“Convergence” by Michael Patrick Hicks – An SPSFC Review

The SPSFC started with 300 books and narrowed it down to 30 semi-finalists. I’ll be reviewing every semi-finalist, as well as several books from other group’s slush piles that looked interesting to me.

Convergence by Michael Patrick Hicks

Jonah Everitt is a hired gun who steals memories for others after killing the people who made those memories. After one kill gets him in trouble with the Wrong People, he becomes embroiled in a complex web of politics, narcotics, and international espionage.

The premise should clue readers in to what they’re getting into. This is a cyberpunk mystery along the lines of Altered Carbon though with bigger implications. It has a lot of the same gritty feel, but that grittiness comes along with plenty of content warnings. Sexual violence, extreme violence, mild misogyny, and drug abuse are rampant throughout the novel. It’s not a pretty world, and it’s hard to know where Hicks himself might come down on some of the “yuck factor” content therein. The world is just there, it’s rarely reflected upon or critiqued.

The characters are similarly there. None of them stood out to me in any major ways, but they get the job done as far as the plot goes. The story itself is, again, what one might expect from a cyberpunk thriller: a smattering of future tech-y stuff combines with Forbidden Power and the big political minds want to get their hands on it. It makes for a read that never slows down.

Convergence is a thrilling read. For readers less turned off by some of the content noted above, it will likely be a great read to get into a new series.

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Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

“A Touch of Death” by Rebecca Crunden- SPSFC Review

We’re now in the round of semi-finalists for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC), and I’m reading and reviewing all of the semi-finalists! Check out my SPSFC Hub for all my posts and reviews for the contest.

A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

Far in the future, humanity largely lives in a single Kingdom with totalitarian rule. Catherine, Thom, and Nate struggle with the strictures of the society. Then, a latent disease is awakened.

I admit I found this one a bit difficult to get into. The characters were fine, but with little explanation for why the world got to where it did 1000 years from now or what remnants were left behind, I struggled to understand why the world was constructed as it was. It could just as easily have been a world completely different from our own rather than being in the future. Indeed, that might have made it even more interesting, because the way the world is revealed so far in this book, there’s little doubt about where latent disease may have come from, even if it’s not fully revealed here.

Catherine and Nate spend much of the novel arguing about what to do next and the implications of what they’ve run into. I actually didn’t mind this aspect of their characters. While it’s a bit trope-y, it’s a comfortable trope for me that I actually enjoy. Indeed, the characters were the most interesting aspect of the book.

A major problem I had with the book is a lack of clarity regarding the major questions about what’s going on. The “who/what/where/when/why” questions about what happened to the world are left extraordinarily vague. Meanwhile, events needed to keep the plot going seemingly drop out of the sky. Modern (read: stuff that would exist in 2022) things just pop up whenever needed. But at other times it reads like a weirdly Medieval feel. The tone is all over the place, making it a confusing read.

A Touch of Death will have readers wanting more. It left this reader wondering if there was enough there to tantalize me into reading the next book. It certainly left enough questions packed into it to sustain a longer series.

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The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

“Broken Ascension” by Dave Walsh- A Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Book Review

We’re now in the round of semi-finalists for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC), and I’m reading and reviewing all of the semi-finalists! Check out my SPSFC Hub for all my posts and reviews for the contest.

Broken Ascension by Dave Walsh

Drake is an artist on a ragtag ship full of strange personalities as they fly through a warzone from the now ended human-Gra’al war. When they discover a package on a Gra’al ship that contains a baby, the crap hits the fan as they have to go on the run for a Gra’al Warlord bent on reigniting war between species.

Reading that summary, many sci-fi readers will immediately think a kind of Firefly or Becky Chambers-esque found family crew with a heart, and they wouldn’t be too far off from the feel of the novel. If that’s your jam, I can almost guarantee you’ll find Broken Ascension a read worth checking out. It’s definitely my kind of novel, with plenty of action to go along with a plot that keeps everything moving along at a good clip.

