(Published Spring 2019)

 

Miranda Sage is aboard a spaceship called The Misfits, hurtling back to earth, only she doesn’t realize this because she is in a stasis state living out a very ordinary and pleasant life back on earth. The stasis system, known as SDS (Stasis Deep State system), has an interesting trait: as a result of the creators fearing insanity as a result of waking consciously within its construct, a measure has been imposed on SDS to prevent people from remembering who they are in this blissfully unaware artificial reality environment.

As the story commences, Miranda is living out the remnants of a life as a 105 year old man when she abruptly awakens from SDS to find her fellow crewmates startled by a space anomaly that poses a problem for the ship. The attention of the crew soon pivots to a potential discovery of a Hidden Realm, one that some have theorized about but never really believed in and one that sounds eerily similar to beliefs and skepticism about an afterlife. The interesting thing, however, is that this debate at this time in the future might be irrelevant. Death as a concept is now an anachronism, at least for Miranda and crew, since Miranda and her colleagues have lived several lives spanning thousands of years in SDS by body jumping through stasis husks that inhibit the death state.

Eventually, the crew awakens in the year 2005 in SDS and attends school as teenagers in an effort to explore a potential access point to the Hidden Realm within the analog town of Penticton. As part of this process, they decide to go against strict SDS regulation and awaken consciously within SDS to perform this task, risking their sanity as a result.

Mark Lloyd handles all this interesting and imaginatively fertile data with adept hands, and we sense that the author is at his best when he is eschewing ordinary life scenes and writing playful group conversations between Miranda and her colleagues about the subtle physics of SDS and the pseudo-reincarnation-like drama of life cycles that play out within it.

A PLACE TO STAY FOREVER is an imaginative and quirky story that simultaneously hearkens back to both Philip K Dick and Douglas Adams.

– IndieReader Reviews

 

IR VERDICT:

A PLACE TO STAY FOREVER is a fascinating dive into the state of humanity once it becomes technologically advanced via multi-binary code to a species where individuals can live forever. Particularly engaging: the concept of what infinite life means for love relationships which humans once used to attempt bonding in forever. As science fiction A PLACE TO STAY FOREVER by Mark L. Lloyd is equal parts captivating and sociologically creepy. With unexpected plot twists leaving the reader unsure of what exactly is real, this is a novel that’s hard to put down.

 

In this sci-fi novel, several space travelers in deep sleep awaken inside avatars in a simulated world.
Miranda Sage, along with others aboard the spaceship The Misfit, is in stasis, living a full life inside a simulation. When
something knocks the ship off course, a power surge wakes everyone from the Stasis Deep Sleep System. Back in the
Real Realm, in 3272, crewmate Adayln realizes the surge also unlocked the reputedly unhackable system. Though the
town of Penticton is the only accessible place in the SDS, Adayln finds existing code for other areas—files just as large as
Penticton’s. She and Miranda concoct a plan: Adayln alters the code so, during the next simulation, their conscious minds
will awaken inside avatars and the two can then explore. They set a 24-hour limit on the awakened consciousness, as
continuing any longer, based on rumored incidents, may drive them mad. Unfortunately, things go wrong: They aren’t the
only awakened people, and the time restriction inexplicably fails. Miranda and her cohorts need a way to end the
simulation without harming their bodies in stasis. Answers may lie with a well-known author in the Real Realm who stayed
perfectly sane while supposedly enjoying awakened lives in the SDS. Lloyd (Journey to the West Valley Wall, 2018, etc.)
packs this novel with intriguing ideas, including characters transferring from biological bodies to husks and an ongoing,
centurieslong war that affects the SDS creator, LaPorte Industries. There’s plenty of engrossing material for additional
books: Miranda, for example, with combined time in the SDS and various husk bodies, has existed for 1,296 years.
Despite the dense sci-fi backdrop, the author maintains a simple plot that clearly and aptly details intricate concepts, like
the dichotomy between Miranda’s life and that of her avatar, Josie. Narrative obstacles are likewise easy to follow: Mere
romance may dampen Miranda’s desire to leave the SDS. While the story ends with an impressive shock, lingering
questions regarding the simulation as well as certain characters remain.
A straightforward, absorbing tale that unfolds inside a beefy futuristic setting.

