Behind the Gem by Ken Hart is a science fiction novel that pushes the unassuming Raymond into an alien society. The Draasen choose Raymond as the “birther” for Amber, an alien that he ultimately comes to love and rule with. Together they navigate their strange new relationship, conflicts and challenges that come along the way.
Hart has created a novel that bursts with creativity. While there seem to be some overarching similarities to Planet of the Apes and Avatar, it does stand up. The story is a well-balanced combination of alien politics, love and Raymond’s exploration of and ultimate assimilation into the new alien culture. The dialogue, even when telepathic, is realistic and the ending, while predictable, gives the story a happy conclusion allowing Amber and Raymond to live out their lives together. Readers will also appreciate the chance to imagine Hart’s creations without being over burdened with descriptive passages.
However, there are faults with Behind the Gem. The first is the title, which could be linked to the stones used by the Draasen aliens but is not tied into the story nor revealed to hold any significance. The pacing of the novel can be glacial at points, and the repetitive bathing and feeding scenes do little to aid this. Hart’s creativity is without question, but the execution sometimes fails and in turn, does not do his creations justice. There are long sequences that can be easily glossed over without missing the plot or important details. The prologue and the epilogue also feel misplaced and unnecessary. Overall, Behind the Gem is a science fiction story with heart. Hart has created an alien race that challenges typical gender roles, explores the complexities of relationships and lets its readers imagine a world where long snouted aliens rule.
By Literary Titan
August 24, 2016
When entire buildings begin disappearing around earth, former Army Ranger
Raymond knows that the end cannot be too far away for him and his fellow
humans. A normal day at the office takes an unexpected turn, causing Raymond to
make use of his training as everything around him begins to suddenly change.
However, no amount of training could’ve prepared him for the Drassens—a species
of aliens with a matriarchal society. After being saved from certain
destruction, Raymond forms a bond with the High One, unleashing a series of
events that will challenge everything he knows about the universe and himself.
Ken Hart’s Behind the Gem delves deep into a future where earth’s existence begins to unravel as entire buildings begin to disappear. At the center of this story is Raymond, a former Army Ranger who lives with his wife, rides a motorcycle, and works a regular office job. Normalcy for him, as well as the reader, is forever changed with the introduction of the species of aliens called the Drassens.
Hart’s creation of an alien, matriarchal society comes naturally throughout the book. Where some writers rely on heavy descriptions to convey that the new world is vastly different from earth, Hart allows his characters, mannerisms, and short descriptive phrases to usher the reader into a world that is vastly different from earth. Though some parts of the book could use more exposition as to why certain things are happening or to help separate the travel from one location from a different one (such as the Most High One’s palace and the landing), there remains little to complain about when it comes to world building.
The electronic devices and healing mechanisms are very unique to this story and to this world that Hart created. It has a familiarity, but comes with variances that make it new and exciting without being overwhelming. Additionally, the alien species seems to round out the total uniqueness of the story. Hart’s description of the new aliens leaves nothing to be questioned, allowing the familiarity of the mammal-like species to ease Raymond’s trust in the creature while also showing the difference of the alien from humans.
Behind the Gem is well conceived but I felt that there were elements that could of been handled with greater care. The relationship between Raymond and Amber—though well-written and thought out—could be viewed as Stockholm Syndrome. Every element of their unconventional relationship, I felt, should have been handled with greater detail to give readers a better understanding of their connection.
As Raymond’s trust with the aliens develops, so does the writing style of the book. What begins as a journal written almost completely in stream of consciousness with strange introduction of characters develops into a more matured and skilled version of his story as he begins to become more and more educated like the Drassens who surround him. It is a nice touch that assists in capturing Raymond's transformation. If you enjoy a good alien invasion story, then this book should be next on your list.
By Joseph Madia
May 24, 2014
fun twist on the sci fi experience
Behind the Gem is an entertaining and thought-provoking
journey through one man’s experience with an alien race. Solidly sci-fi, but
with the kind of sentiment and romance not usually found in the genre, Hart’s
tale provides plenty of action, technology, and telepathy as it poses many of
the Big Questions.
