Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Answering Review Request: Tethered Worlds Unwelcome Star

Gregory Faccone asked me to read his novel, "Tethered Worlds Unwelcome Star". It is a space opera concerning the politics between two space faring civilizations. I will examine Plot, Character and Polish, before assigning a grade.


The plot starts out confusing. The first part is a In-Media-Res that consists of a single line before jumping back a little bit. This leads to a dramatic political rally that leads into a car chase and sniping.
The second part is a news segment that appears to be exposition for the world's setting. It's actually heavily biased propaganda but the reader won't learn that until later.

This is why As You Know is a useful trope despite how awkward it can be. Authors need to explain the world for the readers. When Adams Rush (the planet) is described as a "Sojourner's stronghold", what Mr. Faccone means is that it had a heavy concentration of a culture of people who were anti-Perigeum and vastly skilled in Mystic tech.  Based on the conventional definition of "Sojourner" I thought it was a vacation spot. I had no idea what was going on for dozens of pages, and in particular, why someone was going to so much trouble to kill the Wilkrest family. They did but I didn't.

Eventually, I get the full scope of the immediate conflict. There are these two major powers in space, Perigeum and Asterfraeo/Cohortium. They're basically The Empire and The Republic in that the former is (supposedly) oppressive and has "drone" citizens and the later is (supposedly) all about free and rugged individuals. The Perigeum bribed, threatened etc.  enough Assembly members on Adams Rush to push through a vote for Adams Rush to leave the Cohortium and join them. Their motivation for this is only briefly alluded to after several hundred pages; they're looking for fresh economic markets and resources. 

 The goal of the Wilkrest family is to recall the Assembly members who voted for the change, reverse course on it, and then call in the Cohortium's military in order to beat back the Perigeum's military that's parked around Adams Rush. The Perigeum plans to counter this by using their military, and their Faster-Than-Light-Travel technology known as "egress" to basically impose martial law on Adams Rush.
It was hard, at times, to take the conflict seriously. The villains here are one military commander (Legion) and one MiB style commander (The Archivers). The first one is so stoic and efficient he's little different than his AI and the second is a Smug Snake with sweating problems.  The Wilkrest family repeatedly states how awful it is to live in the Perigeum, and the egress is going to turn everyone on Adams Rush into a "drone" without going into the whys and the hows. The worst part of this is the implication that all of this conflict is rooted in a cultural clash within the movie industry. Here is a direct quote:
"EpiVADs and cineVADs were distributed far and wide from major media enclaves on the Six Sisters. Thinking and attitudes grew homogeneous. Those who refused to take their cues from the expanding popular culture became increasingly ostracized. A new wave of outward migration was fueled by such cultural holdouts."
Yes, political corruption, assassination, and space fleets moved by the establishment and counter culture movements centered on movies.
There's interesting world building. A lot of thought has gone into this world's history, politics, technology (medicine, spacecraft, computer, textile).  There would be times where whole pages were nothing but narration about this or that. I must admit I found them more fun to read than the main plot. This is not to say that the main plot was bad but that the world building was better.
There's an issue of time. The crux of the plot is that travel between planets and solar systems etc. takes a long time without an egress. Yet Jordahk goes to two places that are described as being remote and distant from everything and then returns to Adams Rush between the time when the egress arrives and before it activates. There is no mention of how much time passes. I had to re-read the first part of the novel to realize that the whole story covers six months. It's confusing.
Also, an egress has to travel someplace the long way itself right? Then shouldn't it have taken months or more just for the egress to arrive at Adams Rush? Why did it turn up on the morning of the vote to allow it? Was there some process beforehand or was it sent in advance, believing that the vote would go through?
There are four point of view characters. There's Jordahk on his journey with his grandfather, his parents on the home front, the military commander and the Archiver commander. All of them focus on Adams Rush egressing, so they have plenty in common, but the latter three are unnecessary for Jordahk, or Jordahk is unnecessary for them. It's a bloated thing.

This story has a good ending in the style of  And The Adventure Continues. This is a clear "the end of the first battle of the war" sort of thing. The main conflict is closed but the series conflict is still open and there are plot threads for sequels.  
Jordakh is sort-of the protagonist. He has one of four viewpoints but he's basically the main one. He was raised in his parent's security business so he has little life experience outside of missions and training. He's also an Amazon Chaser; he lost his heart to Glick as soon as he saw her sparing. His Beware The Nice Ones trait is an appealing contrast with his AI companion, who is gruff and mischevious.

His grandfather is this classic wise old mentor figure. He has impressive technology and cunning tactics. One thing that I find annoying about him is that he never tells anyone, not even his grandson, his objectives or what it is that they're doing. Either he's making it up as he goes, or Mr.Faccone wants to keep everything mysterious.

I like the sibling sidkicks, Glick and Cranium. They are a Sibling Team of Brawns and Brains that become Jordakh's allies through Defeat Means Friendship. The three of them together make for both an effective and entertaining team.

The two Perigeum villains are distinct from each other but part of the Perigeum monolith. It's like a Cohortium propaganda cineVALD; on one hand is the merciless military man focused on taking over their planet and on the other is the petty power tripping Archiver who will spy on every part of their life looking for Mystic tech to exploit for his devious purposes. Everyone working for them is a either a mindless killer machine, enslaved AI, or mooks disguising themselves as civilians.


No spelling or grammar errors that I could find.

This story is long enough and has a big enough scope to be two stories. One of them covers the away mission and the other the home front. Both of them are interesting but they are largely separate from each other. This sort of fusion is better handled than others I've seen. It doesn't harm the narrative; just make it twice as long.

Trickster Eric Novels gives Tetthered Worlds Unwelcome Star a B+

Click here for the next review request: "The Warble"

Click here for the previous review request: Alpha Hunter

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