This Document is Classified SECRET (review: View)

21 Jul

With this federal warning begins View, Ed Morawki’s fast-paced novel written with such scrupulous detail that it thoroughly convinced this reader, at least, that remote viewing is not only possible—but possibly happening right now, in the aether all around us.

A novel about psychic espionage in the United States military is, understandably, going to require some suspension of disbelief.  But before I get into the details of Ed Morawski’s clairvoyance-oriented novel View, let’s examine the facts:

1. In the heat of the Cold War, the U.S. Federal Government received some chilling information—the Soviet Union was harnessing Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP) in its vendetta against us Americans.

2. We decided to investigate with our own team of telepaths, establishing a set of strict protocols intended to turn this supposed junk science into an empirical military tool, and accordingly turn stigmatized “psychics” into more reputable “remote viewers.”  The project?  Code Name: Stargate.  (Giggle-worthy, maybe, but then—what can you expect from the 1970s?)  And in fact, one professor’s research did find that these supernatural spies did indeed get some pretty significant stats—5 to 15% above chance.

3. In 1995, the CIA shut the stargate down, relegating the project to feed the conspiracy theories of sensationalistic History Channel  documentaries and American Studies professors who insist that the 1969 moon landing took place on a Hollywood sound stage.

Or maybe that’s just my experience.

In any case, for author Ed Morawksi, the story doesn’t end with an embarrassed Clinton administration–

Max Leszek is an idiot.  Technically, he’s a U.S. Air Force sergeant stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in sunny southern California, but his hyperactive curiosity doesn’t mesh with the military mindset, and gets him in trouble barely into the first chapter—when he decides to smuggle a camera onto the base and take a picture of the Super Secret Highly Classified Absolutely Off-Limits “Craft,” which may or may not be short for spacecraft (hey, I don’t want the FBI chasing after me).

Moonlighting as a photographer of second-tier, topless, wannabe models (trust me, SoCal’s full of them), Max gets distracted by his—let’s be polite—artistic muse, inadvertently allowing one of his models to get a look at his laptop, and the Craft.  Unfortunately for Max, the model’s a Chinese spy, and he’s about to be charged with a capital crime: treason.

Lucky for Max, Edwards is the home base of an even more classified military asset than a potential UFO: Alicia, a mysterious young Vietnamese woman who just happens to be the world’s most powerful remote viewer.  And lucky for Max, she can sense a latent psychic power in him.  Which is how our hero gets drafted into the world of the even more Super Secret Highly Classified Insanely Under Wraps re-vamped Project Stargate for the new millennium.  It seems there are some things even the CIA doesn’t know about.

From here, Ed Morawksi unfolds a fast-paced story with such scrupulous detail that it thoroughly convinced this reader, at least, that remote viewing is not only possible—but possibly happening right now, in the aether all around us.  And considering the author’s Air Force background, I wouldn’t be surprised if he knows something the rest of us don’t.

From the first page, the narrative style drew me in, a running first-person commentary that reveals a couple things instantly: that Max Leszek is a smart-ass, and that he’s going to get himself into a lot of trouble in the next 176 pages.  An early run-in with the Moroccan police isn’t the last time he tells us “I’ve really screwed myself” this time.

But what’s a plot without problems?

View rockets off the starting line at a fast-pace and only speeds up along the way, with short chapters and the irreverent internal monologue of Max Leszek keeping the plot constantly moving.  The realism of the description—and humorous way in which the often-befuddled, always-brazen Max sets the scene—makes our propulsion from Palm Springs to London to Morocco in the first few chapters alone seem absolutely natural.

Technical details of left propulsion unit waveguide sensors wedded to history and mythology of King Arthur and Hernán Cortes reveal Morawski’s own wide-ranging knowledge and imagination.  In fact, one of the most interesting concepts of the book centered on a particularly strange facet of remote viewing: time shifting.

For all her psychic power, the Viewer Alicia strike both Max and the reader as supremely childlike—afraid of flying, afraid of water, and completely ignorant of the Audi A6.  A girl rescued from the desert around Edwards at age 12 or 13, with amnesia of all the years before, she’s an innocent.

But her psychic travel through dimensions allows her to experience the worlds of the past—and bring Max along with here.

While View abounds with interesting technical detail, there’s a reason the book’s subtitle is A Tale of Paranormal Romance. Max, being Max, has some further trouble with misdirected amour—let’s just say getting romantically involved with a powerful psychic who’s off-limits by military fiat isn’t the best decision the ex-sergeant’s ever made.  (Though let’s not fault him too much—after a childhood crush on Michelle Kwan, Max Leszek can’t resist the waifish Asian type).

While the Alicia/Max romantic scenes are as thorough as Morawski’s descriptions of the MQ-1 Predator unmanned drone, the shifting nature of our hero and heroine’s identities through time—John Smith and Maloaka (Pocahontas), Hernán Cortes and the clever La Malinche—make the love story as unique as the espionage adventure.


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