One typical thing about books in this subgenre is having that ragtag crew of adventurers feel unique and over-the-top without really being too over-the-top (“I don’t know… fly casual!”). One twist in this one is that apart from the found family vibes here, Drake’s dad is also on the ship. The crew is full of personalities, but some of those personalities fade into the background of the adventures of Drake and the Gra’al babe, Bruce (it makes sense as a name in the book). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it keeps the plot tightly focused, but it did make me want more from some of the other characters, a few of whom we only get glimpses here and there of what their personalities might be like or why they’re along for the ride.

The adventure itself is worth taking, with questions about war, justice, and xenophobia abounding. What would it take to heal scars of war, particularly in the immediate aftermath? While these questions never take over the plot, they’re welcome additions to supplement the story’s frenetic pace with some thoughtful moments. Another notable thing I appreciated was the treatment of religious questions. Walsh takes an even-keeled approach, neither heavily favoring nor strongly condemning religion generally but rather presenting it as a fact of life and reality for many people and species. It’s a good approach that makes it feel more realistic.

Broken Ascension is great for readers who enjoy space adventures. It’s got plenty of edge-of-your-seat action, but also has deeper characterization, for some, than might be expected.

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Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

“The Dinosaur Four” by Geoff Jones- A Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Book Review

We’re now in the round of semi-finalists for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC), and I’m reading and reviewing all of the semi-finalists! Check out my SPSFC Hub for all my posts and reviews for the contest.

The Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones

A café in Denver is suddenly ripped from the pavement and dropped into the Cretaceous period in the same place, along with several diners. The people inside have to figure out what happened, avoid the dangerous dinos, and see if they can get back home.

The action gets going basically immediately, as the characters encounter a small array of dinosaurs and dinosaur-adjacent wildlife. As anyone who is even vaguely aware of how massive dinosaurs are and how deadly even small ones appear to have been, the implications should be quite ominous. What made the book the most fun for me is how it’s a kind of inverted Jurassic Park. Instead of humans bringing dinosaurs to life and dealing with the implications, here it’s humans going back in time (accidentally) and being trapped in a world with dinosaurs. Survival is not guaranteed.

The plot moves on at a good clip, and Jones introduces one element that basically slaps a timer on the events happening. I thought that was a good move because it added a sense of urgency to the story which was already fast paced. This turned up the action to frenetic in the best possible way. I found myself burning through the book quickly because I wanted to know what would happen next.

One of the characters seemed especially gross to me. There was latent and overt misogyny coming through that character’s viewpoint, to the extent that at first I almost wondered if it was narrative voice. Suffice to say that is not the case. The incel vibes are intentional, but they’re part of a building plot throughout the book that came to a satisfying end. I only point this out specifically because it was initially very off-putting for me, personally, and wanted other readers to know to persevere.

The Dinosaur Four is a hugely enjoyable romp. It’s the kind of read that’s excellent while enjoying the weather outside or flying on an airplane. It’s not going to make you think too hard. Instead, there are dinosaurs, there is action, and it’s fun to read. Recommended.

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The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Indie Author Interview: Kay MacLeod

I’m delighted to bring you an interview with Kay MacLeod, a favorite indie author of mine. I hope you’ll check it out and be sure to check out her books (links near end)!

Interview with Kay MacLeod

What got you into speculative fiction as a reader, and as an author?

I grew up in a family who loved fantasy. My mum’s an incredible artist who drew and painted fairies, and my dad was always a big reader. He had shelves filled with speculative fiction and it was the passionate way he talked about the books he enjoyed that sparked my interest from an early age. Soon enough, I began reading for myself; The Hobbit, Redwall, Discworld. They captivated me like nothing else.

