These are my personal initial impressions of the books allocated to the At Boundary’s Edge team during Phase 2 of the inaugural SPSFC. Ratings are subject to change as I take a closer look at each book. Full length reviews of each book will be posted once the whole team has had a chance to read and discuss the books. As always, readers are encouraged to read the books themselves and make up their own minds.
All The Whys Of Delilah’s Demise, by Neve Maslakovic
I like a lot of the ideas in this one. It’s got a good insight of role model culture, and the way we make idolised versions of each other for our own benefit, all without falling into lazy satire. And I’m always up for a good science fiction murder mystery. My problem is with the writing itself. Perhaps it was the format (due to technical difficulties I had to read this as a Word document) but it felt as lifeless as the title character. It also suffered heavily from one of my pet peeves in fiction: perspective shifts. Without any character signifiers, it flits between first and third person. Some chapters have timestamps which are helpful, or location markers. Other don’t. All these issues with the way the story was delivered stopped me ever getting properly into the narrative itself.
The Dinosaur Four, by Geoff Jones
Some books sound interesting and let you down in the execution. Others sound terrible in theory but redeem themselves with the content. And sometimes, what you expect is exactly what you get. The Dinosaur Four is one of the most deeply stupid books I have ever come across. In spite of that, it’s very, very fun. It is the literary equivalent of Sharknado, in that it doesn’t have any pretence. It just sets out to entertain. Oddly, this isn’t the first dinosaur-themed book I’ve read from the competition. It is, however, the best. Trashy, but maybe in a good way. It’s short violent fun about horrible people being eaten by big monsters. If you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll love this book. Just don’t expect it to change your life.
Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire, by G. M. Nair
I’ve been surprised by how much comedy there has been in the SPSFC so far. Pretty much all good books have the odd humorous moment in them, but there have been numerous entries here that are out and out comedies. I don’t particularly like written comedies (I’m one of only two Discworld non-fans that I know), but two have worked for me. The first was Daros, and the second is Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire. I’m still not sure if I like how far the comedy was pushed at times, but it’s the same sort of gentle humour as Daros offered. Duckett & Dyer also has one of the best opening chapters in the contest so far. Buddy-cop relationships are always good fun, and this one is a good example.
So there you have it. Gut reactions only, but hopefully they’ll tell you if a book is for you or not. I’ll be back in the near future with the next set of Gut Reactions, and then we’ll be heading into full review territory. See you on the other side.
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