Other Side

Gene Olsen

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 172 Price: (paperback) $19.99 ISBN: 9781483699707 Reviewed: February, 2013 Author Website: Visit »

Gene Olsen, systems analyst by day, delves into the stacks of fantasy fiction for inspiration in this imaginative adventure about men wrenched from their universe into a world of warlocks and elves.

Just a page after we meet Logan – not coincidentally, a systems analyst – the protagonist is transported to another world where he finds himself imprisoned by the Gray wizards, a powerful, goblin-like race that’s transporting people from our universe seeking a weapon to use against its enemies, the White wizards, also known as the Elf.

Logan and several other captives – including an Army Ranger, a physics professor and a forest ranger – escape the Gray wizards and join the Elf, where Logan falls for Lethiel, the Elven princess whose affections are forbidden because he’s a human. To help their allies, Logan’s band sets out to retrieve a powerful sword from the “Grays.” Along the way, they meet the Others, a mixed-race pacifist group who want to unify the land. They also discover that not only is their new home more chemically active – a single match can explode like a hand grenade – but each visitor experiences a dramatic gene shift that brings new abilities and appearances. For Logan, this means evolving into an Elf while our heroes face a final battle that is straight out of Tolkien.

Though rather slim, the novel’s plot compares favorably with Lloyd Alexander’s high-fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain and J.E. Pournelle’s military sci-fi series Janissaries. The writing, however, can be stiff and laborious, especially the expository dialogue, which often doesn’t use contractions. In one scene Logan meets Sully, who was a forest ranger in their home world; Logan surmises that as a forest ranger he probably was in great shape. “Sorry but I am not,” Sully replies.

Such issues aside, the rich setting, cinematic set pieces and heroic arc are likely to hold strong appeal for adolescents and avowed fantasy readers.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

Author's Current Residence
San Jose, California