Originally written in the late 1980â€™s and early 1990â€™s and published as Digital Knight, Baen Books has just released a revised and expanded version titled, Paradigms Lost, by Ryk E. Spoor (Amazon link). According to the authorâ€™s preface, he made a few changes to existing stories to clarify a few incidents. The major difference is that heâ€™s added about 50% new material. This should make this revision well worthwhile to readers of the original book (which I have not read â€” this review is based solely on this one). Paradigms Lost is a roller-coaster of a ride through an alternate Earth where vampires, werewolves, and other creatures all go bump-in-the-night. It is a very enjoyable read.
What makes this book so special is the way Spoorâ€™s marvelous writing skills have created an overarching mythology tying them all together into a common history predating modern man.
In addition, the author has given these ancient beasts, beings, and Gods some very human characteristics in terms of their personalities, actions, and reactions. Thatâ€™s not an easy task to do with monsters that want and can tear a human to shreds in seconds. That, I think, sets this collection of stories (held together by the threads of several characters) apart from all of the run-of-the-mill horror stories Iâ€™m used to reading.
The main three protagonists of Paradigms Lost are: Jason Woods, a computer geek who sees data patterns that others miss, and has an uncanny ability to derive the correct answers from them; his girlfriend Sylvie, a gifted psychic who can sometimes see into the near future; and Verne Domingo, who at first glance (but not in a mirror) might be a vampire, but turns out to be much more than that. There are several antagonists who also appear throughout this series of stories.
Jason seems to draw events to him and (via helping others â€” including the government) always seems to wind-up in the middle of anything â€śweirdâ€ť happening. Peculiar murders, disappearances, incidences; they all seem land on his doorstep. Monsters battle humans or other monsters; Jason discovers the clues and answers.
This IS a horror novel and there are some wonderfully epic confrontations that move at break-neck speed. The good news is that while the violence is certainly spelled-out, this is not the festival of gore that has consumed much of the rest of the field. Iâ€™d have no problem recommending Paradigms Lost to youngsters. There are a lot of different critters to reckon with, names and origins and such, but nothing a fan of H.P. Lovecraft couldnâ€™t handle.
Ryk E. Spoor has written a fine collection of horror stories with superb characterizations, fine (and often witty) dialogue, and enough action scenes to satisfy all but the most bloodthirsty consumer of the â€śweirdâ€ť tale. BTW, I want my own Aris. Youâ€™ll discover why you want one of these little critters, too, near the end of the book.
Given that there are a few unresolved plot lines in Paradigms Lost, I suspect that a sequel is in the works. The highest compliment I can give is that Iâ€™m anxiously waiting to read it.
A reminder that if you find my reviews useful, please indicate so on Amazon (where I cross-post them).