Christian McCallister,
Coming Full Circle: Munising to Munising
(independent, 2007)

Those of you who purchase your books from might remember when the company sponsored the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. Coming Full Circle: Munising to Munising, by Christian McCallister (a Rambles.NET staff member), was one of the entries, although not one of the ultimate winners. Still, his novel is available for purchase on for those who weren't lucky enough to be contest judges.

The timeframe for the novel is approximately 1,000 years in the future. A man wakes up in a cave unsure of his whereabouts but, more importantly, unsure who he is. Nursing wounds from a fight he cannot remember, he slowly starts to put the pieces together and trying to figure out his background. In a short time, he discovers he is a warrior and hunter. As he regains his strength and health he eventually finds his way back to civilization ... but not what you would think civilization might look like so far in the future.

While the story might take place many centuries from now, mankind has stepped back several centuries in development. Apparently, a portion of the human race advanced at a faster pace than the rest, so there came to be two species of humans. The two sides could not get along, so the more advanced humans simply left the planet after they had experienced enough war with their former brethren. For those left behind, science and technology were no longer important and, therefore, society took a step back toward more primitive living. Guns, cars and similar modern conveniences were eventually replaced by swords, horses and the like.

The United States is also no longer a political entity. After the man from the cave discovers his name is Paul, he further finds out he is "royalty" from a small city-state in the northern part of what used to be Michigan. When he lost his memory, he was on a quest to find his older brother, Andrew, who had been sent to a neighboring kingdom for military training. After his training, Andrew usurped the throne in that kingdom and started conquering other lands. Paul's mission is to right this wrong.

In the course of 360 pages, Paul has little confrontation with his brother. The battles are minor. Instead, Paul spends a lot of his time learning and/or teaching moral lessons to those in his life. The loss of his former memories was accompanied by a total change in personality. From a rash and impulsive youth, the new Paul is a more rational and contained individual. This future Aesop has also become an expert judge of human character. He easily makes friends and has the power to influence people. Paul falls in love with the new folks in his life very quickly. In a very short time, he not only gets married but adopts a teenage child.

McCallister has been writing since elementary school. He has his doctorate in clinical psychology and he works with low-income families at a nonprofit agency, which might explain his use of life lessons in Coming Full Circle.

While I enjoyed McCallister's writing style, I did have a few issues with the book. Like Aesop, McCallister might do better with short stories to get his messages across. This story is a little convoluted at times. I got the impression that much of the story was put in place to lead up to the various life lessons, but these teachings could be done much more simply.

I was also confused about the new species of humans that McCallister termed homo novus. Until the very end of the novel, I kept wondering why this story was placed in the future. (There is a reason that I won't give away.) But the story could also have simply been placed 1,000 years in the past with minor tweaks to the storyline and the same life lessons could have been taught. I can only imagine McCallister will release a future novel with homo novus characters that will tie these books together. I, for one, would look forward to that!

review by
Wil Owen

25 April 2009

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