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Pilot X Paperback – March 14, 2017
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"Time-travel enthusiasts will love this action-packed, labyrinthine ride through time and space. Merritt delivers, putting his mastery of the genre on display. This space opera is the sort of vintage sf that you settle into and can’t put down, well thought out and beautifully executed. Intrigue abounds." ―Booklist
"A retro space opera...for readers who enjoy seasoning their planetary romps with a dash of cynicism." ―Publishers Weekly
"Tom Merritt's time-bending space adventure had me hooked from the start. Inventive, stylish, and fun!" ―Gary Whitta, screenwriter of Star Wars: Rogue One and The Book of Eli, author of Abomination
"Pilot X is a captivating story about time travel for sci-fi fans who want something more than the usual bending time & space trope. I was so engrossed by Tom Merritt's book that I may have lost track of time reading it, which seems like the best way to enjoy a time travel tale." ―Bonnie Burton, Author of The Star Wars Craft Book and Planets in Peril
"Pilot X is not just mind bending but mind breaking. A brilliant heart-racing sci-fi adventure...an absolute playground for lovers of time travel." ―Charlie Hopkins, Fantasy Faction
"Full of timey-wimey goodness! Merritt has created a fascinating world that you'll want to get lost in." ―Veronica Belmont, co-host of Sword & Laser
"Tom Merritt has a wonderful ability to imagine a distant, yet plausible future filled with stellar mysteries and human deceit." ―Andrew Mayne, author of the ITW Award-nominated Jessica Blackwood series
"The kind of high-concept science fiction that you just don't see anymore. Merritt brings it all back with a tale that fires the imagination and makes you look at the future in new ways." ―J-F. Dubeau, author of The Life Engineered and A God in the Shed
About the Author
Tom Merritt is an award-winning independent tech podcaster and host of regular tech news and information shows. Tom hosts Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy podcast, book club and publishing imprint, with Veronica Belmont. Tom has published several science fiction and technology books, including Citadel 32: A Tale of the Aggregate, The Year in Tech History, Sword and Laser Anthology, and Lot Beta. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two dogs.
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Tom might be better known for his work as a tech blogger and podcaster, but to me he's always been someone whose opinions on Science Fiction I've come to value. I picked this book up once I saw that I could get it in audio because I wanted to support Tom, but I seem to have very little time to read lately.
I know Tom has dabbled in writing on and off, especially during Nanowrimo, and that shows here. I haven't read any of his previous works, but this book is well written. Tom does a good job of showing and not telling, which is especially important to me in a book this short.
There are some big ideas about Time Travel, and he is consistent within his own rules for how it works, without spending too much time getting into the "science". This is the kind of big idea, little detail story I tend to associate with older Science Fiction stories.
Oddly, I don't tend to enjoy much classic Science Fiction because I tend to prefer more detailed world building. However I felt this book does a good job in packing in world building as the story progresses. There is a lot of room for imagination, but you're provided enough detail for framing the story he's trying to tell.
The one place I felt was a bit lacking was the characters. There isn't a ton of character development with Pilot X, and apart from the ship Verity and maybe the Secretary, most of the characters feel thin/disposable. I would have liked to read more about the after math of Pilot X's decision than we got.
The book has a bit of a Doctor Who feel, which isn't surprising as Tom has discussed how his inspiration for this book stemmed from that show's own Time War. However Pilot X doesn't feel like the Doctor. Or at least not any of the Doctor's I'm familiar with.
This book does a good job at borrowing an idea from Doctor Who while being it's own thing. I'm glad that I picked it up, and figure that I'll be able to tell people I followed Tom Merritt before he became a successful writer.
The plot does have a few twists and turns, with a "big one" right near the end (last 20 or so pages), but nothing unpredictable. The time traveling can be hard to understand and follow and could easily be confusing to the average non-science-fiction reader.
Some of the ideas and views in the book can definitely lead your own mind down some interesting paths (that is why I gave it three stars instead of two). The characters are just not that developed! I feel nothing at the end and the abruptness of what happens just adds to the fact. There is a half-page romance between the main character and some random lady he meets right before the ending, and the MC is not shown really having any connection to anyone except the Secretary and a very loose connection to some of the Ambassadors. The biggest relationship in the entire book is between the MC and his ship's artificial intelligence, who is the only source of comedy in the book (shallow at that).
Wasn't a terrible buy, and would recommend to some of my sci-fi knowledgeable friends. I would tell anyone else to stay well away from it, though.