Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pa Weathery's Chickens by Paul Morris

My Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Title: Pa Weathery's Chickens

Author: Paul Morris

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Length: 239 Pages


JFK: the conspiracy is stranger than you think .....

"You can sleep in the barn but if you so much as lay a finger on my daughter or my chickens, it's your neck I'll wring." (Pa Weathery)

When an extraterrestrial Traveler arrives on the border of Texas, USA, in November 1963, you can bet that he is on a mission to do a lot more than just lay his hands on Pa Weathery's daughter and his chickens, although they'll do nicely too.

Crossing lawless lands where colored men are beaten to a pulp to add spice to another otherwise pointless night out, and where the white cops stand by applying arbitrary injustice, the Traveler is headed inexorably for Dallas, Texas, November 22 12:32 p.m., where he has been tasked with an act that will change the world forever.

..... and even he doesn't know why. 


The first thing I did after being asked to review this book was look up the blurb. It sounded interesting and already had some good reviews, so I agreed, even though it isn't typically the genre that I read. When I finally sat down to read it, I really wasn't sure what to think. And, by the end of it....I still wasn't sure what to think.

Set in the deep south of the early 1960's, it puts our story firmly in the middle of the racial segregation controversies of the period. When the main character of the story, an alien, takes stock of his new, Earthly body he realizes that he's been given black skin. While this adds a twist and tension to the plot, it also raises questions for the reader (addressed below). Forced to travel to his final destination, our alien visitor naturally encounters a few obstacles along the way. Some of the obstacles are amusing, some are downright hilarious and some are just disturbing.

The plot definitely has an interesting and unique concept. It is well written and seemed to be well researched. Mr. Morris has a most definite talent for story telling and drawing in the reader. SimRarg, the main protagonist, is an intriguing but not entirely sympathetic character. The little tidbits that you get from SimRarg's prior education of both his job and Earth are entertaining, as are many of the people he meets in his travels. Mr. Morris also does a very good job with the dialect of not only the deep south but also of the racial differences in speech as well.

The author had me invested for the first third of the book, no question, until SimRarg arrives in the little town of Beausoleil. After that, I began to question some of the events taking place along with some of the logistics of the whole mission that SimRarg was faced with. Most everything that happens in the first third of the book made total sense to me. Later in the book, though, there just doesn't seem to be any reason for some of the events. Much of it doesn't really move the plot forward in any way other than to possibly introduce some bit players and maybe show some local color. Also, for me personally, some of it was just confusing. The bit with "The Ethiopian", the game playing and the "tej", seemed totally unnecessary to me as did most of the interaction in the book with "X". Venusia was one of the most colorful, and in some ways entertaining, character in the book. I thoroughly enjoyed her, but again, the part with her towards the very end of the book just left me confused.

One of the things about this book that lost me for much of it was the alien aspect. Not in the possibility, but in the details. A lot of little things just didn't add up. If there is an alien race advanced enough that they think they need to send one of their beings here to alter our history, fill his head with useless (and helpful) information for his mission and give him a human body then why aren't they smart enough to know that giving him black skin during that time period would make things infinitely more difficult? For that matter, why aren't they capable of dropping him someplace closer to his ultimate destination? Another thing was that SimRarg realizes that he is slowed down to some extent by the frailties of his human body and there are times that he fears injury by various means and/or actually is injured. But there is one thing that happens that, given all these other instances, makes no sense that it has as little impact as it does. The fact that SimRarg has no idea why he is there to perform his task didn't seem very realistic to me either, especially given the fact that his race apparently has a 'collective consciousness'.

I found the book to be an entertaining diversion from what I normally read and it did keep me reading once I started, anxious to see what happened next. It's not a book that would go on my keeper shelf, but I would recommend it to a friend I knew to be interested in the various aspects of this book. In fact, I already have. So, while it may not be a book that I would re-read, I would definitely check out future works by this author. The end appeared to be left open to a sequel, so maybe I'll have that opportunity soon.



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