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Sci-Fi at High Speed

By McQueenSerialFantasy, author of Exiles

Mar 8, 2018: It’s evident from the very beginning of the story that the author has a crystal clear picture of the world that the characters inhabit. The setting is original and well-designed, but what struck me the most was its breadth. The author invests a lot of time framing out the cultural patterns of the world: its technology, its criminal elements, its social order, and its government. The result is a rich, tech-focused world that resonates well with the sci-fi bent of the narrative.

Like the world, the characters are similarly well-defined, especially in the person of the protagonist, whose cybernetic body and technological leanings seem to mirror the core themes of the world at large. His personality is dour and socially distant, which is often difficult to portray without the character simply coming across as a malcontent. The author avoids this, and portrays a powerful hero suffering under the weight of his goals and the aspects of society with which he has difficulty interacting. A good job there.

Where the story suffers is in its presentation. While the characters feel real and the world feels immersive, the story comes at you with disorienting speed. Narrative elements and action sequences arrive, are dealt with, and depart so quickly that the reader is left scrambling to assimilate all the data, and the pace leaves little time for tension to arise, build, climax, and cool out. It also doesn’t leave much time for detailed description, foreshadowing, and the gradual introduction of new plot elements. The reader is left having to take the story at face value. I suppose one can get away with this in a genre where the reader can draw upon existing convention to fill in the gaps, but I found myself wishing more than once that the story would slow down and flesh itself out.

A final interesting note: the story is written in the first-person present tense, which is unusual, but contributes to the story’s stream-of-consciousness feel. The reader is in the moment inside the head of the protagonist, which can sometimes be jarring, but I think it’s also the reason the personality of the hero came through so well.

All in all, a good read.

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