The Book Glasses
23-year-old Samantha Page cannot read, and she’s running out of money. She’s never held down a job, and is losing hope of ever improving her life.
Everything changes when she finds a pair of glasses that turn her into a supercomputer. Spellbound upon discovering a world of books and words, Sam’s thirst for knowledge is relentless. Her newfound abilities lead her to university, followed by previously unreachable opportunities and incredible wealth.
Sam isn’t the only one who knows about the glasses; there are others who seek the power they provide. But is she willing to hold on to them, even if it means losing everything she loves?
The Book Glasses Sequel coming soon..
CLARION BOOK REVIEWS
Foreword Reviews: The Book Glasses
The Book Glasses is a science fiction novel in which a previously unlucky woman discovers the joys and dangers of knowledge.
An extraordinary artifact changes a woman’s life, but also puts her in grave danger, in Arthur Bozikas’s science fiction novel The Book Glasses.
After her boss’s murder, Sam, a lab cleaner at a prestigious museum, finds herself in possession of a strange artifact: glasses that allow the wearer to read and understand any text. For a dyslexic high school dropout like Sam, the glasses are a miracle. She uses them to achieve dreams she long thought impossible, earning a college degree and becoming a powerful businesswoman. As her confidence and accomplishments grow, so do the dangers she faces in order to keep the glasses—and her life.
The book glasses are fascinating in concept; they set off a series of life-changing events that are wonderful and terrifying. Sam’s reaction to the glasses is empathetic—they represent the first stroke of good luck she’s ever had, and she relishes the small, ordinary moments that the glasses allow her to enjoy for the first time.
The secrets of supporting characters lead to new opportunities and new heartache for Sam, complicating her use of the glasses and leading her to employ illegal methods to keep and benefit from them. As years pass, she becomes arrogant and ruthless, prioritizing her business over her boyfriend, and enjoying the looks on her employees’ faces when she frightens them.
While her development is compelling, Sam’s story is also moved along by conveniences that cannot be explained by the glasses alone. Further, the rushed, distant narration obscures the wonder that Sam feels when she has new experiences, like visiting the Australian Museum, and the book’s prologue is not made to not connect with the rest of the story. The book’s focus is uneven: much more time is devoted to Sam’s use of the glasses than is to the dangers they present. Continuity issues and leaps in logic are present throughout, and some developments, as with Sam’s boyfriend’s addiction, come out of nowhere.
Tragedy strikes just as Sam comes to feel unstoppable, but even this has a sense of inevitability. With the
ruthlessness and new knowledge imparted by the book glasses, she takes on a personal vendetta. Just as it seems all of the problems have been solved and all of the secrets have been revealed, new information arises, leading to a cliffhanger ending upon which future installments can build.
The first in a series, The Book Glasses is a science fiction novel in which a previously unlucky woman discovers the joys and dangers of knowledge.
Review by Eileen Gonzalez
Legend of the Holy Father's Book Glasses
According to myth, a pair of eyeglasses were crafted in Rome over two and a half centuries ago for the pope from a stone sent by God. It was understood that whoever had the good fortune to wear these glasses was blessed with superior vision. However, their real power was revealed when the wearer of the glasses was reading a book. The reader was given unmeasurable wisdom and knowledge beyond belief.
The Occhiali da vista scrolls of Pope Leo XIII from the 1881 Vatican Secret Archives, now missing, were rumoured to have told the story of this pair of book glasses commissioned between 1700 and 1800 by the Papal Basilica of St Peter for the sole use of the pope and all future popes. The lenses were to be crafted from a unique clear stone, rumoured to be blessed by angels. The origin of the stone was unknown but renowned experts at the time all agreed that it hadn’t come from the ground. Instead, one autumn day after morning prayers, the stone had suddenly appeared in the Vatican City centre—a gift from the heavens above after a hailstorm. Apart from the unnamed cardinal who found it, only a few individuals, high in the inner circle of the Catholic church, knew of the stone and its origin. No other reference to this event was ever recorded, before or after this time.
Experts who examined the stone were sworn to secrecy. Not even the sitting pope, Pope Benedict XIV, knew about it. Secrecy was paramount and death would befall anyone who dared even talk about it. This curse of death was common knowledge and thus, silence was respected and the existence of the extraordinary stone, and subsequently the glasses into which it was crafted, remained hidden from the world.
All documents that referred to the Holy Father’s book glasses disappeared from the records. Only the myth endured, but, fearing the curse, people still do not dare speak openly about the book glasses.
Friday, 22nd August 1919
A bitterly cold gale came out of nowhere, whistling down the streets and stirring up the fallen snow, forcing the young corporal out of his shadowy vantage point to take shelter from the storm in the nearest establishment open on such a harsh winter’s night.
Before crossing the threshold, he looked over his shoulder, but the Munich street was empty, its covering of snow taking on an eerie glow in the darkness.
Once in The Bavarian, the soldier, constantly on alert, scanned the room as he walked up to the bar and ordered a warm beer. Yet he noticed that every eye in the room furtively followed his movements. The packed local was full of people desperate not to be seen on this stormy subzero night and they were highly suspicious of strangers.
