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Torn From On High: Free City Book 2 (The Free City Series) (Volume 2) Paperback – April 25, 2014
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About the Author
Northern California author S F Chapman makes good on his long promised sequel to his exciting Science Fiction Detective Adventure “The Ripple in Space-Time” with the release of his latest effort “Torn From On High.” The coffee-fueled writer adds the new novel to his impressive body of work which includes the poignant Literary Fiction novella “I’m here to help,” the prophetic natural disaster novel “On the Back of the Beast” and the first installment in the Post apocalyptic Free City Series “The Ripple in Space-Time.” The hardworking author is currently writing a gritty novel about homelessness titled “The Missive in the Margins.”
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From the author's Info we discover that `S F Chapman has done it all: truck driver, scientific glass blower, construction worker and second grade science lecturer. He's a computer geek, handyman, music lover and relentless tinkerer. But he's most passionate about his latest venture' - rapidly writing books that tend to dwell in the sci-fi dystopia. TORN FROM ON HIGH (THE FREE CITY SERIES BOOK 2) is a continuation of BOOK 1, and in Chapman's INTRODUCTION he suggests reading Book 1 first `to increase your understanding of the characters in the series and the gritty post-apocalyptic world of 2446. It is a dark and gritty Film Noir-like world with danger and scoundrels skulking around every corner. Nearly all humans on Earth and beyond live in subjugation as serfs or slaves under the domination of a few corrupt Warlords. The exception is the small autonomous zone of Free City at the northern end of the Shannon River valley in what was once known as the Republic of Ireland. Free City could easily be mistaken for twenty-first century London, San Francisco or Manhattan. Although it has the typical ills of all metropolitan areas, Free City is the sole bastion of Law, scientific research and progressive thinking. By long standing agreement with the Warlord Syndicate, the Free City High Court tends to all judicial matters. The Registry Bureau regulates motor vehicles, boats and ships, aircraft and spacecraft. The Free City Inquisitor's Office, a future version of Scotland Yard or the FBI, is often called in to investigate difficult crimes wherever they occur. The Free City Series follows many of the cases that Inspector Second Class Ryo Trop, the Inquisitor's Office's most talented cop, has undertaken. As a counterpoint to the action, I have included several News Items from 2446. These short articles are often written in what would now be called a sensationalized tabloid style with the heavy-handled use of adverbs and adjectives. The News sometimes provide subtle clues for readers who like to "solve" the crime before the protagonist does. A list of the characters along with brief personal histories has been provided in the Appendix.'
Chapman's style of alternating chapters between newspaper clippings and narrative line is a gimmick of an idea that remains a gimmick throughout the book. The story is rather masterfully based on the Inspector Ryo Trop's return to Free City after solving a kidnapping case in the Outer Solar System only to be engaged by the Inquisitor's Office to inspect the serial murdering f Space Debris Salvage workers. Parallel to Trop's investigation is his comrade Spy Master Lt. Zmuda's investigation of a plot for human domination in the Sahara Desert. Disparate assignments - or are they? Chapman interweaves these lines of sci-fi fiction with an ever-growing mastery. For those who feast on the current lust for theatrical apocalyptic science fiction and CGI effects this book will appeal. It is may elude some but the trip is worth taking. Grady Harp, April 14
The book is easy to read, it flows well, but the background is a little difficult to follow at first, and that is probably because it uses the "show – not tell" technique, and the author may be assuming that the reader has read volume 1. My preference would be for a little explaining of the background, however, while I had not read the first volume, I was not disappointed, so it can stand alone. The writing also involves a lot of one-sentence paragraphs. While it follows a criminal investigation, there is not a lot of police work, other than taking DNA evidence and the likes. A pleasant read that does not involve much reader's effort.
One area holds out, not joining any of the Warlord empires that ended up being created, was the Free City.
They believed in their little independent-free nation state and the Warlords, also saw the need for a free nation, one with no agenda, other than freedom and truth, as opposed to their personal holding as Warlords. This type of nation can solve crimes the Warlords can't as its free detectives and policemen have no agendas and are trusted. This way Free Cith police are frequently called in everywhere to get a case solved.
