Book Review: Three Grams of Elsewhere
Three Grams of Elsewhere by Andy Giesler follows 70-year-old empath, Bibi, living in a rural Wisconsin retirement community.

Three Grams of Elsewhere by Andy Giesler follows 70-year-old empath, Bibi, living in a rural Wisconsin retirement community.

I read Three Grams of Elsewhere as a judge for the SPSFC3 contest, as part of Team Space Stars. It is currently a semi-finalist.

Three Grams of Elsewhere follows the life of Bibi, a cranky old man in his 70s who is an empath. He previously worked in the military, and now suffers from PTSD which makes him avoid all technology. This causes him problems in society, where using digital overlays has become second nature, but he in unfazed by this. The story is interrupted with interviews and discussions about Bibi with his family and friends, which is where we learn more about his past. When four murders of other empaths take place, the only way they could have been carried out is by a fellow empath using multiple drones — something that only Bibi is known to have achieved. Bibi is pulled into an investigation by the military to find out what happened.

You can find Three Grams of Elsewhere on Amazon, and read more reviews on Goodreads.

My review

The two different storylines were a little confusing at first, and made the story a little hard for me to follow. But as the book progresses, the two plotlines converge. I found there were lots of clues that I had missed and had to go back and re-read them now I knew the significance.

Bibi himself is certainly a different kind of main character – he is grumpy, preferring his own company due to his empathy. It was great to read a book from the perspective of a very different character – it’s rare we see someone over the age of 50 represented as a key character. The sections about his aching back and legs were well-written (and entertaining in places, such as when he gets himself stuck when sitting cross-legged on the floor). He is also a drug addict, using drugs to block out the constant noise from others around him. His interactions with his cat were quite entertaining! And while it’s understandable why he is so adverse to technology, I couldn’t help with sympathise with him on this.

Bibi has a complicated relationship with Dys, who he has an on-again off-again relationship with and she is his ex-business partner. Dys is known as a PADS, but what we would describe as a psychopath – the total opposite of Bibi, this makes her very self-serving. She is one of the few people that Bibi can’t read any emotions from. This made Dys an interesting character as, like Bibi, we were never sure what she might do next.

I marked this down one star as I felt that the story was a bit slow in places. There is a lot of foreshadowing in the interviews but it felt like it took a while for the story to really ‘get going’.

But overall Three Grams of Elsewhere is a good read. I enjoyed a lot of it, especially the interesting elements to Bibi’s empathy abilities and the way this is described felt very realistic. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a book from an older character’s perspective, or doesn’t mind a slower burn to a story.

About this book

Published: 4th May 2023

Pages: 338 pages

Fifty years ago, a new civil war fractured the United States into a mosaic of polarized nations. Ever since, Harmony “Bibi” Cain has isolated himself: from society, from technology, from family. A powerful empath weary from the constant intrusion of others’ emotions, he’s finally cloistered in his rural Wisconsin retirement community. He hopes to find, if not peace, then at least a little quiet.

But when four impossible-seeming killings shake North America, Bibi is drawn into an investigation he wants nothing to do with. The victims were killed by motes—unstoppable drones only an empath can control—and decades ago, Bibi was an unwitting subject in the wartime program that created them: the program that weaponized empathy.

With his few remaining friends at risk, and tensions between countries of the former United States reawakening, everything may depend on Bibi’s lifelong struggle with his own extraordinary ability.

“[A] stunningly well-crafted science fiction novel…Giesler pushes readers to think deeply about how we connect to each other…” —The BookLife Prize from Publisher’s Weekly (10 out of 10)

About the author, Andy Giesler

When Andy was ten, he wrote his first book.

Attack of the Dinosaurs was seventeen pages long, variously single- and double spaced, with rough cut cardboard backing and a masking tape and white yarn binding.

It was the heart-pounding tale of Alaskan scientists using nuclear bombs to prospect for gasoline and–as happens all too often–inadvertently waking frozen dinosaurs. Without giving away too much, things didn’t end well for the dinosaurs. (Things never end well for the dinosaurs.)

He fell in love with writing and promised himself that, one day, he’d write an even longer book.

Then, one evening many years later while reading bedtime stories to his daughter and son, he thought:

Hmnh. Maybe it’s time.

Andy has been a library page, dairy science programmer, teacher, technical writer, healthcare software developer, and official Corporate Philosopher. He grew up in a town in Ohio Amish country. He’s a husband, father, and nonprofit web consultant living in Madison, Wisconsin.

You can find Three Grams of Elsewhere on Amazon, and read more reviews on Goodreads.