Without looking up, he paid the barman, picked up his beer and made his way back to an empty chair near the entrance.
They watch me, but not with the prestige I deserve. How dare they glare at me like that? Keeping his head down, he struggled to control his mounting anger and his hand started to shake, almost spilling his beer. Could no one give him the respect he was due? He was a decorated war hero, yet these nobodies ignored him.
One day they would acknowledge him. He knew he was destined for greatness. As for his army career, what would it take to rise through the ranks? He glanced at the two-bar chevron on his uniform sleeve with distaste; it was humiliating to still be a corporal after all his faithful service. He should have been promoted well before now, but his superiors were blind idiots who could not see his true brilliance.
One day, they would do his bidding. And that day could not come soon enough.
He approached the only table with an empty chair. A man also sat there. “Excuse me, is this seat taken?” the corporal asked politely.
The well-dressed man looked up and smiled. “Please sit down. I would enjoy the company. What’s your name, corporal?”
“Adolf, sir. Adolf Hitler.” He sat opposite him in the window seat.
“I am Anton Drexler. Pleased to meet you. Warm in here, ja voll?”
“Ja, but it’s getting bad out there.”
“What’s a corporal doing out this late at night?”
“My job keeps me busy working all sorts of hours, sir.”
“And what is your job, may I ask?”
“Intelligence agent for the reconnaissance unit of the Reichswehr.”
“Intelligence agent, you say?” He nodded. “Very impressive, young man, but what good is that now? It’s 1919. The war ended last year.” He slapped his beer glass against the corporal’s before taking another drink and drowning his loud burst of laughter.
The soldier raised his glass to his lips, but didn’t drink, and put the glass back down on the table. “Sir, I know who you are. May I suggest a few things to you? I hope you don’t mind.”
“So, you know I’m the chairman of the German Workers’ Party, do you?”
“Yes sir, I do!” Forgetting where he was, he took his glasses out of his inside jacket pocket and put them on. When he realised what he had done, he hoped Drexler wouldn’t notice them. His lapse in judgement made his heart race but he remained stone cold on the outside, concealing his discomfort at revealing his new eyeglasses with their distinctive engraved metal frames.
“What an unusual pair of eyeglasses you have. Are they army issue?”
“No, they’re mine. I got them abroad, and they do the job.” He hastily took them off and returned them to his jacket pocket.
“Well then, go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind. I need to go soon, so hurry up.”
His hand closed over the notebook in his side jacket pocket, but he let go of it, deciding to wing it without reading from his notes. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Thank you, sir. It’s about communicating to the masses. I believe all effective… er… messages should be limited to a small number of points and that your party’s slogan should be inserted into every speech or message until every last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by it.” He picked up his drink again and waited patiently for Drexler’s response.
“Very interesting, but what masses? We only have fifty-four members.”
“That’s what I’m talking about, sir. You don’t have a clear message to draw in a crowd.”
“But we are only a new party. These things take time, young man.”
“Sir, fifty-four members is a good start. I would like to be your next member.”
“You’re a corporal in the army. How could you be a member of the German Workers’ Party? Stop now and drink up. Look, you haven’t touched your beer.”
“I’ve already discharged myself from the army and I want to utilise my knowledge for a good cause. I could help you better support workers to get back their rights. All you need are more members, and I am good at communicating with people. What do you think? Are you after more members, sir?”
“You’ll need to trim that moustache first. I can’t have you attending looking like you’re still in the trenches. It’s a working man’s party, understand?”
“Yes sir, the moustache will be trimmed.”
“Ja, I tell you what, our next meeting is on September twelfth, and we get all new members to give a speech on their first night. Do you know where we meet?”
The soldier nodded.
“So, come and have your say and let’s see what you can offer. I can’t promise you anything. The worst thing is that you become a member of the German Workers’ Party.”
“Thank you, sir. And I can guarantee you will be impressed with my speech.”
“If you are as confident at the meeting as you are now, we have nothing to worry about. Now drink up. Here’s to you, Adolf Hitler, and to civilian life!”
Drexler knocked back the last of his beer, nodded at his companion, got up from his chair, put on his coat and hat, and walked out into the intensifying blizzard without any hesitation. Hitler remained seated in front of his untouched beer, feeling euphoric at obtaining Drexler’s personal invitation to attend his next party meeting. He intended to infiltrate the party and he was off to a good start.
He pushed his full glass of beer to one side and pulled out his latest prized possession—a pair of medieval-looking reading glasses he had found a couple of years earlier while stationed on the western front. Having only recently discovered the powers of the glasses, he regularly took them out of his secret strongbox where he hid them away for safe-keeping and used them every chance he got, with extraordinary results.
After placing them back on, he took out his notebook and recorded some ideas for his first speech. He was on his way to fulfilling his plan to entrench himself in the party and provide himself with a platform from which to get his views across to the masses.
