The Stranger and the Time Machine: Volume 1
by Phil Scrima

"You're not of this Earth anymore."

Believed to be dead, an inventor places a lawyer in charge of overseeing his Living Trust, which includes the most unusual inheritance earmarked to Stranger, his adopted nephew. Besides receiving great financial wealth, Stranger is also given an opportunity to carry out secret missions (including one of Stranger's choice) via his uncle's time machine. But in order to prepare for his missions as well as accomplish his personal mission of saving and reincarnating Laura, the lawyer's deceased daughter, Stranger has to undergo arduous training and human molecular transformations. Now working together, Stranger and Laura are assigned to a death-defying mission to infiltrate the Evil Ones—an "advanced intelligence far superior to Homo sapiens." It is a matter of time whether or not Stranger and Laura can annihilate the malevolent team before their cloned bodies are activated.

The first volume in a new series, Phil Scrima's award-winning sci-fi is a combination of action-packed adventures, comedy, and romance while addressing the realistic ills of the world. Scrima's third-person narrative features a peculiar character simply named Stranger. While his origins are left up to readers to ponder since he enters Earth abandoned and wrapped in a silver blanket, Stranger's persona is centered on his Marine background. Over-confident of his tactical skills, Stranger embarks on highly challenging missions that require exceedingly rigorous and taxing trainings. Of course, Stranger learns a thing or two about humility and compassion (to name a few) along the way from Scrima's equally curious foiled cast, such as a gorilla named King, and Happy—a slightly snarky British-speaking android.

Scrima's well-developed characters, in particular his principal protagonist Stranger, are caught up in an interesting mix of bizarre obstacle courses, black holes, snippets of history, and off-the-chart technology that are set within time periods before the existence of high-powered weapons (even the creation of the Sun and Moon) and beyond. While his neatly divided five-part plot is replete with ticking clock past-to-the-future missions, Scrima also keeps it balanced and interesting by lacing in sarcastically comedic conversational scenes that are often filled with puns and wordplay. One example of wordplay is Stranger's name, such as when he introduces himself as "I'm Strange." Cute. There are other names in the mix, not necessarily associated with Stranger. But suffice it to say, you'll have to read the book to understand my drift. Scrima also includes romance between Stranger and Laura, but he keeps it to the development of their relationship with just a hint of erotic love.

Of prime importance is Scrima's consistent theme of working together to build a better place to live by eradicating elements that only seek to destroy. Each mission makes direct references to eliminating greed, hunger, and raises acute awareness of societal across-the-board disregard for life. Unfortunately, these themes are more real than fiction, as recent events suggest. Kudos to Scrima for weaving in powerful truths in the midst of a captivating read! May we all seek to build a better way to live in peace and harmony with all people—near and far!

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