The Fountain Boxed Set by Ellison Blackburn

The Fountain Boxed Set

The Fountain

Ellison Blackburn

I’ve enjoyed reading all three books in The Fountain trilogy, so I’m glad to see them all gathered together in this boxed set, which is definitely the convenient way to get them. The Fountain is a unique addition to the speculative fiction/technothriller genre, telling the story of two (very long) generations) of women who live in near-future society in which regeneration becomes possible. Of course, this leads to all kinds of social problems, but the main characters’ attempts to fix these problems initially lead to more problems. Although there’s plenty about the technology behind the regeneration treatments and the other futuristic innovations the characters use, this is essentially a story of psychology, not technology, with the main focus on the protagonists’ inner lives. Recommended for readers looking for speculative fiction with a philosophical bent, or those interested in female main characters.

Here’s some excerpts of my reviews of the individual books, to give you an idea of what they’re like.

On “Flash Back“:

The concept of gene/cell therapy is not unusual in sci-fi, but what sets Flash Back apart is its focus on the inner lives of the characters rather than the accoutrements of the future. Things in 2026 are pretty much the same as they are in 2016, other than slightly more advanced medicine and communication possibilities. People, however, are pretty much the same, and Charley’s struggles will probably ring a bell with most readers. She’s always wanted to be unique and different and have exciting adventures, but it turns out that being unique is hard and exciting adventures are not that much fun when they’re actually happening–her recurring dreams of a memory of hiking in the Alps and discovering that it’s mostly about sweating and sore muscles, not glorious uplifting epiphanies, is a wonderful insight into her character and the characters of so, so many people. This is not an adventure novel in the classic sense, and the actual sci-fi aspect is understated: the main focus is always on Charley’s journey and experiences, and as a detailed and in-depth character study it is well worth reading.

On “Second Nature”:

Like “Flash Back” and The Watchers books, “Second Nature” is sci fi/speculative fiction, but it’s a deliberately slow-paced, interior-oriented work, focused on the inner life of the main character and her thoughts and doubts, rather than dramatic action sequences. In a way it reminds me of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Orange County novels: there are similar concerns about society building and the effects of technology on ethics and behavior, as well as a melding of high tech/low tech in the evolving, futuristic lifestyle. However, “Second Nature” has much more of the feel of a diary to it, and is much more focused on what are often considered “women’s” issues, with the main character negotiating not just romantic relationships but also her relationships with her sister and her adoptive and biological mothers. An interesting and unusual story of the future that sets up the problems that will come to a head in the final book in the trilogy.

On “Being Human”:

Like the first two books in the Fountain trilogy, “Being Human” considers some of the “big questions” of the future of humanity, such as medical intervention and its effects on individual lives and society as a whole. The issues under consideration are big picture problems, viewed through the small lens of the day-to-day life of the main character and her personal concerns. Although Emery and her friends are working to save all of humanity, what the reader gets is mainly their inner lives, which helps keep the story in focus.

As in the earlier books, we are treated to the inner thoughts of a curious, intellectual woman, and her relationships not just with men she’s romantically interested in, but with a variety of friends and family members. There’s a particular emphasis in this book on relationships between women and both the support and the rivalry that can arise between them. Recommended for readers looking for a psychological futuristic story that passes the Bechdel test.

My thanks to the author for providing a review copy. All opinions are my own.

Buy link: Amazon

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