The Human Trial Trilogy: Scifi, Romance And America's Fight For Liberty
By Timothy N. Stelly, Sr.
Aug. 14, 2011
First of Two Parts
Human Trial, the saga of the Turner family, captures the spirit of America
The Human Trial Trilogy is a bold scifi journey that breaks with traditional elements of the genre to focus on human dynamics. It asks the reader to consider the idea that perhaps the biggest threat to mankind, is MAN.
The story focuses on the pressures faced by a small group of survivors forced to cooperate after aliens alter the world climate to lethal levels, which decimates earth’s population and food supply.
The three books focus on the Turner family, headed by Daron and Regina Turner, who raise a child born from unusual circumstances. The latter half of the trilogy (from the middle of part two to the end) centers on the Turner’s only child, Adam, as he comes into his own as a military strategist.
This first part of this end-of-the-world tale (All Things That Matter Press, 2008) focuses on Daron, Regina (who is not yet his wife, but his co-worker), Melvin Hicks, a gangbanger trying to change his life; and Gordon Peters, a construction worker who has suffered the loss of his wife and two children to the searing heat.
The first book was written with more of a frightening tenor, as the majority of the story takes place when the world is heated to extreme temperatures unlike any mankind has ever seen. Author Evelyn Palfrey wrote that the book, “…haunts me two years after I read it.” Brian Doe, author of The Grace Note said: “The message finally revealed is not only horrifying, but real, as is the omen foretold. Turning tables and unbalanced scales foster confusion and terror in an epic far greater than its words."
In the story, after months of record-breaking temperatures around the globe, the earth is left scorched and devoid of nearly all human and animal life. Food is scarce and the small town in which they take shelter is haunted by a band of drunken, lawless youth and rabid animals—including dogs and wolves. The group holes up in a sporting goods store called Mulholland’s (which later is the basis for their moniker Mulholland’s Mad Dogs, or the MMD) and must overcome not only the heat and lack of food, but their own fears and prejudices.
Members of the group come and go, including two escaped convicts reluctant to take orders; a man who speaks little English; a tough as nails widow who along with another refugee, lose their way and jeopardize the safety of the group as they indulge in drugs; a preacher and his wife; and a nymphomaniac who shirks her responsibilities and is willing to destroy the group from within. Some are lost to suicide, or in the case of the drug addicts, are expelled from the group. Some die by Daron’s hand, as he takes forceful leadership to a literal level with his shoot-first philosophy.
Throughout the ups and downs, Daron and Regina’s working relationship blossoms into love, and then marriage. This love story is contrasted against the backdrop of fear of an impending human-alien showdown. The marriage cannot be consummated iun the traditional manner, as the group has a rule against risking additional pregnancies under such trying conditions where (1) medical care is limited, if not non-existent, and (2) the risk of losing a child to alien abduction.
It isn’t long before the group discovers that they are test subjects in an alien experiment and that they must wrest the fate of mankind from the hands of otherworldly beings. Their alien nemesis have also come to earth to do DNA experimentation and abduct children for genetic alteration. After the birth of Adam, Daron and Regina’s son becomes the focus of the aliens and the group rallies to protect him, seeing him as the hope for mankind’s future.
The final confrontation results in the aliens insisting that man live a simpler, more communal life and rid the planet of its toxins. They inform the MMD that two colonies have been formed in America: one in Big Springs, Nebraska known as “The New Frontier” and another in Cawker City, Kansas, known as “The Assembly.”
After much debate, the MMD decide to travel halfway across the continent (Human Trial II: Adam’s War, 2010, All Things That Matter Press), hoping to become members of one of the colonies. Along they way, they encounter more battles with marauders and wild animals, and also have to deal with the mental disintegration of one of their members.
This middle segment of the trilogy dealt more with not only Daron and Regina ’s marriage, but the heartbreak and rediscovery of love for Melvin, whose first “wife,” Cheryl, has a mental breakdown and commits an unorthodox method of suicide. Later, Melvin finds his true love, Iman Hicks—a young woman brought up in the church. Interesting enough, as the story slowly shifts its emphasis from Daron to his son, we note that Adam has no time for romance. He is a studious young man with a plan (more on this later).
