Reviews

August 10, 2017

Great concept, characters and world building, but where’s the actual story? Translucid fails to deliver what it promises.

This is a cross post from a review site I occasionally post on: Reviewing the Gaps.

TITLE: Translucid: A Galactic Empire Space Opera Series (Dragonfire Station Book 1)

Author:  Zen DiPietro

Publication Type: Small Press

Length: 275 pgs

Genre: Science Fiction/ Space Opera/ LGBT Content

Release: 9/13/2016

Cover Evaluation: If this is stock, I certainly can’t tell. It sparked my interest from the get-go.

Author Bio: (From Amazon) Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, dreamer, 3D maker, and writer. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek.

Blurb: (From Amazon)

“Fallon has a job to do, but she’s forgotten what it is.

Not forgotten, exactly. More like it’s been ripped out of her brain.

She can get through her daily life just fine, but there are things about her that don’t add up against what her service record says. Or what people tell her about herself.

Whatever it is she’s forgotten…it’s bigger than anyone can imagine.

Emé Fallon is a PAC officer and the security chief of Dragonfire Station–and she does a damn good job of it. That’s where her competence ends. Outside of work, she has a wife she doesn’t know, a captain who seems to hate her, and a lot of questions that don’t add up.

When she begins to discover that she has skills she shouldn’t, she starts to understand what she’s capable of.

While she’s fighting for herself, she’ll realize that she and the galaxy have the same problem–and she’ll need to fight for them both.

One person can change a galactic empire, once she knows who she is. Will she end the PAC–or save it?”

Review: Great concept, characters and world building, but where’s the actual story?

I was quickly and completely absorbed into the world of Eme’ Fallon, her situation, and Dragonfire Station in general. It’s an interesting place. A bit of mystery, (okay, a lot) tons of unique alien culture, and a hint of romance… but that’s where the fun stopped. Really, as a reader, I was thoroughly disappointed with how it “ended.” (quotes used here because there wasn’t any real ending at all) The set up was there, I was in…then it… I felt like I hit a brick wall. There was such a great build but one without any climax or resolution. It was like watching a cliff-hanger episode of your favorite television show… however, this wasn’t a one-hour episode, but rather, a full-length novel. I was disappointed to say the least. I expected some sense of ending, some conclusion.

IMO, novels should follow some sort of plot arc, give readers a sense of closure, and not drop the reader off a cliff—no matter how well written the path to that cliff might be.

Simply put, this wasn’t a full story but a lead in… a hook so you’ll pay for the next installment.

I walked away so unfulfilled and frustrated as a reader, I am now pondering whether I’ll read the other books in the trilogy—even though I foolishly purchased them as a set based solely on someone’s recommendation.


July 5, 2017

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 What are we without our dreams? How do our dreams define us? Atmosphere: We don’t Orbit but Fall all the Same, addresses these issues on a galactic scale.

This is a cross post from a review site I occasionally post on: Reviewing the Gaps.

Title: Atmosphere: We don’t Orbit but Fall all the Same/ Author: Garth Buns/  Publication Type: Self-Published/ Length: 280 pgs/ Genre: Science-Fiction/ Release Date: April 2016

Cover Evaluation: eye-catching and great use of color

Author Bio: Tennessee born. Ran away to Quito, Santa Cruz, New College and Oaxaca. Lives happily with his wife and son in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Book Blurb: (Taken from Amazon)

“Atmosphere: We Don’t Orbit but Fall the Same is a struggle for survival between two alien species that hinges on an unlikely collaboration. *** Kora Green learned to talk in her sleep. In fact, everything she has ever been taught occurred while sleeping. She has lived so robustly while unconscious that she cannot ever remember being awake. Her community tells her that she has everything she needs, but then she feels sunlight on her skin and remembers, for the first time, the sensation of cool water between her toes. Kora soon learns that it is forbidden to discuss what happens in the wake-state. But when a spacecraft from another solar system arrives, the heretic Kora may hold the key to her species’ survival. *** Dr. Phlox Swenno was raised in the tree tops, and his people believe that emotions are a sign of weakness. His primate-like species trusts violence and science, but the doctor is trying to outrun an unspoken shame, and he is ill-equipped for life aboard a deep-space freighter. The planet they begin to orbit incubates new diseases and unforeseen dangers, and the doctor may be the only one who can read the clues. *** Atmosphere, at its deepest level, becomes an allegory regarding the importance of memory, dreams, and forgiveness.”

Review: What are we without our dreams? How do our dreams define us? Atmosphere: We don’t Orbit but Fall all the Same, addresses these issues on a galactic scale. In this novel, there’s no humanity to be found, but humanity’s faults and struggles abound in alien form. Atmosphere is a Sociological Sci-Fi lover’s dream, pun perhaps intended. The world-building is rich, and the protagonist, Phlox Sweeno, is as brave as he is often confused by his own dreams. Again, dreams. Phlox’s species is not only scared of them, but they’re a social taboo derived from past enslavement by another species. A series of catastrophic events forces Phlox to face his dreams during space flight and everything old and new that comes with them. The complexity and weaving of worlds versus dreams versus the struggle to survive made for worthwhile reading, but the story isn’t without its faults.

The story dragged early and was often difficult to follow. Two worlds were being presented at once, which isn’t a problem for this reviewer as long as there are proper transitions for reader understanding– there sometimes were not. Phlox Sweeno and his story were presented in a linear fashion while the other protagonist, Kora Green’s, tale read like a Greek tragedy, complete with a chorus. This proved distracting, and at times, frustrating. The verb tense often shifted between scenes without discernible breaks and the story was further complicated by Phlox’s sudden present-tense dreams. The novel was also plagued with anachronisms that didn’t fit the world the author created. Word choices such as Braille, human error, toothpaste, and sitting ducks threw this reviewer out of the story, and each time it proved more difficult to return. I did return, however, and was rewarded with a well thought out and intense ending worth the wade to reach.