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Book Review: Infinite Realities by R. L. Copple

Infinite RealitiesGenre: Christian Fiction, Fable, Parable
Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: Double-Edged Publishing, Inc.
Publication Date: November 11, 2007
ISBN-10: 0979307961
ISBN-13: 978-0979307966
Author Website: R. L. Copple

R. L. Copple’s short collection of linked stories, Infinite Realities has literary roots in the parables of Christ or the fables of Aesop. Each tale in the collection teaches a moral lesson, a principle for daily living, through metaphor, allegory and imagery. The five stories and one essay seek to challenge the reader’s moral fiber.

The protagonist of the stories is Sisko, a young man we first meet in “Steamy Realities” as he enters the Steamy Realities Steam House. In this house, the steam baths change people physically and emotionally based on their inner vices. For instance, a beautiful, strong and seemingly “with it” man might become a chubby, flabby, self-indulgent individual who refuses to rise from his couch. And the people changed by the steam do not see anything wrong with what happens to them, and remain inside the steam no matter how much they are coaxed to leave.

The reader may wonder why anyone would bother to enter at all? Well, arrogance for one. And there is always the potential that in the steam house, one who went in a humble peon will leave a mighty warrior. This is why Sisko’s family takes the risk of sending him into the steam house. The subsequent four stories; “Undesired Realities”, “Unknown Realities”, “Unseen Realities”, and “Ultimate Realities” relate tales of Sisko after he is altered by the steam.

Told in first person, part of the enjoyment of the stories comes from trying to discover what principle or lesson Copple is trying to relate. Copple is a Christian writer, and his moral and life lessons reflect that, so some readers may find in themselves a dislike for the conclusions Copple draws. The Christian God is used as a motivating and driving force in the narratives, as well as being mentioned often directly in dialogue, so the book has a definite audience, but I do think that even those of agnostic bent will agree with the morals of the stories.

On occasion the dialogue can be a bit wooden, as Copple uses some contortions to get his characters to preach as well as speak. M. Keaton, in the forward to the collection, comments that the stories are stylistically like morality plays such as Everyman, and I find that to be a fair assessment. At times the interplay between characters feels unreal, not natural, as fantastic in its construction as the dialogue between a grasshopper and an ant.

Overall, I was not excited about this collection. I felt that while I appreciated the moral conclusions (and the subsequent questions the stories raise) were of interest, as storytelling, theses tales are only so-so examples. If allegories like John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress or the fables of Aesop, or morality plays like Everyman are enjoyable to you, then you will like Infinite Realities.