When I took it upon myself to read Ronald R. Van Stockum Jr.’s 2nd and latest novel “Cosmos the Stellar Stalker”, I had no idea the ride I was in for. This is a book unlike any other I have ever read. It mixes the fantasy of magical realism with real-life scientific and creates a believable parallel universe in which exists our humble city of Louisville, KY, threatened by the devouring hunger of a great and ancient being.
I was delighted and surprised throughout the book. Many stories I read these days have predicable plot lines following well-worn patterns. Not this story. It keeps you guessing until the end, with each new revelation giving you another “ah-ha” moment that expands your understanding to a new level.
Mr. Van Stockum alternates the narration of his story with short scientific explanations of what’s going on behind the scenes, everything from theories about the prehistoric beginnings of the universe to atomic theory and Einsteinian physics. If you love science, you’ll love this book. For the lay person not as familiar with scientific theory, the author has included a handy Scientific Glossary full of educational information at the back of his book. This story will not only take your imagination on a fantastic ride, you will become better educated while reading it!
The book includes art by Steven Eilers, a very talented artist whose stark and bold style fits the tone of Mr. Van Stockum’s book perfectly.
The only criticism I have is the voice in which the author writes. I felt it used unnecessarily obtuse language at times, and spent too long describing things the reader didn’t really need to know about (like biological processes of the body). While interesting, the very scientific and obtuse voice made it difficult to enjoy the story at times. Don’t misunderstand me, I love the voice. It’s original and entertaining. But perhaps it could be toned down in places to provide better clarity and enjoyment for the reader overall.
As with his first novel, “Markman’s Home” I found “Cosmos the Stellar Stalker” entertaining, delightful, and interesting to the end. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Louisville, as it includes much fascinating history about the city, and to anyone who loves science or just an original and fresh story in general. Go at it with an open mind and make sure your seat belt is securely fastened.