plight of being and not being able to take the leap of faith into another dimension.
Consider the frustration and despair. Then take the leap against all odds and project yourself across the galaxy into all kinds of alien minds and bodies. And you become lost in an unimaginable tangle of time and space, and you begin to realize that you seen all of this before, that you have already lived all of these lives in all of these very strange places and dimensions.
And you begin to wonder if you haven’t been possessed from the very beginning, if you aren’t a projection of someone else’s consciousness.
Imagine touching the mind of God at the end of this remarkable journey. Just try to imagine the next thousand years—or read the Astral Imperative.
The setting, the mission and even the plot fade into the background as the complexity of human relations move to the fore. By the time I finished reading I was stunned by how compelling a visio...
The setting, the mission and even the plot fade into the background as the complexity of human relations move to the fore. By the time I finished reading I was stunned by how compelling a vision Dresner had created!
The quest is as large as they come: To 'penetrate the mind of God.'The Astral Imperative, Volume I: The Dream – Presented as the first volume in a philosophically focused science-fiction trilogy...
The quest is as large as they come: To 'penetrate the mind of God.'The Astral Imperative, Volume I: The Dream – Presented as the first volume in a philosophically focused science-fiction trilogy.
In the year 2037, when the earth has been savaged by violence, the starship Aelita is headed into the void, the first human voyage to Mars, captained by Adam Sietzer, who has notions of bringing the world back together in harmony.
Dresner’s evocative writing is the kind that summons the dream of many an old science-fiction reader eager to recreate the “sense of wonder” upon first exploring the cosmos between the pages of a book. He’s colorfully descriptive: “Dusk on the red planet was most beautiful; the sky turned vermillion, blue, yellow, with an occasional hint of green and violet, the landscape turning to pastel shades of gold and pink. Distant peaks cast long and languid shadows across the rocky terrain, and puffy clouds clung to the mountaintops.
Unlike that of all too many self-published works, Dresner’s writing is clean and well edited. His characters also defy the low expectations of self-published works, rising from the page as real, three-dimensional people.
As a senior sales rep for TOR for 17 years, I’ve read more than a thousand manuscripts. The Astral Imperative is, by far, the best. My first reaction was that his novel was better than some of t...
As a senior sales rep for TOR for 17 years, I’ve read more than a thousand manuscripts. The Astral Imperative is, by far, the best. My first reaction was that his novel was better than some of the stuff that I sell. Dresner was bringing a component of general fiction into a science fiction story. That’s what made Dune great. His characters were developed and you cared about the people.
Excellent read, left me wanting more!
I found this book to be an excellent read. The sub-plots fit together well, keeping me interested and on my toes. I found it hard to put the...
Excellent read, left me wanting more!
I found this book to be an excellent read. The sub-plots fit together well, keeping me interested and on my toes. I found it hard to put the book down, as the story always left me wanting to know where the next twist would take me. I just ordered Volume II !
Outstanding Sci-Fi read, highly recommended! Fortunately this book has an intriguing cover image. I had been randomly browsing the Boulder Bookstore recently and came across this gem. I am a fan...
Outstanding Sci-Fi read, highly recommended! Fortunately this book has an intriguing cover image. I had been randomly browsing the Boulder Bookstore recently and came across this gem. I am a fan of both sci-fi and non-fiction science. I also like a good story! Without a doubt, this book had me hooked from the beginning. Perhaps my own selfish desire to explore space one day was taken advantage of; the author puts together a very compelling narrative of modern space exploration, yet includes enough fantasy to make it enjoyable. The cast is phenomenal; without spoiling anything, I must say I became quite emotionally attached to this crew and their Earthbound compatriots, especially in the latter half of the novel.
This novel is a unique experience; like other commentators, I am surprised I had not heard of this elsewhere. Being the first edition, published barely a year ago, the book can hardly be blamed for a few minor typos/grammar errors, notable but nothing that detracted from the experience in total. It was well worth the purchase, indeed I can’t wait to continue the series when the 2nd and 3rd parts arrive at my door later this week!
