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KILLING TIME OST

A female James Bond goes Bladerunner

By Sten Düring, author of Frays in the Weave

May 15, 2015: First of all I have to say I’m stunned that no one here has reviewed this four year old web novel.

It all starts out as a female James Bond (Lorelei) in the world Bladerunner would have been set in had the film been made today. Include a fifties hard boiled voice over and you have the feeling.

After the story reveals itself to be the typical intro for a James Bond movie a real story about revenge picks up. From here the novel turns into a more normal technothriller.

Two first person POV:s came off as a bit jarring for me, but the hardest part to accept was that the story abruptly terminated halfway through chapter nineteen—and restarts at chapter twenty four just to reach its end shortly after.

And it was hard to accept, because it’s a good read. I’m not usually a fan of technothrillers because of my professional background in IT. But here the handwaving is done well enough that the technically obsessed can gloss over most over the improbabilities.

The cast is small (at least for the sixteen and a half chapters plus one I have read). You have the main character and narrator Lorelei as well as a central supporting character Vexx (also told in FP POV). A third important character is introduced later, and apart from that there are a few people nosing around in the outskirts of the story.

Lorelei develops as a character during the run of the story, but the exciting part of her change doesn’t really take off until chapter nineteen, when BAM the, literally, big hole arrives.

Oh, did I forget to tell you—you get to watch music. Lorelei is obsessed with music, and whenever she reflects on a specific piece it comes with a Youtube link for your pleasure.

But for the missing chapters I’d have given it a full score. The half star I detracted is for the better part of five chapters lacking.

The story is novel-length, and there is a sequel of equal length, but I haven’t read that yet.

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STRINGS OF RETALIATION

My Kingdom for a Villain

By Ingstrand, member

Feb 18, 2013: The first chapter of Strings of Retaliation blew my metaphorical socks off. I haven’t read the first Nighshade novel (yet), but the opening of this one gave me a sharp and immediate sense of the world, the characters and the problem that they faced. Not only that, but the world was interesting, the characters engaging and the problem unusual – after the events of the first book, the main character has lost her motivation. Except for a few typos, there was nothing at all for a reviewer to complain about. I eagerly turned to the next chapter.

Unfortunately, the next chapter didn’t keep up the intensity of the first. Neither did the next one, or the one after that, and different permutations of the comment ‘slow’ began appearing in my notes. I think Strings of Retaliation suffers from one of the most insidious problems in storytelling, namely the lack of a good villain. There is certainly conflict between the characters, but it can only become so intense without making their relationships seem unlikely, and there is certainly a menace from vague external interests, but so far it hasn’t coalesced into something concrete for the protagonist to struggle against. The loss of motivation mentioned above is resolved fairly soon, and it would hardly make for a good ‘villain’ without megabytes of text devoted to psychological realism. No, for my money, Strings of Retaliation needs a villain.

The novel is only on chapter eleven as I write this, so a villain might very well be on its way. In the meantime, the writing is generally great, physical descriptions integrate beautifully with the thoughts of the viewpoint characters and the various relationships give rise to great interpersonal chemistry. Unfortunately (again), there are also times when the text becomes unclear and ungrammatical – in chapter 8a, the sentence ‘that’s was one of the reason why I didn’t have a secret identity like my father had’ is an example of both, since I can’t find any such reason in the previous text.

Finally, I was surprised to learn that the story is set in the year 2513. That means that Nightshade is as far removed from us as Ponce de Leon, Henry VIII and Niccolò Machiavelli, and I would have expected society to have changed more in that time. For example, the fact that the FBI is still around five hundred years on, and apparently works much as it does today, must make it one of the oldest and most conservative organizations in history. But again, all this could very well be explained in the first Nightshade novel, which I haven’t read. Yet!

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KILLING TIME OST

Editor’s First Impression

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Feb 1, 2013: This story is interesting, though I didn’t find the writing quite as strong as its sequel, Strings of Retaliation. It noticeably improves as the story progresses, showing the evolution of an author. At first I thought the main character was too over-the-top and cartoonish, but further reading revealed that there’s a logical reason for her to be that way.

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