With the rise of the "Free City" -- actually Ireland -- as a democracy you find its citizens and police are universally trusted everywhere to be, at least, impartial. The Warlords don't realize that the Free Cities is also usually the center of activity against tyrants.
Among those who pick up the pieces after the particularly brutal war are Free City Police Inspector Second Class Ryo Trop and his cohorts in the Free City Police and Inquisitor's Offices. Set in Ireland, they don't agree to become part of one of the four great feudal states that have risen on the ashes of the nations beaten in the wars. Now in states founded by the Warlords, who emerged as the winners of this war, we find a brutalized society. It's very much like the post-cataclysmic/noir period that brought us "Bladerunner" 40 years ago.
Though not really stated outright, the four Warlords and their lackeys know they need a Free City whose Agents can go anywhere and investigate anything that needs investigation. One edict, 343, gives Ryo and the other agents the right to use whatever force is necessary to get a job done.
That's about as far as I am going to go out on a limb with spoilers because once you start reading "Torn From On High," you won't want to find out any information before you read it in the book. It's where you would decide that you'll just have to find out what's going one and who is doing what to whom and when by yourself.
This is S.F. Chapman's second book in "The Free City" series. It is a continuation of the first book with the addition of characters. (At this stage in their careers, many authors usually tend to start to go minimalist, just dwelling on a couple of new areas in a second or third book in a series as they don't want to seem as if they are trying too hard. Trust me, when a writer reaches that stage of career, it shows. If their editing teams are solid they will have the time to fix their writing issues. Most good writers do have a couple of foul tips in their early career, it is inevitable.
It's an unfortunate truth that not everyone is meant to be an author. Oh, they will eagerly indicate they are working for themselves now, but if you look at an early draft usually you will see is that, unless he or she has a great editor, the writer may want to consider a career in the food industry. It is as if the entire nation identifies itself by its career choice and no other qualities, so the old "writing ploy" is a winner for many.
Okay, you know what I am going to say next: like a fish swimming against the tide, every little while a new author appears for our reading pleasure. S.F. Chapman -- the author of the "Free City" series -- is a natural who has huge natural writing talent. It was as if he was born to help us deal with a few minutes of escape every day so easily you just want more (I want his next book, boss) as he seems to be a naturally born writer.
In the space of about eight years, Chapman has written nine books, including the "Free City" series, each one showing his growth as a writer who will be with us for a long time to come. I wish he had made the switch years ago because I would have found a new favorite science fiction author then and I wouldn't have had to wait.
Chapman's style is easy and conversational and very, very addictive. You pick up one of his books, "Torn From On High," for example, and you begin leafing through it, finding a lot of good reading. Just to make sure you are making the right decision you look at the notes and you look at the first page and you are hooked.
Chapman lifts you up and carries you very subtly into the dark side of post-apocalyptic police work where you meet Ryo's little foster child Dilma, who was rescued by Ryo and some others, from a world that exploits children. As you move forward in the book, you realize that the 57-year-old Trop, police inspector second class is the best investigator that Chief Inspector Helga Smith has working for her.
Ryo's tired and wants to spend time with his foster daughter Dilma but he also needs a nanny -- who is located quite quickly and is Sabra -- because Helga wants to keep Ryo working. She even creates the job of Inspector First Class. Of course, being a man who wants to see justice upheld and lawbreakers given their due, takes the job, but it doesn't stop him from grumbling, of course.
If you have read this far in the book Chapman has you, and you don't even know it. You begin to care for all of the good guys, some of whom are clones, and you care for them, too. It took me roughly five or six pages and I found that I wanted to meet Ryo and see what his office looked like and watch him practice his trade, being an expert detective. That's why he was born and grew up.
Chapman has you caring for Dilma quickly. Like Ryo, she seems real and so does her nanny. Trust me when I tell you they are integral parts of the story and I am going to let you find out just how good a writer Chapman is. He's a natural writer. His characters seem like they really exist full developed when you first meet them.
The classic definition of good writing is simple: You ask yourself "does this work make me suspend my value and/or belief system?" If the answer is yes, you have a winning author and book. It surely does for "Torn From On High." It's a great read for a rainy weekend or if you are on vacation by the lake and are just waiting for the bass to bite. This is the book that will fill the "empty minutes" with something very special.