Reviews of Free Sci-fi - R

Reviews of free sci-fi with titles beginning with R

Revolution in C Minor – Jennifer Armstrong

*** Sex = 2, Action = 1, Prose = 9

I'm guessing this was written as near future Sci-fi because it is set in 2011 just after the end of World War III when Canada is holding a referendum to determine whether or not they will join the United States. Evidence that it is near future sci-fi written in the past is that the smart phone was not present in the story and the U.S. had not eliminated it's middle class. The only clue that it might be alternate history is that is was 70F in Ottawa on Nov. 1 and 2011 was an unusually warm year.

The story is not really about the union of Canada and the U.S., it is about a group of young friends and their lives against the backdrop of the upcoming referendum and the unrest it causes. The main character is trapped in longing for an alpha male who discards her. This same girl accidently burns down his office building, and her worry about being caught is most of the tension in the story. The fact that the building was owned by an American company gets it labeled an act of terrorism.

There is a lot of talk about Canadian identity, and that is the main idea brought out in the story. Some of it is funny, a little of it is poignant. Being in New England I understand a lot of this. Though we are imprisoned in the American empire, we are also clearly not American, perhaps less American than Alberta, and have some of the same issues with identity. The other main idea here is an example of the pain and sorrow a woman can go thru when she lets herself succumb to an alpha male. The fact that young people are interested in these things is refreshing, and helps me believe it was written before the millenials disappeared into their smart phones.

This is more a character and idea driven story than a plot driven story, though there is a plot twist at the very end that was most unexpected, a twist that is the only Christian message in the story. The characterization is excellent, and even though there is not much excitment in this book, I found it interesting because the people are interesting.

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Roaches in the Attic 3 - Non-Retrieval – Raymond Towers

*** Sex = 1, Action = 8, Prose = 9

An entertaining and well written Man-against-bugs story told in the first person by a shuttle pilot taking a group of marines into battle in a new colony planet where the insect-like alien menace (the Roaches) is believed to be attacking. There is plenty of man-vs-giant-insect action, well-developed military characters and aliens that are believable enough that they don't detract from the story.

Man vs insect is a popular sci-fi theme, I've even used a variant of it in Aldeb Wars. Insects are probably the most alien macroscopic life on Earth, they are ugly, destructive and for the farmer at least, man's worst enemy, so it isn't surprising that they often show up as the enemy in much sci-fi. In this story, as in most, the difficulty of a creature with an exoskeleton growing to the size of a human in gravity approaching that of Earth is ignored.

That is not the major science problem in the story. In this we have a very advanced FTL (Faster Than Light) drive and a large number of colonized worlds in 2060, and all that is done by the USA. It is doubtful a recognizable USA survives til then, and as we are all aware, the American space program is just about a thing of the past. Even so there just isn't time to set up many colonies by then even if the 'Pulse' Drive' as it is called was rolled out of the lab in perfect working order tomorrow morning. This problem can be overlooked however because it allows the life and society of the soldiers to be close enough to today's to be familiar to the reader.

There is supposed to be a book 1 of this series entitled 'First Contact'. I have not read it and that didn't seem to make any difference in understanding this book. I can find no reference to a book three. Fans of military sci-fi should find this whole series entertaining.

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Rojuun – John H. Carrol

*** Sex = 2, Action = 6, Prose = 8

This is high fantasy according to the author. Maybe not quite as high as Lord of the Rings or the Icewinddale Trilogy, but it is definitely fantasy. Magic is in use in almost every line and event. There are dragons, druids and spells and magical artifacts and weapons. It doesn't quite follow the common rules of magic but it is close enough that sword and sorcerer readers will feel somewhat at home. It has a bit more young adult flavor than most 'high fantasy' but it is not devoid of violence and gore. The plot is not quite a standard high fantasy quest, in this the intrepid adventurers are hired by an alien race (also not a high fantasy staple) to defend them from monsters of the underworld.

Because this does not follow the standard 'rules of magic' there is room for the author to introduce new magic whenever the going gets tough. That happens in a couple places but nowhere near the extent in say 'The Coronite Chronicles.' It does have the usual hand-drawn maps of a fantasy epic, but the world building is not quite as lavish as most of them and the language is much more commonplace than LOTR and most other high fantasy. The characters are adequate and three of them are unique. The book is also a bit shorter than most high fantasy.

In spite of all that it is a fun read, though violent in spots. There are other long sequences without violence, making the action a bit of a roller coaster. There is a love interest that is quite unconventional. There is no actual sex, so if you are one who is OK with your children making war not love, it is OK for them.

The story is the first of a trilogy, and as in most major free-market trilogies but The Second Expedition, the other two are not free.

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