When a hostile race of aliens called the Baleorans attacks Earth, a group of humans, trapped in a building transplanted on another planet, struggle to make sense of their present and their future. One of their number, a man named Raymond Meinhardt, winds up the captive and soon after the Consort of one of a race of kangaroo–horse hybrid type beings, eight feet tall, called the Draasen. They are a race of telepaths with advanced technology and a feminine-ruled society.
Raymond, a former Army Ranger with experience in Vietnam, struggles to adapt to his new surroundings. His resistance, conformity, and ultimate independence within the society of the Draasen makes for fascinating reading and the opportunity to consider questions such as: What makes a Human human? Is it physiology or behavior? Molecules or morals? When we are in a foreign land, whose rules apply? How does individuality co-exist with a society based in many ways on group-think and Protocols?
As with all the best science fiction, the aliens can be considered as a metaphor for our own co-existence as individual races, countries, and religious groups on planet Earth. Raymond’s struggles are our own.
The Draasen society is well-developed, with plenty of political and class-based intrigue and conflict. It creates the necessary drama when things begin to stabilize for Raymond and escalates the pace when he begins to build a new family among the Draasen.
In his biography, Ken Hart tells us that he has come to writing late in his life, after the military took him to Vietnam and Iraq. He has a natural talent for storytelling and it is clear that his life experiences have given him ample knowledge and understanding, creating a richness to both the characters and worlds he creates.
But it is so fast and easy to read, with event piling cleanly upon event, that one is drawn in. Gradually, explanations are revealed for the hasty beginning and the plot becomes both more interesting and more subtle. The outdoorsy, outspoken protagonist, Ray, is hard not to sympathize with. He is a masculine everyman with plenty of heart, soul, and brain. The female protagonist, known as Amber, is sympathetic, but less interesting aside from her alien nature. Despite her odd appearance, stereotypical femininity is her chief trait. This apparent stark delineation of the sexes is called into sharp relief when Hart pulls a twist that undermines the very structure of gender. I wish that more had been done with it, but even so, it provided some interesting avenues of thought.While the earlier parts of the book seem fantastical, it later follows more classic sci fi threads. Even the writing style, simple and straightforward, calls to mind more classic sf. It hearkens back to the days when ideas were all that were needed to captivate the readers. Although I personally prefer a more luxuriant writing style, those who enjoy classic sci fi adventures should definitely check out Ken Hart. This is probably not a book for those who are not already sf fans, but those who are will appreciate the old school style and active plot.
By LAS Reviewer
November 6, 2013
Give It a Try!
Mind Fog Reviews
by Anastasia Cassella-Young
May 15, 2010
Behind the Gem is the most imaginative story about humans and their adaptive qualities and you will be delightfully surprised at the way Mr. Hart has turned these facts into a new and extraordinary story for readers. I was excited by the adventures revealed in every chapter of this book. It is definitely a number one in my reading of this genre in a while.
GhostWriter Literary Reviews
June 6, 2008
In some places in the world,
whole buildings and everyone in them, are being uprooted from the ground and
their lives, never to be seen again. Raymond and his wife discuss the latest
building to disappear from Georgia.
“Will it happen at my workplace, the bank where I work?” Raymond dismisses this
from his mind when his wife points out that banks are never the most crowded
places, and so he probably has nothing to worry about. But soon after arriving
at work and settling in, everything shuts down, no computer service, no cell
phone service, no electricity, everything is gone. They soon discover that they
are no longer where they should be. They also discover two suns rising in the
opposite direction. Raymond has a suspicion that they've been taken, just like
all the other buildings. Since he figures they must be on another planet, which
takes light years to travel, his wife must be dead. In the back of his mind he
knows this, but obviously he does not want to accept it.
The group he was taken with must decide on who is the best
choice to lead them in order to survive. Raymond is chosen, but not without
grumbling from his former superior, who very much wants to be in charge, even
if she has no idea how to survive. After several incidents and twelve people
dead, Raymond decides he must be on his own, before the whole group falls apart
on itself. With some guidance from a silver egg- shaped craft, and a very
demanding voice telepathically speaking in his head, he’s guided to a pick up
point where he’s been offered the chance to leave and join the colony of the
planet. He soon discovers that the leader of this colony, ‘The High One,’ as
she is called, personally chose him to aid her in revitalizing her colony. He
discovers many interesting things about this colony and their people, such as
how the females are extremely dominant and the males must ask the females for
permission for just about everything they do. Through all this confusion and
adaptation, he grows closer to The High One, even naming her Amber for short.