Hitler’s relentless surveillance over the last few weeks had exposed Drexler’s daily routines and personal habits. Arriving at the chairman’s favourite drinking spot at almost the time for him to leave and go home for his usual Friday night late dinner had been masterful. He hadn’t suspected a thing and was oblivious to the fact that he had followed him for almost three weeks.
The bait was set and, with the eyeglasses in his possession, Hitler was ready to execute his strategy to get an audience and thus the respect that he deserved as a first step to achieving complete control.
Monday, 26th August 2013
Samantha Page turned to view her reflection one last time in the department store window as she rushed out on to the busy street with the bustling city crowd. As she admired herself in the full glare of the morning sun, flicking her hair up with one hand in a swift action from side to side, styling it the way she liked it, she tried to block out the nasty comments from people walking by who felt she was obstructing their path.
She was caught up by her imposing mirror image in almost blinding brightness, sending her mind into doubtful thoughts. She looked okay, but would it make any difference this time?
“You are fucking stupid and have no friends, you loser.”
The words echoed in her head and hurt every bit as much as they had the first time she’d heard them. She’d endured a lot at the hands of her foster parents but her time with them had helped her master the art of concealing any evidence of the hard knocks that life had inflicted on her.
Sam put up a defiant front for the world. Twenty-three years of failure had not destroyed her. She carefully hid the fact she had spent her entire childhood in foster care, had not graduated from high school and had never had a permanent job.
Unfortunately, her situation hadn’t got any easier as the years had passed. Surviving on leftover food from the local women’s refuge where she volunteered had been harrowing, and hunger left her with no choice but to endure.
Maybe this time would be different.
It was the second day of summer—a beautiful clear Sydney morning with a marble blue sky—as she walked along the busy streets in her borrowed red high heels, short white dress, red belt, and off-white handbag.
For good luck, she was wearing her best owl earrings with the tiny light blue stones for eyes that matched her own. Her long brown hair was neatly secured in a hairclip. It didn’t matter that her makeup and nails had only been partially done at the sampling counter of the nearby high-end department store—nothing was going to get in the way of her 11 a.m. appointment. She would get this job and start living her dreams, believing a utopia of endless possibilities lay in wait for her.
As far back as she could remember, she had wanted to travel all over Australia, but the furthest she had ever got was Manly via Circular Quay and it had taken her almost a year to save the money for the ferry ticket. Many times, since that day, she had walked up to the Quay and fondly recalled her trip, hoping to take another ferry ride once she secured a full-time job. She had been living in the same one-bedroom unit since moving from her last foster parents’ house on her eighteenth birthday. Her unemployment benefits just covered her rent and utilities, but there was nothing left for anything else.
And she couldn’t get a job. Preparing for interviews had always been her downfall. It wasn’t that she couldn’t read, but the words were all jumbled around and hard for her to decipher. Doctors and specialists asked too many questions and didn’t give any helpful answers.
She picked up the pace and was in front of the building with thirty minutes to spare. Feeling confident, she entered the utilitarian structure and gracefully stepped onto the travelator. A cheeky gust of wind came out of nowhere and prompted her to hold her skirt down.
At the top, she disembarked the travelator with a charming skip and a hop and headed to the front desk of the lobby in high spirits.
“Good morning, can I help you?” asked the concierge.
“Yes please, I’m here for my 11 a.m. interview with Brown Department Stores. I’m a little early,” replied Sam.
“I’m sorry, but they’re not accepting any further applications.”
“No, you must be mistaken. My name is Samantha Page. I have an 11 a.m. appointment. Please check.”
“You’re here for the window dressing position?”
“Yes, that’s it.”
“Yep, people have been waiting since six this morning and they are not accepting any more applicants, sorry.”
“But I have an appointment for—”
“Please contact the person you spoke to about the position. Who’s next, please?”
Shoulders hunched and red-faced, Sam quickly exited the building. She felt as if everyone was looking at her and laughing. Shattered beyond belief, she hit a new low point in her life and climbing back out of it would take a miracle.
“Loved this book from the first till the last page… Can’t wait to find out what happens next. Great story line… Kept me wanting to turn the next page. Great work!”
“The Book Glasses” is really perfect to spend an afternoon or evening reading because apart from being a short-length book, it has a really interesting plot”
“Just brilliant! The book is a real page turner and held me in suspense from the first page, through unexpected twists and turns right through to the gripping conclusion. Beautifully written and clever unfolding storyline. Highly recommended!”
“In a dialogue-based form, author Bozikas reveals a catchy and entertaining tale and he has employed such a good writing style that even though the sequences of events are fictional, they seem realistic. I felt embedded in the story and the dialogues helped me put myself in the shoes of the characters. Great pick!”
“Arthur Bozikas not only introduces a unique plot in The Book Glasses, but he layers this novel with suspense and action. The complexity of the characters becomes more apparent as the story unfolds. This book certainly grips your attention as Samantha is wedged deeper into the wisdom she is obtaining while danger multiplies.”
“There is plenty of suspense and action in this novel, written in a mesmerizing way, with fully fleshed-out characters, and a nuanced sense of time and place. Eminently readable, this is a highly recommended book.”