Review: The SHIVA Syndrome by Alan Joshua ★★★★★

The SHIVA Syndrome by Alan JoshuaBeau Walker is a man of unusual interests. When he’s not teaching at his local college, he enjoys rowing, he takes part in meditation, and he sometimes reads the odd paper on morphic fields, biotelekinesis, and remote genetic reorganization, something he has yet to give up on from his glory days of private research and the Air Force Research Institute. He’s also – reluctantly – an empath, making things difficult when ethics clashes with a lucrative government-funded research position.

Left in a post-dismissal career meltdown following a moral concern, things could hardly be worse for Walker, until he is unceremoniously collected, willing or not, to join an emergency research team and task-force by the Air Force, in the wake of the most scientifically-revolutionizing and monstrously-devastating breakthrough since the creation of the atomic bomb.

In the crater of Podol’sk, Russia, Walker’s ethical streak may be the one thing he has above his new enemies: political, military, and worse. Question the very nature of reality in The SHIVA Syndrome by Alan Joshua.

While the military thriller angle is easily found with the book’s hard-edged, deeply-researched rough ride through the unpleasant realities of major science and military organization, it also analyzes far deeper subjects. The book has been written with a great deal of focus on parapsychology and alternative medicine, spirituality, and philosophy. It combines modern science and political intrigue to encompass and cross-examine a wide variety of elements from the human experience in a single novel. A lofty goal, but one that SHIVA Syndrome pulls off with some panache.

While perhaps slightly nagging through the eyes of the deeply-concerned ethical scientist Beau, the book digs into some of the biggest questions of modern humanity with a wide arsenal of ideas to guide the reader into some fascinating ideas, all while continuing through a unique sci-fi plot. Littered with a good share of action and intrigue, the research and expertise behind the book are clear, and woven into the unusual and provoking plot with ease.

The book is written in a very cinematic style, triggering visual imagination in each scene with little effort, yet remaining perfectly suited to its medium. Each character is distinctive, balanced, and interesting, and the read remains nuanced and fluid even when a room full of new characters is being introduced at once. The book is smart as well as keen, delivering its story and its sometimes very heavy elements with the right amount of personality to maintain interest.

The pay-off, even without a strong interest in one single subject, is fantastic. The greater the reader becomes inevitably invested in the various concepts of the book, the greater the intrigue becomes as the very laws explained pages ago are twisted into new, wonderful ideas.

Any attempt to describe the book in a single statement is difficult, but the book mixes uncommon palettes and manages a masterpiece with it. If The Andromeda Strain was analyzed in four dimensions, The SHIVA Syndrome might be the result. Such a base comparison is an overall disservice to the unique nature of this book, however. It is a surprising, suspenseful, and utterly superb read from start to end, facing modern mindsets with past, present, and future thinking all at once.

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The SHIVA Syndrome

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