A Tunnel in the Sky

Like templetongate.net on Facebook  Follow @templetongate on Twitter
-Site Search

Together We Will Go
by J. Michael Straczynski

Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted August 12, 2021

Buy from Bookshop or Amazon. A purchase through our links may earn us a commission.

Woah! Where to start with this book? I guess first I should say I rated it 5 stars on Goodreads, the maximum, although there were a couple of times I almost stopped reading. Parts made me laugh, some made me sad, others made me angry. Numerous times I was thinking I had never thought of things in that way before, while others had me wondering if Stracynski had somehow been reading my mind. This is the third non-SF book I've reviewed. No science fiction or fantasy elements, but I kept expecting something of that nature would pop up, the only thing coming close being a story one of the characters had been writing. Other than Babylon 5, and various screenplays for other shows or films, I'm not that familiar with Stracynski's work, which includes multiple comics titles, three other novels, a short story collection, how-to writing manuals, and a memoir that was a Related Work Hugo finalist last year. A few things I've heard about that memoir makes me think some details in this book might be semi-autobiographical, if not from the author's own life then possibly others he has known.

It's a collection of journal entries, emails, text exchanges, and recorded conversations, from a group of people who come together for a joint adventure, a road trip from Florida to California in a tour bus, with a collective objective at the end. Suicide. If filmed, the journals would have to be changed to video recordings, and it would fall within the "found footage" genre. The project gets its start with Mark Antonelli, who buys the bus and converts it with bunks and a chemical toilet. Then he places an ad to recruit others to join him on the trip. He picks up the first two in Florida, then they hit the road north, then west, meeting others along the way. Each of them have their own reasons to want to end their life, and could have easily done it on their own, but the prospect of a party atmosphere appealed to enough to fill the bus. Mark had specified applicants had to be at least 21, but he didn't think of putting an upper limit on age. All but one are in their 20s, so it came as a surprise when the 65-year-old Vaughn came aboard. Even though their reasons for depression vary, they collectively have things in common. They just don't fit in, with their families, or in their dead-end jobs, with few or no friends, no hope for the future.

The group includes a woman suffering from chronic pain, which she calls the Spider. Another is bipolar and manic depressive, veering from vivacious and licentious to quiet and remorseful. One woman has never had friends, much less a love life, due to excessive overweight. One man had a very abusive father, another has an incurable heart condition. Some of the reasons are more vague, even sounding less than sincere, and Mark's is the most puzzling. He always wanted to be a writer, but no matter how many times he submitted stories or novels they had all been rejected, meaning he belongs to a very large fraternity. Some nights they sleep on the bus, but since there is no shower they often get hotel rooms. Mark is technically in charge, and has an itinerary for picking up others, but when it doesn't conflict with those plans, the group frequently votes on their direction of travel, or for stops for recreation. After one stop in Nebraska they take a vote to oust a couple from the group. They tell them they will be leaving at a certain time the next day, then depart a couple of hours ahead of that, abandoning them. That does not end well, since those left behind report them to the authorities. Suicide and assisted suicide being illegal in many states, it puts the bus on the radar of many law enforcement agencies.

Yes, there are depressive thoughts, but also very sympathetic and believable reasons for that depression. Other than Mark's frustration as a writer, I haven't experienced anything quite as traumatic as these people, but I have known others who have, including at least four I know of who committed suicide. Some might read these stories and feel pity, or maybe condescension and ridicule. We are all told that everyone is unique, but when some embrace their uniqueness they are criticized for not conforming. It's a no-win situation. The thing I take away from it is I should try to be more empathetic, since you never know what burdens another is carrying. I won't spoil the details, but will reveal that a few change their mind and get off the bus voluntarily, another is kicked off in disgust. Some who stayed on the bus might have reconsidered if given enough time, but whether they stayed or escaped, took their own life or were cut down by other means, they all had valid reasons for doing what they did, and deserve respect for their decisions. Except for Mark. Mark is an asshole, but I won't say anything else about that. This may hit too hard for some, so take my comments as a warning as much as a recommendation. But it is a very good, very emotional, very illuminating book. A book you can love and hate at the same time.


We would appreciate your support for this site with your purchases from Amazon.com, Bookshop.org, and ReAnimusPress.


J. Michael Straczynski

July 6, 2021

Purchase Links:

A purchase through our links may earn us a commission.