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Showing 1-10 of 899 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 973 reviews
on February 20, 2015
Although the story is fairly enjoyable, my main complaint is that I assumed from the description that this "collected trilogy that chronicles the early adventures of an ambitious crew" that "spawned the best selling Spinward Fringe eBook series" meant that it could be read as a stand alone story. However, that's not the case -- this long story ends on a cliffhanger. Since I don't download series that require you to purchase the next book to find out what happens, I was frustrated that I'd been mislead into reading this book that has...what?...8 more books in the series! It was nice to read an e-book in which there were only a few spelling errors, but there were some consistent punctuation and grammatical errors that I found distracting. The main ones being: Missing quotation marks at the beginning of paragraphs of dialogue, and incorrect use of pronouns (such as "her" instead of the correct "she" and "I" instead of "me").

This book is listed under the "war & military" category, and that is accurate. While the author does manage to help the reader connect with the characters and the technology and battles were somewhat interesting, the details of both the technology and the battles just got to be too much for me -- I'm not particularly interested in that being what the story is all about. The characters seem to always be preparing for battle, fighting a battle, or debriefing after a battle. So, if you're someone who enjoys both sci-fi and military stories, and you don't mind reading a sizable series, I'd recommend this book. For my part, I won't be reading the next book in the series.
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on December 15, 2015
This book just doesn't work very well for me. It is like a ramshackle car that just keeps creeping along, but might fall apart any minute. That makes it hard to enjoy. The 4 biggest problems with this book?

First, the author clearly has little exposure to or experience with the military, so he doesn't know how to write military things. He tries to cover this up by deliberately creating a condition where the characters in the book are not "Typical Military," but there are still many many purely military situations, mostly having to do with directing a ship and crew, and he gets them so, so wrong, so many times. And I am not complaining about strategy and tactics. I am complaining about military thought and behavior patterns. There are whole sets of military behavior that you simply must understand if you are going to write about it. The military details just don't EVER ring true, and it really messes up the book for me.

Second, a large part of the plot is based on the idea that even though there are many political and business entities that trade freely with one another throughout space, there are vast amounts of knowledge and technologies that are known in some places, but not others. To the point where some people don't know that the more advanced, even super advanced technologies even exist. They are decades and perhaps centuries out of date. Where is their data base of everything that is already known, or known to exist? The main characters have a major purpose to travel around and find this unknown knowledge. Pretty stupid. Why wouldn't other governments and corporations be doing the same? If computers and the information age have shown us anything, it is the fact that if you freely communicate and trade with other business or political entities, then knowledge itself also diffuses throughout the environment. No way would someone here on earth be hundreds of years behind other people on earth, yet this is what the author presents as happening in the galaxy, despite their free trade and association. Just impossible. Knowledge is one of the easiest things to transport and trade, since it takes up essentially no space at all. And, with advanced computer systems, which all of these cultures seem to have, knowledge is not lost once it is gained, so time and trade would certainly have homogenized the knowledge base of this galactic culture much much more than is portrayed. When you can trade across vast distances in days to weeks, and when there even seems to be some central galactic culture and "galactic laws and treaties" that everyone knows and most people follow, then it would be impossible to have such amazingly disparate levels of knowledge and vast unknown technological systems among all these trading partners. They even have instantaneous FTL communications, from deep space ships to main population areas, or from stations in one star system to stations in another. Yet knowledge doesn't diffuse around? I don’t think so! Oh, and between battles, this ship of war and exploration also takes the time to develop their own, new technologies, such as cloaking devices for themselves and their ship. Why isn't this being done back home in the major research centers? Research centers are made for that! And they should know everything about it at home. After all, they are in direct FTL communications contact. In addition, as a small, secondary part of this technology problem, though they use computers, and even have some amazingly super advanced computers, they really don't use computers very well or very often. Oh, they have them. But they seem to use them mostly in combat or emergencies. To me, this is just another example of a 1950's mindset transferred into the 21st century. (Yes, I know the author was born in 1974.) Why don’t writers even have people behave the way we already know they behave around our own simple computers, cell phones and the internet?

