What happens to us after death is one of those big questions we don’t think we’ll have a definite answer to anytime soon. Our beliefs on the matter range from total oblivion to spiritual ascension, and none have more evidence to back themselves up than others. Ultimately, we choose what to believe based on our personal experiences and intuition, and there is this unspoken agreement between all humans that sooner or later we will all find out the answer, whether we like it or not.
Meanwhile though, we’ll have to make do with debating the theories and beliefs we’ve come up with over the years, but few of them are as fascinating and complex as the concept of reincarnation, a never-ending wheel of life and death that keeps the world in perpetual transformation. The idea that we’ll get a chance at playing the game of life again and again is somewhat comforting, especially considering how short our time on this planet is. Whether or not it’s real, the concept has fueled our imagination into an infinity of directions, and William Fripp has made it central to his uniquely-ambitious stories, Ad Infinitum and Ad Perpetuam.
Hypothetically-speaking, most of us feel that if reincarnation was real, becoming aware of past lives would be an invaluable boon that could help humanity progress and develop beyond the confines of our aging limits. However, we seldom stop to consider the other side of the coin: an evil that propagates itself from one incarnation to the next, growing in power every time it comes back. In Ad Infinitum , that’s precisely the kind of enemy William Fripp pits us against.
More precisely, we are introduced to Walter Canavaugh, a man who decides to take his own life, but in doing so sets a destructive chain of events in motion. When he died, his soulless body became usurped by The Other, an evil that keeps on reincarnating and trying to enslave the whole wide world. It has grown quite powerful, to the point where a secret ancient order – time travelers who call themselves Sojourners – must come together to put a stop its machinations. What exactly does it have in store for the world? Nothing less than endless warring that results in total annihilation.
It’s already quite obvious from the start that we’re dealing with a rather unique book in terms of the different genres it brings together. There is plenty of magic and supernatural going on, demonic possession, alternate universes, political intrigue, a murder mystery, and of course the afore-mentioned end of the world. For most authors, making all those elements stick together in a cohesive fashion is an impossible task, but in William Fripp’s case that’s exactly what we get. He has a very good understanding of pacing, developing the proper plot threads at the right moments, ensuring we never get bored or stray far enough from a plot thread to forget what’s happening in it. This diversity ensures that the reading never stagnates or gets stale; when you have so many directions to go in, slowing down isn’t exactly an option.
With that being said, the beginning is a bit slow when compared to the rest of the book as Fripp takes his time to build the world and the characters in it. This should be expected considering that this is the first book in a series, and therefore it must establish the setting properly. Once you get past the setting up portion though, the pace starts to pick up very quickly and before you know it you’re in the thick of things, following an ancient priest as he helps the police find a brutal murderer, stop a reincarnating evil and prevent the world from ending. It’s a wild ride that deserves to be tried by every science-fiction fan looking for something a little different.
Before we begin with the second book, I would just like to note that I will try to keep this review as spoilers-free as possible, but I will discuss a couple of story elements from the first book. If you’d like to avoid them, simply skip the next paragraph. With that out of the way, let’s get going!
[Spoilers] The second book in the series picks up pretty much where the first one left off, continuing the story so seamlessly it feels like the first novel never came to an end. While they did find some success, Indira, Aaron and Anne didn’t manage to truly defeat The Other, for he is now free and roaming the world in search of Walter Cavanaugh’s unborn soul, for it is the one thing that can truly banish him. And thus, the hunt continues, and this time they don’t even know who the vessel is. [End of spoilers]
In his second book William Fripp already had the advantage of having established the world and the setting, which results in an overall faster pace for the earlier development of the plot. In other words, unlike with the previous book, in this one we basically forgo the introductions and get right into the action. The quick and intense pace is kept up throughout the whole story and very rarely gives us a few moments of respite; surprising events pile one on top of the other so fast you can get halfway through the book before blinking.
The author also demonstrated his ability to build and expand upon the foundations he laid down in the first book. We get to see many returning characters and this time they feel like they have a deeper layer of complexity to them, as if they had become more fleshed out and developed from one book to the next. As a result we become increasingly attached to them as the story moves forward and get to see more and more sides to their curious and attention-catching personalities.
All in all, Ad Perpetuam improves upon its predecessor wherever possible and takes the unique series onto even more exciting paths. If you’ve enjoyed the first book, it’s a no-brainer that you’ll love this one as well… we can only hope that future sequels will keep up with this trend and that William Fripp will find a way to improve upon perfection.
William Fripp Discusses the Books
The words of an author are invaluable when trying to understand their work and getting the most out of it, which is why we’re rather fortunate that William Fripp accepted to conduct an email interview with us in regards to his book. Here is what he had to say about them:
Q: With these being your first books, was the road to writing and publishing them a difficult one? Is there anything that surprised you, or that you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
A: It took a couple of years to get my book published because I chose the traditional publishing route instead of self-publishing…
…I had to find an agent, and then wait for her to sell the manuscript…
…as for advice, it would be NEVER give up…I submitted Ad Infinitum over a hundred times before it was picked up…the publishing business is a VERY difficult nut to crack, and perseverance is the key.
Q: After publishing the first book, Ad Infinitum, did you make any changes to your writing process or approach for the next novel?
A: No, my process is very meticulous and time consuming, because traditional publishing companies and agents expect “clean” manuscripts, meaning formatted correctly and proofed, before they will even read a new manuscript.
I’m sticking with what got me here! 😉
Q: What drove you to make reincarnation a central theme in the story? Was its concept in the story based on something from reality?
A: I listen to a radio show called “Coast To Coast AM”, that covers things like reincarnation and supernatural and aliens, etc., and that’s where the inspiration came from.
Q: It’s important for an author to be original and surprising but to also give readers what they want and expect. How did you go about finding the balance between the originality of your imagination and the desires of your readers?
A: Honestly, I write what feels right to me, and I try avoid writing “for” anybody else. If it sounds good to me, then I go with it.
Q: What would you say are the other main themes in the story?
A: Strong female characters, the origins of life and the theory of the multiverse and interdimensional interactions in everyday life.
Q: How did your story come to encompass so many elements from different genres? Was the genre-crossing purposeful or accidental?
A: Actually, I wanted to include as much as I could, but I let the story dictate how much and when…
…in other words, I let the characters lead me.
Q: Did something or someone inspire you to come up with the main story arc? If not, what process did you go through to create a plot of this complexity?
A: My process works this way:
I “hear” the dialogue in my head, build a reason for that dialogue, then I fill in the blanks in paper…
…I write, then I read what I wrote and edit it, change it or throw it out…
…I “write” a good 75% of the stories in my head.
Q: Did you edit anything out of those books that you would have ultimately wanted to keep?
A: No, but I still have everything i,cut out saved to perhaps use later on.
My biggest challenge is keeping the story timeline correct…continuity mistakes are my biggest enemies.
Q: Are the characters based on people you know? If so, to what extent? What is the key to making them relatable?
A: No, a few of the characters are based on myself, but not anyone else I know…and I use my own dreams at times.
Q: Is there a specific message you are trying to send your readers through those books? Perhaps some values, beliefs or ideas you are trying to share?
A: No one is unimportant, love and life inextricably intertwined and despite the evil we see, unity can always defeat it.
Q: How long do you plan for the series to be, and when can we expect a sequel? Are you considering writing something outside of this series in the near future? Are there perhaps half-finished or unpublished works lingering about?
A: The third installment, titled “Ad Astra” is currently in production and hopefully will be released in early 2018…
…as for other works, I currently have a western, a dystopian series, and a Conan series in the works…
…and I blog about politics every day.