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TOUCH

Amazing

By Ubiquitous Omnipresent Entity, member

Nov 18, 2019: This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, partly just because of how real it is, a little bit from the great grammar, and engaging content. I actually read this several months ago, saw it here, thought it was an interesting description(it’s different from the one on Royal Road) and was preparing to read it when I found that I already had. Now I’m preparing for a reread instead.

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SPECIMENS

You can read the story here!

By mrouzbanian, author of Conqueror

Sep 8, 2019: If anyone wishes to read this story, you can do so here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VGh4E1y3UVcJUqWtJCSSyKLxVtSltprQYgYC7_21CuI/edit?usp=sharing

It’s a google docs link, that is accessible to all. The authors website is currently down and may never come back up.

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PAY ME, BUG!

IT’S JUST A MILK RUN

By ElliottThomasStaude, author of Mourners, Abednego, Persistence

Jul 10, 2019: The space opera is a very flexible kind of work. In the simplest sense, it’s technically a label that applies to any drama where the setting could POTENTIALLY be someplace besides Earth. However, a recurring archetypical cast isn’t uncommon across the wide span of the genre. In particular, smugglers form a good steady mainstay, on account of the built-in conflict with the law, the fact that highly traveled people serve as good world-introducing foils, the way they attract a significant supporting billing, and their general good looks. Having spent a fair amount of time in the man’s indirect company over the course of Pay Me, Bug!, I’d say Grif Vindh and the rest of the Fool’s Errand both fit very nicely into the canon of neat flashy readable sci-fi and also make for a decently lovable crew.

One of the shining stars adorning the tale’s lapels is the fact that it manages to be simple in its broad strokes yet highly elaborate when it gets to the actual details of its storytelling. The plotline can be encapsulated in a single sentence: “After a successful accomplishment of illegality, an interested party strongarms our heroes into repeating the feat.” This becomes a lot less simple when the feat is revealed as, on the face of it, flatly impossible. Likewise, the hero and villain appear to be ciphers, but betray more characterization as they come to grace the reader with their foibles and fortes. The antagonist is a man stereotypical in villainous motivation: parcel of a faith-of-the-state, afflicted with the frothing fanaticism which descends on those who forgo humility in favor of hubris. Yet he reveals more than the deep-seated need to kick puppies and spit upon the undeserving: he has a life of his own, takes joy in little pleasures. Vindh likewise is not just a daring irresistable rapscallion. In fact, he would make a very respectable mustache-twirling scion of evil himself, under a different constellation.

Let us not forget the strength of one’s worldbuilding, of course. When dealing with aliens, and alien societies, one has both tremendous leeway and tremendous potential to lose the audience with their grand design. Ubersoft manages to walk this thin line admirably. On the one hand: a good number of species strewn across the unfamiliar territory of a quasi-theocratic commune parked across a no-man’s land of merchant princes’ domains from an aggressively inclined democracy . . . IN SPACE. On the other hand: bars, bar fights, hospitals, docks, intrigue, family tension, backstabbing, and rampant gambling addictions. It pulls off the same strengths as Star Wars by taking the unknown and putting it next to enough of the known that we can get dragged along for the ride with not more than one or two pit stops needed.

Plot, here, is the least of Pay Me, Bug!’s strengths. Not that it is bad; it serves its purpose and even manages to throw in a couple of effective curveballs. It has one of the more interesting premises of a heist-esque scenario you’ll probably find. There are a lot of guns and people firing them and a big bug starts beating people up on a few occasions. It’s just that (as insinuated above) while the plot’s steps are all quite striking in themselves, the overarching structure of events comes as less than truly shocking. That’s fine, we don’t need innovation on every level, but for all its other positives it feels like this story ought to have had an outline so explosive that asbestos containment would have been required for the script.

Now, if you happen to know nothing at all about space opera literature, then start by reading Peter F. Hamilton’s Void series and Kevin J. Anderson’s Saga of Seven Suns. Next, come check out Pay Me, Bug! It’s got a fantastic rating over time, and that’s not just because its author’s good at marketing. Just don’t ask everyone’s favorite rogue for a Plan B if you can’t finish it in time.

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