Third, I know this is Space Opera, but that doesn't mean that it gets a pass when it comes to logic and science. Not only do people, governments and corporations behave insanely, and very stupidly, but when he makes new science he doesn't follow any of the laws of logic or physics. There are multiple severe science errors, and I'm not talking about improbabilities, but true IMPOSSIBILITIES. For example, the materializers (more about them below). In this book and then through the whole series, they become increasingly important, yet, despite the fact that matter is energy and energy is matter, that doesn't mean that you can somehow create even a few pounds of matter out of energy. The amount of energy would be massive. If you are going to create dozens or hundreds of pounds of matter, you are going to need energy on a scale beyond what we can even conceive. For instance you can send a nuclear powered aircraft carrier around the world, multiple times, using just a few pounds of uranium in a nuclear fission. Yet when it is done, 99.9% of the matter (uranium breakdown products) is still there. A VERY small amount of matter was converted to energy to do that. So, consider how much massive energy it took, to send that aircraft carrier all those hundreds of thousands of miles. Now consider running the process in reverse. If you wanted to restore that 0.1% of matter that disappeared, how much energy would you need? An incredible, amazing amount. And if you actually wanted to BUILD (materialize) a few pounds of matter, you would need energy on the order of the amounts from multiple multi-megaton thermonuclear bombs. Yet you are telling me these materializers can be self portable and even built into clothing? Impossible. And where do they really get the truly world class amounts of energy it would take, to make even a few pounds of something? And you are going to tell me they also use this to make cheap food? Wow.

Fourth, the author has trouble with consistency and details. He has plenty of interesting ideas, but it seems like he is just going along and suddenly has a new idea and he runs with it, without ever going back and changing the things that lead up to that. The result is that the whole train of what is going on can suddenly change in the middle of a paragraph, or even in the middle of a sentence or the middle of a conversation. But then he goes on just as though he had been talking about his "new idea" all along. He really could have taken the time to go back over the books and work on the internal consistency. And then, because of his decision to run off in new directions at the drop of a hat, he doesn't even seem to have taken the time to really think things through. For instance, if Ergranian steel is really great and special and it can regenerate itself and "grow" to cover holes and damage, when you hook it to enough energy, then why is it rare? Why don't you just take a hunk of it, hook a major reactor to it and grow whole ships of the stuff? And how is it that you can trust the "materializers" to make very delicate, dangerous and important military weapons (where surely delicate electronics, chemicals and trace elements are important), even things like very dangerous antimatter, but you can't use them to materialize really good food, because it is "off" somehow? Personal details and history also change. Why doesn't the author just fix the damn book? Clearly, he doesn't care, and if he doesn't care enough to give us his best, then how does this deserve the best rating?

I couldn't give this book more than 3 stars, but all things considered, I have decided to go with 2. There aren't a lot of typos or misspellings, but there are places where there are missing words or broken, disconjugate sentences. Taken all together these many mistakes kept throwing me out of the book and making it very difficult to really get into it and enjoy it. At this point, I'm just not even sure that I'm interested in continuing the rest of the series.
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on January 9, 2016
Some of the popular reviews say it much better than I can. You should read the author's afterword first and decide whether to read the book. It's much easier to judge lighter knowing that it's his first attempt. And as far as first attempts go - it's a really good one.
Now, judging the book as a standalone in an ocean of space scifi, here are my main complaints:
It's too long - a good editor would remove half the characters that appear only once or don't carry plot development function.
It is a good script for a long scifi channel series - and this book would be episodes 1-8 in a multi season show. It's a good description from somebody who has seen the show to us - the readers - who have not. And all the affable quips that we like from your Ben Browders - are out of place here, since we can't see the gestures and the music. Therefore dynamism, acting, and suspense are completely missing here.
The action development is very predictable - like in each 45 minute episode you have to have a few bad guys conspiring and one space battle or at least an assault by bounty hunters. Love arc is likewise extremely predictable.
Obvious plot devices are completely dropped - like cloaking suits or various bio goodies. You'd think miracles would get bigger and bigger role, but it's hard to have them in a somewhat believable long story line.

