Book Review – Beyond The Pale by Senan Gil Senan

I read a book many, many years ago, called Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition. It was billed as science slightly over the edge, but a lot of the ideas have found – or will find – traction over the years. That was almost twenty five years ago and while we still haven’t managed to fax human brains around the galaxy the technology will likely come at some point. Things like that will change us as a species quite a bit. Don’t bother fighting it. People love technology. From that phone in your pocket that’s become a digital leash to the magic boxes that let us watch what we want when we want we tend to embrace technology as long as it’s billed as a good thing.

The other side of the equation is the physical world we live in and our impact on it. Let’s face facts here: we don’t exactly live in balance with nature. Technology may or may not solve this problem in the long run. Like the advanced technology of Great Mambo Chicken the technology – and the desire – to effectively leave our environment alone will come along and we’ll accept it as long as it’s billed as a good thing.

Sure, there will be those outside the norm – the ones who want things to be like they always were, the ones who pine away for “the good old days” – but we’ll drag them kicking and screaming into the next good thing.

It’s this kind of world that Senan Gil Senan’s Beyond the Pale drags us into.

In many ways Beyond the Pale is Senan’s musings on human nature and the transformative power of the future. On the one side you’ve got a group that has embraced technology and decided they know best about what the future and the environment need. They’ve used technology to wall themselves off from the natural world and stack themselves one on top of another in walled cities. On the other side are the groups that don’t accept that and have found their own way to heal the world by living in harmony with it. Friction happens and the outsiders – when found – are rounded up and forced into the cities.

All is far from perfect in the cities, though. A chance encounter and a desire to do the right thing lead to one outsider being pulled into the city.

From here Senan gives us bits of insights, discussions about the future of humanity and the ways an outsider can be sucked in by that good thing. Part philosophy, part action, part mystery of where the story is going to go from here, Beyond the Pale takes us on a physical and philosophical journey. If you like your sci-fi mixed with a heaping spoonful of debate, this is the novel for you.


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6 thoughts on “Book Review – Beyond The Pale by Senan Gil Senan

  1. An excellent in-depth review Eric. You’ve shown an understanding of the subject matter and earlier attempts at its production. I like that you’ve also highlighted that this tale is as much about the psychological aspect as the human side of a dystopian society.
    I’m not a sci-fi fan by nature but I’m discovering there is such a wide band of topics to be covered there.

  2. I think Scifi often raises two questions.. “How about?” & “What if?”
    ‘How about ?’ explores concepts and constructs of the imagination. It is like changing the ground rules or even ripping them up.
    ‘What if ?’ on the other hand, keeps within the ground rules of our civilization, but explores what could happen if they were bent in this direction.

    • Good points. Some of the best stories I’ve read have been the “What If?” kinds of things. What if the Nazis won WWII. That’ been done numerous times. One of my favorites took the What If equation and put a story inside of a story. If you haven’t read Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream, it’s well worth a read just because of the story about the story and it serves as an excellent example of how easy it is to fall into mental traps.

  3. Pingback: Book Review – A Stitch In Time by Senan Gil Senan | Eric Lahti

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