STAY IN THE LIGHT
A.J. Caywood


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DLSIJ Press, March 2004
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Science Fiction Romance

Alexaís escape from the high-security prison her captors call a Talent Research Facility was planned to take her to her family home on another planet. Instead, the ship she stows away on crash-lands on a desert planet inhabited by mutant predators.

As they make their way across the bare expanse of Solaria 6, Alexa and the two shipís pilots are aware that there was another stowaway on their ship. Cade Rogan, widely known as a decorated soldier turned serial killer, is somewhere around them in the night. Captain Freemanís plan is to take Alexa and his copilot Hayden to a former research facility near the planetís only body of water. Alexa realizes that Freeman knows more about this planet than he should, if this is a coincidental crash landing. She will worry about that once they have reached shelter, carrying Hayden, who has been savaged by something that grabbed her in the darkness.

At the research facility, a giant corporate conspiracy is revealed. The horrible creature who kidnapped Hayden is a Lusus, the product of a genetic engineering project gone wrong. Alexa, our heroine, was the subject of another of those genetic experiments. In the Talent Research Facility from which she escaped, DiGenetics was trying to breed a race of people with Alexaís psi healing talent. On Solaria 6, DiGenetics was trying to breed the ultimate soldier. Alexa finds herself trapped, with Cade Rogan, between the ruthless giant Imperium Industries, and the Lusus predators. Alexis and Cade must escape from Solaria 6 and avoid the man-hunt out for both of them, long enough to prove to the galactic government that they are not the true criminals.

STAY IN THE LIGHT is listed as a science fiction romance, but the adventure is the real reason I read this story in one sitting. There is no point where I could comfortably lay the book down. Characterization, such as it is, exists in service of the plot. The romance is believable for the most part, but the few sex scenes are treated in clinical detail rather than with heat, as if the author didnít have the courage to be sincere with them. (Yes, courage. The most powerful writing comes from the writer exposing his/her own internal experience.) We root for Alexa and Cade to have a happy life together in the end. They depend strongly on the faith between them to get the job done. However, it isnít the romance but the varied and suspenseful pitfalls they meet that are the true draw.

If you are a fan of science fiction movies, you will probably recognize the title STAY IN THE LIGHT as a quote from "Pitch Black". If you can believe Captain Freeman, Cade is a dead ringer for Riddick, the convict played by Vin Diesel in "Pitch Black". The crash landing in the desert is enough to make the reader go, "Oh, not again." But there the resemblance ends. STAY IN THE LIGHT is definitely its own story, and Cade Rogan is his own character. The planet doesnít even remain on stage for very long. So when you see the resemblances, smile at the tribute to a great sci fi flick and hurry on to the next page.

May 2004 Review

 

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