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BOOK REVIEW: Pennsylvania by Michael Bunker

REVIEW SUMMARY: A refreshing new voice in science fiction.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A young Amish man leaves home to help colonize a distant planet, finds love and war and a slew of mysteries.

PROS: Uses Amish perspective of colonialism, survival and peacefulness as a nice twist on exploring a new world set in tyranny and war; solid use of the serial formula and mystery reveals to drive the reader along; SciFi elements and technologies add excitement and wonder.
CONS: The main character felt passive at times; the romance element did not deliver as strongly as I would have liked; a few times the story slowed down as the main character reflected on Amish philosophy in relation to new world around him; ending was more of a stay-tuned-for-the-next-book finale than a strong climax.

Pennsylvania is a very different kind of science fiction, and that’s part of what I loved about it. When I first heard about Amish SciFi I did not think it would be for me, but the aspects of Amish life being focused on — survival and peace — were actually elements I enjoy in my SciFi. Pennsylvania has a future dystopia, mystery, action, and new takes on what life would be like with brain-implanted computers. Add an Amish perspective to discovering these fun, familiar SciFi tropes, and Pennsylvania takes on a fresh, engaging method of storytelling.

The narrative style is easy to read and gets right into the meat of our main character’s adventure. Jed is the oldest male in his Amish family and is about to take a journey to a distant planet to help humanity colonize their future home. Earth is suffering under a lingering war between the new tyrannical government, Transport, and rebel forces which make some areas far more dangerous than what the reader knows of America. This future-possible America is fascinating to imagine and experience through Jed, and that’s just the backdrop. Before long, we care about this young man and his journey into the unknown as he goes off alone, leaving his family behind.

What can I say about his journey that won’t spoil anything? I’d rather give you a glimpse of story elements that Mr. Bunker has in store. Jed will encounter the rebels of New Pennsylvania and instantly have to run for his life. As an Amish man, he will question the use of technology Mr. Bunker invented, BICE, and yet must use this mind-Internet implant to save lives. There is a girl who becomes special to him, and creates an extra layer of interest in his survival and success on this unexpected mission. The author throws a lot of twists, fascinating worldbuilding concepts and technologies, and unique characters into this addicting read. If you like futuristic technology and fast-paced stories, this is a must-read. You’ll be delighted at the new world this adventure explores and will demand more stories in the future.

About Timothy C. Ward (29 Articles)
Timothy C. Ward grew up on DragonLance, Stephen King, and Dune. Read how he blends these influences in his serialized epic, Scavenger: Evolution, where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America's buried fortresses. His books are available in ebook and signed paperback at

2 Comments on BOOK REVIEW: Pennsylvania by Michael Bunker

  1. Good review. Gives a good overview but does not give anything away.

  2. Thanks, that’s always my goal. While the whole omnibus version is available, part one is free on Kindle if you want to give the first hundred pages a try

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