Review: Sea of Mammals (3/5 stars)

First I should say I was asked to review this Novella by it’s author James Armer, who gave me a copy. I will endeavor to be honest however or this review would serve little purpose.

First I would like to say that I do like that the story does not take place in the near future. While an exact number is not given my gut tells me it is set thousands of years in the future. This is something that is not done enough, in my view.

I also like the scope of the story. What it is set about could be very important, but still only takes place in one small part of one small world.

That said it does have problems. The first is that the story felt slow, in part I think because of the purple (too florid) prose, largely on the part of the robot.

This could just be my personal taste but I found it hard to care about the characters in the way that you should. Even the robot slave is shown to have done some really bad things, enough that I could see enslavement being at least partly justified.

Ben, the owner of Cora the robot slave, is hard to care about because he never seems to have initiative. He is not really a mover, even when doing so threatens his life he is too willing to just let things slide.

To be honestly what it feels like is the second or third draft of a story that could be good, if more work was put into it.

On Amazon

On Goodreads

Doing it by feel

I am going to start by saying I consider myself a very rational person. I try not to let emotion effect my judgment. Everything I believe I have a good reason to believe, and I try to not have strong feelings on anything I lack information on.

So when I say that certain things you have to write by feel, believe me.

First, your style is going to be by feel, no other way to do it. It’s very easy to get nervous with trying to make your book sound like you, to invent or create a new style of writing. This can easily mean you get so worked up that you end up writing nothing, or go over the same chapter again and again.

Don’t worry about it, it will come with time. Just do what sounds good to you, and gets across what you want to get across.

I did not really have much of a style until I was hallway through the first draft of my book. I worried about it for a while then decided that worse case I could just change things during my second or third drafts (which I did for this reason, but not as bad as I thought).

Once you get far enough along you will just know that a certain passage feels right or not, trust your gut and don’t overthink it or spend too much time on too few words.

The second thing you have to do by feel is character’s voices. While this will require some thought, you don’t need to have it all worked out before you start your first draft. Think about it as you write and it will come to you. You might come to a passage and realize that a character is using words that are too big, or too small. Give it time and thought as you write your first draft and you will be fine.

Epic Vs Important

One thing that many genre’s have in common, everything from science fiction to action & adventure is a tendency to want to make important things Epic.

By Epic (capital E) I mean things like the end or start of a war, blowing up of cities ect. The kinds of things that change the course of history. While it may be tempting to give everything epic stakes, you don’t have to.

Anything you spend time and thought on CAN be important. If you work at it a woman walking through a door can be the most important event in your book, just as a space battle can be unimportant even if it is epic in scope.

What matters in the end is how important the event is to your characters, even things that are important to the world can pale in comparison to that.

Review: Sentenced to Prism (4/5 stars)

Foster is one of my favorite authors, in large part because of books like this. The book is about a man who is sent to Prism to investigate the problems an outpost is having. Prism is potentially a very profitable, but is very hard to work on, planet. The fact they have to keep what it is and where it is secret makes it all the more hard (partly because they are operating on a gray area legally, partly to stop competition).

To that end he is given the best mech/survival suit that money can buy. He does not know a lot about the situation, but he is a jack of all trades and is being sent because no one really knows what is going on. He is sure he can figure it out without too many problems.

I won’t spoil more, the book is one of the best optimistic (without stopping being realistic) exportation books I have read. Prism is a fully realized world with it’s own way of doing things and it’s own life.

On Goodreads