Soul Identity - Review in SF Crowsnest

by Michael Rhian Driscoll

(as posted in SF Crowsnest)

I know what you're thinking, any book that an author has to pay to get published is to be treated with caution at best. For the most part, this is true. Just not in the case of 'Soul Identity', the debut novel by Dennis Batchelder of Kent Island, MD. The good news is that this book is a fine example of summer escapist reading. The bad news that this review might not be seen till fall.

No matter, forget the Sunday papers, let your significant other look after the rest of the morning, get a cup of whatever you drink to start the day and grab this book instead. It's not great literature, nor does it try to be. It's a fun read, that cries out for optioning by some film company. Remember, you heard it here first.

The story concerns the adventures of a computer consultant named Scott Waverly, who like his creator, is a computer consultant and resident of Kent Island, which supports the eastern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. (It is an ancient algonquin term that means 'blink and you've missed it' and most people do, headed east or west along the highway that roughly bisects the island.)

Another interesting point is that Batchelder put together a company to publish and sell the book himself. It's called Netleaves and is also opening to considering any other aspiring writers who are having a problem getting round the normal publishing route.

Based on what he told me about the process of creating his company, this is not your typical vanity press. He seems to have really done his homework as far as finding the right software and companies to advise, mentor and otherwise help his story see daylight. He also told me when I interviewed him (see article elsewhere this month), that he did some serious pruning of the original manuscript and I'd say the story is better for it.

Anyway, to get back to the book, Waverly is hired to plug some links in the security of an odd and somewhat secretive company that says it has been tracking the souls of people as they reincarnate, for the past 2600 years. It's apparently a fairly complicated process, made somewhat easier by modern technology.

They do this in order to provide for people in the next life. In other words, you can't take it with you, but thanks to Soul Identity, you can come back and get it, sometimes with interest.

The problem is, thanks to the company's growth, someone sees in this an opportunity for a power grab. Naturally, this means that computer consultants who go nosing around and are in danger of finding things that bad guys don't want them to find are in for some interesting times,

Happily, Batchelder doesn't let himself get hung up too much in those details. That is a common failing of so many hard science and technical types who take the advice 'write what you know', a bit too literally. Instead, he moves the story along from Maryland to other locations at a pretty brisk pace, around the world until the climax.

People are thrown together in a crisis, where they find out who they really are and of what they are capable. People fall in love but happily Batchelder doesn't try to get too sexy. It's not that I'm knocking eroticism, I give him props for not trying swing for the bleachers his first time at bat.

Besides, its an action story, albeit with some metaphysical overtones. We can't have too much snuggling, that interferes with whipping up on the bad guys. In the end, the good end happily, and the bad end unhappily, that is what fiction means.

'Soul Identity' is available on line from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble as well as

Back to Praise for Soul Identity...

Soul Intent

Publisher: NetLeaves
Paperback: 276 pages
ISBN-10: 0979805627
ISBN-13: 9780979805622
Library of Congress
Control Number:
Buy "Soul Intent"

Soul Identity


Publisher: NetLeaves
Paperback: 268 pages
ISBN-10: 0979805600
ISBN-13: 978-0979805608
Library of Congress
Control Number:
Buy "Soul Identity"