SPSFC Finalist Review: Three Grams of Elsewhere by Andy Giesler

We’ve made it to the finals of the third annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. Team Tar Vol On has combined with eight other teams to select six finalists to be read by every judge in the competition. We’ve already read and scored Thrill Switch and Kenai, but we’re reviewing four more as part of the last round of the competition. As always, our team has varied tastes and rarely are univocally in favor of one book. For those where we aren’t recall, that every book that’s made it this far has drawn rave reviews from multiple teams. Even if they’re not for us, they’re for someone, and we hope our reviews will help those someones find the right books. 

Today we’ll be discussing a philosophical cyberpunk tale, Three Grams of Elsewhere by Andy Giesler.

Azrah’s Review and Rating

With a captivating narrator that you’ll definitely grow to love and some notable support characters too this is a book that dives deep into the philosophical side of things. If that side of sci-fi intrigues you and you don’t mind non-linear narrative formats then definitely give this one a read!

Azrah has rated Three Grams of Elsewhere 7.5/10. For more, check out her full review.

Bowen’s Review and Rating

A cerebral tour through a possible future extrapolated from modern U.S. Politics. A mystery with a steady diet of clues to keep the reader pondering. A superlative thriller opening but is not a thriller. A nice ending. This is a book with a message. Members of one tribe of modern U.S. politics will enjoy it more than members of the other tribe.

Bowen has rated Three Grams of Elsewhere 6/10.

Dave’s Review and Rating

The scope, scale, and expansive ambition of the book were impressive, and the world-building was incredibly detailed and engaging at times. I appreciated the main character, Bibi, and his lover, Dys, and found the ending to be satisfying. However, the story took some time to fully capture my attention. The first part of the book contained a significant amount of exposition, and the non-linear narrative, numerous characters, and intricate politics could be challenging to follow at times. Overall, while the beginning and middle of the book might not have been as engaging for me personally, the impressive world-building and satisfying conclusion make it a worthwhile read.

Dave has rated Three Grams of Elsewhere 6/10.

Jay’s Review and Rating

The narrative voice is exemplary, perfectly capturing the perspective of the sort of person who doesn’t often find himself the protagonist of a science fiction novel. For some, meandering narration may be a mark against it. But for readers who love getting into a lead character’s head—especially a geriatric lead that’s well outside the genre standard—the narrative voice is an undeniable selling point.

And for the story? Well, like I said, it meanders, with a slowly progressing plot and an ultimate conflict that doesn’t become clear until very, very late. But it gets by for a good while on theme, voice, and worldbuilding. And then when the plot finally comes to a head, it delivers an excellent climax that does justice to the theme while also providing a satisfying emotional payoff. This won’t be a book for everyone, but I liked it a whole lot, and I suspect I won’t be alone.

Jay has rated Three Grams of Elsewhere 8.5/10. For more, check out his full review.

Mark’s Review and Rating

Mark was unable to read Three Grams of Elsewhere and will not be providing a score.

Paromita’s Review and Rating

 This had a very neat concept and a lot of ambition in terms of playing with the narrative structure. Up to the 60% mark, it worked well for me barring a few hitches. The ending was also very well-done. However, in between, it devolved into a bit of a mess for me, the cohesion was lost for large sections. In terms of structural elements, I think the excerpts from imagined books were well-done and piqued my interest, the interviews less so. The way the actual story was told through the timeline chapters interspersed with the titled chapters was good in places and inconsistent for others. The writing was smooth to read which is helpful because there was a lot of exposition both in conversations and in separate paragraph blocks. I think the story and the theming around empathy was well-intentioned but it was lacking in execution in many places. It was a good read and I appreciated the ideas, but it was too much at times.

Paromita has rated Three Grams of Elsewhere 6.5/10.

Rari’s Review and Rating

Rari was unable to read Three Grams of Elsewhere and will not be providing a score.

Official Scores

Azrah 7.5
Bowen 6
Dave 6
Jay 8.5*
Mark DNA
Paromita 6.5
Rari DNA
Team 6.90

*indicates judge’s top score of the competition

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