All in all - affable characters, tons of scifi technologies, frequent space battles, simple story line - solid three stars.
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on April 28, 2013
Well, I'm quitting on this book (compilation of 3 novellas) at around 85% ...not because I hate it, but because I just can't seem to care. There is some good stuff here though; I really liked the idea of searching out new technology and constantly upgrading the ship. And the writing is at times pretty good.

However, the technology lacks any consistancy, and this is the primary reason I've just has enough. They have their choice of travel, either through hyperspace or self-generated wormholes...where hyper takes months of travel, wormholes take weeks (quote from the book). How about communication? Well, it can either lag weeks behind.. OR ...you can have real-time conversations across the light years. No explanations at all, just whatever seemed convenient to the author.

What would you do upon escaping imprisonment and learning that the two largest powers around have placed massive bounties not only on your ship, but also on individual crew? Why, hop to the next port (and be informed by port that the bounties are widely known), and then go on a dinner date portside while other crew wander around shopping. What a shock that bounty hunters ruin dessert. But after escaping with only serious injuries, what so you do next? Why, hop to the next port and schedule paid leave for all the crew...with a warning not to travel alone. Oh, and also mention in passing that you might be considering a mutiny if you get orders to return home. huh?

These are but two of the non-stop contradictions and absurdities that just kill an otherwise good story potential. They just happen to be the final two that made me say enough is enough, time to find something else to read.
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on May 23, 2016
Spinward Fringe is a book that has good possibilities as an ongoing group of unrelated (or even related) stories in an interesting universe. There are some sequences that stretch credibility more than I would like, but overall it is a fun read. There are some places that could use improvement or tightening up, so it not a great book, but it has its moments.

The universe sector for this story has some free colonies, mostly implied to be some form of democracy. Most of the rest seems to be owned by very large commercial conglomerates, and the impression is given that people on worlds run by them are oppressed in one form or another. The main character, Jonas Valent, did a stint in the military, but now works essentially as a traffic manager for incoming and outgoing space freighters. For him, as for most of the main characters, we get some character background, but quite a bit about them is never answered.

It seems that a large group of friends and acquaintances have managed to hack in to the Academy database of battle scenarios, and are doing better than the real Academy students, or even senior officers. They finally get caught, partly through some software sleuthing, but largely because one of Jason's friends wants to brag about him, so he notifies one of the commanding admirals. Everyone gets into trouble and are offered one of two choices: become a permanent "non-military" citizen, and take whatever punishment the courts will mete out, or get involved with a secret program sponsored by the military with an experimental ship.

Of course, most (but not all) take the ship option, and this is where the adventures start. The crew, led by Jonas, goes off on a hunting mission, not officially sanctioned by the Freeground military. they are to search for and obtain new technology any way they can. They are expected to be gone for several years. Instead, they get into trouble right away, and they become hunted by one of the large conglomerates. The voyages are interesting, though some seem to be unrealistic.

After one refit, we are given the impression that they are now nearly invincible. However, it must be that Vindyne (one of the conglomerates) makes lousy spacecraft, or else Triad (another conglomerate) makes fantastic ships. the differences in the space battles there are night and day.

As I said, the story is exciting in spots. However, a large part of the book consists of meetings, talking, and planning, which could have been chopped by two-thirds with little loss in story. The author also tries to throw in a romantic element, and it never really goes anywhere. It's just a lump of clay that gets poked at occasionally. Finally, watching the group go from a non-military group to military in a seamless manner really makes the reader wonder about them. In addition, it seems like every person on the crew is a selfless do-gooder, which is unrealistic for any group that size.

The writing style is decent, though with the meeting segments and the talking, that slows down the pace. There are three homonym issues that appear throughout the book: lead<>led, compliment<>complement, and ordinance<>ordnance. In addition there are a few dropped words, mixed tenses and the like that seem to appear in most e-books.

