The Blog's Mission

Wikipedia defines a book review as: “a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review”. My mission is to provide the reader with my thoughts on the author’s work whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. I read all genres of books, so some of the reviews may be on hard to find books, or currently out of print. All of my reviews will also be available on Amazon.com. I will write a comment section at the end of each review to provide the reader with some little known facts about the author, or the subject of the book. Every now and then, I’ve had an author email me concerning the reading and reviewing of their work. If an author wants to contact me, you can email me at rohlarik@gmail.com. I would be glad to read, review and comment on any nascent, or experienced writer’s books. If warranted, I like to add a little comedy to accent my reviews, so enjoy!
Thanks, Rick O.

Friday, November 9, 2018

STAR RIDERS

The author sent me a copy of his novel to read and review:

Can any novel or film be busier than Rick A. Allen’s first novel? I doubt it. Okay, Star Wars books and films are busy, but they come up for some air now and then. In Allen’s novel, every page is loaded with action...sometimes a little corny but always moving forward. It’s a space opera’s space opera. It includes action on six of the eleven planets of The Nodal Community. What’s that? It’s a union of planets light years apart that try to help each other by sharing the latest technology. By the way, Earth is part of the Nodal Community but doesn’t know it yet. If you liked all the unusual aliens that roamed around in Star Wars movies, you will love the warped vision of aliens in Allen’s novel. In Star Wars we meet Pau’ans, Clawdites, Tusken Raiders, and the Gamorreans to name a few (look them up, they’ve all been in the Star Wars films). And my personal favorite (Jabba the Hutt’s pet) is the Kowakian monkey-lizard. This being said, the author did an amazing job keeping the main characters down to about six humans and four aliens. Even with all the characters involved, I had no problem remembering who was who.  

In Star Riders, the reader meets in order of appearance: a Shren, a very tall alien with long white hair covering his body; the Emdannen species, short Meerkat-like looking aliens who “make their homes in the ground and build downward not upwards”; the Throngans, “They’re black-furred, they run on four legs, walk on two, and have a pair of short arms between the legs.” Haha, I mentioned that the author has a warped mind! And lastly, we have a Pallun, a very large bison-like alien with huge lips and one nostril. You are probably asking yourself...how do aliens from all those planets communicate? They have tharsh plants! If you are having a mixed alien meeting...then make sure there are tharsh plants in the room. The tharsh plant enables everyone to understand each other. Good stuff. The little co-hero, Moovik (a emdannen), reminded me of Rocket, the raccoon-like bounty hunter in the 2014 and 2017 Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

The novel was not without its flaws. Besides some corny lines, the prose was kinda fledging (normal for a first-time author) and the story, while very busy, was too easy to predict. The novel missed an opportunity to garner an attention-grabbing effect because things happened too fast. The author needs to calm down...slow the pace. The story is about one man’s attempt to find his brother, who is presumed dead during a multi-planet civil war over technology. However, let’s talk about the Star Rider, itself. What is the Star Rider? It’s the real star of the novel. It’s a strange purple and yellow ship that lays black disks in a chain around suns. It somehow gets energy from those spots (no one knows for sure because we never meet the aliens piloting the ship). Nothing seems to hurt the ships (there are at least two), nor can you make it change its routine. It’s like the ships are building a galactic highway to connect the eleven planets of the Nodal Community. I’m sure we will find out in the ensuing novels. Good first novel...just curb your enthusiasm (sound familiar?)

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: Barnes & Noble asks, “What makes a science fiction story a space opera? Well, it needs to take place in space obviously, though not necessarily all of the time. Hanging out solely in an arcology on a climate-blasted Earth, or even in a domed city on Mars, doesn’t cut it. Actually, the more space the better; though there are certainly exceptions, a good space opera should span a galaxy or two, or at least a solar system. And an opera has to be grand and dramatic-battling empires, invading aliens, mysterious ancient technology, and grand, sweeping story arcs.” I agree with one exception: if any part of the story is spent on Earth, it’s no longer a space opera. It’s okay to mention Earth...just don’t spend any of time there.

I’ve been reviewing quite a few sci/fi novels lately. So, you already know my favorites, but one that I’ve never brought up is John Scalzi’s 2005 novel, Old Man’s War (see my review of 11/21/2010), which spawned five other related novels. A B&N editorial review says, “When John Perry turns 75, he does two things: he visits his wife’s grave and he joins the Colonial Defense Force. The CDF’s enlistment contract is incredibly tempting. When a person reaches retirement age, all they have to do is give up all their worldly possessions and promise never to return to Earth. In return, elderly recruits get to take advantage of the Colonial Union’s secretive therapy, which somehow reverses aging. In essence, the soldier’s exchange a few years of military service for a new life on one of the Union’s many colony planets. Without the faintest clue of what he’s really getting himself into, Perry realizes quickly that he has just signed up for ‘an all-expenses-paid tour of hell.’ With a brand new, tank-grown, super-modified body--green skin, cat’s eyes, built-in-cranial computers, etc.-- Perry and his ultra-human cohorts travel from planet to planet leaving dead aliens in their wake.”

John Scalzi won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel with Redshirts (see my review of 02/03/2016).  

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