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Soul Purpose by Nick Marsh

01/08/2006. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Soul Purpose in the USA - or Buy Soul Purpose in the UK

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pub: Immanion Press. 271 page enlarged paperback. Price: £13.99 (UK), $23.99 (US). ISBN: 1-904853-31-5.

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Wow! What a shocker Brit SF is fun fast and entertaining. More please!

Alan is a vet and despite the propaganda of TV, he really hates it. A job squeezing the anal glands of overweight dogs and putting your hands up cows' bottoms isn't what he ever envisioned for himself. His fiancée has left him because he hates his life and worse than that his company car is an Astra. Life just couldn't get any worse could it?

Well, the answer to that at the beginning of a 270 page novel is always going to be a resounding yes.

So how to send Alan down a road so bleak that it would make his current existence preferable? It all starts one dark night when he is called out to look for the birth of a calf. There's no problem with the birth but he can barely see the calf because it is transparent and when he touches it, that's when his troubles really begin.

Luckily, Alan has a good friend, well flatmate, called George who has a job investigating weird phenomena. Just as luckily, one of his clients who has a cat called Kate just happens to be a medium. Of course, she's not a happy medium...

Together, the three of them resolve to find out what is causing the phenomenon of transparent cows and the like before the end of the world.

Author Nick Marsh is a vet and hopefully doesn't have the same attitude as Alan who is best described as a non-heroic hero who ends up doing the right thing as only the British can. I bet Alan would even take a penalty in the World Cup if was asked to. He is sympathetic as only someone who we hope resembles our own imperfect soul can be.

'Soul Purpose' reminds me of the best of Channel Four anarchic comedy with a little dose of social reference washed down with a large dose of equine tranquilliser (no, no that's a good thing!). Having read all the James Herriot books, seen the TV series and enjoyed rather more reverend Science Fiction as a teenager, it has all come back to bite me.

Sue Davies

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This book has 946 votes in the sci-fi charts

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