A New Review on Outland Exile giving it 4/4 stars from Online Book Club
[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Outland Exile: Book 1 of Old Men and Infidels” by W. Clark Boutwell.]
4 out of 4 stars
Review by e-tasana-williams
In Outland Exile: Book 1 of Old Men and Infidels, author W. Clark Boutwell paints a picture of what our near future could look like. The year is 2128. What used to be the United States of America is now two distinct countries. The East Coast has seceded from the US to become the Democratic Unity of America, a huge dystopian urban grid. Most of the remainder of the country has become the Reorganized States of America (“the outlands”), and is mainly rural communities. In the Orwellian Unity youth and appearances are highly valued, and citizens are forced to retire at age 40. Families have been outlawed. Children are conceived by designated breeders who are “recycled” after four terms of pregnancy. Brain implants that are connected to the centralized CORE interface track and control the citizens.
One of those citizens is 17-year-old Malila Evanova Chiu, a second lieutenant in the Unity’s ruling police/military forces. After being demoted for insubordination she is sent to the Unity border to repair a vandalized outpost. She wakes up on her second day there to find all of her troops slaughtered and a weathered old man holding a knife to her throat. The man is Dr. Jesse Johnstone and he kidnaps Malila, holding her captive on a two-month trek through the outlands. All the while Malila wonders what this belligerent Sisi (pejorative for senior citizen) wants with her, and why Unity forces have not come to her rescue.
Outland Exile is excellent dystopian science fiction. At first the concept of the CORE is a bit confusing, but after about 50-60 pages the story runs smoothly. It is captivating and thought-provoking. The intensity of exchanges between Malila and Jesse keeps the reader wondering about Jesse’s plans for his captive. In addition, Mr. Boutwell writes scenery so vivid it draws readers into the landscape. His love of the outdoors shines through the depictions of the long trek taken by Malila and Jesse, and the beautiful settings described in the story.
Readers who like sociology and anthropology will enjoy this book. It could easily be used in the classroom along with classics like Animal Farm and 1984. Mr. Boutwell explores social and cultural issues by asking questions about reality, truth, the value of one person’s life, perceptions of “the other”, what we believe and why, and how history is written.
People who prefer action-packed sci-fi may not enjoy this book, as the author relies on extensive character development to tell his story. The tale is told from the third person omniscient perspective and allows each character’s perceptions to be thoroughly explored. Secondary characters like Malila’s friend Hecate and Jesse’s friends Sally and Moses help flesh out the story and give the reader a full understanding of the contrasts between the Unity and the outlands.
I rate Outland Exile 4 out of 4 stars. The editing is superb, the story is compelling and the author raises important questions about the societies in which we live. This is the first book in a series of 5. Read this one, then look forward to the next installment