Tag Archives: Dystopian future

06May/21

Review – Dropnauts by J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth was recently interviewed on WROTE! Check out Episode 315: Oh My God We’re Gonna Die, to find out more about Scott and his work.

One thing you can expect from this author is superlative world-building, as I discovered when reading other books in the Liminal Sky series. There are a ton of them, and I’ve given up making sense of which book belongs where, but it doesn’t matter. This is a standalone novel as far as I can tell, although by the end, you may well be wishing for another in the series. The blurb does a good job of describing what to expect. Basically, the titular Dropnauts are on a quest to see if the Earth could be recolonised.

It’s an accepted belief there is no one left down there but they are wrong. The team get split up, meet a couple of Earth dwellers and get split up again into teams of two. With sinister drones and the dawning realisation that the AI designed to protect them is actually working against them, this is a familiar story to anyone who loves their sci-fi. Familiar, but not tired. There are sparky characters with history, new attractions, a diverse range of gender and sexuality, a tribe of vengeful women and two Earth-dwellers wanting to find medication for their sick mother.

There are great human stories within all the tech-speak. The hard-core sci fi nuts will love the intellectual-speak, the science-y stuff and the various AI’s doing battle inside each other’s heads. Lovers of human stories will enjoy the frisson of attraction between Hera and Ghost, Sanya and Rafe and Rai and Aidan. There’s a heart-stopping finale as everyone races to save both Luna and the Earth from doom. It’s all very exciting and intelligent and fun, with relatable characters and a thrilling denouement.

BLURB

Over a century after the end of the Earth, life goes on in Redemption, the sole remaining lunar colony, and possibly the last outpost of humankind in the Solar System. But with an existential threat burrowing its way to the Moon’s core, humanity must recolonize the homeworld.

Twenty brave dropnauts set off on a mission to explore the empty planet. After training for two and a half years, four of them—Rai, Hera, Ghost and Tien—are bound for Martinez Base, just outside the Old Earth city of San Francisco.

But what awaits them there will turn their assumptions upside down—and in the process, either save or destroy what’s left of humanity.

18Apr/19

Empire Of Light (Voyance #1) by Alex Harrow

Alex Harrow was recently on WROTE! To hear their interview and check out their work, you can find them on Episode 200: Wait Wait This Is A Thing!

Empire of Light has a lot of warnings, including for for graphic violence and explicit sex. The danger with trigger warnings is that the reader will then read the book and think, so where was that violence then? Or where was the sex?

For the former, the author wasn’t kidding. From the get-go, this book has crunchy action scenes, lots of blood and flailing fists from our tough-talking main character, Damian, hitman and mercenary. 

On paper, he doesn’t sound too promising, but I sort of liked him by the end. If Quentin Tarantino had made a sci-fi, it might be something quite similar to this, shot in monochrome with flashes of blood and fire. Turns out Damian has a soft and squishy side, although he does his best to hide it. I would like to take him out for a beer and tell him how to keep in touch with his emotions.

I really enjoyed this book, despite the dizzying pace. It’s well-written, though I would have appreciated a few more calm moments to get to know the characters more.  It has balls-to-the-wall fight scenes, and a man torn between saving his lover and lusting after the man (Raeyn) who has threatened to kill him if he doesn’t do what he wants. There isn’t much in the way of complicated emotion, but we get the picture. Damian is a bit of blunt instrument. In fact, most of the characters are, apart from the blind woman, who I would have liked to get to know a bit. I loved Raeyn’s sense of style, and slinky Aris who seemed to oscillate from good to bad to good again. 

I wouldn’t say the sex is hugely explicit (though it depends what kind of books you usually read I guess) but the language can be coarse (it would be odd if it wasn’t, TBH) and there is an aura of blood-drenched lust running throughout the whole book. 

Good world-building, and a fast-paced, visceral plot. My one quibble would be the last few pages, where a LOT seemed to happen, and it felt as if there were at least one climax too many (if that’s possible.) I felt a bit breathless reading it; not in a sexy way, but in a “please make this stop” way. I fear some subtleties might have been lost in translations, but all in all, a wild ride, and a huge amount of “fist-in-the-face” fun.

BLURB

Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill. In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.

Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.

To protect his friends and save his own skin, Damian teams up with Raeyn to make his revolution work. As the revolution gains traction, Damian gets way too close to Raeyn, torn between the need to shoot him one moment and kiss him the next. But Aris slips further away from Damian, and as Aris’ control over his powers crumbles, the Watch catches on.

With the Empire, Damian had two policies: shoot first and don’t ask questions. But to save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire.