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Loren J Presley

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The Anastasia Project
by Loren J Presley   

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Books by Loren J Presley
· Starship One - and Other Stories-
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Publisher:  Loren Presley ISBN-10:  0982740808 Type: 


Copyright:  Feb 10, 2006 ISBN-13:  9780982740804

"Sometimes we have to fight hard for hope..."

Barnes &
The Anastasia Project - Loren John Presley

Anastasia awoke within an unfamiliar ocean with no recollection of her journey here. Her only clue was a suspicious implant on the side of her head from which weak radio transmissions periodically called her by name. Abandoned to the mysteries of this new aquatic world, Anastasia was left to uncover the secrets of her past in a sea of peril. Her greatest adversary was the Pontus: a deadly machine soon to doom the planet...


Anastasia slowly turned away from where the enormous machine had disappeared. She was muddled and overwhelmed by what she had just witnessed. She looked over to Levit, who immediately looked away from the direction himself, coming down on all four limbs. He just sat where he
was, back turned, staring at the floor.

Anastasia looked at him and blinked her confused, stunned eyes. “Wha…what was that thing?” she asked.

Levit said nothing.

“The Pontus,” came a voice from behind. Anastasia looked back and saw Cobea and Voragill. It was Cobea who had spoken. “Don’t you know?” she continued with a quizzical look.

Anastasia quivered, still recovering from the shock. “I don’t understand!” she exclaimed. “What's the Pontus?”

Voragill’s eyes narrowed on her. “No one knows,” he said. “What we do know is very little.” He looked in the direction in which the Pontus
had vanished, which now seemed like a gloomy corner of the ocean. “They’re gigantic monsters, constantly soaring around the globe. They sometimes topple mountains with their arms or make long scratches in the ocean floor. Everything they pull in dies.”

Anastasia’s eyes widened. “Pull in?” she asked.

Cobea cocked her head. “It’s how they eat,” she clarified.

“They’re always eating. Always swallowing up the water and everything
in it. Nothing, not anything, once pulled in ever makes it out alive,”
continued Voragill.

Anastasia's mouth rolled open. “Nothing?” she asked. “Nothing survives?”

Cobea's eyes shifted away. “There...have been some exceptions...”
she added quietly.

Anastasia wondered what she meant by that, but she was more worried about what fate the victims met. She swallowed nervously and asked, “How…how do they die?” She was almost afraid to find out. “What happens inside a Pontus?”

“No one knows that, either,” said Cobea. “We can only speculate.”
“But I still don’t understand!” Anastasia went on. Everything
inside her was spinning. “Where did they come from?”

Voragill growled with irritation in his voice, “We don’t know!”

Cobea swayed her head and her two tentacles snaked in the water.
“They’ve been around as long as we can remember, for hundreds of

“They cause all our oppression,” growled Voragill. “Eating
everything and leaving little for us. Sometimes one of our own falls prey
to them! They’ve been around for so long that there’s bound to be hardly
anything left in the world by now.”

Anastasia’s mouth rolled opened in shock. She couldn’t understand how this could all be true. “How many Pontuses are there?” she asked.

“There are two Pontuses on the planet. We call them Pontus Minor and Pontus Major. One is larger than the other,” Voragill continued.

Anastasia could hardly believe it. “Only…two?” she asked in amazement.

Cobea said, “There used to be three. A third, smallest Pontus. But many generations ago it disappeared.”

From the corner of her eye, Anastasia saw Levit get up and walk off. She looked over to him and saw a sullen look in his eye as he hastily
crept away. She swam a few strokes toward him. “Levit?” she called. He
must not have heard her, or was ignoring her.

Anastasia turned to Voragill
and Cobea. “Where’s he going?” she asked.

Cobea jerked her head. “He’s always walking off like that,” she
said casually. “Voragill and I have tried so hard to understand him, but…”

Anastasia turned her head and watched Levit crawl away. She could sense anger in him, and she watched him with concern as he disappeared behind some of the rocky rubble that surrounded the

Startlingly, in the direction where the Pontus had left, there was a
deep booming, so far off Anastasia could hardly hear it, although she felt
its vibrations. The sound made her shudder.

She slowly bowed and her head and shut her eyes, gritting her
teeth, still able to hear the lucid sounds of the Pontus echoing in her mind.

She was overwhelmed. She was so small in such an enormous new horrifying world.

Anastasia slowly looked up. Her eyes showed her immense fright.
She could not understand how any of this could be real. “What’s
happening?” she whispered to herself.
After a few seconds of lingering where she was, sunlight softly
dancing on her back, she looked up to the surface. She felt drawn to it ever
more strongly after the eclipse by that monster. She let out a struck sigh,
and began ascending through the water to the surface.

Professional Reviews

"Fantasy and Mystery in a Sea of Self-Discovery"
The Anastasia Project by Loren John Presley is a science fiction fantasy that is both heartwarming and heart wrenching. The author takes us on a fantastic journey told through the eyes of a dolphin named Anastasia. The reader is introduced to Anastasia as a lost, lonely, and confused dolphin who awakens from a strange sleep. She can’t retrieve her memories or recall her name and doesn’t recognize her surroundings.

On the surface the story is presented as a dolphin’s mysterious adventure but there is a deeper meaning to be found in this dolphin’s tale. The author is also giving the reader a glimpse into his struggles with Clinical Depression. The dolphin travels deep into the ocean in search of her home, which is a metaphor for the author’s experience dealing with depression that sent him descending into the depths of despair “…all the way down to the dimly lit ocean floor.” Anastasia and Presley draw upon their strengths and courage to persevere and navigate through their strange new worlds. Both the dolphin and the author are on personal quests. As Anastasia searches for her lost memories and the safety of home, Presley is on his own mission of self-discovery and on his way to self-acceptance.

Presley portrays Anastasia feelings of hopelessness with her futile exploration of the ocean, “She almost would have liked to give up, not thinking of what she would do with herself if she did, but she felt inside she had to keep going. She must see herself through. Her innate determination would not let her give in so easily.”Presley’s rare insights can be attributed to his unique personal perspective living on the autism spectrum with the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. The author describes a common autistic trait through the dolphin’s experience with auditory sensitivities,

“The shrill ring pierced her sound-sensitive brain and throbbed sorely in her head.”The author expresses Anastasia’s loneliness and her desire for a sense of belonging, “Although a sense of serenity and beauty suffused the water and the reef, a disquieting sense of fear began to rise in her core; she found that she was alone.”

The Anastasia Project is written for young readers but I would recommend it to any adult who feels young at heart. The book is well written and eloquently descriptive. A delightful attention to detail can be seen with the bonus of wonderful illustrations sketched by the talented artists, Loren John Presley and Robyn Olague. If you have an appreciation for science fiction or you have a particular affinity for dolphins then this read will keep you riveted. If you are interested to learn from the author’s mixture of creative interpretation and personal experience dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome and Clinical Depression then this book is a definite must read. Loren John Presley is a unique author and artist with a brilliant mind, a creative spirit, an artistic flair, and so many insights to share! Fans of Presley’s writing will be looking forward to more stories from him in the near future!

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