Even with those shortcomings, this is an enjoyable story, and I think the series has possibilities of being very fun to read.
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on December 7, 2015
In the far off future, Jonas is allowing his existence to slide away. There are limited situations in the military for him as well as for his friends. An addictive apprehension tempts them so that they disregard the possible consequences. They are up against abundant trials; undertaking tasks in the inhabited areas of the galaxy to obtain knowledge and data as well as setting the footings for the Freeground Nation. Safeguarding the munitions they have to protect themselves from intruding foes. Jonas conveys the account of his initial expedition as Captain of a ship. He tells of developing supporters and learns of new ideas for the welfare of his society. Through it all the assignment grows to be more complex as the squad advances into the outer edges of the galaxy. This tale is the start of the Spinward Fringe eBook series. It tells of a single man who braves to seek for a life filled with much more than the norm. This read is engaging and sometimes really funny. It also has parts that cause you contemplate. It is positively a sci-fi, adventure story, with much to keep you entertained.
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on July 26, 2016
First off, the book was juvenile. The plot entirely unbelievable. Nerd gamer in a dead end job becomes captain of the most powerful starship in the fleet, gets the genetically enhanced hot babe, goes up against the bad guys... gets captured, escapes, blows up the death star and they all live happily ever after. Well that's almost Star Wars so I can see that being a success. Actually I enjoyed the entire book, as poorly written as it was.

Right up to the last two pages where it drops to 1 star (and I'd take that away if I could).

That makes this one tough to review. I enjoyed reading the book but it was ruined by the ending. And how do you say what you hated about the ending without a huge spoiler? Ok... so SPOILER ALERT - STOP READING THIS REVIEW NOW.

You were warned...

Our hero captain has pulled into port with his wrecked ship, having survived his mission. Then out comes Darth Vader in a big ship, orders the captain to surrender and he will let the crew escape. The captain takes the deal, leaps into an escape pod and fade to black as his former ship and friends escape through a worm hole while he's reeled in by the evil doers.

Nooooo!

I see that there are more books in this series and I can't leave it this way. But I don't want to read more of this poorly written drek. I wish I'd never picked up this book but now I see why it's free. An evil plan to rope you and reel you in. *sigh*
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on October 2, 2015
Spinward Fringe

I really enjoyed this book. It's very well written, fast paced and cleverly constructed - especially for a first published novel. And it has been well proof read. Brilliant!

Indeed, I had no idea it was a first work until I read the authors note at the end. Look, it's good in its own right but for a first book? I am very impressed.

However, I find myself on the horns of a dilemma. If you have read any of my other reviews you will know just how grumpy an unfinished story can make me.

And this book is such a one. In fact, the author is quite upfront about it - this is the (and his) first book in a large series. So by my own standards I should be quite annoyed, but I have to say that it is so well done that I find it difficult to object though it is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5. I suppose I would have to concede that this first work actually does finish at a natural point, it's just that one really has to read the next book to find out what happens...

All in all though, a really great read. Definitely worth your time if you like exciting Sci Fi.

Cheers, Ian.
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on February 9, 2017
A excellent start for this writer. Science fiction is creating at its best. The writer descriptions of the world's encountered and the space technology the writer creates in those worlds can be genius if done right. The characters this writer has created have some flaws as do people in real life. The leader of this group of space fairing men and women is Jonas who until he is drafted by the military on his space station, had only been sliding along doing a meaningless job. His boredom is relieved by starting a group of like minded people in a simulation training taking on the best of the best in military training to come out on top in flight situations. His group could beat the top recruits every time until the powers that be finally took interest and discovered the groups identity. The story begins.........
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on December 5, 2015
At first I was just going to say that I really enjoyed my free eBook introduction to the writing skill & style of Randolph Lalonde. Bravo! Then I started reading other reviews. Honestly, I feel sorry for the jaded or cynical 1-star reviewers who had no time to just enjoy the story. In my years of recreational reading I rarely find stories so easy to engage in. This is one! I’m glad I read it before any reviews and without the prejudice reviews too often impart.

Character development is organic and comfortably drew me along the story. The "future science" is equally organic, complements the tone of the story, and plays a character role of its own. I hope you're wondering how, and will read and discover for yourself. If you need ‘hard’ science justifying the physics of every piece of technology, this will not fulfill your wish. If you can imagine a time when mankind lives among the stars due to discoveries as yet unknown, and has done so long enough that those leaps of science are taken in stride, then this adventure should please you. As I write I am very eager to read more.

Mr. Lalond, I am very pleased to have met the people and products of your imagination!
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