The Long Way Round

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The Long Way Round

Space heroes are usually macho and clever enough to discover an alien's weak point then zap him into oblivion. Stuart is a high school drop-out who is destined to spend the rest of his life laying carpets until he stumbles across Brian's project. Suddenly, he finds himself with a new job – working on a space station and exploring a distant galaxy. Will his adventures saving an alien race give him the weapon he really needs – the courage to overcome his inhibitions? And, will he ever tell Brian how he really feels about him?

Sometimes, one has to go the long way round just to find what is right in front of him.

Enjoy this romp across the cosmos as Stuart and Brian, and even Stuart’s dad, discover more than little green men in THE LONG WAY ROUND by PETER APPS.

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Book Details

Publisher: TAU Publishing UK
Category: Fiction
Paperback: 221 pages
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-9341876-2-3

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Extract
"The explosion knocked Brian off his feet. Briefly, he feared that the bunker would come crashing down on top of him, but apart from a thick coating of cement powder and dust that had accumulated since it had been built, nearly seventy years ago during World War II, it suffered no real damage.

As his world settled down again, he opened his eyes and was relieved that his sight was slowly returning. Hopefully, the flash had done little lasting damage. His face stung from the heat generated by the blast, and he wondered how he would explain the redness around his eyes, which were subjected to exposure through the slit hole in the bunker.

Shaken, but with no obvious injuries, his mind switched back to his project. Struggling to his feet, he stumbled to the eye slit only to find that the clear plastic that now filled the slit had been burnt black.

The Geiger counter showed no signs of radiation, so he cautiously opened the door at the rear of the bunker. There was still no reading on the meter as he stepped outside. The world seemed reassuringly normal. He could even hear birdsong above the ringing in his ears while a cool breeze stroked his cheek.

He turned to look at his workshop. It had vanished. It had been built against the bunker so that the interior of the workshop could be observed through the observation slits, but all that was left now were charred pieces of wood scattered around and a column of smoke climbing high into the sky. As Brian moved closer to the point where his equipment had once been, the needle on his radiation meter moved, but there was still no real danger. Some molten beads of metal were definitely radioactive, but he would be able to hold them in his hand for at least ten minutes before they became any sort of health risk.

"Maybe I should stop that from happening again," he muttered to himself thoughtfully. "It could have been serious"."

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Reviews

Book Promotions
Rainbow
Sheerness & Sittingbourne Writers Group

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Such is our insatiable wonderment at the ever more extraordinary possibilities that science fiction can offer us that we forget that, if extra-terrestrial life exists, it may be not too dissimilar to our own.After all, if we are talking about other carbon-based life forms, it is not such a great leap to imagine that alien beings have developed along paths recognisable to humans, both physically and in terms of thought processes.

These are the sorts of beings that Peter Apps describes in his first novel, The Long Way Round. In the two alien worlds that his protagonists visit, the inhabitants, while very different from humans,share the same range of needs, motivations, fears, reasoning processes, shortcomings and strong points as their Earthling guests. In contrast to many intergalactic forays, these encounters involve mutual understanding, exchanging knowledge with one another, acceptance,respect and assistance.

And it is not only the aliens with whom we empathise. The space travellers in The Long Way Round could not be further removed from their Hollywood superhero counterparts. This is not to say,however, that they are not faced with daunting challenges. Even the detailed descriptions of coming to terms with a zero-gravity environment in the space station and how this affects their orientation when back on Earth indicates the enormity of the leap they have to make, giving a radically new perspective their mundane home lives.

The man behind the mission is Brian, a self-taught genius who dreams of finding humanoid life on other planets. He beavers away in his back garden in rural England until he finds a way of building a portal that gives him access to anywhere in the Universe. He takes as his assistant Stuart, a bright but academically under-achieving 18-year-old with adead end job in a carpet shop. Stuart’s father, Richard, a mechanic, later joins the team.

Together they make it to Terzon, a planet in the Andromeda galaxy,where the inhabitants are welcoming, despite their obsessive reliance on logical reasoning, for fear that unbridled emotions may lead to conflict. The Terzons point the team in the direction of another planet, Baard’ Atcha, where civilisation is at risk of collapsing because of the power thirst of the society’s Elders and the fear that they impose upon the people there.

