Sunday, 10 January 2016

Spotlight on Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton





Title: Rarity from the Hollow
Author: Robert Eggleton
Genre: Science Fiction






Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn't great. But Lacy has one advantage – she's been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It's up to Lacy Dawn to save the Universe.


Bristling with intelligent life that has coexisted in harmony for millennia, few people realize that the Universe is in imminent danger. The government has known about the threat for hundreds of thousands of years, but kept it a big secret. A search for a supreme being with powers capable of stopping the threat was begun thousands of years before and included the genetic manipulation of many species on many planets, but time is now short.


The search culminated with a most unlikely candidate to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn, an eleven year old human is the best hope. She had better get ready. The evil is much more powerful than any ever before faced, and restoration of order will involve much more than simply blowing up a few inconsequential planets. The evil is the spawn of civilization itself and has now crept into every crevice of Universal Governance, literally.

To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily on every known subject via direct downloads into her brain. Her powers gain strength as she comes to grip with the reality that she is not just a kid, that she is many thousands of years old and much more mature than her android boyfriend for when she’s old enough to have one in human years – once he achieves humanity and finally grows up. Some of the courses tell her how to apply magic to resolve everyday problems much more pressing to her than a universe in big trouble, like those at home and at school. She doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.

Once her demands have been met and her parents have regained a semblance of mental health, Lacy Dawn assembles her team: her best friend's ghost, annoyingly pessimistic as always; her formerly mistreated mutt, the only one with enough empathy skills to communicate directly with the enemy; her now employable father who has cut way down on drinking beer and has resumed his status as the best auto trader in the Hollow; a stoner neighbour who is highly skilled in business transactions and who got so rich from selling marijuana that he moved to the country because it is better for his Bipolar Disorder; and a mother with greatly improved self-esteem now that she has new teeth and a G.E.D., except she has fallen so deeply back in love with her now much healthier husband that it sometimes blinds her from thinking straight.

With a great team like that, what could go wrong? It's simple, save the Universe and Lacy can get back to the sixth grade where life's real challenges are faced by most kids. But no, entrenched management of any organization, including the universe, never makes anything that simple. The team must first diagnose the problem, discover the threat on its own without any help. The android, who begins to feel his growing love for Lacy Dawn, is not permitted to just tell them what do. He could be deactivated.

Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. The content addresses pressing social issues in our society, like child abuse and poverty, while taking readers on a wild ride to an alien shopping mall where getting the best deals affect survival of planets. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint hearted, or easily offended.






Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency. 
Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. 
Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. 
Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/
Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.





From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:

…..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.

I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me?

“Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.

Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.

I will always love you guys.

Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.

Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front.

Jenny looked to the left of the path.

There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is.

She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face. Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.

“All right, you mother f**ker!”

“Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."

DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner. Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.

"Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny. It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house. It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate. No one moved. The spaceship’s door slid shut.

“Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”

“You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.

Stay between them.

“Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.”

“You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.

“MOM! Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”

Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.

He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.

“DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”

Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.

“Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”

I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.

“Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”

Jenny's left eye twitched.

DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…

…(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”

"He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.

“What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know. You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”

“Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.

“So?”

Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.

A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.

"What's that?" Jenny asked.

She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.

“But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.

“Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”

“Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more….

It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on her. That's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby.

“What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.

“I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”

“My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said.

They both glared at him.

"Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.

“Okay, Mommy.”

“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.

“I love you too,” DotCom said.

Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.

Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up. My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”




From 'On My Kindle'

Lacy Dawn seems like a typical Appalachian eleven-year-old girl; bright, resourceful, living in poverty, and trying desperately to "fix" her mother and father. Her father, Dwayne, is a war veteran who suffers from PTSD and prefers to self-medicate; when triggered, he becomes violent and Lacy Dawn and her mother become the target of his rage. Lacy Dawn's mother, Jenny, does her best to protect her daughter; however, she is worn down from years of abuse and sacrificing her dreams to take care of her daughter and husband.

Despite outward appearances, Lacy Dawn is a very unique and gifted child. She spends most of her free time talking to the trees in the Hollow; playing with her deceased friend, Faith, who dwells in the trees; and learning all she can from her anatomically incomplete and semi-organic boyfriend, DotCom. After helping Lacy Dawn implement a treatment plan for her parents, DotCom reveals his true purpose; he was sent to help Lacy Dawn evolve, and then recruit her for a mission to save the universe.

While DotCom has no idea what she is supposed to do to save the universe, the pair decide to let her family and Tom, family friend/local entrepreneur/drug dealer, in on the secret. With the help of friends, family, and the family's dog; Lacy Dawn and DotCom come up with an ingenious plan to save the universe.

When Eggleton requested a review of Rarity from the Hollow, I was hesitant to accept. I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go. It is not every day that I find a kindred spirit in a book, but I found one in Lacy Dawn! I admired her courage, her imagination, and her intelligence; I could go on for days about the excellent job that Eggleton did in developing Lacy Dawn's character, but I won't. What I will say is that even if you do not fully understand her perspective, you will admire her spunk.


I also greatly admire Eggleton's whimsical, witty, and understanding approach to sensitive and serious subject matters: child abuse, child poverty, domestic violence, PTSD, drug use, and alcoholism. Eggleton's matter-of-fact and irreverent tone about these subject matters conveys the gravity of the family's situation without sending readers into a spiral of suicidal depression, or being insulting.

Rarity from the Hollow brilliantly combines social commentary in a fantastical and intricate science fiction setting that readers can understand and relate to. It is one of those books that if it does not make you think, you are not really reading it.

~Charity Rowell-Stansbury http://www.onmykindle.net

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