Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Daniel Sherrier: "RIP: Vol. 1: Choices After Death", a prototype of a miniseries, a bit like "Ghost Story"

Author: Daniel Sherrier
Title:Rip: Vol 1: Choices After Death
Publication: Sherrierbooks: 2013, near Richmond, VA; ISBN 978-1494237226 226 pages, paper
Amazon link is here.

Daniel Sherrier is a fiction writer living in central Virginia, more or less near Richmond, perhaps.  That’s where sci-fi director Richard Kelly (“The Box”, “Southland Tales”, “Donnie Darko” comes from – well, actually the Tidewater area familiar to me). It seems that both geography, cultural background and content would give Sherrier and Kelly a reason to collaborate.  Let me add the aside, the last story in my new “Do Ask, Do Tell III” book (Feb. 27, 2014), called “The Ocelot the Way He Is” is set in Virginia, more or less the Piedmont, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge.  There are stories that the CIA has major secret facilities not only at Langley, but in Tidewater (“The Shop”), and south of Charlottesville in a house near IS 29 (the town is Faber, as in  Courtney Brown’s “Cosmic Voyage: A Scientific Discovery of Extraterrestrials Visiting Earth”, Dutton, 1994).

Well, I’m getting ahead of myself. The book itself comprises four “novellas” (“Touch”, “Alone”, “The Crazy Line”, and “Point B”.  There is an “interlude” which is a short story called “Strength”, involving a wild eagle (no relation to my own “ocelot”).  Each novella has several “Acts” and sometimes a “teaser”.

Now, this structure for the book suggests a television mini-series, of course, structured tightly to fit into television with commercial breaks.  I presume Mr. Sherrier has fashioned teleplays from this material.  But the concept is interesting in another sense.  The novelettes and intervening story are connected, with the same characters, more or less like a complete novel in parts,  yet they can stand alone.  I experimented with this idea in a novel in the 1980’s, and I’ll be covering that effort soon on my Wordpress “Bill’s Media Reviews” blog.  Calling the middle short story (more or less like a middle section in a musical composition) an “interlude”  is interesting.  My 1969 mammoth novel manuscript “The Proles” calls its Chapter 4, where I recount my own experience in Army Basic Combat Training, and “Interlude”, because of what precedes and then follows it.  I’ll come back to that soon in this other blog. 
Now for novel itself.  Rip Cooper is a late-teen bookworm and introvert, having grown up in a small Piedmont (I presume) town (There is no Sidwick county, but there is a Sedgwick county in Kansas and Colorado), apparently in a possibly haunted house.  Already I think of the movie “Beautiful Creatures” with the young teen hero Ethan Wate played by Alden Ehrenreich (Movies blog, Feb. 19, 2013).  Rip’s personality is rather like Ethan’s.  (I knew a chess player, almost a master, named Rip Smith back in the 1960’s.)  Rip gets challenged to prove he isn’t a candyass by showing he can stand up to ghosts.  He probably has been too close to Fort Eustis (Tidewater Virginia, Richard Kelly country again).  He works as a professional photographer, and has the gift of seeing and hearing ghosts that don’t show up in photo negatives (or in cell phone photos for that matter).  Now, taking pictures of people in public – in places like bars and discos – is usually legal, but getting troubling because of tagging and Facebook and the like.  Ghosts don’t have that problem, or online reputation sundering.

There’s an issue here of the science of life after death.  It seems that some people get half a second chance (rather like a half-pawn advantage in chess) by being ghosts for a while, before their eternal fate is decided.  And somehow some people become angels, but not all ghosts and not all angels are good people.  In fact, that’s the reason for being a ghost for a while. 

During the last year of my own mother’s life, one of her caregivers believed in ghosts as part of a spiritual process, and claimed to have heard my later father in the house.  I do hear sounds at night. Are the animals, floorboards settling, or something else.

So Rip becomes ghost killer, not quite following the script of “Ghostbusters”.  When ghosts get shot, thrown off buildings or hit by cars, they don’t show the same damage from mechanics that real people do.
Rip does form a tag team, particularly with his ex-best-friend’s ex- girl-friend.  Interesting things happen.  Ghosts can be dyslexic it seems, catching the ire of English teachers.   And they may have powers, being able to teleport the way Clark Kent in Smallville does.

I’m reminded, of course, of Peter Straub’s mammoth 1979 novel “Ghost Story,” in which the protagonist, Donald Wanderlay, and cohorts rediscover a supernatural sin of drowning a woman in the trunk of a car to cover up a crime.  That sets off all kinds of supernatural creatures and the story of the girl, Alma Mobley as one name, becomes a memorable middle section of the book. That became a film from Universal and director John Irvin in 1981, and I saw it, but the film seems miniature compared to the book.

Daniel Sherrier also has a book “Earths In Space, Vol. 1: Where Are the Little Green Men?”  The idea seems to be that there are other planets populated with people.  That would require spawning of life through meteorites traveling between solar systems. (I think of the character A-lan in Dan Fry’s “To Men of Earth”.)  If you ever had seen a non-ghost with powers (like Clark Kent’s), then you’ve seen an extraterrestrial (not an alien) and proof of pan-spermia.  Maybe I have.  Maybe we are all extraterrestrials. 
I reviewed the book from a complimentary sample.  

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