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Amazon Reviewer: S.A. Molteni - 5/5 stars
Entertaining and Exciting, December 5, 2014
Ben Brown's Flying Machine by Michael Thorp is an exciting, well-detailed novella about space exploration for children of ages and adults as well.
The story begins right in the middle of the action. The crew of the first manned spaceship to Mars has vanished, but the CEV module that they were in crashes into a pasture on Ben Brown's farm. The CEV is not without a passenger, however, it contains an old man who is dying. Upon the old man's last breath, ancient words are spoken to Ben Brown that change his life forever.
After the crash, Ben is ridiculed by classmates after being accused of lying about the old man on the spaceship as there was no indication that a being was on the craft. Ben has to endure the backlash. But, when he takes his SAT exam shortly thereafter, he gets a perfect score on the test. This changes the direction of his life as he is taken under the wing of Dr. Bradshaw and given a full scholarship to college.
As the story proceeds, Ben finds that he now has knowledge of things he did not know before his encounter with the spaceship and the old man. Ben can now understand cuneiform and complex scientific theories. With this new found knowledge, Ben is compelled to build a "flying machine" and enters the device into a science fair. His contraption brings him fame and fortune, but Ben soon discovers that the machine is part of a bigger plan for him to fly to another planet - the planet where the old man in the CEV came from - and to find out what really happened to the crew of the CEV.
For a short read, this was entertaining, exciting and definitely worth the price of admission. I can ultimately see it as a movie and would love to see it on the big screen.
Well done, Mr. Thorp.
Amazon Top 100 Reviewer, Grady Harp - November 12, 2014
The story is solid, the events are exciting, and the characters make us care. Michael is more visual than written - his style is great... his story is worth the wait.
Grady Harp, November 14, 2014
Amazon Reviewer: R. Meinhardt - November 19, 2014
Good Sci Fi knows no age limit!
Really a great little science fiction story! It is directed at young adults but is a good read for adults too. I would like to read more about Ben Brown.
Three Short Excerpts from Ben Brown's Flying Machine
Excerpt 1. Chapter 11, No Accident
Ben glided out of the barn on his platform and passed the dimly lit farmhouse and skimmed over the wheat fields towards Maryann’s house.
He approached her bedroom window and saw her unclipping the back of her bra. He froze, too terrified to move, and stood there watching her putting on her nightie, but as she did so, she caught sight of him and spun around indignantly and rushed up to the window.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“Just wanted to say sorry ‘bout last night.”
Her face softened.
“See if you wanted to go for a ride.”
Her eyes lit up. Then she threw on a sweater, pulled some jeans up over her nightie, and approached the window, smiling excitedly.
Excerpt 2. Chapter 12: 75th National High Schools’ Science Competition
Ben and Maryann arrived at their booth and stared at its bare concrete floor and faceless wooden frame with a cardboard sign marked “121” stapled to it. Maryann nodded towards the next booth and Ben saw the panel of four judges shaking the students’ hands and one of the judges looking quizzically at his platform.
“Let’s hope it’s not all about presentation,” he said, lifting it down.
At that, Maryann pushed the wheelbarrow away into the far corner.
Moments later, the leader of the judging panel approached their booth and stared at the dented platform and glanced around the empty booth at the wheelbarrow. ‘Exactly why they need a qualifying round,’ he thought to himself, intending to make an issue of it later. He looked down his list of entries and then at the other judges.
“121, do you have it? I can’t see it,” he asked one of the female judges.
She looked down her list and shook her head, prompting the others to flick through their piles of registration forms. The lead judge looked around at Ben and Maryann.
“Registration?” he asked.
Maryann handed him their copy, and he skimmed through it, writing down their details.
“A flying machine,” he articulated clearly, reading their form.
“Any paperwork, documentation?”
“Care to describe how it works?”
“Through particle displacement, sir.”
“Particle displacement,” he echoed, looking at him above the rims of his glasses.
“Care to elaborate?”
Ben hesitated and saw all the judges staring at him in wide-eyed anticipation. “Sure,” he said. “It uhm... it uses three particle vacuum drives. Each induces particle displacement around a vacuum, which provides forward and directional thrust.”
Silence. Not one of the judges batted an eye lid.
“I see,” the lead judge said.
“It’s kind of new.” Ben smiled.
The lead judge smiled and looked around a little incredulously at the others.
“I can start her up and show you.”
“By all means. It’s safe? Not going to shoot off anywhere?”
“No, sir. But it might pay to step back a bit.”
“Righ-t-o. Everybody back,” he said, beginning to enjoy himself.
Excerpt 3. Chapter 12: 75th National High Schools’ Science Competition
A shutter slid back inside the confessional box, revealing the outline of a priest.
“Father, I’m not part of this church,” Ben said, “but I was...”
“God welcomes one and all.”
“Even if you’re not sure he exists?”
“One and all. What’s on your mind, son?”
“I was wondering about God’s will... his hand, how far it might extend if he wanted to do something.”
“No one can presume the infinite power and wisdom of God.”
“He could use someone of little faith?”
“No one can presume his infinite power and wisdom. He can move in mysterious ways.”
“Which means what?”
“Which means with faith anything’s possible.”
“If you have no faith?”