on January 2, 2012
I became aware of this author after finding a slashdot posting a few months ago where he engaged in a shameless plug for the book (which was okay because the post was on subject). The first 3 chapters were available online and I read them that night. I was hooked, and put his website in my feed reader so I'd know when the book was released.
Fast forward to today, the book is available and I bought a copy for my kindle. It's not particularly long and the plot moves along quite well. The premise is the typical sci-fi staple, aliens attack and Earth must retaliate/defend itself. I liked the technology in the book, thought the main characters were well fleshed out, and overall liked the book. It's a first novel. The ending is a little abrupt, I would have liked to see a little more resolution but perhaps he's got a sequel planned.
I like to support first time authors, especially when I can read the first few chapters and know I'm getting a good book. Everyone can write a book but not everyone can write an engaging, entertaining book on their first attempt. There were some textual errors, typos, missing word or extremely awkward phrasing. But I only counted 5-10 of these. Another proofread would have been helpful. However, he's not charging $10 for the book like some other kindle editions that have these same issues so I can tolerate it. Give it a try, I liked it.
The author released a revised version that has fixed the minor typos. See his comment on this review.
on October 22, 2013
I have read a little more than half of the book, and have come to the conclusion that I cannot suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy this story. What follows contains spoilers, so proceed with caution. For those who do not want to read said spoilers, I will get right to my conclusion: an interesting premise, ruined by poor plot and character development.
The book starts off with a surprise attack on Sydney, Tehran and Beijing by aliens whose only attempt at communication is the enigmatic message "Never again attempt to develop this kind of technology." Apparently referring to advanced research being carried out in those three cities. What follows is humanity uniting to build a space fleet capable of defending themselves from further attack, and to find out just who their attackers are. Initially, three are built; one each built by China, Iran and the EU. So far, so good. It is what happens once these ships are built that is not so good.
By an extremely unlikely set of circumstances, all Chinese Naval officers senior to the protagonist with the required qualifications to command the Chinese ship, were at a required training session in Beijing during the attack, and were all killed. The protagonist is a young, attractive female Lieutenant of the Chinese Navy. Apparently, her sole qualification is her familiarity with the advanced technology in question, acquired during a whole TWO HOURS on site as a liaison to the project. This, it seems, is sufficient for the Chinese government to place her in command of China's first starship, and a full third of the world's entire space fleet!
Instead of rising to the occasion, she proceeds to behave like an emotionally immature teenage girl. First, she makes a headlong attack on an alien ship, without making any attempt to determine its' identity, capabilities or intentions. When she is challenged on this by her XO, she reacts by ignoring him and proceeding with the attack. She is victorious, and captures a prisoner; an alien fighter pilot determined to be of the race that attacked Earth. Instead of treating the alien like a prisoner of war, she befriends it, and gives it the run of the ship!
This is where I stopped reading. At this point, I would expect a Board of Inquiry, followed by a Courts Martial to determine the protagonist's punishment, never mind remaining in command; but I doubt that level of logic will be a part of this story.
on July 24, 2013
Ok, I have to admit I read this book thinking it was an early novel by an established scifi author. By the time I realized my mistake - when I realized the plot and writing were not going to improve - I was far enough in that I wanted to see how the author resolved the plot. Well, that was a mistake. I am a sucker for sci fi - I'm willing to put up with cardboard characters and clunky dialog if there is an interesting concept or two and some credible world building. Sorry, there really isn't much of either of those in this book. The characterization and interpersonal relationships were really awful. I can't recall any character who showed any character growth or even who appeared to be multi-dimensional in any way. The main character - which the writer frequently reminds us is a Chinese woman - is not very likeable or believable. Why the male author chose to write from a female perspective escapes me. The book is filled with cultural references to the 2000s (Harry Potter, for example) and I find it very difficult to believe that all these more or less current cultural references will still be relevant in the future. The science made very little sense, and the motivations and actions of the aliens were completely illogical. For example, why would one captured alien suddenly become a traitor to her entire species? Further, why would the aliens use a technology that has awful potential impacts on the universe to quelch other worlds' development of that same technology? I mean, I see why they want to tamp down that development, but why would they use the same dangerous technology to do so?
So, while I think the author has some germs of a good story and idea, and, unlike many authors of free ebooks, has a grasp of spelling, grammar and punctuation, I would urge him to keep working on his craft. And I would urge readers to wait until he does so and wait for that later work, rather than read this series.
on April 29, 2012
The good part: it's reasonably well written sci-fi. It's not quite hard, but it does kinda tend towards that side of the spectrum, despite some tongue-in-cheekness ("indestructium" etc). The story is engaging and not tedious to follow, with decent amount of action and character development mixed in. The background of the story is probably the most interesting part; I mean, it's not often that you find China the leading world power in fiction, unless it's some kind of totalitarian dystopia (which this ain't).