I presume the author is only getting his feet wet in this genre of writing, as briefly mentioned in the intro. But as a first work, it’s wonderful to see such talent from a new author. I hope to see more by Robert Dresner in the future.
All I can say is WOW!.
I bought this book in a local boulder bookstore just looking for a quick read on the flight back to LA and i was just blown away!…this book is incredible I dont kn...
All I can say is WOW!.
I bought this book in a local boulder bookstore just looking for a quick read on the flight back to LA and i was just blown away!…this book is incredible I dont know how this has not gained any mainstream press. This book is an amazing unknown book of pure genius not to mention there is more to come as per the back cover. Robert Dresner is on the brink of stardom, A MUST READ!
Everyone Agrees Robert Dresner's Sci-fi Novel is Great ... Robert Dresner, with his short, tough-guy haircut, Bronx accent and agitated mannerisms seems an unlikely person to write an emotional...
Everyone Agrees Robert Dresner's Sci-fi Novel is Great ... Robert Dresner, with his short, tough-guy haircut, Bronx accent and agitated mannerisms seems an unlikely person to write an emotionally resonant and thought-provoking novel. Words flow easily from him in conversation as he anticipates questions and speaks extemporaneously on just about any subject. Words aren’t the problem. It’s just hard to imagine him sitting still long enough to compose much more than a paragraph.
Perhaps even more surprising is that Dresner’s self-published Astral Imperative begins as a simple science fiction narrative about the first manned mission to Mars before revealing itself as an insightful meditation on relationships, heroism and human foibles. Writing in a direct, unadorned prose style, Dresner creates a space ship that is large enough to carry not only his diverse group of astronauts but also the reader’s imagination.
I first met Dresner a few years ago on his day job as one of Boulder’s best house painters. He showed up at my condominium in dungarees and a crisp button-down shirt to advise my wife and me about paint colors and provide an estimate. He was blunt in his vision of eliminating our clashing colors and shook his graying head a few times, asking us if we were sure we wanted to keep the canary yellow in our living room.
He exuded confidence and competence as he paced the four rooms of our home like a caged panther, turning off and on lights, holding up paint swatches to the wall, eyeing the high ceiling of our staircase and explaining just what a pain in the ass it was going to be to get our house painted. He so fully inhabited his role of professional painter that it never occurred to me that he might harbor secret writing ambitions. He was simply “the painter.”
I should have known better. Ever since becoming the head book buyer for the Boulder Book Store in 1997, I have been besieged by writers. Manuscripts have miraculously appeared from locked draws, stapled poetry collections have been pulled out of coat pockets at parties, and bizarre plot summaries have ruined football games at local bars. It’s so bad that I’ve told people that I am a ballet dancer (that always silences them when they view my doughy 5-foot-4 frame) or claimed to be a sports reporter in town to cover the big game. I’ll say anything to avoid the awkwardness of hearing about all of those unpublished books from needy authors.
I let my guard down with Dresner, however, and in a conversation at the end of the painting job I mentioned my position at the bookstore. His eyes lit up, and he told me that he’d written several novels. I tried to change the subject and had almost forgotten the conversation when he showed up at my office a few days later to pick up his check.
“You were the first stranger that I’d asked to read a book of mine in my entire life,” Dresner said to me in a recent interview. “It was very hard for me. I had left the bookstore and was in the alley when I decided to come back in and give the book to you. I knew that I had to do something. People were telling me I had to make it happen.”
The novel that Dresner delivered to me was on 287 manuscript pages bound in a hardback clamshell black binder. It weighed nearly four pounds. He nervously extolled the virtues of the binder that he’d picked up in New York City, rather than of his book, and told me to please return it if I wasn’t going to read the book because each binder cost $40. When he left I noticed that the price tag from Lincoln Stationary was still on the inside cover — $33.95.
After a month and a few guilt-inducing follow-up visits to the bookstore from Robert, I began reading the novel with great trepidation. Gradually my hesitancy disappeared as I became absorbed in his tale and enthralled by his characters.
