Windy City Reviews (www.windycityreviews.org) posted this review of Jimmy Stu Lives! last week:
Jimmy Stu Lives! by Kent McDaniel
Reviewed by Ophelia Julien
Super Science Fiction with a Side of Grits
Reverend James Stuart Sloan, or Jimmy Stu as he prefers, is the founder of Nashville, Tennessee’s Church of the Living Lord, a three-thousand member congregation complete with a church on an acre-sized lawn and a televised service. As an inspirational preacher, Jimmy Stu looks to be at the top of his game. Except that he isn’t. During the latter part of his life, Jimmy Stu has begun to lose his connection with the Almighty, a deep slide into despair accelerated by the death of his beloved wife, Debbi. He is haunted by the idea that Debbi has not gone on to eternal life, but instead has disappeared into oblivion. Aware that his television ratings are starting to slip, prodded by a devout follower who understands that Jimmy Stu’s sermons of late have been phoned in, nudged along by an ambitious self-elected advisor, Jimmy Stu goes from the apathy of having no Easter sermon planned to the wild inspiration of starting a fundraiser to have his head preserved through cryonics so that he may carry out his mission in the future. In a scientific twist on that most venerated Christian holiday, Jimmy Stu Sloan sets up his very own resurrection and convinces his congregation to pay for it.
The story really starts when Jimmy Stu is awakened 140 years into the future, where he learns that not only did his congregation facilitate his preservation, but that his church has grown into a powerful entity with its own police force and complete control over seven states in the South, as well as having heavy influence through parts of the Midwest. The formidable prime minister of the Church of the Living Lord is a direct descendant of Jimmy Stu’s once-upon-a-time self-elected advisor, Carl Windhorst. And to make matters even worse, Jimmy Stu has been awakened, or resurrected, by his great-great-great-great-nephew, Peter Alvarez, in direct defiance of said Prime Minister, Carl Windhorst III. With no time to get his bearings, Jimmy Stu becomes a fugitive along with nephew Peter and Peter’s companion, Shama Besic.
Fleeing into rural Tennessee with the Church of the Living Lord’s best agent in pursuit, Jimmy Stu must come to terms with his new life, the mission he is expected to carry out, and survival in the woods outside suburban Nashville – complete with a beautiful moonshiner’s daughter named Connie Lee, who totes a rifle and is not afraid to use it.
How many of us wouldn’t love a chance to go back into the past and correct one act, one omission, even one hastily-uttered sentence, if we could change the regretted outcome?
Author Kent McDaniel has incorporated teleportation, laser guns, air vans, and other technological devices to satisfy all sci-fi requirements, but he has also layered his book with more than just futuristic action and adventure. Protagonist Jimmy Stu has the opportunity to right the wrongs he set in motion with his last cynical and self-serving act. How many of us wouldn’t love a chance to go back into the past and correct one act, one omission, even one hastily-uttered sentence, if we could change the regretted outcome? And who better to make things right than Jimmy Stu, since it was his own quest for life beyond his natural span of years that made such a hash of the future?
Additionally, this story takes a pointed, albeit tongue in cheek, look at what can happen when a country allows a church to insert itself into the governmental seat of power. The picture the author paints is far from pretty, disturbingly realistic, and perhaps just a touch allegorical at this time in U.S. history.
Fans of the subgenre Southern Science Fiction will have a good time following Jimmy Stu as he literally stumbles from one mishap to the next, all while trying to figure out his own place in this confusing future time and win the heart of self-sufficient, self-defensive Connie Lee. Jimmy Stu is the proverbial Everyman: just that this Everyman has a body newly generated from DNA scans of his cryonically preserved head. Enjoy.