Book review: Three Grams of Elsewhere by Andy Giesler

Three Grams of Elsewhere by Andy Giesler review 

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: When Andy was ten, he wrote his first book.

Attack of the Dinosaurs was seventeen pages long, variously single- and double spaced, with rough cut cardboard backing and a masking tape and white yarn binding.

It was the heart-pounding tale of Alaskan scientists using nuclear bombs to prospect for gasoline and–as happens all too often–inadvertently waking frozen dinosaurs. Without giving away too much, things didn’t end well for the dinosaurs. (Things never end well for the dinosaurs.)

He fell in love with writing and promised himself that, one day, he’d write an even longer book.

Then, one evening many years later while reading bedtime stories to his daughter and son, he thought:

Hmnh. Maybe it’s time.

Andy has been a library page, dairy science programmer, teacher, technical writer, healthcare software developer, and official Corporate Philosopher. He grew up in a town in Ohio Amish country. He’s a husband, father, and nonprofit web consultant living in Madison, Wisconsin

Publisher: Humble Quill (May 4, 2023) Print length: 369 pages Formats: ebook, paperback

Three Grams of Elsewhere is set in a fractured America, divided into a patchwork of polarized nations. Harmony “Bibi” Cain, a powerful empath with a troubled past, has withdrawn from the world and lives a technophobic retro life. When a series of murders committed by motes (killer drones controlled by empaths) shakes North America, his peaceful existence is over.

Decades earlier, Bibi was an unwitting part of the war program that created the motes, weaponizing empathy for military purposes. Now, with his few remaining friends in danger and tensions rising between the former nations of the United States, Bibi’s unique ability may be the key to uncovering the truth behind the killings.

Giesler’s writing style is descriptive and concise, painting a vivid picture of a fractured society grappling with the consequences of its own history. Through Bibi’s journey, we explore themes of trauma, isolation, and the power of empathy in a world where it has become a weapon.

Bibi narrates most chapters speaking to an unknown audience we don’t learn about till the end (and it matters). We learn about the world also through interviews conducted by a biographer after Bibi’s mysterious death, and scholarly sections dealing with the scientific study of human empathy.

At first look, such a structure feels meandering, especially since Bibi has no real agenda and zero interest in participating in the world or investigation. Bibi is in no hurry and he’s more interested in reflections about the world, religion, and technology than action. His hypersensitive empathy makes his life harder, not easier. 

If you like near-future science fiction with elements of mystery, cyberpunk, and dystopia, all tied together with a hint of metaphysics, Three Grams of Elsewhere is a book for you. It’s clever, and thoughtful, with outbursts of action, but more low-key than not. 

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