In many respects, Jack Skillingstead’s novel, ‘Life On The Preservation’, has direct connections to the films ‘Dark City’, ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘The Matrix’ and even mentions the latter. For a good part of the book, you’re aware that it always seems to be Seattle, 5th October 2012 where at midnight, it switches back to the same day. Events don’t always play out identically but no one appears to know the difference except for former graffiti artist Ian Palmer and eventually discovers other ‘ghosts’, like himself who can remember what happened.
It appears that there was an alien invasion and the remains of mankind were preserved in a dome rather than be left extinct. Things get a little murky when Palmer meets Kylie. According to the book’s back cover, Kylie comes from outside the dome although that isn’t quite clear from the contents, much of which is about the day-to-continuous-day dome life. They meet, fall in love and Kylie vanishes. Palmer is convinced that the alien Curator inside the dome did this and searches him out before the same fate happens to himself.
From a readability point of view, I found myself caught up in what was going on which made for an effortless read. However, the last few chapters seemed to lack this concentrated zing as if Skillingstead felt he had to draw things to a close for the designated page count. As such, the focus was always on the two lead characters rather than the events that led up to it or indeed their continual existence. After all, if people are always going to be restarted at the start of the next day, where’s the sense of danger?
Having said that, this is one of the better stories from Solaris which would probably lead you to investigate more of their material.
(pub: Solaris/Rebellion Publishing/HarperCollins. 351 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78108-116-7)
check out website: www.solarisbooks.com