The so-so bits: characters. Their behavior is both very predictable, and yet not very believable to me. This isn't really unique to this book, though, but a frequent issue in sci-fi - characters serving more as decorations for the story. In this case, though, this feels more in-your-face than usual - e.g. Summer, who from the very first pages of the book plays out every single geek stereotype you can come up with (and then some you can't). I don't particularly mind cliches, but it's clearly overdone here.
The story itself is also somewhat puzzling. It starts very promising, leaving a lot of questions... and then with a single sentence uttered by one of the alien opponents during the climactic battle it suddenly devolves to the traditional "brave humans vs monstrous sadistic murderous aliens". It's not quite as simple still, and I do hope that the author will expand on the complexity further making the conflict more intricate and less black and white again.
There are some minor quality issues. Aside from a couple of typos (perhaps a dozen throughout the book), there seems to be a problem with rendering Chinese ideograms on Kindle readers - on my Kindle 3 (aka Kindle Keyboard), most of Melissa's lines in Chinese had at least a few "squares" indicating unsupported character; some are more than half that. It's not a big deal for me since I don't know Chinese, anyway, but it would be nice for those who do (by the way, how about providing footnotes with translations for the less fortunate of us?).
on February 18, 2012
I stumbled across this book on a thread the author made advertising the book on TV Tropes, and decided to check it out since the premise seemed promising. I won't summarize anything but just go over what stood out to me.
It's nice that the author chose to set what could have been a stereotypical story in Australia, and have the majority of the characters actually be from ethnic groups that reflect, percentage-wise, the world's population. What I would have liked to see was an explanation on how, in only 2029, the US melted down and Australia of all places got powerful. It's believable, but some more explanation would be nice.
I'm a bit confused on the point that it only took Liao about 8 or so years to become a commander. These might be People's Army ranks, and I'm from the US, which might be why I'm confused. Anyway, her advancement is believable considering the circumstances--and she did explain that it was pure luck--but rather odd. It seems to be luck that gets Commander Liao through most of her troubles, although it's acknowledged in story, so I don't have a problem with it.
As for the reactionless drive--well, okay then. It's just a book, but Newtonian physics tells me this shouldn't work. Maybe if it were set not in 2029 but 2300 I would buy it but it's just another little nitpick I have. Many other details though (the asteroid belt being full of empty space, non-humans being unable to speak human languages, etc) were well-thought out so I assume this is a case of the author messing around with physics to get a good story.
One thing I DID have a problem with was the conflict between her and Sheng, her XO. I have a feeling the author was trying deliberately to avoid protagonist-centered morality, but it still came off like it was okay for James to call her out but not Sheng. Above all, Sheng had a point, and his job as XO was to raise objections (and what Liao did only succeeded through pure luck), and while this is acknowledged, it really doesn't get the amount of talk that it should.
There are quite a few modern-day shout-outs, which makes sense as it only takes place in 2029. At the beginning, they seemed like shout-outs for the sake of shout-out, but once Adams stopped bringing up what he was referencing in dialogue, everything flowed much more smoothly.
The characters at the beginning, especially Summer, seemed a bit flat. But once we got into space and Saara joined the crew, everyone got an added layer to their characterization (except Sheng). I imagine this is a series, given the epilogue, although Liao and James really should have had something to prevent her from what happened at the end there.
Overall, there are some minor issues, and a major issue with Sheng. However, I'd still recommend this book, especially at the cost. There's a unique premise that will hopefully be fleshed out in later books of the series, and the story improves greatly after a certain point. 4/5
on December 27, 2013
A lot of good things, that would make it a good book are ruined by incredibly bad science, and storyline.
it takes light 1/2 a second to traverse 57,000 kilometers. No....light travels at a tad under 300,000 kilometers per second.
Firing a projectile at 1/10th light speed at a target 57,000 kilometers away takes 15 seconds to impact. no. it takes a little under 2 seconds.
Missiles magically teleport from missile launch tubes to the rail launcher.
The sheer implausibility of parts of the story is just....bad.
on October 3, 2013
I generally do not do reviews of books I've read since I only read for my own entertainment and to each his own. However having read up to chapter 2 of this book, and not being sure I will be able to finish it, I make the following observations. We are introduced to the "heroine", an unappealing character, as she tours a research facility in Sydney. She has been chosen for the visit because she speaks english, but so do even the lowliest ranking Chinese navy personnel thanks to an english only rule, and she is"beautiful". She is shown an antigravity device, a rail gun, and a teleporter. She concludes the demonstration to be in her words " a ------- waste of time".
