Editorial Review: Sky Parlor by Stephen C. Perkins
Two ancient gods at battle throughout all of time and history -- this combination of Greek mythology, science fiction, and fantasy sets the reader up for an exciting ride.
In a book set partially during the American civil war (1861 to 1865) and partially “sometime in the 24th century,” Stephen Perkins weaves a fascinating story around the lasting impact of the civil war, while exploring the themes of reincarnation, immortality, and the eternal battle between good and evil.
After the Great Rapture the world has become uninhabitable, or so the citizens of Sky Parlor have believed for generations. Huddled under the domed walls of Sky Parlor which protect them from the poisonous air outside the city, the people are utterly under the control of their President and the Supreme Sustainability Council. To escape death, humans can choose to merge with machines to form a kind of quasi-human ’smart unit’ known as a ‘saint’. What that choice really means though, is slavery.
Desmond Starr, newly appointed Alderman for Sky Parlors borough of Colombia, is the central mortal character. During his new post, the reality of the world he lives in is revealed to him. When rumours of the truth revealed to Starr begin to spread amongst the general population, the ruling council must act to control it. There is a change coming - will this influence the fate of Sky Parlor, of Desmond Starr? – or the fate of humanity?
Sky Parlor has a busy plot, with time jumps and historical detail complexly interweaved into the plot. Perkins intertwines the interesting fictional narrative into historical events which lends solidity to an otherwise supernatural universe. The basic idea of an immortal warrior battling over millennia has been explored in many stories over time, however, Perkins manages to introduce new elements and enliven a well-known theme.
Perkins' use of historical fact and established events in history to foreshadow, substantialize, and influence his plot is good. Through this use of historical solidity, the ethereal, paranormal, and science fantasy aspects come together in an entertaining and engrossing manner. There are elements of these genres, but also thriller and socio-political mystery. It can be a difficult thing to combine genres, but Perkins manages to do it with style. His secret to success seems to lie with the characters he has created. The level of detail Perkins imbues Sky Parlor with is astounding. The characters feel like people you come to know and the world they live in feels multifaceted and complex far beyond the words on the page.
A fast paced and complex science fantasy read that will be of interest to any fan of post apocalypse fiction.