She teaches him the ways of their people and protects him. When she is away, he
feels lonely and lost without her presence. When she returns, all is right
again in his world. They've shown him,
at his request, what has become of Earth. Once he sees this, he knows there is
no other choice but to live comfortably with this peaceful, gentle colony.
Raymond’s survivor skills are tested when he's uprooted from his town, his life
and his wife, but where will it lead, and what will be required of him in the
I thought this book was awesome. Raymond proved to be a very strong and consistent character, and I enjoyed the interaction between him and Amber. It's a bit unconventional; the love that grows between Raymond and Amber, but it was as real as any human interaction is. This story was a job well done and well imagined.
Amazon Vine Voice
By Paul Lappen
December 27, 2016
A tale of one person's physical and emotional journey
Edward Robert Teach is your average human male. He is smart, rich and very
un-politically correct. He also abhors his famous namesake, Blackbird the
Pirate. One day, a spaceship lands on the lawn of the White House. Out come
several gorgeous women. They are actually from the female-dominated planet of
Feletia. They are here to recruit human males, including from the general
public, to join the Feletian Space Navy. Feletia is in the middle of an
interplanetary war against the Lyonians, who have already visited Earth. Edward
is personally recruited by Princess Kamini, the leader of the expedition, for
On Feletia, Edward becomes the unlikeliest captain of a prototype space destroyer in the Feletian Space Navy. He gets quite a reputation after destroying a Lyonian battle cruiser with a lucky shot with a torpedo. There is a Lyonian bounty for his capture. There are many personality clashes between strong-willed Edward and the equally strong-willed Feletian women.
A new player has entered the Feletian-Lyonian war. Edward watches as a ship of unknown origin destroys several Lyonian ships like it was nothing. Returning from a mission, Edward finds the population in an uproar. There has been an attack by unknown individuals, with many Feletian casualties, including Kamini's mother, Queen Aphelia. He learns from a captured intruder that they are called Grrulagans, and they can electronically change into any being they want. Their intention is to foment a Feletian-Lyonian war, and then clean up afterwards. By this time, Kamini has assumed the throne, and Edward has become Regent. Only humans can see the Grrulagan impostors among the Feletian population, and after teaching others how to do it, several thousand Grrulagans are rounded up. As Regent, Edward's job is to protect Kamini, any way he can. This leads to more clashes with the Feletian hierarchy. Does Kamini survive? Is there now a three-way war?
This belongs in the large gray area of Pretty Good or Worth Reading. The author, intentionally, does not try to answer any Great Questions, like "Where did mankind come from?" It is a tale of one person's physical and emotional journey, and it is worth reading.
By Literary Titan
October 18, 2016
The Eyes Behold Tomorrow by Ken Hart is fast moving action filled fantasy novel. Ken Hart describes his writing perfectly, “believable, without incredibly ridiculous situations that suddenly appear to solve all the character’s problems” (Hart p166). This novel merges human and a race called the Feletian into an intertwined future encompassing alliances and some galactic warring with other races. Feletian is a matriarchal society where the men are claimed into what are called stables. Women rule and men are expected to defer to them in almost every situation. They are also known for their peace keeping ways. They are non-violent and only use force when absolutely necessary. The two main characters are Robert Teach, a millionaire playboy from Earth, and Kamini a Feletian recruiter and Princess from Feletia. The two of them end up having a volatile relationship with good and bad moments, but always working together for what is in the best interest of Feletia, even if their views and tactics don’t always agree. Robert is a hot shot that likes to shoot first and ask questions later, Kamini prefers a more peaceful approach and always looks to see the good in others.
The story starts out with the recruiting of men from Earth. Typically, the Feletians were looking at the best military men Earth had to offer when Kamini approached Robert and asked him to join up. Having nothing better to do with his life at that point he agreed. The character of Robert is your typical arrogant playboy that thinks he knows it all and doesn’t take orders well. He makes an enemy in the first few days with another recruit, Desaris. Robert and Deasaris’ relationship is almost as interesting as Robert and Kamini. They might not like each other but will have to work together to save the Feletians and ultimately Earth from the alien races known as the Lyonians and eventually the Grrulagan.
