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Beyond the Hidden Sky (Volume 1) Paperback – July 6, 2012
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Marcha Fox has loved science fiction since she was a child with the stars always holding a strong sense of mystery and fascination. Her love of astronomy resulted in a bachelor of science degree in physics from Utah State University followed by a 21 year career at NASA where she held a variety of positions including technical writer, engineer and eventually a manager. Her NASA experiences included trips to Cape Canaveral in Florida, visiting other NASA centers in Mississippi, Alabama and Maryland as well as trips to the European Space Agency in The Netherlands but the most memorable was the sad task of helping to recover space shuttle debris in East Texas following the tragic Columbia accident in 2003. She writes the kind of stories she enjoys herself which in the Star Trails series include the various exploits of an entire family along with a variety of alien and mechanical personalities trying to survive in a hostile world of scientific and political intrigue. Beyond the Hidden Sky is the first volume with the second, A Dark of Endless Days, and third, A Psilent Place Below, also available. The final volume will be released March 4, 2015. Never at a loss for something to do, her study of the heavens continues in yet another realm, that of astrology. “Just because the scientists can’t explain how it works doesn’t mean it doesn’t. What they fail to tell you in astronomy class is that Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus and Newton were all astrologers on a quest to obtain more accurate data.” She sees no conflict with modern science other than the fact that technology has not yet advanced far enough to determine how it works. Her astrology clients span the globe, accessing her through her website at www.valkyrieastrology.com. The mother of six grown children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, she currently makes her home in the Texas Hill Country.
Top customer reviews
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******** Original review below. This is now obsolete.
Let me start by saying that I think this book has a lot of potential and that the story could be an intriguing one. Unfortunately, I was not able to get very far into the book before a number of obstacles made it too frustrating for me to continue. The good news is that most of these obstacles would be easily fixable by a good editor and hopefully future editions of the book will be more readable.
I'd like to be specific about the issues that caused trouble for me. While there can always be elements in a book that don't necessarily grab every reader, there are certain elements that act as "roadblocks." By this I mean elements that stop a reader cold in their tracks, taking them out of the story or confusing them. There is one such element in this book that occurs very frequently, sometimes several times on a page. The author has a habit of leaving out commas in very important places.
Now you might say "Commas? C'mon. Who's that picky about grammar?" But consider the following beginning of a sentence:
"When we arrived at the store windows..."
So far, so good? We got to some store windows and then something is going to happen, right? Wrong.
"When we arrived at the store windows were being shot out."
What? Back up. This isn't what we thought at all. The sentence is really saying, "When we arrived at the store (pause...), windows were being shot out." The sentence needs to have a comma after the word store to indicate what would be a pause in speech (grammatically, the comma marks the end of a dependent clause.) Without it, your brain misinterprets the meaning half way through and then at the end of the sentence has to go back and figure out what the sentence is really saying. This is a roadblock. It throws the reader right out of the story.
The author almost never places commas at the end of a dependent clause. In many cases the meaning can still be figured out without too much trouble but the missing "pause" is jarring. In other cases the "jolt" to the reader is worse. By the way, the above example is not from the book. Here is a real one from the very first page:
"Finding multiple matches with the Captains "watch" list amber..."
Can you predict the sentence? Here it is:
"Finding multiple matches with the Captain's "watch" list amber lights reddened..." There needs to be a comma after the word list to show the pause between "Finding multiple matches with the Captain's watch list" and "amber lights reddened..."
Similarly the author neglects commas before the word "which," where the presence or absence of a comma determines the meaning. In fact, without a comma the preferred word is "that" and with a comma it is "which": "He followed the car that had run over the mail box" versus "He followed the car, which had already turned left." In the first case "that had run over the mail box" defines which car. In the second case "which had already turned left" gives additional information about a certain car.
Hey, no author can be expected to be perfect with these grammatical issues but every author can hire editor to make sure that grammatical misusage doesn't create roadblocks for readers.
There were a few other elements that threw me out of the story but they might just be my own quirks. The author creates certain alien words, which she then has to introduce to us. I found most of these introductions to be awkward: "Leaving his naterra, or home world, hadn't been easy." I don't envy the author's task in trying to get us to understand these terms without sounding unnatural. For my particular taste, I'd have preferred that she just said "home world." Ditto for terms like "Merapa" for "father." I'm not sure that the alien words really add anything and they certainly create obstacles for both author and readers. But these are pretty minor points and just my own taste. Everyone else may love going around saying "Merapa" and I applaud the author for experimenting.
I only made it through about four chapters when I decided I just couldn't go through the next 400 pages, but I did enjoy the characters and the setup of the plot. I'd love to have a chance to read it again when the "roadblocks" have been fixed up.
Ms. Fox's scientific expertise is immediately apparent in the story. I enjoyed the well-written, well-plotted story, and the amazing characterization. It's a wonderful story that I would recommend to readers of all ages, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. 4.5 Stars rounded to 5
Marcha Fox is, in my opinion, a worthy successor to those writers who first enthralled me with their tales of other worlds, other times and "others."
That said, let me add that in 'Beyond the Hidden Sky' she has fashioned an excellent adventure story in the classic vein of those earlier writers with the extra added attraction of some very intriguing - and scientifically accurate - explanations of just how space travel actually works.
The story is one of both family love and loyalty coupled with a sinister betrayal.
Laren Brightstar, the father of three and husband to Sharra, is an important figure on his home planet. He is, however, about to fall victim to a plot that he does not fully understand; a political maneuver that will have serious consequences for him and his family. In an effort to do what's right for his wife and children he refuses to go to work for the ominous Augustus Troy and, instead, accepts a government position across the galaxy on a planet that is anything but hospitable.
If that were the worst of his problems his life would be difficult enough but his daughter Creena, a terrifyingly bright 14-year-old with a mind very much her own, has gone missing in deep space while the family is moving from one planet to another. Laren, acting on instinct, goes in search of her and therein, as the Bard once said, hangs a tale.
'Beyond the Hidden Sky' is the first in a series of books about the life and times of the Brightstar family and I am eager to read the rest of the saga.
I highly recommend this book, therefore, to anyone who enjoys a blend of science fact with science fiction.