21 December 2012

Review: Embrace by TD Wilson

I've always enjoyed reading and watching Science Fiction, including Star Trek, Stargate SG1, Battlestar Galactica and more Earth-based shows such as Flash Forward and Fringe (and Dr Who has to fit in there somewhere). However, I haven’t read much Sci-Fi in years as there are very few Christian novels available. I've read Kathy Tyers, some Randy Ingermanson and the classic CS Lewis trilogy, but that, as far as I am aware, is pretty much the extent of pure Christian Sci-Fi or space opera. There is some fantasy and a lot of apocalyptic/dystopian... but no real Star Trek-type fiction. So I was interested to read The Epherium Chronicles: Embrace, to see what TD Wilson could add to the genre.

The start is slow, but we begin to understand what is at stake at around the 15% mark, when Earth receives a message from two colony ships sent out years earlier. Unfortunately, their enemies, the Cilik’ti will also have heard the message so the race is on for newly-appointed Captain Hood of the A to get to assemble his crew and get to the space colonies as soon as possible. We seem to live through the next few days in real time, as the ship doesn't even take off until the 48% mark. I was hoping the pace would then pick up, but no. The first three-quarters of the novel are background information, and the story was just starting to get interesting when it finished. Lots of characters, lots of technobabble, but little else.

I can see that a huge amount of time and effort has gone into creating this futuristic world. But the many failings illustrate just how difficult it is to write a full length novel, especially one set in a different time and such a different place. Embrace is full of writing and editing errors, including excess use of adverbs, homophone errors, typos, not using contractions, using passive language, pacing, proportion (making things seem important when they are not), factual errors (it’s Barnard’s Star, not Barnaby’s, the ship was the Dreadnought, not the Dreadnaught, and what, exactly, is a “chic magnet”?), and too much needless description.

It is good that the author knows every minute detail of the world he has created, but sharing all those details with the reader isn't necessary. I especially don't need to know the technical specifications of ships that are about to be destroyed or the personal histories of minor characters who are about to die. This level of unnecessary information means that by the time I (eventually) got to characters or events that were important, it was too late to recapture my interest.

There are too many characters that serve too little purpose in Embrace (although they might be important in future stories). The first novel in a series needs to function independently as a standalone novel, not just as an introductory episode to a series. Overall, the idea is sound, but the execution is lacking. Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

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