Queen Aphelia is the peace keeper; she takes great interest in Robert from the start. In reference to the title, The Eyes Behold Tomorrow, some of the women of Feletia have what they call the gift. This is an ability to see into the future. She sees Robert’s future and his importance to her world. Because of this, she puts up with a lot from him, his lack of conforming to protocol, and his unorthodox, by their standards, tactics in just about every area of this life. He is a great commander and becomes the captain of their new prototype space craft. His role as captain makes things challenging as his relationship with Kamini and her family grows. Robert develops a strong attachment to Kamini’s little sister Princess Selena. This attachment starts showing Robert there is more to the world than himself and what he wants to do, he starts thinking critically and growing. The transformation in Robert is dramatic by the end, but not so much he loses his charm. Kamini proves to be a strong leader and capable of enduring the worst the world throws at her. Together they set out to create peace in the galaxy they reside in.
Overall the world that Hart has created is original and captivating. The strong female roles show how women can be strong and nurturing and still rule without faltering. I think this book would appeal to a wide variety of readers, science fiction lovers, people looking for strong independent women fiction, and anyone that just want a little less outlandish science fiction. The book does not have happy resolutions, there is no perfect bow to wrap up the story line. The book is open ended enough to leave room for sequels but even if Hart does not continue this story line, there is a satisfying ending. It does end on a happy note for those that want a book that can stand on its own.
In Ken Hart’s The Eyes Behold Tomorrow, Edward Robert Teach is a womanizer and avid partier, with not a care in the world. Then, a mysterious space ship lands, bringing with it an even stranger race of wide-eyed female aliens called Feletians. Robert takes a great interest in one of them in particular, a princess and recruiter named Kamini. She recruits Robert as the Captain of the Feletian Navy vessel, Devastator, but their opposite tactical approaches cause them to butt heads. Despite their differences, Kamini and Robert must band together to save Feletia – and Earth – from a dangerous alien threat that is looming on the horizon.
In many ways, The Eyes Behold Tomorrow seems to cater to a more adolescent audience. Juvenile humor, awkward dialogue, and rushed pacing takes away from what could have been a mature, complex science fiction novel. Also, the character of Robert isn’t necessarily the most likeable protagonist. He’s the sort of arrogant, macho playboy that teenage boys might find entertaining, but most adult readers likely would not. Robert is not exactly the sort of hero that the average reader can get behind; instead, he tends to be rather annoying for most of the book, and The Eyes Behold Tomorrow suffers as a result.
However, it is abundantly clear that The Eyes Behold Tomorrow holds a great deal of promise, particularly in its creative and unique plot. Ken Hart’s alien world is intriguing; it is complex enough to capture the reader’s attention, without being so convoluted as to be confusing or unlikeable. There is certainly potential for future sequels, though perhaps with some improved character development as Robert’s story continues. The Eyes Behold Tomorrow may not be for everyone, but it is a good start to what could be a truly fascinating science fiction series.-----------------------------------------------------------------------
As a child and even on into adulthood we look at the night sky to marvel and wonder at the stars. Bright specks of brilliance, these pinpricks of light draw us, and yet is there even a chance of ever making it there.
In The Eyes Behold Tomorrow by Ken Hart, we are given a story that takes us into the heart of the great frontier known as space. There are many examples of imagination on the market and each strives to find its niche in the market of science fiction. Hart brings us a possibility where the earth can be of use to save another world from extinction. When called upon many of the locals are tested for the strength and fortitude needed to move forward and become part of the Feletian Queen’s navy.
One of those selected is Edward Robert Teach. He is a throw back of the old world, and barbaric in nature with an opinion on everything which he is more than willing to share. Yet for some reason he is drawn to the Feletians, and they, especially their women are drawn to him. Can he find his place in this new political arena, and help to keep Galactic war from destroying such a peaceful planet? And can he tame the woman who has chosen him as her mate? The two become intertwined as the danger heats up, and Edward must rely in his instincts to save the day. Will it be enough to both save the galaxy as well as his new marriage to a unique and dangerous woman?
Hart has given us a fun and adventurous story that takes us into the stars and beyond. He introduces us to several new races with a unique flair. The characters of his work are just slightly off beat, and exceptionally honest, a sometimes rare quality. The strengths are offset by the flaws and at times, the flaws are what save the day. With the pace you feel like you are traveling at light speed and involved within some of the decisions.
