Psion Beta takes place in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world fifty years after the Scourge has wiped out half the world’s population. The treatment of the virus caused genetic mutations called “anomalies” which cropped up in the years following the disease. The world has split into two super-governments: the New World Government (NWG) and the Continental American Government (CAG). Psion Beta tells the story of Samuel “Sammy” Berhane, Jr. a fourteen-year-old boy who lives in an abandoned grocery store with several friends, all fugitives who escaped a juvenile detention center called The Grinder. When the police catch the boys with stolen food, the boys are chased down one by one. When Sammy is cornered in an alleyway, he accidentally displays an extraordinary ability that allows him to escape until NWG agents track him down inside a church and subdue him.
Sammy awakens in a white room where he is introduced to Commander Byron. Byron offers Sammy the choice to return to prison or join the Psion Beta corps, a group of teenagers, all with same abilities, training to become government operatives. Sammy accepts Byron’s invitation, not out of desire to join the government, but because he had promised himself he’d never go back to jail. Sammy attends an orientation with four other new recruits: Brickert Plack, Gefjon “Jeffie” Tvedt, Kawai Nujola, and Natalia Ivanovic, where Byron teaches them about their abilities and the presence of a covert war between the NWG and the CAG. Commander Byron also informs them that the CAG employs vicious, sociopathic killers called Anomaly Thirteens as their primary operatives, and that his job is to teach them how to survive in battle using their own, superior, Anomaly Fourteen.
Despite an abrupt transition from a life of anarchy to rigid disciple, Sammy excels at his new training. He struggles, however, to make friends and trust people with the details of his life before Psion headquarters. Through a series of flashbacks, the reader sees that Sammy was raised in a loving home until his parents were brutally murdered in a random act of violence. This, combined with his jaunts in foster homes and juvenile detention, has led to a deep distrust of anyone but himself. Sammy’s proficiency at the high-tech holographic combat simulations and virtual reality games earns him a rival in Jeffie, Sammy’s crush, and Kobe Reynolds, another one of the top Betas.
Sammy’s continued stellar performance and Kobe’s relationship with Jeffie leads to mutual jealousy and eventually an altercation between the two boys. Commander Byron interrupts the fight and sends them to solitary confinement. Byron informs Sammy that the reason for his excellence is because he possesses two Anomalies: Fourteen and Eleven, something extremely rare. While Anomaly Fourteen gives Sammy his Psion abilities, Eleven enhances Sammy’s mental abilities, helping him to absorb information faster and more completely than a normal person. Sammy uses this information to help him build bridges of friendship with his fellow Betas, which results in his being chosen to go on a training mission with one of the senior Betas, Albert Hayman.
Over the next weeks, Sammy trains with eight other Betas to prepare for the mission to a vacant warehouse in Rio de Janeiro, within enemy territory. Before the completion of the mission, enemies with Anomaly Thirteen ambush Sammy and Kobe, chasing them through the warehouse and trapping them. Sammy and Kobe hold them off until help arrives, but an explosion causes Sammy to fall through the floor into a hidden bunker. His team, mistaking him for dead, leaves and returns to headquarters while Sammy tries to cope with being isolated and left behind. The story ends with a split point of view: Albert’s and Sammy’s. It follows Al as he returns home and reports to his superiors (including his father, Commander Byron) that Sammy and other Betas died on the mission. It also shows Sammy discovering that the mission was sabotaged by a member of Psion Command. He vows to return home to alert his friends and Commander Byron.
Samuel "Sammy" Harris Berhane, Jr. - Sammy is the protagonist of the story. We see the story through his point of view. He is the only known double Anomaly, possessing both Anomalies Eleven and Fourteen.
Gefjon "Jeffie" Tvedt - Sammy's love interest.
Brickert Plack - Sammy's roommate and best friend.
Kawai Nujola - Sammy's friend. A girl who was recruited at the same time as Sammy.
Natalia Ivanovich - Another friend of Sammy's who started at Psion Beta headquarters with Sammy.
Kobe Reynolds - Sammy's rival turned friend toward the end of the story. During the story, he also briefly dates Jeffie.
Kaden Reynolds - Kobe's twin brother. A friend of Sammy's.
Commander Walter Tennyson Byron - Psion Commander. Is in charge of everything at Beta headquarters, including the Betas' instruction and training. AKA "Amos"
Commander Victor Wrobel - Another Psion Commander. Sammy learns at the end of the novel that Commander Wrobel is responsible for sabotaging the mission and betraying the New World Government.
"Feet" - Sammy's best friend prior to arriving at Beta headquarters. Feet served jail time with Sammy in The Grinder and helped break them out.
Albert Hayman - Sammy's friend, an older Beta. He is the leader of the mission to Rio de Janeiro. Commander Byron's son, although this is not revealed until near the end of the book.
Psion Beta has a 4 ½ star rating on Amazon and Goodreads.com.
- "Independent Review of Psion Beta" Accessed March 13, 2011.
- "Independent Review of Psion Beta" Accessed March 28, 2011.
- "Interview with Author Jacob Gowans" Accessed March 5, 2011.
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