On this page I’d like to gather the (encouraging) reviews so far. For more thoughts on reviewers, see my post Reviewing Reviewers.
From Midwest Book Review:
“Opalescence” is a fantastic and deftly written tale set in a very real world of the middle Miocene some 15,000,000 years ago. A time of incredible biodiversity and the perfect setting for a science fiction action/adventure. Impressively well written and consistently compelling from beginning to end, “Opalescence” is very highly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. For the personal reading lists of science fiction fans it should be noted that “Opalescence” is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).
Note: The ebook version of Opalescence is now available for .99c on Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and at other online booksellers.
Review by Sawney D Webb
OPALESCENCE tells a story of the future turned back into the distant past, leading humanity from terrible dystopian conclusion to a hopeful renewal in tune with Nature. The two heroes, Tom and Julie, adapt to a wonderful world that turns out to be California 15 million years ago. This world is rich with land and sea creatures, and many ecological settings beautifully drawn by a very knowledgeable author. Our two heroes survive many trials in this novel wilderness setting and also, in the denoument, overcome a powerful villain who, ironically, was sent as Julie’s bodyguard. My favorite of our heroes’ many adventures involves the domestication, each independently, of a dog-like Aelurodon, and a Hypohippus, three-toed horse.
At the heart of this adventure are the lush life and dynamic geography of California in the middle Miocene. The many sketches of the heroes’ encounters are both lovely and lively. I’d gladly get a ticket to travel to that same opalescent place.
Note: You can read more about S. David Webb in my post, A Great Honor.
Also from Smashwords:
Review by Michael Harris
If you want an exciting adventure story with scientific heft and philosophical depth, read Ron Rayborne’s debut novel, “Opalescence.” It’s set in a near-future of overpopulation and environmental collapse, when the human experiment seems a colossal failure and there’s no way out — except for time travel to the unspoiled Earth of 15 million years ago. Scientist Julie Pine is sent back to the Miocene, along with a bodyguard, Jaqzen, who represents the greedy, rapacious side of humankind that brought about the crisis in the first place. When they don’t return, Julie’s husband is sent in search of her. Because of a control-room shootout between rebels and the fascistic government, Tom lands at the right time in the past but at the wrong place — 600 miles away from where Julie and Jaqzen are. He must hike the whole length of what will become California, surviving its terrors and savoring its beauties, before the showdown that will determine what kind of second chance, if any, the human race is going to have.
A natural storyteller as well as a dogged researcher, Rayborne keeps us turning the pages even as we learn about this fascinating lost world.
Michael Harris is a writer in his own right. He was also a reporter, editor, and book reviewer for the Los Angeles Times (30 years).
Review by My Thoughts Exactly (aka, Jean B. Borgwardt on other sites)
I enjoyed this book, the storyline, timeline, adventure and learning about this time. Kindle has a nice feature where if you highlight an animal name it gives you the wiki description right on the page. A world beautifully imagined, with a wonderful environmental and nature focus. I was ill when I read this, and it really transported me to another time and place. Vivid descriptions and adventures, an enjoyable read.
Review by Alexa Sommers
Opalescence is an intriguing tale that takes place, primarily 15,000,000 years past in Miocene California as a man slung out of time struggles to overcome dangers he never knew existed in order to set things right. Ron does an amazing job capturing the risks and beauty of the lost paradise that was the Midocene era. It’s a fantastic read and well worth the purchase.
Also from Amazon:
Review by Dan Powell
This book was, oh my God, amazing! It took a bit to get going but (it was complicated) once it started I couldn’t put it down. What a wonderful story of a wonderful world!
Also from Amazon:
Review by Cwn
A fascinating and thought provoking story. Holds ones interest until the end and reminds us that we are caretakers of this planet.
Review by Julia Clayton
I really enjoyed this book and am rating it 4.5 stars. I admire the authors dedication to detail and research, the middle miocene setting was built very well and captured my interest in this era of pre-history. The story was enjoyable and had me flipping pages wherever I could fine a spare minute. I enjoyed the characters (particularly the addition of those of the animal variety) and felt drawn in by the building plot tension. My only criticism would be around the slightly over use of references to extinct flora and fauna species. Initially, I would pause and research each reference but this quickly became tedious when presented with lists of unknown animals and plants. Some elements of the plot were also a little convenient, to the point of laugh ability, but honestly, they did not detract from my enjoyment of this book. I was slightly disappointed by the abrupt conclusion and would have liked to follow the main characters for another chapter or so. All in all I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an easy and enjoyable read. I would love to read a sequel about Julie and Tom’s life in the middle miocene.
One takes the pluses with the minuses. 😉
Review by Takin’ a look
I would love to have lived in that timeframe. The opulence of the height of the Cenozoic. I still can’t wrap my mind around how incredibly diverse life was at the time. 10+ GENERA with 50+species of horses alone JUST in North America!
