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PRAIRIE SONG

Edtied Version – Post Book 1

By Calhoun, author of Quoria

May 3, 2018: Prairiesong has a really refreshing take on the post-apocalyptic genre as a whole. Many post-apocalyptic stories are hopeless and take place in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, but prariesong is more about people getting back to their lives and interacting with the various communities that have popped up in the post-apocalyptic wasteland than anything else.

It follows the story of John (who is fleeing his old life in Chokecherry), Cody (who is fleeing a gang), Val (a preacher) and Friday (owner of a burlesque/casino) on their journey to outrun danger and get to the mississippi river. The ragtag gang faces all sorts of perils, but also stumbles across new experiences that broaden their horizons in ways they never could have imagined.

Even the villains have their own motivations, and it feels as though every side character has a lot going on in their life, which makes the world feel big. As though things are constantly happening elsewhere as the protagonists continue their journey (and they are!) If you’re a fan of big, open worlds, you’ll like this serial.

A word of warning, though: This serial does contain some heavy themes at times of abuse and overcoming trauma, but it handles all of these extremely respectfully, and each chapter comes with its own content warnings if they’re necessary. This authors really care to let the readers know what they’re getting into, and I thought this was a nice thing of them to do. I personally appreciate content warnings so I can prepare myself beforehand, but they’re general enough that they won’t spoil anything for people who prefer not to read them.

Basically, if you’re looking for an action-packed post-apocalyptic webserial with plenty of LGBT+ representation, you’ve found it. The serial showcases some spectacular moments where prejudice is overcome by understanding and empathy, and that despite everything, love is always more powerful than you think.

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AUTONOMY

One to Watch

By Elenia T., member

Feb 21, 2013: After reading the first chapter of Autonomy, I was ready to give up. I felt more like I was reading the screenplay for an animé veering on the side of outlandish than like I was reading a narrative. The situation was one that you see everywhere: a flat ‘goodie’ facing off a flat ‘baddie’. Not very stimulating.

However, I decided to give Autonomy a fair chance, and I’m glad I did.

I found the stories (I’m loath to say ‘story’) to be insanely readable. They’re quite long, but they don’t necessitate continuous reading: each ‘episode’ is self-contained within the chronology of the series; and each chapter gives a re-introduction of Autonomy, Tommy, and their ship, the C-Beam Queen. This can get a little irritating when reading the series like a traditional narrative, but it makes life easier for those who simply want to dip in and out to get their action fix.

And how did I find the action? For the most part it was coherent, although there were a couple of scenes where I puzzled over what was actually happening. You can see everything happening before your eyes, but this isn’t always a good thing: in the earlier chapters especially I felt like I was reading the script for an audio description of Every Action Movie Ever. Clichéd poses and sayings just trooped before my eyes, and put a layer of predictability and boredom between myself and the scene. However this does die down in later chapters. The action scenes became more original and exciting, and so easier for me to get my teeth into.

Palladian mentioned the lack of character development and I can sort of agree: we do not see much of Autonomy outside of her persona as ‘bad-ass mercenary’. However the more recent chapters do give a little more insight into her character, if not her life story. While we may not yet know exactly who Autonomy is, her author does, and he remains true to the character he has created.

The description given with this listing also posed a bit of a problem for me: we are told that refuses to accept the expansion of human culture, leading me to believe their would be a fight against intergalactic powers. Maybe this understanding is my fault: either way, I was confused to see Autonomy and Tommy working for the powers-that-be as often as not.

There are a few spelling errors, and some odd word choices which made me flag the author as a non-native English speaker. Checking out the author-bio revealed him to be Dutch, so this is probably why. While noticeable, I don’t think these errors were glaring enough to detract from the story.

Would I recommend this story? Yes, I would. To anyone who wants a bit of no holds barred action with explosions and gun fights aplenty. To anyone who enjoys butt-kicking mercenaries. To anyone who appreciates a robot that can think for itself. The revelation of characters and culture is pretty slow, but it is there and so I myself will be checking back in every now and again, to see where the C-Beam Queen is taking us next.

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AUTONOMY

A Jones for Autonomy

By Palladian, author of Super

Oct 22, 2012: I knew I was going to like the space western Autonomy due to the sheer amount of firepower and destruction in the first few pages, but there were a number of other things that also kept me clicking on ‘next’ again and again.

The story follows Autonomy Jones, mercenary/bounty hunter and her robot partner, Tommy, as they tear up the galaxy in search of their next target in order to keep themselves running and their ship, the C-Beam Queen, flying. It reads like it was directed by a Quentin Tarantino who also has a huge appetite for massive swaths of destruction (on a level with the Dirty Pair, for any anime fans out there).

The format of the story is excellent for web fiction – the stories themselves usually span one post, with some (including the one the author is currently in the middle of) spanning several. The story moves quickly and I found the plots, the gradual description of Autonomy and Tommy’s world, and the interplay between the characters fascinating enough to continue coming back for more. One of the things I liked about this story in particular was the successful use of dark humor. After all, while there’s nothing quite like being chased by a mutated giant capable of throwing you a city block, it’s definitely made more memorable by being able to crack a joke about it at the same time.

One thing I’d like to see as this story continues is some more character development for the main character. Autonomy is amazing, as would be expected, but as each story passed I found myself wondering more and more about her background, in order to mentally flesh her out more as a person, so I’m hoping the author finally shares more about her. Currently, I feel like the most developed character in the story is Tommy, which is kind of interesting, now that I come to think of it.

At any rate, I can definitely recommend this story for fans of futuristic westerns/bounty hunting, and for anyone who likes to read about a lot of violence and destruction. I’ll definitely be waiting for the next chapter myself.

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