“Aftan Whispers” by Phil Williams

“Aftan Whispers” takes place in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic society, where Tyler, a tradesman with a Pollyanna approach to human nature teams up with a Deni, cynical, self-destructive former slave to save…well…something: themselves, the world, who knows?
Thus the success of the story revolves around the two characters, and the conflict is based on their different attitudes towards life, people, and the society that is determined to destroy them. This gives us a plotline intricately interwoven with character traits and thematic material. The characters are strong in their opinions and sympathetic to the reader. However, this complexity is too complicated to show by what the characters say and do, so we find the author constantly explaining to us what’s going on.
There is plenty of physical action in the story: acrobatic chases through a multi-level slum, fights, battles, and riots. But the majority of the action takes place inside people’s heads, in lengthy paragraphs of explanation by the author of what they are thinking. When we see the characters and listen to them speak, they are individuals with distinctive speech patterns and actions. But they are too self-analytical and philosophical. When we get into their heads, there is only one voice – the voice of the author – explaining everything the reader is supposed to know.
Also, the technique of showing the setting through the eyes of the point-of-view character is heavily overused, adding to the time we spend listening to the author.
One four-paragraph section from Deni’s point of view is a perfect example: two paragraphs of the scene she is looking at, one paragraph of her reaction, one paragraph of her philosophy. Action? None. Dialogue? None. Is there anything wrong with this? Not if it is used very sparingly.
I think we have an author who is too intelligent for the genre through which he has chosen to tell us his philosophy.
Recommended for those who like their characters complex and their philosophy well explained.
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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