I devoured everything fantasy related I could get my hands on, expanding my obsession with video games such as Final Fantasy, Pokemon, and Baldur’s Gate. It seemed a natural progression to create worlds of my own at that point, though I only wrote small pieces and mostly drew maps and characters. I didn’t seriously consider writing my own books for a long time. My creations were a way to occupy my time and gave me joy. It didn’t occur to me that others would enjoy them. Until I started to DM Dungeons & Dragons games. The thrill of seeing other people invested in my world and plotlines was amazing. They cared about the stuff I made up and wanted more!

I love that you had a kind of natural progression from Redwall (and others) to DMing and storytelling. In many ways, your background is similar to mine. I was absolutely obsessed with Redwall. You have one series, the Maiyamon series, which seems inspired by Pokémon. What led you to write a gamelit series?

Maiyamon was definitely inspired by Pokémon. I got my first Gameboy with Pokemon Red in 1999 when I was 11 – the perfect age it was catered to. Over the years, I got every new release and still do. But now I’m in my 30s and the story isn’t aimed at me anymore. I’ll never grow out of it, I’m as excited for Scarlet/Violet as I was for Gold/Silver, but I do want something different from the genre.

As an adult, I crave more depth of story and characters, and I figured there was a whole generation of original Pokefans with that problem. So, Maiyamon was born. The main characters are around twenty years old, and I’ve done my best to include more mature themes and conflicts without going too extreme the other way and putting off younger fans. Exploring what would really happen if superpowered animals existed has been delightful, especially looking at how technology would change, or the opposing viewpoints people have on the subject.

To be honest, I adore gaming as much as reading. Combining them is a no-brainer! Even my fantasy books have been compared to Dragon Age (still the best compliment I ever received). Though I’m still working on my Maiyamon novels, I do have some ideas for other GameLit books in the future – a Rune Factory farming style series and a Magic: The Gathering card game inspired story. We’ll see if they go anywhere…

Okay, I gotta say your ideas for other series have definitely gotten me excited! I think having a more mature plot with a monster collecting-type game is going to get more and more popular as people who got introduced to RPGs with Pokemon grow up. You mentioned your fantasy series–what’s the elevator pitch on that?

I have way too many ideas and want to write them all right now! My fantasy series is about an invasion by a spirit race who feed on life energy looking for a new world to consume. To combat them, a group of ten people know as the Constellations are given unique powers which are passed to their first-born child. Some of those parents were better at preparing their children than others… Kitty never questioned why she could bullseye every shot with a bow. Asher assumed the other new Constellations would have been pushed to breaking point to develop their powers like he was. Add in an aloof member of the royal family, and they have to figure out a way to work together to find the rest of their allies before the enemy picks them off first.

There are three books out in The Constellation Saga so far with the final one due after the third Maiyamon book is complete. It’s such a fun series with some of my favourite characters – I often describe it as swords, sorcery, and sarcasm.

It looks like readers have a fun range of works to dive into from you! I know I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read. Where can readers look to find out more/follow you/etc.?

If you want to check out my range, I have a free welcome pack with several short stories set in each world – including an exclusive peek at some Maiyamon history… You can get it by signing up to my newsletter at https://dl.bookfunnel.com/3c5ckf3ld7 All my books are available from http://author.to/KayMacleod And I’m around on most social media sites as @kaymacleodbooks so please feel free to follow or get in touch (especially if you want to chat books, RPGs, miniature painting, or Critical Role).

Thanks so much for your time! I’m looking forward to reading more!

Links

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

“In the Orbit of Sirens” by T.A. Bruno- An SPSFC Review

We’re reading finalists for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest, and I’ll have reviews up here for every single one! For more coverage of the contest, including many, many reviews and some interviews with authors, check out my SPSFC Hub!

In the Orbit of Sirens by T.A. Bruno

Humans are on the run, seeking refuge on a remote planet that holds more threats than it might initially seem. In the Orbit of Sirens is a space opera that features fantastic world-building and plenty of action to keep the story moving.

The major threads in the story are about the human refugees, a mysterious illness spreading among them, the resident lifeforms of the planet they landed upon, and an ancient threat that endangers them all. There’s a lot going on in the book, in other words, and with that comes a broad assortment of characters and settings. Space opera is absolutely the right description for this book. It’s got the drama and depth of an epic.