– Kirkus Book Reviews

 

“I am not normally a fan of science fiction but I liked the synopsis and thought it would be an interesting read. I have to say I was not disappointed. From the onset, with a man nearing the end of his life, the story gripped me. The characters were all likeable with unique personality traits which were also relayed in their dialogue. The story line continually moved forward, with great obstacles for the main characters to overcome and clues to unravel. There were plot twists placed perfectly throughout, which kept me engaged and intrigued. The relationships between the characters were developed and strengthened gradually. I found myself willing Miranda and Emily to find the truth and succeed. The author’s brilliant imagination is matched only by his writing talent. There were so many characters and sub-plots, but the story line never became confusing. I loved the way all the loose ends were smoothly tied up by the end. This book will make you think about mortality and what lies in wait for humanity in the future. If you love a novel that takes you on a thought-provoking journey, then I would highly recommend you read this book.”

Reviewed By Lesley Jones for Readers’ Favorite

 

“Philosophically speaking, the concept of mortality is, of course, a strong theme, and there are clear considerations which have gone into the setup of the tale to make readers really think about what life means, or at least the meanings that we attribute to life in our everyday moments. I really loved author Mark L Lloyd’s squeaky clean idea of LaPorte and the agents, and the experience that the Stasis Deep Sleep System represents in terms of man’s quest for immortality. In terms of character, it’s more of an Everyman tale in the style of Isaac Asimov, but with a much more humorous modern twist. Overall, A Place To Stay Forever is a recommended read for its sleek and provoking ideas.”

Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

 

(Published June 1, 2018)

 

“If you enjoy adventure novels with a bit of the characters discovering new things about themselves and overcoming limitations then this is the book for you. We watch as a character we grow to love transcends himself and becomes something better. It is an enjoyable book to read and book lovers of all genres would enjoy reading this book. This is a phenomenal book”

– Pacific Book Review

 

“This is an intuitively written book that should beguile most readers, particularly those who have had similar mental health experiences. A quirky and perceptive psychological tale”

Kirkus Book Review

 

I thought the premise of two stories in one in Journey to the WestValley Wall was a clever technique employed by author Mark L Lloyd and he made it work extremely well. The character of Jack Van Horne was eerily identifiable by fellow authors who have all gone through those mental demons, although not as badly as Jack, usually. He was a character that evoked extreme emotion in the reader, ranging from deep sympathy and sorrow, right through to intense anger at the man’s stupidity and inability to cope at times, and yet always tempered by a feeling of sadness that – despite his clear brilliance – he must suffer so much. I particularly enjoyed the interactions between Jack and his niece. The parallel story of Sage Sauer was equally compelling, especially for science fiction fans. The journal of his adventures left the reader wanting to know more about the character and the processes by which humans had survived or modified in the world of Sauer. It left questions in readers’ minds and that’s a great thing to achieve. This is an excellent story and one I can highly recommend.”

–  Reviewed By Grant Leishman for Readers’ Favorite

 

Journey to the West Valley Wall by Mark L Lloyd is a science fiction story with strong psychological and spiritual underpinnings. Jack Van Horne writes science fiction, but he has a condition that has been having a devastating effect on him. It is called agoraphobia and it reinforces his depression. While Eddy, his editor, thinks that his mental illness is just a form of mental block, Jack knows he can’t dismiss it. The illness has affected the progress of his current writing very negatively. Now, charged with watching his niece for two days, Jack ventures beyond his familiar landscape on a journey to the West Valley Wall. He believes his cure or ultimate curse may lie in this journey, and what if all this isn’t real? The outcome is surprising.

The writing is gorgeous and the reader immediately feels a connection with the protagonist, thanks to the strong and expert use of the first person narrative, a voice that irresistibly draws readers into the worldview of the protagonist. The conflict is mostly internal, and it is introduced in the opening pages: “My editor and good friend Eddy thinks I’m suffering writer’s block as well, but it’s more than just that. My agoraphobia and depression have been getting worse and worse since book one.” It is interesting to navigate the mindscapes of the protagonist, to feel his mental tension, and watch him struggle in his dilemma, torn between what others think and what he firmly believes. Journey to the West Valley Wall is a powerful narrative with deep undercurrents when it comes to meaning and symbolism. While Mark L Lloyd tells the story of an author suffering from a rare mental illness, he invites readers to navigate the gray zone between reality and illusion. The characters are believable and elaborately developed and the conflict so strong that it moves the plot forward. A delightful read, indeed.

– Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite

 

(Published October 1, 2017)

 

“Mark L. Lloyd’s Burning the Last Bridge, presents a riveting and illuminating, psychefocused narrative, which fascinates with its intelligent portrayal of one man’s struggles to survive the devitalizing affects of his fracturing mind. Initially, as the story unfolds, readers are quickly drawn into Liam’s internally verbose world where his perspective garnishes readers with deep insight into the mind of a person suffering through mental disorder, with his mind trying to save itself.”

Pacific Book Review