By Dale R. Cozort
One of the most favorite sci-fi themes is that of multi-dimensional copies of the same world. The writer posits there are countless versions of our earth all existing simultaneously in other dimensions removed from our own. That’s the core plot foundation for Dale Cozort’s new adventure novel, “Exchange.” In it, the entire city of Rockport, Illinois has been removed from our earth and placed on another earth, whereas it has been replaced by a chunk of terrain from that other world. In other words, exchanged. And the world it has dropped into has saber-tooth tigers, mastodons and green monkeys that appear to be semi-intelligent.
The government, using the Marines, attempts to evacuate as much of the population as it can once the exchange terminates and both sections revert back to their own dimension. Should anyone be in what is referred to as Bear County when that happens, they would be forever trapped on this alternate earth. Caught up in all this is single mother, Sharon Mack, who is frantically doing her best to keep herself and her autistic daughter, Bethany, alive. Unfortunately her ex-husband is an abusive alcoholic who has decided he, and his clan of relatives, would be better off living in the savage world. Thus he kidnaps Bethany and heads for the untamed surroundings of this dangerous environment.
But Sharon is no pushover and she is determined to track him down and get her daughter back before the final shift occurs. Along the way she encounters a religious cult that has opted to relocate in Bear Country and establish colony there. Amongst them is a handsome, enigmatic fellow named Leo West who early on befriends Sharon and volunteers to aid her in rescuing her daughter. But West has secrets, chief among them what his real agenda is with both the cult camp and Sharon. Complicating matters is the fact that she is attracted to him and with each passing day realizes this attraction may be clouding her judgment and jeopardizing her mission.
“Exchange,” is a well written, fact paced sci-fi thriller with both familiar concepts and new original twists. Cozort creates interesting characters and keeps the pace humming along. But at the same time, towards the second half of the book, many of the scenes seem to be repetitious of previous events so that we began fidgeting as if caught on a carousel going nowhere fast. When the plot finally reaches the finale, it is with a relieved welcome. Some editorial tightening here might have been helpful. Still, “Exchange” is worthy of your attention and Cozort a writer to watch. He’s by no means reached his full potential yet, but “Exchange” is a big step in the right direction.