Mysterion, February 2021
Reviewed by Michelle Ristuccia
“Salvation” by John Nadas grabs readers with a strong opening and an in-the-moment present tense narration, one willing to show the scent of beer on our protagonist’s midday breath, but also willing to let readers puzzle out the context of Robert’s relationships for themselves. We immediately see that Robert dislikes likeable Max, and we want to know why. At the same time, there is the dramatic promise of the “reasoner” tech mentioned in the first sentence, a wide-spread technology used casually to alter one’s own beliefs, from little, everyday beliefs, to larger questions of religion. Excepting reasoner tech, Robert and the other characters are average people living in a modern day world like our own. “Salvation” will resonate with anyone who’s ever cared for children, dealt with split families, or experienced an ounce of manipulation in the name of ‘salvation,’ religious or otherwise. My one quibble is that, because readers piece together this fascinating puzzle mainly through hints of dialogue and Robert’s thoughts, it may have helped to “see” or confirm a bit earlier that one character is a child. This becomes clear in time for the main thrust of the plot. Nadas presents readers with a subtle, relatable SF horror story that juxtaposes free will against what others think is good for us.
Michelle Ristuccia enjoys slowing down time in the middle of the night to write, read, and review speculative fiction, because sleeping offspring are the best inspiration. Find her on Facebook and twitter @mrsmica.