The interaction between the Feletian women and the earth men is another story, as the women of this planet are the dominant species, and each of them has their own agenda. Yet this too is a part of the excitement, as the heat of the sexual experiences and romance add another layer to the already dangerous reality the Edward finds himself in. The problems are age old and yet picked up and dusted off and served to us in a new mold of thought.
The sense of wonder comes through with charming intensity, and yet the grittiness also bears witness to the danger and intoxication of being on the brink of war.
If you enjoy science fiction, romance, adventure, sex and interpersonal connections you will find this a nice addition to your library. Hart is an author to watch. You will enjoy the interactions and bantering of personalities. Edward Teach seems very much like a comic book hero, with all the problems associated.
Posted on the Bibliophile Reviews blog
August 15, 2014
When I first started to read this book I was a little confused, but once I caught up with the terminology I fell in love. This book had me on my side laughing my behind off more times than not. The society that Ken Hart has created is so new and exciting, a complete matriarchal society of aliens that look like humans. The Eyes Behold Tomorrow has a fun story line, characters that will keep you on your toes and more action than you’ll know what to do with.
Posted on Just Another Girl and her Books blog
August 15, 2014
When an alien race makes contact with Earth's leaders asking for two ships worth of water to help save their dying planet, Earth gains a new ally in the Feletians. The Feletians have been watching Earth for years, and while peaceful in nature, they are willing to fight to protect themselves and others. But policing the galaxy is spreading their forces quite thin, so they recruit humans to join their military forces. One of these humans is Robert Teach.
In the beginning this book seemed very much like political commentary thinly disguised as science fiction. I mostly agree with the political leanings of the narrator though, so that didn't really bother me, and the feeling left fairly quickly as well. I mostly enjoyed this tale, although there were parts that I found incredibly frustrating, as I'm sure Robert Teach found them. The dynamics of relationships between men and women on Feletia still confuse me a little, as I assume they still confuse Robert. In that sense, the author did a great job of sticking me in Roberts shoes.
There were a couple things in the story that really annoyed me, Robert's chauvinism, and the way the Feletians were always so cryptic. They spend so much time telling Robert that he needs to learn about Feletia, without ever telling him anything that he really needs to know. And since he doesn't know, we don't know. The Feletians may be protecting Earth, but I really don't like them in general.
Overall, I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I always felt like I was truly in Robert's shoes and the characters are well developed and the conflict, while a bit out of this world, is right at home in science fiction. I would definitely recommend this book to any sci-fi fans out there. - Katie
Aliens are Here
I was given the book for an honest review. Wow. The aliens are among us. Genius
playboy Teach goes to join the Feletian space navy and gets caught up in royal
intrigue. The Eyes Behold Tomorrow was filled with witty dialogue, distinctive
characters, descriptive sci-fi tech, and romance. It has a bit of everything
Semi Short Chic mini-review
August 13, 2014
As a lover of books, I've read A LOT of books, and in lots
of different genres. This one happens to be a Sci-Fi. Not one of my top
favorite genres, but I have to say that from the beginning this book really
drew me in. According the author its a PG-13 kind of book with a little
"sexual content", also not my cup of tea, but I have always been
willing to skip over that sort of stuff when the real meat of a book is beyond
I have to be honest, I haven't finished it, but from what I've read so far, I REALLY like it! The characters pop out of the page, and I have been able to visualize everything with Hart's awesome details, and wonderfully intriguing internal dialogue. Can't wait to finish it!
By Joey Madia
August 6, 2014
A few months ago I reviewed Ken Hart’s debut novel, Behind the Gem (Gypsy Shadow Publishing, 2010), which I found to be an enjoyable and well-paced science fiction adventure with a heart.
In his follow-up, The Eyes Behold Tomorrow, Hart uses a similar setup—a human male transplanted on a planet with a female-dominated, more advanced alien race, a situation that leads to political intrigue as well as a considerable amount of romance—but it is there that the similarities end.
The protagonist of The Eyes Behold Tomorrow, namesake of the pirate Edward Teach ('Blackbeard'), has little in common with the former Army Ranger of Behind the Gem. Teach is a playboy genius with sharp business sense and a wild side. When Earth is threatened by aliens, Teach is chosen to enter the pilot training program of a benevolent race called the Feletians.
