Ray Melnik is a master of mind-blowing science fiction writing who can also touch your heartstrings, and he does so by using science in very plausible ways to open our minds to new possibilities.
There are no aliens, no shooting stormtroopers, no warp-speed spaceships in his novels. Instead, they are set in our contemporary world and include platitudes and people who seem familiar to us. Usually the plot centers on one or more scientists conducting an experiment that has surprising results, affects the characters emotionally, and changes their perspectives on life and love.
Melnik’s most recent novel, Ghost in the Park, follows a similar pattern, but while all of his books have a twist, to me the twist was more unexpected than even his previous books. In his previous works, such as The Room and the Eyes in this World, Melnik has used concepts such as string theory and alternative universes to influence the understanding of human relationships. This time, the paranormal is also at the center of the story’s science experiment. Ghosts are a subject most scientists avoid, and Melnik, realizing that, allows a tone of skepticism to creep into his book in the mouth of his scientist persona, but also counteracts that skepticism with dots. view of other characters. He then provides a surprising explanation for ghosts that fuses both points of view, but is completely original.
The story concerns Sami, a young graphic designer, who until a few weeks ago was married to a beautiful young woman named Amber. The two lived on Staten Island and were just beginning their married life, but they were already facing problems. Amber had always suffered from anxiety and had a history of child abuse; consequently, her problems sometimes overwhelmed her, and Sami sometimes found it difficult to cope with her resulting behavior.
When the novel opens, Amber has been dead for several weeks. Her and Sami’s last conversation turned into an argument, and then Amber went for a walk and was hit by a car, driven by a woman who lost control of her vehicle due to a heart attack. The accident isn’t really anyone’s fault, but Sami is beating himself up for the last time he and Amber parted ways in anger.
A second plot has to do with Dr. Noah Braxton, a physicist. Noah has borrowed equipment from SciLab (a nod to the scientific organization that has appeared in previous Melnik novels) to do experiments. He wants to use the kit to learn more about some “ghost particles” or unexplained matter that he saw in a previous experiment. As your friend, to whom Noah explains his experiment, I admit that I don’t really understand all the details, but the reader doesn’t need to. I’ll leave it up to the scientists if Noah’s experiment is plausible. I only know that Melnik does his research, so my suspension of disbelief remains suspended throughout the novel.
As the story continues, one day, Sami walks home past the park where Amber used to wait for him. He is surprised when he inexplicably sees her. She is not just a fuzzy ghost; she seems real, so real that he can’t believe she’s there with him. He wonders if it will now be as if his death never happened. They apologize to each other, and Sami takes Amber’s hand and they start walking towards her apartment. Suddenly her hand is no longer in his and he has vanished.
Obviously, the reader will realize that Amber’s appearance has something to do with the experiment, but the reader will run into a few more surprises before the book is finished. I won’t reveal the ending by saying more, but I assure readers that this is not Frankenstein’s modern story of raising the dead, although the book turns out to be as surprising as that novel must have been to Mary Shelley. readers two centuries ago. Ghost in the Park also touches the heartstrings of the reader because it is like the surreal dreams that many of us have after the death of a loved one when we see the person we love and we are surprised that he (or she) is not dead. , just go up to hug him and find him fading and we wake up dazed and disappointed. Melnik delves into real-life topics here about death and bereavement, and uses a little wish fulfillment to grab readers’ attention and maybe even comfort them a bit.
Ghost in the Park is a sixty-five page novella, but I think it’s so much better for it. In general, I like long novels, but sometimes less is more, and that is usually the case with Melnik novels because the central idea and powerful climax wouldn’t be so mind-blowing with a lot of weird details.
Melnik has often included comments on the back of his books about the science behind them, but this time, he does something different. It includes two short “essays” that are actually fictional vignettes as well. The first is a letter from a boy who prays to God, explains how his father lost his job and asks God to help his family. It would be a strange piece in itself, but it is compensated by the following essay in which God, who is a woman, takes over all the airwaves, screens and social networks to deliver a message to humanity, affirming that it does not it is its purpose. interfere in human affairs. She has given us all the tools to make a better world for us; therefore, we must be self-reliant and focus not on praying for others, but on helping them.
These two essays suggest that Melnik is open to a greater force in the Universe, perhaps beyond what science can explain. This possibility is supported in the novel when Dr. Noah talks to a coffee shop owner, Stewart, who is interested in mysticism and spirituality and feels that the answers are there and not science. Dr. Noah, instead of arguing or scoffing at Stewart’s spiritual beliefs, rationally replies that science doesn’t have all the answers, although it does have the best. I think Melnik is trying to find common ground here between science and spirituality, and although the novel ends up going in a different direction, it will be interesting to see if Melnik expands on these ideas or uses the two essays to be the seed for a future book. .
In any case, Ghost in the Park is a new twist on the paranormal. It’s actually a hybrid of sci-fi and the paranormal, pushing the boundaries of both genres to create something new, something emergent, which explains why Melnik has called his website Emergent Novels. I hope that many more will come out of your pen.