Sirk TV Book Review: SOULMINDER [Open Road Media]
“Soulminder” [Timothy Zahn/Open Road/283pgs], like many of Timothy Zahn’s previous novels, has a true sense of self. But with “Soulminder”, he takes on a psychological, ethical and philosophical discussion about how life functions and how we exist within it. The idea starts off small like many good novels and build and builds. The angle here is a machine that can capture the soul and hold onto it after death. The great thing is that Zahn doesn’t try to explain what happens after death beyond the light but just acknowledges that it’s there. The beginning of course is about the creation of this technology and why. But then something interesting happens in that it starts showing almost sample situations to show how policy and action cause different perspectives on what the technology is actually being used for. It is an alternate way to tell a narrative because it doesn’t work in a linear fashion that would suit a cinematic narrative. Many times, in fact, it moves completely away from its main character. It is more interested in the texture of the theme of identity than anything else while still providing almost a forensic and psychological approach to the proceedings. The lead character must also make his choice between ambition and righteousness. It does tend to overplay the stakes a little but the resolution is both decisive, politically motivated and nicely built from the previous thematic progression. All the loose ends are not tied up and that in fact gives the novel a dexterity of motion plus the jumps in time give it a sense of evolution. “Soulminder” is an examination of self using a device that is both dynamic optimizing a sort of reverse “Surrogates” mindset which allows it to work with infinite poise.