Review by Pen Name
Wonderful!!! Always fascinated with prehistoric history. Love it!!!
I sent L.S. Popovich, a book blogger – which is actually a two people team – a copy of the book to possibly read and review. Following is that review.
From Goodreads (and L.S.’ site):
Review by L.S. Popovich
In movies, you normally get a nerd protagonist traveling through time to figure out if he can change some insignificant facet of his own life. In reality, if we ever get time travel, it will be scientists who utilize it for the purpose of saving our species from extinction, or some other worthy purpose. Yet scientists are only human. R. R. understands this, and depicts the conflicts of realistic characters in a dystopian future, marching to the beat of their drums. Is the planet doomed? If it is not already, the future this book depicts is startling for its feasibility, if not inevitable.
Opalescence is meticulously researched, that much is clear from the get-go. There is a persistent sense of dread inherent in the trajectory of human progress, and a consistent mourning for the lost potential offered by the distant past. Crushing and mutilating the Natural world in our ceaseless march forward, what humans have accomplished is surpassed only by the baffling immensity of the cosmos and time itself. In our Imperialism, we have unwittingly backed ourselves into a small corner. Enlisting the input of a team of subject matter experts, our author has compiled an impressive amount of technical expertise within the confines of his absorbing story, roping in every discipline from botany to volcanism.
In a government run by clones, scientists serve as secret operatives in a journey farther than any human has gone before. The pacing is conducive to page-turning, and the subject matter is fitting for a vivid evocation of the vanished past. Julie’s intricate backstories serve as an anchor for our dangerously curious characters. The tyranny of man over the natural world is merely the prologue to an exploration of a shimmering pre-historical odyssey. The protagonist possesses an advanced knowledge of extinct fauna, and the author uses a lot of specialized vocabulary, which may lead some readers running for the dictionary. I didn’t let it bother me. You don’t need to understand every single scientific reference, unless you are reading this document to compose your thesis. He communicates the vast importance of the mission and provides tangible motivations for the risks involved. Reminds me of the story by Bradbury called “The Sound of Thunder.”
Who would not want to leave behind a society illustrating various dimensions of anarchy, for a favorite period of prolegomenous beauty? Progress is at war with human needs and the downward spiral of genetic engineering, the conquering of unruly weather patterns, etc., incites an inherent need for an alternative comparison. While maintaining lighthearted detachment to the straightforward world-building, the author’s examination of futurist theories, and conjectures of his chosen narrative destination lead to many an informative catalogue of pre-historical data, dramatized elegantly. At bottom, it contemplates how intimate is our connection with our planet. How much of a shadow is our current understanding of the world as opposed to the planet’s prehistorical foundations? Grand in scope, human nature remains constant, even in various forms of survivalism, which by the way, is ecstatically detailed. One of these books could theoretically be written for every previous era in Earth’s untrammeled pre-human history: Ice Age, Jurassic, etc. How tiny is our sliver of the inhospitable cosmic scale pertaining to the functioning of our lives. The immense diversity of extinct creatures to be found in his version of the Miocene illustrates that beautifully. The author takes his time to demonstrate his ideas, incorporating countless S-f tropes.
Perhaps the best reason to read Opalescence is to get a non-Hollywood survey of pre-history, without the dryness of a textbook, in the form of a well-told story, offering far more knowledge than your average Crichton novel. A fitting epitaph for a probably unreachable wilderness, of which our present is a mere echo.
Wow! Thanks L.S. 🙂
Some time back, I sent a copy of the ebook version of Opalescence to Writer’s Digest for their 2nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards. It wasn’t really finished editorial-wise, but I had to make the deadline, so I sent it anyway. There are no names for the judges, thus, mine was “Judge Number 39”. Following in full are comments I received back on December 29, 2014:
In Opalescence by Ron Rayborne we are presented with a story that fully researched and also richly imagined, a true life tale that is completely and convincingly imagined. By placing the richness of the past in the far reaches of the future, the author has crafted something memorable and original, something that gives the reader a bit of many different genres while also transporting them across years and miles while leaving them with memories of their time on the trail. The title seems to this reader to be not very unique or particular to the ideas of this book. Something more directly related to the themes and ideas addressed in the novel might have been more appropriate. The overall design of the book is professional and the cover image for the book is intriguing and evocative, suggesting the pristine beauty of the world which the novel will detail. Julie is an interesting character, one so focused on her role that we seem to learn only about her devotion to science. Switching the focus to Tom, and his quest, opens up a new world for the reader. The narrative meanders a bit and while there are scenes of great emotional or psychological interest, these are few and far between leaving the bulk of the novel to a kind of relentless push through the exposition of the story itself. Seeing Tom come to terms with himself, and his alien surroundings, is one of the great rewards in this book.
All-in-all, not a bad review. While obviously there are areas where I’d disagree, still I take these comments seriously and am grateful for the time that Judge 39 took to read the book. Thank you, Writer’s Digest.