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SPOTS THE SPACE MARINE

Like any space marine’s fight, a tough slog but it never surrenders.

By Patrick Rochefort, author of From Winter's Ashes

Jun 15, 2015: Spots The Space Marine: 2.5/5.

This is a solid and interesting tale of a mother called up from reservists to fight an insectile foe with her fellow space marines, where she discovers swiftly that she has a talent for improvisation in the face of the enemy.

Her talents and fortunes land her as liason to Fiddler, an alien weapons designer assigned to earthlings to help them in the war against their alien menace.

I’m about half-way into this story series so far, and three things are true:

1) The formatting of this webserial is brutal. Often told as a series of vignettes, which works, but in a writing style and formatting style in particular that doesn’t do the story any favors. It’s written in a screenplay-esque style that doesn’t fit well with the tale. I often feel like I’m fighting the format as I read.

2) The self-censorship of swearing, replacing it as series of asterisks, is INCREDIBLY jarring. While I defend to the death anyone’s right to censor their own work to leave out words they find objectionable, it damages this story. An example of dialogue, in the formatting of the story:

Claws. "There’s nothing ****in’ nonessential LEFT."

The crabs keep coming until they’re climbing over their dead and into Team Kitty’s faces.

Scythe. "****! Back up!"

It’s not unusual for a marine to go on a swearing string, and the reader forced to read every second or third word as "****!". In a way it ends up just emphasizing the foul-mouthed crew instead of negating it.

3) The first two strikes aside, this series doesn’t strike out, despite those flaws. The characterization is very well done, Fiddler is a fascinating character made doubly fascinating by his interactions with Spots. Spots is internally consistent, always believable, and commands respect from the other characters and reader alike by sticking to her principles.

I think without the strength of characterization, I’d penalize this story another two points. If the formatting was improved and the censorship changed (an f*** would be more tolerable even than a ****!), I’d bump it up another two points.

Bonus: Some chapters are rather beautifully illustrated.

Overall: IF you can endure the formatting and censorship issues, there’s a lot to love in this story. I have a soft spot for plausibly-religious mother-warrior protagonists, so it was a pleasure to see Spots interact with others on the basis of her beliefs, her values, and her faith.

Note: "Spots" is a nickname for the character, who is human. While MCA Hogarth does some lovely anthropomorphic content, this story isn’t furry in any way so far.

3 of 3 members found this review helpful.
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