Book reviewer Beverly Jackson (APOOO Book Club) stated in her amazon.com critique, “Human Trial II is more than a post-apocalyptic tale, as it is also a satirical commentary on how power can easily corrupt those entrusted to lead, and how leaders easily coerce people to their side using religious and racial divides and prejudices. Through a core group of characters, the author demonstrates the psychology of survival, group acceptance, and crowd mentality.”
Indeed, this episode also has more social satire, though the material dealt with is serious: treason, racism, survival, terrorism and the fear of nuclear annihilation.
The MMD arrives in Big Springs , Nebraska , where they seek to assist in rebuilding society. Soon Daron finds himself at odds with the colony's leader, a megalomaniac named J.D. Cooks. Furthermore the colony has the appearance of a POW camp. When he sees that the area is patrolled by armed guards, Daron suggests to his cohorts that they develop a plan of escape. While Regina concurs, she also understands the need for their children (now numbering three as they “adopt” two children of a deceased group member) to have stability in their lives.
Racial dynamics become part of the picture as the MMD, as closely knit as ever, discover two key pieces of information: (1) the existence of a white supremacist enclave in Denver known as “New Europa.” Cooks and the hierarchy of New Europa are in cahoots with aliens, who have established their own colonies in Winslow Rock, New Mexico and in the mountains of Ascención , Mexico ; and (2) The aliens have similar DNA and as their home planet has been destroyed, they need earth as a new home. To perpetuate their race, the aliens set out to produce half-alien/half-human hybrids, most of whom are sent to Cawker City . These new beings look like humans with the exception of their lack of finger and palm prints, and their being devoid of emotion.
Because of the dire consequences facing mankind, people are forced to unite; but with time man’s old warts—greed, thirst for power, discrimination—resurface. This is manifest watching Daron and Cooks engage in a two-decades-old battle of wits. Meanwhile, Adam grows into a cerebral student of military history and strategy and unbeknownst to Regina (who serves of the Big Springs governing board), keeps an eye on Cooks. Adam, Daron, Melvin, Gordon and a neighbor, Joe Nunez, spend their days plotting an uprising not only against Big Springs, but Cawker City as well. Adam has recruited a small, but trustworthy network of spies.
With little warning, Adam calls together the MMD and family friends and announces that the battle plan and escape will be executed the following evening. Even though Regina is at first angered that Daron would jeopardize their son, she is pleasantly surprised when she learns that Adam—now 21—is the mastermind of the plot. The plan goes off without a hitch as both Big Springs and Cawker City are reduced to rubble by a series of massive explosions.
As Adam leads the MMD, their friends and a bastion of soldiers out of Big Springs, he warns that the war is just beginning. They must first get around New Europa undetected; and then Daron must lead a smakker ragtag army (which includes Melvin and Gordon, who feel “we came into this together, we go out together”) in what is perceived as a suicide mission; a fight against an alien stronghold in Winslow Rock.
Winslow Rock, in a fierce hours-long battle, is literally blown off the map and all participants are assumed dead in the explosion that is felt hundreds of miles away in Albuquerque , where Adam is planning the final showdown against aliens in northern Mexico.
The final battle results in a human victory, but with few survivors. Adam returns to Albuquerque , and honoring Regina ’s wishes, he takes her, Imani and Sara across country to Lake Consuela , where Regina wants to live out her remaining years. She is certain there will never be as great a love in her life than what she had with Daron. Nearly a year goes by when one day two men pull up in a jeep. One is badly disfigured, burned all over his body. Regina is overjoyed to learn that the injured man is Daron, who is the lone survivor from the Battle of Winslow Rock. She is overjoyed and prays that she live out many years with her husband and their extended family, which now includes newcomers Jeb and Darlene Barfield, and their son Beau. Tragically, Daron dies within a year, and Regina goes three months later (Human Trial III: National Security, coming soon, All Things That Matter Press).
To be continued…
About the author: Timothy N. Stelly is a poet, essayist, novelist and screenwriter from northern California. His novel, HUMAN TRIAL 2: ADAM'S WAR, is available from Amazon.com, allthingsthatmatterpress.com. Is the HUMAN TRIAL trilogy far-fetched? Check out the article on alien encounters at www.stellyhumantrial.com.
Would you like a FREE copy of HUMAN TRIAL 2: ADAM'S WAR? Be one of five people to request a copy and agree to post a review at amazon.com and/or goodreads.com. Email me for details.
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