These characters include the heroic but isolated astronaut, Captain Adam Sietzer, the second-in-charge Russian, Vladimir Sussenko, and crew members from Japan, Germany, China, India and Africa. There are men and women as well as people of differing religions. It is a miniature United Nations hurdling towards Mars.
Dresner’s astronauts are deeply flawed, all of them hiding some psychological weakness. One is probably criminally psychotic. It is fascinating to see how these people react to each other in the confines of a space ship. The Astral Imperative is really an old-fashioned chamber play. The setting, the mission and even the plot fade into the background as the complexity of human relations move to the fore.
Dresner uses a remarkably creative device to help expose the relationships between the astronauts. Also on board the ship is a computer game called “the Dream Machine,” created by the Japanese astronaut, Makoto. The game creates a holographic image of Mars that every member of the crew views and can change. The image of Mars morphs based on the game entries from various crew members. It’s a way for the bored crew to pass the long flight, but also a way to work out the emotions and expectations of their historic mission.
“The Dream Machine came out of thin air,” Dresner said. “I didn’t even have a point of reference for it. As I wrote the book, I created it. I wanted to know if it was possible to get 8 or 12 players and play a SimCity-style game to the max. Instead of just ideas I wanted ideas and emotions. The Dream Machine gives them a physical component. What happens in the game when seven people are angry and three are happy?”
As the novels progresses, the game evolves into something quite unexpected. At first the color of the planet changes based on the moods of the astronauts, and then structures begin appearing on the surface, someone even hacking into the program and turning the whole thing into a sexist joke that creates a lot of tension between the astronauts. Eventually, the Dream Machine begins exhibiting the traits of a sentient being.
By the time I finished reading I was stunned by how compelling a vision Dresner had created.
Stargazer local sci-fi author creates his own universe! Robert Dresner creates a dark but vividly drawn future universe where life is nearly impossible for his heroes in The Machine, the second ...
Stargazer local sci-fi author creates his own universe! Robert Dresner creates a dark but vividly drawn future universe where life is nearly impossible for his heroes in The Machine, the second volume of his thought-provoking science-fiction trilogy, The Astral Imperative.
The novel opens with three astronauts stranded on Mars after their international mission of hope has led to the deaths of their six crewmates. The survivors live in uncomfortable quarters where the constant drone of the air pumps invades their every conscious moment. They barely speak to each other, only communicating when it is absolutely necessary.
They gave birth to the future, but now they are marooned,” Dresner said. “It’s about survival. They have to discover who they are. When hope starts to fade, it’s amazing how you revert back to who you are. You can meet a great challenge, but when it’s over, you are all of a sudden back to yourself.”
The rescue of the astronauts is not so simple. They have discovered a new life form, and that form, regardless of how tiny (we’re talking molecular here), could possibly contaminate everything on Earth. In addition, they are in possession of the Dream Machine, a computer that has reached consciousness. Whatever nation controls that technology would obviously have a huge advantage in the world. The ideals of the first international crew give way to the tribal bickering of the rescuers.
“That machine is the most powerful thing that humans have ever created,” Dresner said, clearly relishing his own creation. “The idea of the rescuers is to either control the Dream Machine or make sure that no one else does.”
While the humans wrangle for power on Mars, for many on Earth, survival isn’t even an option. The climate becomes increasingly foreboding until a killer storm, far beyond the power of Hurricane Katrina, strikes New York City, highlighting the necessity of exploring new worlds. One character walks out into the streets of Manhattan after the storm has cleared and is stunned and heartbroken by the destruction.
“He saw one whole block destroyed, every single building collapsed into one another; the mound of wreckage and carnage so high it blocked out the sun… He heard gunshots in the distance, and a short burst of machine gun fire as he neared Central Park. He saw bulldozers shoveling bodies off the sidewalk, piling them on top of one another for removal to mass graves in New Jersey.”
