E. A. Fournier
The Speed of Sound by Eric Bernt
Updated: May 9, 2018
I thoroughly enjoyed THE SPEED OF SOUND for a number of reasons but foremost among them is the fact that it is competently written. What a relief to just be able to read a book without the typical bumps and pops of awkward sentence structures, wrong grammar, misspellings, strange paragraph breaks, unnatural dialogue exchanges, confused action scenes, and on and on and on in the litany of what we all have learned to put up with in this brave new world of quick publishing and lack of care. Mr. Bernt is a good writer with an intriguing premise and interesting characters caught up in a high stakes game that has the legitimate potential of changing the world. What more can you ask from this genre?
And yet, Mr. Bernt does give you more. In addition to the thought provoking ideas of acoustic archaeology, and the “what-ifs” of an echo box that could recapture and playback any conversation ever held in a room, one of his main characters, Eddie, is a delightfully portrayed, and very accurate, high functioning autistic young man. The scenes with Eddie talking to Dr. Skylar or other “normal” people are great fun and provide such a wonderful insight into the world of autism. I actually found myself reading excerpts out loud for my wife, who would never read a science fiction story, and she was so charmed that she kept pestering me during the week to tell her what was new with Eddie.
Still, nothing is perfect. I would criticize Mr. Bernt on a couple of items in an otherwise excellent yarn. I thought at a certain point that he lost himself on twisting the twists within the secret ops inside other secret ops backstory. It became a bit unwieldy from a plotting standpoint and, frankly, the ease with which high-level government agencies had their strings pulled betrayed a lack of actual knowledge of how real bureaucracies work. At a certain point, it became impossible to sustain my disbelief. He may have been better served by having a foreign national power (Russian or Chinese based) be the other opposing force.
Also, be aware that this is a Book One of a proposed two book series. This book does resolve all the main plot points but there is a disconcerting feeling at the end, as I find in all series books, when things abruptly stop in mid-action. (Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t pick up his next book when it comes out in 2019, I’m just whining.)
Finally, I’m disappointed in his title, THE SPEED OF SOUND, and his cover art. They do little to draw readers to his story. In fact, if anything, the industrial-cartoon style art and font choice would push most readers away, in my opinion. I’m not sure that I have any suggestions to improve but what he currently has doesn’t work for me at all.
I still highly recommend this book. Eddie is great fun and provides perceptive insights into the many personalities along the autism spectrum. The premise is entertaining. The writing is excellent.
Here's the link to the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Speed-Sound-Thrillers/dp/1503950158