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The Traveler
John Twelve Hawks
Doubleday, 372 pages

The Traveler
John Twelve Hawks
According to his publisher, John Twelve Hawks (a pseudonym) "lives off the Grid."

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SF Site Review: The Traveler

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A review by Lise Murphy

With a major motion picture deal with Steven Spielberg for the Fourth Realm Trilogy, The Traveler, John Twelve Hawks' first novel, has already garnered a huge amount of hype. Does it live up to its billing? In short, yes, mostly.

Set in present day, this novel explores the timely concept that we are being watched by the Vast Machine, in an elaborate plot to exert control over society. There have always been a certain few people who can exit our realm and visit other realms bringing back with them new ways of seeing the world and novel ideas. Ideas that would, eventually, free us from this societal control. These people are Travellers, they are hunted by the Tabula and are protected by fierce warriors, Harlequins. This novel follows a reluctant Harlequin, Maya, who has been placed in charge of the safety of the last two Travellers, Michael and Gabriel. Brothers who don't even know about their gifts.

The theme of surveillance is so predominant, it is almost another character. In many novels, you can dismiss certain details as fictional, and as much as you'd like to in this novel, you know it is happening. London, England has over half a million cameras monitoring its citizens every day, more than any other city in the world. The internet could very well be monitored by 'Carnivore' software. Telephone conversations aren't private, and you could indeed be tracked anywhere by the purchases you make using any form of bank card.

By the end of the book, the reader is a little tired of the surveillance theme. At some points you think, well who cares, no really, who cares. In speaking with a Welsh friend of mine, I learned that for the most part, the cameras in London are used to locate missing persons, either children, the elderly or people who are handicapped. So, for me, buying into the idea that some bad guys are taking over control, was a little difficult. But I get it... the theme is a necessary one to the plot, although sometimes you just wish the novel were not set in present day.

For the most part, this book kept my interest and was an easy, fun read. Personally, I enjoy fiction that is an escape from reality, and there was a lot of reality in this novel. That said, I still enjoyed this book.

Copyright © 2005 Lise Murphy

Lise Murphy has been reading science fiction and fantasy ever since she was little. Aided by Star Wars, her Dad introduced her to the genre. Educated as a virologist, she has worked in rabies research for the federal government. She lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband and beagle Madigan.

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