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The Tinker & The Fold: Book 1 - Problem with Solaris 3 (Volume 1) Paperback – May 9, 2015
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First, the action/adventure is handled superbly. We have an appealing, bright, well-intentioned, and only slightly sarcastic eight grader who carries the burden of being the book's hero lightly and well. As part of his tale we have him being kidnapped by the Fold, escaping, hooking up with a hilariously deadpan partner, traveling the galaxy, and then returning home to warn Earth. This part of the book is loaded with funny lines, clever set scenes, compelling supporting characters, and suspense, all recounted with energy and a sprightly pace. The humor is neither ironic nor edgy, and so we get a sort of mellowed out middle grade "Hitchhiker's Guide..." kind of vibe. Great.
But second, we get the whole "Earth must be neutralized because of its wicked ways" story line. The Fold follows the "Ten Laws", which is of course the "Ten Commandments". In fact, the Fold actually handed the original Ten Commandments to Moses, and there's a lot of tsk-tsking about how poorly we've followed them. This sort of storyline torpedoes most books that try to go this way. Either those books go for a slapstick White House in disarray scene, or a military defiance scene, or a lot of heavy-handed, preachy speechifying, with or without explicit Christian references. This book tiptoes around that. The Jett-at-the-White-House scenes are brief. We never go near a military-space-opera thread. We get some speechifying - Jett defends Earth in some sort of Fold assembly - but it's not ham handed. The assembly scenes are actually fairly thought provoking, and the authors don't shy from the fact that the Fold is pretty patronizing, self-satisfied, and rather uppity in a moral superiority fashion for a group that goes around wiping out entire planets.
The upshot of all this is that you have two books mixed together; it's written almost in alternating chapters. The action/adventure/humor is absolutely top drawer - well written, and with imagination to burn. As to the preaching, well, if you don't ever like any of that, this book may be too much. If you like a little moral dilemma with your sci-fi, (say, questions about who gets to play god, and the difference between wrong and bad and evil, and really any of the paradoxes and problems with the Ten Commandments), then this book could be just right. Reflecting on this I thought about some of the great moral and ethical issues addressed by the great writers of the Sc-fi Golden Age, and decided it might be a good idea to inject a little more of that into today's sci-fi. But that's just me and you're you.
In any event, this is an entertaining book with surprising substance, and is worth a close look. (Please note that I found this book a while ago while browsing Amazon Kindle freebies. It is currently a kindleunlimited choice. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
We are really looking forward to Part 2, and have ordered a few more copies for friends. Keep up the great work!
The best testament to my pleasure in this book is how much I am already looking forward to Part II. I am sure that Jett will be even more intriguing as an older adolescent in Part II. Given the foreshadowing of what lies ahead, I suspect that Jett will need all the additional brain and emotional resources that he can get!