ROC, 2000, 377 pages, C$9.99 mmpb, ISBN 0-451-45809-5
Reviewer’s Note: As I couldn’t muster up the interest to review this mid-list SF novel, I simply stuffed it in my brand new ReviewMatron™ and let it cough up an automated review. Here are the results: (Warning! The ReviewMatron™ has an unfortunate tendency to spoil novels it doesn’t like.)
Genre: Science-Fiction Adventure
Author Profile: searching… none…. first novel.
What the only cover blurb tells you: Mid-list SF author Eric S. Nylund says “Adamantine-hard science fiction with heart… a ripping good read”
What the only cover blurb doesn’t tell you: That Eric S. Nylund is Syne Mitchell’s husband.
Plot: Outsider gets embroiled in conspiracy revolving around piece of high-technology with potential to overthrow existing social order.
Protagonist: “Thiadora Murphy”, a “floater” -zero-gee-optimized human- sent to a military college.
Protagonist’s clichés (list): absent father… outsider amongst her peers… red-hot pilot… something to prove to the universe… meaningful tattoos…
Initial Plot Complications (list): Ostracism by peers… job offer from shadowy organization (refused)… framed… kicked out of academy… best friend killed… forced to take the job against her will…
Contrived or cliché?: Hard to say.
Author’s unsubtle theme: Discrimination.
Assessment of first third of novel: Poor. Cliché. Dull. Déjà-vu.
Plot shift into second act: High-tech vessel stolen from company, then stolen back by company. Meanwhile, protagonist meets first ally.
“Ally” characteristics (list): “Kyle”: Opposite sex… rather sympathetic to heroine… exceptional hard-to-explain skills… shadowy loyalties… secretly connected to powerful organization…
Thrust of Second Act (list): recovery of ship… discovery of capabilities of ship, including time-travel… forces pursue the ship… protagonist isolated from all sources of support…
Return of father: Check. (Sort of)
Explanation of Ally’s willingness to help protagonist: Check.
Assessment of second third: Better. Now that all clichéd pieces are in position, magnanimous readers merely have to follow them around.
Capture of heroine as start of third act: Check.
Awful doubt that ally has betrayed her: Check.
Ally still comes through: Check.
Best friend back from the dead: Check.
Best friend pissed: Check.
Hot lesbian love scene between protagonist and best friend: No.
Escalation of third act into galaxy-spanning political reform: Check.
Revolt of the ostracized masses: Check.
All seems lost: Check
Heroine figures ultra-clever scheme to restore rightful social order: Check.
Happy Ending: Check.
Assessment of Last third: Fair.
Assessment of writing skills: Okay. Enough to keep reader’s attention once everything gets going.
Assessment of Novel: Takes a while to get going. Slowly evolves in average mid-list SF novel.
Double-meaning title: Check.
Recommended action re Author’s next novels: Acquire at used book sales if price is right.
Final state of mind: Blah.