Someone (aliens?) with a higher iq and/or more perception disagrees and destroys Sydney, including the research facility, Beijing, and (get this) Tehran, the apparent centers for developing this technology , and kills 50 million people. They leave a cryptic message ...do not develop this technology again.
In chapter 2 we learn that 3 600 meter spaceships have been built on the moon. Thsy are equipped with rail guns, teleporters, and anti gravity ...surprise surprise. Not only have we developed this technology we are putting it to use. The "heroine" is given command of one of these ships because she "survived".
I know this is sci fi, but there should be some internal cnsistency some logic. Where are the aliens? Why did they permit this after having killed 50 million people to stop it?
I will stop here. If I'm able to finish the book I may amend this review. In its favor I will say the book seems well written. The book is free and it may still prove to be entertaining.
on April 30, 2014
This book, and presumably the sequels, has a comic book level storyline that you would expect in a novel for teens and tweens, and yet the language alone (plenty of F and S words) would prohibit it from being age appropriate for that group.Throw in some very adult sexual encounters, and I would never allow my kids to read this. Even at this, the language and approach of the sexual encounters is quite juvenile, much like an awkward encounter of a very young man trying to have his first liaison with a girl. Not adult at all in language or context.
If the author were to clean it up and market it as a YA series, this has promise. Either that or write it in an adult way all the way. It just doesn't have it to survive in either realm right now.
on December 20, 2013
Story of humanities first ever space warships (only three, and very sparingly described) obliterating handfuls of warships from a much older and more experienced race. Basically the story is very similar to a one man and a companion or two saves the world script, just substitute people for warships. In true keeping with that genre whenever the author needs something to perpetuate his story it appears. Need intelligence on the enemy? Just slaughtered an enemy ship? No problem find an unbelievably accommodating alien in a few weeks time she's a one dimensional character loyal to the captain actively fighting her species and spilling all she knows. No reason given why she betrayed her people but remember it's about what the author needs at that time to perpetuate his story. Over and over you see this m.o. fro the author as things just appear. Honestly substandard work
If your looking for space operas/science fiction there are plenty of other books out there just skip this one.
I picked up LACUNA because it (a) sounded interesting and (b) was free. I often troll inexpensive Kindle only releases in addition to full priced novels by "established" authors. "Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't", said Grandfather to Dustin Hoffman in LITTLE BIG MAN.
David Adams has managed a solid debut in authoring a good old-fashioned space opera with hints of hard SF (think: a a very young Heinlein with limited military experience) that brings us back the to the heyday of SF in the 1950s. It is mid 21st century and America has fallen into economic chaos and lost her position as THE world power. The Chinese, Australians and others have ascended and mankind has just tested the first true warp drive. There is an immediate and comprehensive response from unknown aliens, the Toralii, that destroys Beijing, Tehran and Sydney, with the warning, "Never attempt this technology again." The Toralii are technologically more advanced than we are, but only by a little (or so it seems).
The world responds by banding together and creating 3 great "Pillars" of humanity, large warships that have the best and the brightest on them. We follow the Beijing, captained by Commander Liao of the People's Republic of China, through its shakedown cruise to a final battle to the death with a Toralii warship. There are aliens (large felines) and alien tech and battle strategies, and before we are halfway through it becomes pretty clear that this is a series of 3, 4, or maybe more novels and novellas.
All in all, not so bad. But the typography and font usage is crude (the author uses underlines for emphasis, as if he did not know that these were printers instructions for italics) the science behind the SF is pretty much lacking and does not rely on state of the art physics, and there are some pretty clichéd scenes. The Chinese commander Liao does not act very Chinese - there is nothing in her speech, thought or actions that would let the reader know her name was not Smith or Jones. There is no cultural information. The same is true for her mostly Chinese crew.
But that is only the bad. On the good side, Adams has fashioned an interesting First Contact - Alien- Space Opera that keeps one reading through to the end. I have just ordered the second in the series (no promises beyond that), for which I paid full Kindle list price. The series seems good enough to hold my interest, and I am eager to start the second entry, reviews of which seem even better than for this first entry
Three stars might seem a low ranking, but it means I liked it enough to keep going and pay full list price for Part II (THE SANDS OF KARATHI) just before writing this review . For free, or $0.99 or whatever it is going for now, you might want to give LACUNA a go as well.