The story itself builds throughout the book, just as the world humans are exploring is built around them as the reader continues. The world-building is a huge strength of the book, as is Bruno’s penchant for pushing the plot along with punctuated action whenever it seems to be on the verge of getting too slow. As readers learn about the birdlike Auk’nai, the indigenous population of the planet, they discover a grand culture and nature populated in realistic ways. If there’s one area that I personally felt was a weakness, it would be the depth of the characters. There are many of them, and some of them don’t get enough development to make them as interesting as I’d hoped they’d be in such a rich setting. While they aren’t the deepest people brought to print, Bruno makes good use of them, including some surprising moments near the end. I also thought the book nailed the ending, leaving more avenues for exploration without it feeling like a letdown or a clear cliffhanger “gotcha” moment.

There are a surprising number of elements found in this book, too. There’s a helping of first contact, a little cosmic horror, a dose of space opera, and some thriller sprinkled on top for good measure. It makes the book feel fresh all the way through. The stakes are raised throughout the book, but I also struggled to get a full grasp on exactly how urgent the plight of humanity was in the novel. Was this a localized threat or was it truly a cosmic, possibly extinction-level threat that was happening? I do know that this book was enough of setup to get me interested in the next one.

A note about the audiobook, for those who enjoy them: I thought the reader for this one, Michael Reimer, did a fine job. It wasn’t too slow–an issue I often have–and I appreciated his range with voices and small effects here and there. Those looking to supplement their reading with some listening would do well checking this one out on audio.

In the Orbit of Sirens is a great space opera with enough world developed to set up for future installments. I found it an exciting read, and one that I’d recommend to other fans of the genre.

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Links

The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

“Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire” by G.M. Nair- An SPSFC Review

We’re reading finalists for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest, and I’ll have reviews up here for every single one! For more coverage of the contest, including many, many reviews and some interviews with authors, check out my SPSFC Hub!

Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair

Michael Duckett and his roommate Stephanie Dyer are Private Investigators–they just don’t know it at the beginning of the book. Duckett just wants to get a date, get the girl, and move on with life. Dyer wants… well that seems to change on a whim. When people start disappearing and others start demanding Duckett and Dyer investigate, they get roped into a plot that’s bigger than either of them anticipated.

I think credit where it’s due is important, and I want to say that the cover for this book and its tongue-in-cheek title were hugely enjoyable. Every time I see the cover, I get a little smirk. Kudos for a well-designed indie book.

Anyway, the meat of the novel is its comedy. The plot is there mostly as a vehicle for throwing the characters into ridiculous scenarios where their synergy (or lack thereof) can be tested. There is some character development through the novel–Michael perhaps learns some about himself, and Stephanie shows she’s not entirely useless–but the rubber hits the road on their comedic interplays. Many of the scenes read as though they’re set pieces to launch a clever line from one or the other character. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Nair’s sense of humor struck me, at least, in the right ways. It does, however, get a bit stretched out over the course of the story. I felt some relief when one major plot reveal happened that allowed a focus less on the humor and more on a plot that was happening.

Readers who like plot as a vessel for comedy should be right at home here, and it’s a sub-genre with a venerable tradition in science fiction. Nair doesn’t bring the acerbic bite of satire to the table; instead, the comedy here is more slapstick or character comedy. It’s a read that would do great on a beach or a plane ride: it’s light, fun, and leaves readers feeling satisfied afterwards. Those looking for a strong plot or serious science should look elsewhere.

Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire is a fun romp that fans of comedic sci-fi should read. It brought a lot of smiles to my face, and I suspect other readers would feel the same.

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Links

The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

SPSFC Book Review: “Monster of the Dark” by KT Belt

We’re now in the round of semi-finalists for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC), and I’m reading and reviewing all of the semi-finalists! Check out my SPSFC Hub for all my posts and reviews for the contest.

