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Reviewed by Judith Rook for Readers' Favorite
Mark Schlack’s strange but compelling novel Replay Earth weaves a complex story line around a collapsing human society on Earth in the not-so-distant future, and an ancient conglomerate of alien beings, intent on fostering intelligent life in the cosmos. In principle, the multi-species Guardians are benign, but corrupting power is present, just as it is among the humans, who find themselves sliding into a chaos brought about by natural disasters and by social structures increasingly dominated by secretive oligarchies. Conditions all over the Earth are recognizable and horribly possible to early 21st-century minds, but change is taking place on both stages. Among the Guardians, a new species is growing. On Earth, with the help of the aliens, one man may draw the whole of humanity onto a new level of mental power.
Some stories are so rich in ideas that they come slightly apart under their own weight, giving the reader too much to follow. To an extent, this is true of Replay Earth, but it is a novel which should not be dismissed for that reason. Mark Schlack not only builds a fascinating and thoroughly convincing alien reality but also shows us aspects of human society we may not be familiar with, and probably don’t wish to think about. Sometimes the settings are established with a little too much exposition, at the expense of character development, and some points of conflict lack full resolution. However, this is an unusual and highly recommended novel, written by an author with a rare ability to present a very big picture at the highest level of skill and imagination.