If the novel straddles the genres of dramatic action, science fiction, and mystery, the inner logic of its storyline is rock steady, its emotion, controlled, its world building fascinating. (So email me my own invisible cloud and innate ambium, a drinksmade console for my every chair, and an identiscreen, thank you.)
Like any good novel, DRAYLING has levels of meaning deeper than its plot. Through the narrative, the actions and dialogue of the book’s main characters—the family and friends of Uri Graves—the reader experiences the initially faint but growing penetration of corruption into the heart of a peaceful country. DRAYLING is about the creep of tyranny into the moral fiber of a nation.
The year of the novel is 2449. The place is Drayling, a small southern district of the “British Friendly Federation” or BFF, named by its founder, Dunstan Heathfield. It is the post-computer era where everyone has his own identiscreen and other comforts. Its subjects have lived in harmony, adopting a constitution and political structure that have worked for over a century. Quite suddenly and inexplicably, local rules change; districts merge. Either from firsthand experience or from history (and probably both), the reader recognizes the first signs of political decay. Together with his son, Marius, and friends, Uri Graves sets out to find out why and attempts to restore the smooth workings of the country.
The plot of DRAYLING is a masterstroke, a tightly drawn series of events spiraling downward like a tightrope from hell, anticipated, perhaps, but not the surprise toward the end. If I had wished for more scenes of emotion, I thoroughly enjoyed the main characters, their courage, and the methods they contrived to ferret out their district’s malignancy. Readers who are familiar with Sussex, its lore and local politics, will enjoy the anagrams sprinkled throughout the story. For those of us not so fortunate, the novel is still a compelling read and I recommend it to all lovers of freedom and readers who enjoy fast-moving, action-centered drama.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Copyright © Terry J. Newman 2011
About the author:
Terry J. Newman lives with his wife, Linda, in Sussex, England. He is a member of English Heritage, The National Trust, Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters’ Club and Mensa. DRAYLING is his first novel and is, in his own words, “more Futuristic Drama than Science Fiction. There aren’t any little green men or spaceships, it all just happens to take place in the future. It’s a different kind of Science Fiction book—for the intelligent reader.”
As an aside, Newman has revealed that, woven into the book, are twenty six “allusions to my home county of Sussex.” The most obvious example being the title, “Drayling,” which is an anagram of “Ardingly”—the author’s birthplace.