His training, evaluation, and appointment to the Feletian fleet is the highlight of the book. Fans of Star Trek and the iconic James T. Kirk will appreciate his impulsive, cocksure attitude, and the situations it puts him in (and gets him out of). Much of the dialogue on the bridge of the ship, between captains, and between the captains and their bureaucratic overseers recalls the very best of both the Original Series and Next Generation.
The descriptions of both ship technology (propulsion, weapons) and the various technologies of the other planets are detailed enough to make the story real without overloading the reader with needless technical jargon.
For those interested in the romantic angle that sets Behind the Gem apart from drier science fiction, The Eyes Behold Tomorrow delivers not only romance and family but a bit more sexual content than its predecessor, although it never becomes graphic.
I look forward to reading more from this author.
If you are interested in learning about Ken Hart and to order this and other titles he has authored, visit www.kenhartscifi.com
It has been my pleasure over the past six years or so to
review Ken Hart’s science fiction novels. This will be my third. My previous
reviews were of Behind the Gem and The Eyes Behold Tomorrow.
Hart brings a lot of heart to his sci-fi. His previous two novels deal with family and reproductive issues and his stories explore what happens when distinct binary groups—be they male–female, human–nonhuman, or past–present—interact.
His latest novel, It was a Small Affair, focuses on the third binary—past–present.
The past is the confrontation at the Alamo in 1836 between the Mexican general Santa Anna (whose derisive remarks after the battle provide the novel’s title) and Travis, Houston, Bowie, Crockett, and Co. Texas’s independence from Mexico was at stake, and the Texans were badly outnumbered.
There is a great deal of romanticism and myth that surrounds the Alamo. It has been the subject of many books (fiction and nonfiction), films, and TV mini-series.
So what makes this story different?
The science fiction time-travel.
The present is 2010, and the players are a less than stellar Army Infantry platoon about to embark on a training exercise. Led by the narrator, Sergeant Webber—a veteran with experience in Afghanistan and something to prove—the platoon winds up (through the kind of vaguely defined phenomena at work in most science fiction) at the Alamo in 1836, 13 days before the final engagement.
Hart, who did tours in Vietnam and Desert Storm, interweaves his abundant knowledge of military organization, tactics, and equipment throughout the narrative, adding plenty of reality to all of the fantasy. He has obviously also done exhaustive research on the Alamo and its key personalities, for each are nuanced and all too human. There are very few commanders in the story who seem healthy enough in mind to be responsible for leading men into battle.
This has always been a fascination for me, especially when it comes to Grant and Sherman in the U.S. Civil War—two men who had been failures in everything else in their lives.
As I mentioned, Hart does not spend a lot of time on the nuts and bolts of the science fiction and I believe his novels benefit immensely from it. His explorations are psychological—the behavior of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances— coupled with plenty of action, which keeps up the pace.
As a reader, you could get hung up on just how the platoon is transported or why more of a fuss isn’t made by those in 1836 over the fact that they are from the future. I encourage you to let those aspects be. It is clear that this well-equipped group with a military truck and plenty of advanced technology IS from the future and, with thousands of Mexican soldiers bearing down and harassing with cannon less than 200 defenders, Travis and company are more concerned with how Webber and his men can help them—especially when Webber very honestly tells them what the outcome will be if history is not changed.
Ah—that old sci-fi chestnut—changing history. Star Trek’s Prime Directive comes to mind. But, again, in the midst of what we know is coming for what history has told us are the “good guys” in this confrontation, we are more interested in changing a bad outcome—of seeing justice done—than what the consequences may be for doing so.
This is exactly the dilemma for Webber and his men.
The secondary plots—the infighting between those in charge of the Alamo and Texas; a couple of disgruntled minority soldiers in Webber’s platoon—reinforce the main themes and raise the stakes. We truly do care how it all turns out.
As far as that goes… the Prologue and Epilogue handle the whys and what-fors of the time-travel aspect. The Epilogue also hints at possible sequels for Webber and his men.
It was a Small Affair is an example of how a talented author, historical fiction, and sci-fi time-travel can all come together to make for a high-stakes, fast-paced, entertaining reading experience.
If you are interested in learning more about Ken Hart and to order this and other titles he has authored, visit www.kenhartscifi.com