Title: A Room Full of Elephants
Author: Anthony Camber
Genre: Science fiction & fantasy, action-adventure, mystery, gay fiction
Page count: 303
The impossible happens. Now what?
Keith’s a superstar software tester – in his own humble opinion. His husband Nick is an army veteran, adjusting to a brand new life with prosthetic legs and nursing a secret obsession with elephants. The uncrowned king of their terraced jungle is their cat, Ziggy.
Theirs is a cosy little universe – about to be shattered in the most extraordinary way.
Enter Cordelia, the mysterious sorta-kinda-girlfriend of Keith’s best friend. And then, from somewhere, somehow, enter Eric.
Eric is impossible. Not implausible: impossible. He’s seriously, inexplicably, adorably weird. His appearance means Keith’s universe will never be the same again – and that’s before he finds out the staggering truth.
A Room Full of Elephants is a quirky, page-turning sci-fi mystery tackling the biggest themes of all: relationships, loss, who we are, who we want to be, and whether that animal stain will ever wash out.
A Room Full of Elephants: Some universes are bigger than others.
Let me get this out of the way: A Room Full of Elephants floored me, just flat out turned me inside out and upside down. It’s filled with pithy and irreverent observations about the human condition, with incisive stabs at the bubble of apathy and ennui surrounding our existence, and dripping with laugh-out-loud, belly clutching dialog. This story will take you on a journey of discovery like none you’ve ever experienced.
Awash in popular culture, rich in characterizations, resplendent with intelligent, jaw-dropping turns of phrase, this Matrix-like ‘Verse will stretch your imagination and perhaps even have you racing for your dusty reference books to refresh your take on Cartesian metaphysics.
Keith is the narrator, the lens through which we view the highly improbable and flat out impossible. His is the analytic mind, his specialty finding software bugs. The man is a fascinating blend of big picture thinking shot through with detail-oriented proclivities, honed with the knowledge that no matter how careful one is, no matter how attentive, there will be bugs, in software and in the universe at large.
Nick is Keith’s husband, a wounded warrior who lost his legs and now struggles with the harsh realities of adjusting to a world of titanium and limited options. He is also taken with elephant bric-a-brac, books and every other expression of obsession you can imagine.
Part of the joy I found in reading this came from the realistic depiction of a loving relationship between two men who are as different as night and day. They bicker, they love, they accommodate each other’s quirks and whims—and underlying all of it is a solid foundation of respect.
Naturally, when Eric appears (and I won’t do spoilers, it wouldn’t be fair) Nick will be tested in ways he could never have imagined and Keith will rise to those challenges as the mystery of who, what, how and why tests them at every turn.
There’s a strong cast of supporting and pivotal characters, clever bread crumb trails, and a plot that unfolds with enough gotcha twists and turns to satisfy the most enthusiastic SF & Fantasy fan. The genius of this story is how it snares you in a web of implausibility, how fully you become invested in the characters, and how on the edge of your seat you’ll be as events unfold.
And with an ending that’s perfectly and illogically logical, with most of the loose ends sticky-taped together, your first reaction will be to flip to page one and start again, because… yes, it’s just that good.
The writing is intelligent, the concepts mind-bending and thought-provoking, the characters flawed in deeply human ways. It is filled with dry and sometimes outrageous humor, spot on dialog, and enough gut-wrenching danger and conflict to truly keep you turning the pages.
I give A Room Full of Elephants my highest recommendation.
It is truly a Five Star read.