Review: The Safety Factor. The Use of Power

Jerry Travis and Josephine Mayes: The Safety Factor. The Use of Power (BookSurge, 2009)

I will begin this review with an apology. I received this as a first reads on Goodreads and I was very excited to read it. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to reading and reviewing it until now. Or maybe it’s for the best since I’m not going to write a very positive review. Even though I started this book with a very positive attitude, it didn’t take long before my positivity was gone and was replaced by annoyance and I in fact started taking notes to some of all the things that were wrong with this book.
Let’s start with the most positive aspect first – the story itself.
Maria escapes from her abusive father by hiding away on a ship. Here, she meet Lady Farrell and her handmaiden Ellen who is on their way to Venice where Lady Farrell is to be married. But the ship is attacked by pirates and the three women try their luck on the sea instead of with their pirates. The women are saved by a submarine from the future.
This is all there is to the book – and you can read all this on the back cover… I’m not sure if this was written to cover all three parts of the trilogy but that’s the only way it makes sense to reveal this much on the back.
The future the women are taken back to is 2080. Unfortunately, most of their technology feels like our day technology with just a few advancements – mostly in weaponry. So the sci-fi parts of the book don’t feel advanced enough to be 70 years in the future.
And then, unfortunately, the writing let the story down. One problem was a lot of spelling mistakes and sentences with missing words – enough mistakes to interrupt the reading rather regularly. And the writers need to learn to show how the characters are and how they feel and not just tell it. It kind of also felt strange that one of the characters were almost always referred to as The Lady – even when two of her close friends talked about her. Or – in one case – they started saying The Lady, switched one time to Eileen and then back to The Lady. But that was just a minor quibble.
A couple of times, the author inserted their own opinions into the thoughts of the characters (like this: “And in her heart she (erroneously) felt it was her fault” (p. 27) – either she feels it’s her fault or not, this doesn’t work). And how can you quietly exclaim something (p. 18)?
My biggest issue was with the conversations between the characters. I’m not sure they felt real at any point. On the contrary. Not only were the conversations long-winded and nothing a real person would say, they occurred at the weirdest points. For instance, when lying in a boat alone and lost, the three women have discussions about how Aristotle and others viewed the universe, what they thought about the stars, how philosophy and science has evolved etc – and I like philosophy (having a university degree in Philosophy, I better like it!), but it just doesn’t make sense to have such a conversation at that point. Or – when you’ve learned that you have left your world, life and everything you’ve ever known behind – then you of course have a conversation about whether God is a finite or infinite being and if the Greek philosophers could possibly be wrong… Again – it doesn’t make sense to have such a conversation at such a time! At one point – while still being on the ocean with no rescue in sight – they even have discussions with formulas … And instead of feeling sorrow about never seeing your fiancé again, one of our main characters feel sorry for the world for loosing her and her friend because they are so educated…! Really?! Oh yes really!
Let me just mention the title as well. The idea behind the title is that there is a safety factor built into the Universe so that there is no chance of paradoxes when time traveling. So if things are to be used in any way in their own time, then travelers from the future can’t touch them – very simply put. Or – well – this is actually all there is to the idea. Even though I appreciate the idea, it isn’t presented in a convincing way.
In the end, the story let it all down as well. I know this is a trilogy but I don’t see myself reading the next two books in it. Actually, I haven’t even spared a passing thought to the characters since I closed the book and it was a task to finish it in the first place.
It’s a shame because Jerry Travis, the author I had some dealings with when receiving the book, seemed to be a really nice person – and therefore, I’m sad to write such a harsh review. But even when – or maybe especially when – you receive a book to review, you have to be honest and tell it like you see it. And that is what I’ve done – to the best of my abilities. This is a book that would have benefitted greatly from a very harsh editor – maybe something good would have come of it then.

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