ONE OF ONE
by S. R. Cronin
A young Nigerian telepath faces a crisis. After Somadina’s sister is forced into a frightening marriage, Somadina cannot find her sibling or even her thoughts. She seeks another telepath to help.
What she finds is Lola, a busy Texan scientist who has ignored the disturbing phenomenon in her mind for decades, and has no intention of embracing this nonsense now. Yet these two have more in common than they know, and a powerful link will be forged.
Once Somadina discovers her sister is a pawn in a dangerous political game, the stakes rise for everyone, including an ancient organization of telepaths compelled to intervene. Both women are stronger than they realize, and they have ignited the wrath of a fanatic willing to kill anyone to alter his nation’s future.
On Wednesday Lola decided to sleep in late, then spend a few hours by the pool relaxing before the nineteen-hour trip home. Sleep came and went that night, with nothing upsetting. It wasn\’t until morning that she felt the sense of turmoil.
You\’re leaving? You just got here. You can\’t go! It was an unmistakable thought, as clear as if it had come from a distraught lover, needy parent, or clingy friend. There was anger and disappointment. Even a bit of panic. Who the hell cared if she stayed in Nigeria?
Impatiently, she got out of bed, began to gather together her toiletries. Leave me alone, she thought with vehemence. I do not want to hear from you. Whoever you are. Get out of my head.
Then to herself. Stop thinking this is real. It is not. You have a thirteen-year-old daughter and two other kids counting on you and this is absolutely no time in your life to have mental issues. You are fine. Get a grip. Act like a normal person.
She took a moment and sat in the uncomfortable easy chair and forced herself to use the mental imagery she had learned in Lamaze classes so long ago. Instead of picturing a beautiful lake at sunset like they had taught her to do in order to relax, she pictured the giant steel doors to a vault, glimmering in a cold artificial light, clanking closed in her head. The doors seemed to work. She got out of the chair feeling better. As she finished packing and headed poolside for lunch, she felt fine, although strangely alone.
I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to. This is a fascinating look at what hearing the thoughts around you could have on the mind. This is the kind of book that reminds me why I enjoy science fiction. It is powerful without being overbearing, but it packs a punch.
I’ll be honest. The beginning tripped me up. We see the two main characters—Lola and Somadina—years before the main events of the story take place. For several pages, I wondered what the point was as it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Once I got into the meat of the plot, though, it all made sense. Those character backgrounds, especially for understanding Somadina’s sister, really fit into the greater story. It was very well done.
Somadina and Lola’s relationship feels realistic, despite the fact that they spend most of the book on separate continents. While they communicate mentally, both women have stunningly detailed lives outside their minds. I felt Lola’s frustration with work, family, and figuring out the telepathy. On the other end, Somadina’s uncertainty about how to proceed with the rest of her life was a fully realized struggle.
A fair warning—there are several scenes from the perspective of Somadina’s sister. If you cannot handle torture (more psychological than physical, but definitely both), you may wish to stay away from this book. Though, I would encourage you to give this a try and gloss over the parts that make you uncomfortable. This book really is worth doing so. Without spoiling, I’ve sometimes wondered just what happens to put Somadina’s sister in situations like the one she ends up in at the book’s end. Let me say that it was only partly what I expected and hope that entices your curiosity.
Overall, I found this to be an entertaining and enlightening read. There’s a lot going on here both on personal and political levels. Lola is American, and Somadina is Nigerian. Despite this, they have no trouble communicating on an emotional level. This book lends a lot of support to the idea that we’re all alike. The ending especially reinforces that it doesn’t matter where we come from. At the end of the day, big-picture problems can affect all of us. Give this book a try. You won’t regret it.
ABOUT S. R.
Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer.
She published her first science fiction short story long ago, and then waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came, it declared to her it had to be a whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.
The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to calm down and explained how, in a fit of practicality, she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it to be entertaining and ridiculously well-paying. The bad news was the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money. Apparently she was now Mrs. Cronin, and further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved, even though, to be honest, that was where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted, encouraging sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. \”It\’s about time,\” were his exact words.
Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie\’s head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her it had now grown into a six book collection. Sherrie decided she better start writing it before it got any longer. She\’s been wide awake ever since, and writing away.
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S. R. Cronin will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.