Parallels can easily be drawn between the situation in Baad’ Atcha and that found in many totalitarian and dictatorial states on Earth. Stuart’s solution provides a template for dealing with many of these problems, based on discreet empowerment of the inhabitants so that they can learn to improve their lot independently and with the support of the oppressed masses.

Running alongside this is another struggle of more human and personal proportions. Both Brian and Stuart are gay and have fallen in love with each other but are afraid to admit it. However, the message to be gleaned from The Long Way Round is that acceptance and tolerance is all and that when things are looked at in the right perspective, barriers based on false assumptions can often simply evaporate.

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Rainbow www.rainbow-reviews.com/?p=6186

Take a foundation of old-school "Doctor Who," add some Douglas Adams, a dash of E.M. Forster's "Maurice," a generous sprinkle of "Star Trek" optimism, and stir ~ Peter Apps first novel reads a little like the old-fashioned British sci-fi I used to devour from the library as a teen, except I don't remember any of those having two gay leads.

Maybe old-fashioned isn't the right description, given the queer protagonists and some of the science, but it's a lot more science based than the character-driven sci-fi I tend to read these days. It took me a few chapters to settle into the very masculine, logical style, and it's striking how little dialogue there is. Despite that, the story is engaging, and the main focus follows Brian and Stuart between 'real' life on Earth, and the alien planets they discover.

The alien worlds is really where the "Star Trek" and "Doctor Who" vibes came to the fore, as the book focuses on two basically-humanoid planets with opposing planet-wide histories that deliver a clear lesson about where humans might be heading if we don't get a grip on global violence and power plays. The author's evident belief in human potential sits a little oddly, particularly with many of the decisions Brian makes. The reclusive self-taught genius who brings the science to the story, has strongly negative experiences of the mainstream scientific community, and convinces everyone else involved that if politicians or the military were to find out about his inventions, they would be used only for ill. It's not that I think Brian's wrong about that ~ it's just that other parts of the book are so determinedly optimistic they were working against each other at times.

The story isn't particularly character driven, but Apps does a solid job of juggling the changing relationship dynamics between Brian and Stuart, between Brian and the village locals, between Stuart and his father, and Stuart and his friends.

It's good to find sci-fi where the main character's orientation matters but isn't the sole driver of the plot, and the sexual tension is nicely handled. When Stuart stumbles ~ literally ~ into Brian's experiments and is recruited as Brian's assistant it makes perfect sense that he'd be cautious about revealing his crush on his boss, whilst Brian ~ quite reasonably ~ worries about taking advantage of his position, and about what Stuart might think if he were to proposition his attractive young assistant. All together it makes for a much more convincing 'we both like each other but can never tell each other' situation than many romances where that's the whole of the plot, and the resolution is similarly soundly handled.

Overall, it's a little patchy, and the distancing style keeps it from fully living up to it's humorous, action-packed blurbs, but this is a thoughtful and interesting read.

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Sheppey Writer's Group

sheppeywritersgroup.wordpress.com/publications/peter-apps/the-long-way-round-by-peter-apps/

Starting with a big bang The Long Way Round has a beginning that will take the reader to parts of the Universe. Like many Scifi stories there has to be science, aliens and of course space travel. We get all this and a little more. The twist is that the bog standard Zap the freaks and save the world so often found in many Sci fi stories is not there.This is a story that deals with the ordinary, the matter of fact in a way that is quietly unnerving.

The reader is waiting for the sudden disaster which calls on the macho hero to rush in with all zap guns blazing. Instead the action builds slowly to a tense finish and a realization that it is ourselves we should be most afraid of. That the heroes are gay, and like all characters in any story, have conflicting emotions, difficulty dealing with relationships and eventually coming to terms with their resolution is expected. The reader is not disappointed.

The author’s style takes the reader through the technicalities of space travel using Brian’s amazing portal and if the method reminds the reader of the Stargate series on television it is only a brief memory.There is none of the grim, imperative, Hollywood heroics about this story. In effect the portal is a much more subtle way of dealing with rapid travel. In this story it is the ordinary people who become the heroes.

The only criticism to made of the story is that the relationship between the two young men could be steadily revealed as the story progresses, and like many good stories, leave the reader satisfied in finding out for themselves how well they had understood the characters presented. However, the subject is unusual and dealt with well and fora first novel a most enjoyable read.

Review by James Apps

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