Sunday, June 3, 2012

Review of Simon Vector


     For those that have been fans of this genre for any serious length of time, you find that there are really two types of science fiction. The first is sci-fi or space fantasy, which can be best be exemplified by Star Wars. The other is science fiction or talk and tech, which one sees when watching Star Trek. Simon Vector , written by JAK Holding, tries to straddle the line between the two and is mostly successful in doing so.
     The novel is economical in size and scope while hinting at a larger backdrop and history, using thirteen chapters and an epilogue to create a frozen, terrifying atmosphere. There is very little filler in this novel. Everything is focused on moving the relevant story forward. As I read Simon Vector, my mind kept going back to another recent science fiction series, Mass Effect. Like the video game series, Simon Vector involves horrific entities from beyond known space seeking to convert humans into a simulacrum of life. The sections dealing with the necroids are quite vivid but do become a bit repetitive towards the end. It reminded me greatly of a trip through a Cronenberg body-horror story. My only complaint about the setting is that not enough time was spent explaining some of the science behind the technology. I’m not a big fan of techno-babble but I felt that the authors rushed through the explanations a little too quickly. This is a personal gripe though rather than a condemnation of the story as a whole.
     As much as the structure and the background details instill a sense of reality, the characters are what people talk about and care about. Simon Vector as a character is referred to constantly before becoming a central piece of the story. He is a god-like figure in the setting, much like the adversaries that created him. The character of Ana Bolo is the closest thing to a protagonist in the story and she fills the role of a Ripley-like character. Lucius Feen also serves as a primary point-of-view character and one can almost feel craven oozing off the character, which makes his actions later in the story feel slightly out of place, in my opinion. There are stock characters involved in the story though, specifically Warden Rutledge and Malcolm Liddle. Rutledge works as the gruff, authoritarian character quite well, so much so that I would like to have seen a few more facets to him. Liddle, on the other hand, is the stereotypical corporate executive sleaze and I felt his presence was a necessary evil to get what was needed from the story. One character intrigued me even more than the title character and that was Rex Mason. To be honest, I would read an entire story devoted to this character, either as a prequel to see how he reached the Alpha Draconis prison that serves as the primary setting or as a continuation from this novel.
     Overall, Simon Vector serves as an excellent adventure story that could have used some greater attention to the background details. I would not have complained if the story were longer in order to fill in those details. Definitely recommend this for people who enjoy good science fiction/horror or the Mass Effect universe. 

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