So imagine you’re just going about your daily business when you hear something like static, the sort of noise you get from your TV when you have all that snow in the screen. What if (almost) everyone else heard it like you, in their heads, at the same time? What if it wasn’t just noise but there were words as the experience is repeated, three times? “My Children” “Do not be afraid”. “Goodbye”. Then nothing. What do you think would happen?
That’s what The Testimony is all about.
Why did I want to read it?
I discovered James Smythe earlier this year when I read The Explorer and The Echo in rapid succession, and since then I’ve been getting my hands on the small number of other titles he has published. He’s an intelligent writer of sci-fi thrillers, cleverly plotted and proper page turners. The Testimony is the fourth of his novels I’ve read and I think one of his earliest.
What did I think of it?
I thought this was fantastic. It’s worth putting it in context; I was going through a bout of illness and was stuck on the sofa and needed something diverting to help me stop feeling sorry for myself and so glad that I picked this up as it was exactly what I needed. It’s one of those narratives told in the first person by a number of different people (I think I read somewhere there are 26 narrators) with the full range of nationalities and genres and ages and experience of the phenomenon which becomes known as The Broadcast.
Of course, humanity does not behave well and instead of bringing everyone together the whatever-it-is actually tears the world apart because they don’t know what it is or where it comes from and as humans will gaps are filled in and assumptions made. So we have terrorism and ear and suicide and protests and disaster and accusations of hoaxes. And then something else is thrown into the mix and people become very very afraid. Unlikely to end well.
I was particularly interested in the people who’d didn’t hear anything and wonder what all the fuss is about. Is there something wrong with them? As you might expect others wonder about them too; if it’s the voice of God and you haven’t heard it are you going to hell?
This is a really enjoyable thriller showing how the things can fall apart all too easily. Although they are quite different books it did remind me at times of The Three which I read earlier in the year, probably because of the structure.
There are worse things to do when you are feeling poorly. Recommended.