Reviewed by Sheri Harper
Ring of Stars
by Richard Sanford
ISBN: 978-0-9857-445-0-2, Aug 2012, Paperback: 316 pages
Ring of Stars by Richard Sanford is primarily the tale of a fifty-something executive named Walker who works at a Gaming software house called Xynapse and who faces retirement. The tale is apocalyptic, since the United States is on the verge of civil war, but far more personal, covering the discontent over the buyout of his company and an unwillingness to face the fate he agreed upon with his wife, the building of a retirement home on a lake. A minor theme relates to how story connects to readers.
Walker and his wife and his friends, Margo the divorcee, who starts a lesbian affair and Rob and wife Karen, who take off to Canada, witness an unsettling event that appears to be no accident. From the start of the story until the end, tension builds as a series of incidents occur around the United States started by the secessionist movement. Not a lot of information about the source of discontent driving the movement or about the goals of the political party behind the secessionist movement are conveyed—instead hints about hungry people and people without jobs create a contrast to the wealthy life Walker and his family live.
The title of the book comes from the new project Walker creates and invests in instead of retiring. This decision provides a third source of conflict in Walker’s life, because his wife doesn’t agree with the plan which hopes to alleviate some of the discontent in the region by recalling earlier times. While Walker confronts his fears of failure he pursues his dream. Meanwhile, his daughter leaves to pursue her own first career, providing new causes for concern. Walker’s inner turmoil about how his future will unroll is constantly in the forefront of the story. For many who face retirement, Walker’s dissatisfaction with the idea of retirement is one that many face—what will he do, will they be safe, can he let his child live her own life, and what about the attractive young helper, does she really see more in him or is it just friendship?
The tale is told from Walker’s point of view, occasionally from Margo’s. Some of the key informational aspects arise out of the email exchange Walker has with Rob after his friend moves. The climatic end builds along the way to a conclusion that suggests a follow on story is in the works. Many readers that like high technology and worry about the future of America and their own lives and retirement will find this a fun trip into story land in more ways than one.
About the reviewer: Sheri Fresonke Harper is a poet and writer. She’s been published in many small journals and is working on her second science fiction novel. See www.sfharper.com