Monster of the Dark by KT Belt

I’ll be honest: I didn’t know what to expect going in to this one. The story hooked me from the beginning, though, and didn’t let go from there. Carmen Grey is a potential Clairvoyant, a post-human with psychic powers. She’s taken from her parents, who are all-too-willing to let her go, to be trained at an underground facility for what humanity will face in the stars.

The story is a kind of coming-of-age story as it follows Carmen from a young age through young adulthood. Some of these sections are extensive, such as when the 5-6 year old Carmen is learning how to fight. The intensity of her training means the plot doesn’t really let up for this whole first part, and it’s easy to sit down and binge read this section as you want to know what’s going on with Carmen and whether Janus, her “handler,” will ever reveal more about what is happening. There are a few hints of a wider world here, but they are very few and far between. Belt keeps readers interested by remaining intensely focused on Carmen and the glimpses we see through Janus of other things happening. There is apparently some kind of alien threat that they need Clairvoyants to fight, and the hints about possible conflict between Earth and other humans make for an intriguing world that never fully opens in this book.

The hyper-focused nature of the plot starts to get a little repetitive in the middle section, where I was like Carmen in thinking that Janus and others lacked knowledge of what was happening next. Belt delivers action throughout this part, but it starts to lack the character reveals and wonder that the earlier sections had. The last 20% or so of the book was especially confusing to me. It felt like the first 50% or so of the book had built up to a potentially epic finale, with Carmen coming out and stomping on aliens or, at least, her captors. I don’t want to spoil much, but those expectations were very much subverted. Although I’m not sure I was a fan of how it ended, I will say I’m basically desperate to read the next book and find out what’s next for Carmen and others.

Monster of the Dark is an intriguing first volume in a series. It’s impossible not to be enthralled by Carmen’s story, but it would have been nice to have a bit more payoff for the broader world in this book.

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Links

The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

“Steel Guardian” by Cameron Coral- An SPSFC Book Review

We’re reading finalists for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest, and I’ll have reviews up here for every single one! For more coverage of the contest, including many, many reviews and some interviews with authors, check out my SPSFC Hub!

Steel Guardian by Cameron Coral

Block is a CleanerBot who just wants to do what he’s programmed to do: clean a hotel. When readers start the story, we’re dropped into a post-apocalyptic world in which an AI uprising led to widescale destruction and killing of humans. Pockets of humans survive, and robots are aggressively hunting them.

Block, though, is trying to find the perfect hotel to keep clean. He’s struggled to do so due to the state of disrepair or destruction of several he’s encountered. Nevertheless, he presses on. Eventually, as he’s taking cover from some fighting with SoldierBots, he finds an infant that he decides to take care of. In doing so, he works to nab a human woman being sold at auction by malevolent bots, meets up with more humans, and goes on a bigger adventure than he’d been planning.

Steel Guardian is a comfort read type of book, in my opinion. It’s fairly predictable so far as the plot goes, and the attitude of Block makes even the most intense action scenes read as just another step along the way. Block is a fine narrator, though he’s clearly confused about how the world works at times. This makes him more endearing than he may otherwise have been. The narrative voice from Block is perhaps not quite alien enough [or robotic enough] to feel anything other than human [read: robot], but it gets close enough to suspend disbelief. The few twists near the end made the setting more interesting. It remains a bit generic, in my opinion, but the major plot details that are revealed late in the game do bring up some interesting questions.