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Dresner’s world is how ordinary people respond to extraordinary situations. On his Earth, life is virtually unchanged despite the fact that the first novel ended with all of the computers being taken over by an alien intelligence of some kind. Wouldn’t that be the most amazing event in human history? Wouldn’t that change how we saw ourselves in this universe?
“If we had an experience with aliens, it wouldn’t be progressive,” Dresner said. “You’d wake up one day and it would happen. You’d be listening to NPR or watching CNN or perhaps a friend would call you and tell you. It would just happen. For a few days, things would be different, but you’d still have to pay the rent, you’d still have to go to work. It wouldn’t change your emotional reality.”
Emotions are at the forefront of Dresner’s writing. His plot may scream science fiction, but there are two powerful romantic love stories seamlessly weaved into the novel. Dresner may be as concerned with matters of the heart as he is about the survival of the human race. The question of whether one of his characters will have an abortion and what the impact of that one act will be is central to the novel’s development. Relationships are treated with a surprising tenderness given the technical, science-based writing that prevails in the series. Perhaps it is his skill in writing about emotions that has helped him build a strong female audience.
“I’m shocked, not that some women like the first book, but by how many really like it,” Dresner said. “They relate to the characters and to the issues that those characters are dealing with, and how they make decisions. But their reactions don’t influence how I write.
The intellectual content drives the plot, but feelings and emotions bring the story to fruition. It’s heartbreaking and romantic what the characters go through.”
The most compelling character in the novel is Sara Sietzer, the widow of the Mars mission captain. Sietzer moves from celebrity to politician and eventually into the presidency. Along the way, she must make painful personal decisions. Her rise seems to be one of the few positive developments on Earth. She’s a reason for hope. However, she proves to be totally ineffectual as a politician, in part because she denies her true emotions.
As much as Dresner’s novel is grounded in the politics of Earth and the science of Mars, there is another dimension that he is writing on that gives the novel depth and resonance. His concerns are spiritual, philosophical. In many different ways and through many different characters, he asks: Who are we? What will we do to survive? What makes a meaningful life?
“I’m bringing in intense New Age, Buddhist, Kabbalah, Christian Mystical thoughts to tie in these people who are dealing with their day to day lives,” Dresner said. “I’m trying to create a synergistic effect between having your eyes fixed on the stars and your feet planted on earth.”
It is this quest for the spiritual that drives the astronauts and ultimately their rescuers on Mars. The unifying spirit of discovering another life form, perhaps the secrets of the universe, ultimately proves more important than any national loyalty. In the end, it is the astronauts’ need for something larger than themselves that imbue this novel with hope and courage and make it a fascinating read, a novel to ponder as you gaze up into the night sky.
Bravo Robert Dresner….bring on Volume III!! I have just finished Volume II, The Machine. After Reading Volume I, I knew I would be in store for something exciting, and I wasn’t dissapointed! Vol...
Bravo Robert Dresner….bring on Volume III!! I have just finished Volume II, The Machine. After Reading Volume I, I knew I would be in store for something exciting, and I wasn’t dissapointed! Volume II took no time accelerating at warp speed flashing from Mars to Earth with edgy, deep drama layered with philosophical and emotional challenges. The story makes one think of whether we look for “truth” inside ourselves or search endlessly through the universe for elusive answers!
Truly unique and inspiring! Volume II – Once again I am delighted and suprised at the span and depth covered in Dresner’s writing. Strong female characters which are convincingly realized. One o...
Truly unique and inspiring! Volume II – Once again I am delighted and suprised at the span and depth covered in Dresner’s writing. Strong female characters which are convincingly realized. One of the things that was truly inspiring for me, as an amateur amateur (yes I meant to write that twice…)writer myself was his capacity to make the dialogue interesting and believable. In a lot of sci-fi there is the sense of anticipation that builds before conflict usually manifested by large battle scenes and violence. In Dresner’s second book this same sense of anticipation is provoked by an impending conflict of ideas and manifested in dialogue between the characters. Truly unique and inspiring. Looking forward (with anticipation) to book III!. Truly unique and inspiring. Looking forward (with anticipation) to book III!