Reviews of Free Sci-fi - Q

Reviews of free sci-fi with titles beginning with Q

Qualify – Vera Nazarian

*** Sex = 2, action = 7, Prose = 9

I wasn't the only one to see echoes of 'Hunger Games' in this. The plot is about the Earth about to be destroyed by a giant asteroid. A couple years before impact Earth is approached by people from Atlantis who have colonized another planet twelve thousand years ago and have now come back to save SOME of the people of Earth from extinction. They will choose one out of four hundred teens on Earth by subjecting them to a series of tests and competitions. Only those who qualify will be saved. The whole story is the training and compatition for qualification.

The story is quite well done, the author is a pro after all, and an immigrant who learned English as probably a third language. In spite of that her prose is better than just about all that in free sci-fi. The proofreading is excellent. The characters are quite realistic for teens any time from the 60's to the 90's, but this is supposed to happen in 2047, a generation atfer it was published. Maybe by then teen life will have come back out of the phone, but the characters are way too 'off-line' for today. They've gone back to real world bullying instead of cyber bullying. The main character also seems to be a bit unrealistically overwhelmed by the sight of a large bicep, to the point of being unable to speak. They are perhaps a bit less intersted in sex than my cohort or my children's cohort was, but maybe a bit more than they are today.

The story works pretty well as a 'Coming of Age', as well as Yoonbarla but in a different way. Much more about social position and competition and less abour sexual maturity. There is a fair amount of violence, some rather gruesome. The author is not afraid to inflict pain on her characters, unlike me, I feel every wound they receive so I'm quite reluctant to hurt them. I also think it's a bit unrealistic that these kids would carry on thru some of their torments, but then it often happens that we do what we have to do when the time comes.

My main criticism of the story is really with the premise itself. The most minor is my own belief that Atlantis of legend was actually the Minoan civilization that flourished in the Aegean during the Bronze Age. It is true they left when their island exploded and sank beneath the sea because just about no human remains have been found in the excavations. The most sensible thing I've seen about that says they probably escaped to the eastern Mediteranean and founded Phonicia. That's minor, what I think is pretty nonsensical is that they would set up this elaborate qualification process for teens all over the world. It is unlikely that they would come back here in Earth's time of need and set up a scenario that could really have no other purpose than building an exciting story for young adults. They are unlikely to do anything like that at all, and if they did, they would do it for humanitarian purposes, or to provide some value to themselves. There are also some problems with the technology of Atlantis. They run everything off the energy of sound waves, but there is very little energy in sound. Even if all the energy put into your speakers was converted to sound, we are talking about a hundred watts or so. In truth most of the energy put into your speakers is transformed to heat in the coils that move the cones back and forth and only a small fraction is actually in the sound. That a person singing can produce enough energy to keep a flying saucer in the air is just not happening. Nor is a material that can convert the energy in sound to a force that can keep it up in the presence of Earth's gravity. The other thing I find rather unlikely is a civilization that can travel between the stars but cannot deflect an asteroid. If there was one out there that could wipe out all life on Earth by 2047, we would almost for sure know about it today, and we, without any help from Atlantis, could probably figure out a way to deflect it in time. Or let me say we could do the engineering. Whether we have the political will to do so is problematic. I think I've done a more realistic job of dealing with asteroid impact in Aluminum Quest but that is a completely different story with a completely different plot and message.

This book is the start of a four part series, the others are not free. This book does bring the qualification part of the story to a conclusion, but does not solve the problem of what to do with the remaining doomed people of Earth. One thing I'm quite sure of, there is no conceivable way to evacuate a whole planet.

Back to top