I did, however, have some difficulties with the book. For one, characters appear and drop off at extremely convenient moments and basically always do exactly what they need to in order for the main plot to advance. And here, I need to elucidate a specific example. When Block starts off the story, he’s traveling with a Vacuubot, a rather simple-minded bot with an interactive interface that basically just makes smiley faces like “=-)” or frowning faces in the same vein. I was immediately drawn to this Vacuubot as a kind of cute tag-along with some potentially momentous smiley faces about to drop. For the first 10-20% of the story, I was riveted to its interactions with Block. But then, when Block is forced to go looking for a power source, he leaves Vacuubot behind. When the crap hits the fan, he’s unable to immediately retrieve his buddy bot, but then… he never does. Vacuubot is just left in the woods for the remainder of the book and the only reference later is that Block at one point wishes he’d been able to stay in the woods with the other robot and that would have meant death for him. Well, apparently it does mean death for Vacuubot! =-(, indeed! Worse, the implications of this are never really acknowledged by Block. I just wanted the robot buddy comedy to continue. This is the most egregious of the times in which this happens, but more than once characters just pop in and out whenever it’s most convenient for the sake of plot. It makes it feel more contrived than it ought to.

There are a few plot threads that got more interesting as the story went on, especially the question of the malevolent AI and why robots are so interested in chasing a baby down. These made the story interesting front-to-back. I never got bored reading the book, despite the issues I mentioned.

Steel Guardian is a good robot-centered read. Fans of AIs, robots, and post-apocalyptic settings should check it out.

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Links

The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Book Review: “The Empress Capsule” by R.K. Thorne

The Empress Capsule by R.K. Thorne

Kael is a mercenary with little to look forward to in life. His biological augmentations turned off his ability to desire, and his lifelong sentence to a life as a door guard seems a dead end. Ryu is the commander of the starship Audacity and needs to complete her life’s mission of stopping rogue biotech scientists from ruining people’s lives. They get thrown together when Kael is captured(ish) by Ryu on one of her missions. Unbeknownst to her–or Kael–he’s got a capsule with a scientific surprise that could be world-shattering.

The plot has a great setup and solid characters. Kael and Ryu are the stars, but even side characters like the AI, other members of the Audacity, and baddies get time to show off some interesting moments. The book has action scenes punctuated throughout, but at its core feels more a story of Kael and Ryu finding themselves than anything else. Of course, that capsule has some deep import throughout and it drives the plot, at least in part.

I appreciated how Thorne developed Kael’s backstory, his struggling with biotech, and his own power. Ryu also is interesting enough as she tries to balance her total commitment to her mission with the fact that she’s human after all.

There’s so much sexual tension in the story. I get that the characters don’t necessarily make sense for immediately falling in love and getting together, but there are perhaps a few too many scenes in each individual’s head that are basically “Did she/he mean that they might like me?” Like, just kiss and stop second guessing the kiss! You’re clearly smitten! I’m glad Thorne didn’t go for a cheap gimme at the end of the novel to make up for this, but that also means the tension might be dragged out for another book (or more?).

The action scenes that are interspersed throughout the book are well-done, but I think may not have been as frequent or lengthy as I’d have liked. I should note this is a rare complaint for me, because I like to get to the meat of the plot, but there were a couple times when I thought it would have been nice to have more description of how exactly a firefight was playing out or what, exactly made someone’s armor so expensive and powerful. The plot and budding romance, in other words, dominates the book far more than the sci-fi and action elements. I think I’d have liked it to be more balanced, with a little bit less sexual tension and more action and adventure. That said, I enjoyed the book front to back, never really feeling like it slowed down too much or felt rudderless.

One of the final reveals can’t really be explored without major spoilers, but I appreciated that the motivations behind some of the major players in the book weren’t as conventional as they almost seemed to be. Thorne does a great job setting up the story for the next book without it feeling like a total cliffhanger that leaves readers hanging.

I was given an audio version of the book, and the narrator does a pretty fabulous job. I tend to listen to books at a very fast speed, and the narrator came through clearly all the way through the book. I didn’t run into any sound balancing issues, either, and individual characters were distinctive in flavor. I recommend the audio version if you like those.

The Empress Capsule is a fun space adventure with several intriguing characters, some solid action scenes, and a lurking romance. It reminded me of some of my favorite science fiction. I’m excited to see where the series goes next.

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I was provided a review copy of the book by the author

Links

The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.