Narrator: William Shatner
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (2016)
Length: 10 hours 59 minutes
Series: Book 1 The Samuel Lord Series
In the near future, the US has the space station Empyrean under the control of Director Samuel Lord and has now decided to send up FBI personnel to govern this station. These FBI men have been dubbed the Zero-G men. The US, Russia, and China are all still competing with one another for supremacy but some new science has upped the stakes. Something is mimicking natural disasters on the Earth and the Moon, wreaking havoc with a station-born super vine, and causing nanites to go off kilter and basically create a kind of walking, talking cyborg zombie. Sounds pretty crazy, huh? Wait! There’s more! There’s plenty of espionage going on as well as shifting loyalties. Our heroes zoom from place to place in a vain effort to rescue everyone. I truly didn’t know if the Zero-G men would be able to save the day.
This is a convoluted action-adventure story that has bits and pieces of scifi tossed into it. There are concepts I really liked but the execution was sloppy or only half carried out. First, let’s talk about the 80 year old Samuel Lord. He’s our guide through out the story, offering advice to the younger crowd, keeping the station functioning with his wisdom, and calling the hard shots when a man of action is needed. He’s basically an 80 year old Captain Kirk (William Shatner’s famous character in the original Star Trek series). Yep. Shatner wrote a main character based on himself (or, at least a character he played for years aged several decades). In some ways this worked for the good, bringing up the nostalgia of watching the Star Trek TV series. In other ways, it meant that certain plot points and even some dialogue were completely predictable.
I was very excited about the pansexual character, Adsila, who is also a full-blooded Cherokee. This story in general is very sexual-orientation friendly. Adsila, as a pansexual, has the ability to shift from male to female at will. So, A+ for concept. Unfortunately, the execution fell short (C+ at best). Adsila’s Cherokee heritage is merely nodded at and not an integral part of his/her personality. Also, there are times when gender biases become apparent in the writing. Nearly all of Adsila’s action scenes happen when he is in the male gender. There was some comment about how Adsila finds it easier to be focused as a man….. which quirked my eyebrow. If it had been one single comment, I could say it was simply that character’s experience and let it be. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. There were several similar remarks along those lines.
At first I was pretty excited by all the scifi bits. I love having futuristic tech incorporated into a scifi story. I believe it is one of the main things that makes scifi science fiction. Once again, we have A+ for concepts and Cs for execution of these science-y bits. In the end, I felt the scifi tech was simply window dressing to an action flick. Having said that, as an action flick, there is never a dull moment in this tale. Things are always in motion. We might not always get where the story is going or why it’s going there, but it is always in motion.
All together, it was an OK story. I think another round of solid polishing would have made this a good story. Not an outstanding story, but a good one. There is a lot of ground being covered in this novel and as such, some of it was pretty sparse. I think it could have used less intrigue, less future tech, and perhaps a smaller cast so that each bit of science could shine and each character could reach their full potential.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
The Narration: William Shatner is William Shatner. He starts off with a pretty even pacing but shortly falls into the odd cadence he has become known for. On one hand, this was soothing because I am a Star Trek fan and this sounded like a really long, convoluted Star Trek episode in some ways. However, there were times when I became fatigued over his odd staccato speech pattern. Also, Shatner doesn’t perform character voices very well, and sometimes doesn’t do so at all. As such, I really had to pay attention to keep track of who was talking.
What I Liked: Cool cover art; Shatner’s narration and elements of the plot brought up my nostalgia for the original Star Trek series; lots of interesting near-future tech; plenty of intrigue; a range of sexual orientations in the characters; lots and lots of action.
What I Disliked: Several of the concepts were poorly executed; this is more of an action flick than a solid science fiction story; tale could have used another round of solid editing and polishing to make it a good story; Shatner doesn’t do character voices in his narration.
What Others Think: