Tag Archives: Jayne’s reviews

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.

14Sep/16

Review of Misinformation by Keelan Ellis

Misinformation

Keelan came back to chat to us earlier this year, to talk about her latest book. Find out more about Keelan and her work on Episode 061: Keep Your Word Count Up!

REVIEW

Keelan has veered away from ghost stories with this city romance between Ethan, bisexual, closeted presenter for a conservative cable news programme, and Charlie, who is Ethan’s daughter’s first grade teacher. Ethan has been obliged to take the job at the programme so he can be near his daughter, who has been taken to New York to live by his ex-wife. Charlie is commitment-phobic and fiercely independent. Brief hook-ups with closeted celebrities suit him just fine, but neither of them expected to fall in love.

So that’s the setup. Firstly, a couple of niggles, nothing to do with the writing, which is consistently great. I trust Ellis to be technically spot on and she is here as well. First niggle is with Ethan, who has left a successful job in Philly to take a position with a cable company that has totally different ideals to his own, and is regularly disparaging to the LGBT community. He is their star performer, regularly spouting things he doesn’t agree with. He says he does it purely to be with his daughter, but I can’t help wondering if any LGBT person would do this.

Number two is Charlie, the first grade teacher who very rapidly hooks up with Ethan, despite being the teacher in charge of Ethan’s child. That’s unprofessional at best, yet the school don’t seem to have an issue with it when it all comes out. I’m English, so I know what would happen here. It’s not an LGBT issue. It’s a professional issue. Maybe in the States it’s different.

Like I said, these are niggles that wouldn’t go away for me, but in the end, they didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this book. If, like me, you can push through them, you will be rewarded with a sexy, emotional love story, with some unpredictable twists and turns.

And this is what Ellis does best; throwing a curve ball into the mix just as you think this is going to go the way of many romances. It doesn’t. Ethan does come across as a bit of an ass at times, but he’s a wonderful father and his daughter is cute as a teddy bear. His ex is also a great character, flawed as well so you can see why the marriage didn’t make it, but decent, and a decent ex in a romantic novel is a rare thing indeed. In a way, her main flaw is interfering with the best of reasons. She was cleverly drawn and I liked her. So often, the ex is someone to boo and hiss at, but not here. The villain of the piece is the Fox-alike cable company Ethan works for, with a boss so vile I wanted to punch him.

Charlie is also an interesting character. First school teachers, especially male ones, can be exotic creatures. No-one really knows why they choose to spend their time with loathsome oiks, when they could be doing important things like being captains of industry, or firefighters, or heart surgeons. I thought he was totally convincing, very likeable despite his phenomenal ability to make poor life choices. The chemistry between him and Ethan, from the first fumbling, drunken encounter to the realisation that they both care for each other, is genuinely touching and well-balanced.

And finally, Ellis has really upped her game in the sex scenes. The others were good. These are great, tender and hot as prime beefsteak. That’s all I’m saying…