Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Spider and The Fly - C.E. Stalbaum

    2012; 370 pages.  Book #1 of the Spiderverse Saga series.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Science fiction; Space Opera.  Overall Rating : 9*/10.

    Jenavian “Jen” Vale is a psychogenetically enhanced “spider”; her job is to seek out “flies”, humans who exhibit psychic abilities.  Careful, careful, little flies.  If the Spider catches you, you’ll be taken to see The Widow, where your only choices are to be reprogrammed or to be put to death.

    Markus Coveri is the foremost fly on the run, because he’s a Spider who’s “turned”.  He’s also Jen’s ex-partner, so she is particularly determined to bring him in.

    When their paths cross and Markus tries yet again to “turn” Jen, you know sparks will fly.  And arguments.  And lots of shots.

What’s To Like...
    This is a fine piece of Sci-Fi Space Opera, if you’re familiar with that sub-genre.  There are a whole bunch of planets, creatures, and characters to get acquainted with.; the pace is fast, and the action is plenty.  There is some cussing, but that’s also an integral component of most Space Operas.

    The Spider and The Fly is the first book in a series (a trilogy, perhaps?) as well as a standalone novel.  The Amazon blurb lists it as being 370 pages in length.  It felt longer than that, but I mean that in a positive way.

    The characters are well-developed.  I wouldn’t call them “gray”, but none of them are pure black or white either.  You'll probably grow to like Thexyl, Jen’s current partner.  Everything builds nicely to an exciting and satisfying climax.

    You mght detect some outside  “influences” here.  Thexyl comes off as a reptilian hybrid of Spock and Data.  The concept of psionic spaceships is quite akin to Peter F. Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy.   And the ending is very Star Wars-ish.  But these are just herbs-&-spices added to an original universe and storyline to enhance its flavor.

    “What the hell is that?”
    Markus glanced over his shoulder and noticed Mira lurking behind him on the headrest.  She was still scrunched up in a ball, her green eyes locked directly on Jen, and her tail twitching ever so slightly.
    “That’s Mira,” he said.  “It’s her apartment, really.  I just borrow it from time to time.”
    Jen’s lips twisted in disgust as she turned back to him.  “Why?”
    “I assume you mean ‘why do I have a cat?’  I think if I have to answer that, you’re not going to understand it anyway.”  (loc. 3969)

    “Think of it this way, Henri,” Foln said, forcing a smile.  “If I die, you get to take over.”
    “Wonderful,” the doctor grumbled.  “You know how much I’ve always wanted to be a politician.”
    Foln shrugged.  “Thirty years ago you seemed quite fond of the idea of being a revolutionary hero who’d inevitably go down in a blaze of glory.”
    “That’s because it got women to sleep with me.  At this point, it will take a lot more than false bravado to get one into my bed.”  (loc. 5843)

Kindle Details...
    The Spider and The Fly sells for $3.99 at Amazon.  Its sequel, Rebellion, sells for $5.99.  C.E. Stalbaum has four other books available for the Kindle, with prices ranging from free to $4.99.

“The galaxy doesn’t need a bunch of untrained telepaths running around.”  (loc. 395)
    Science Fiction has evolved considerably since its “golden days” of the 1950’s.  You can now choose among “hard” sci-fi, “speculative” sci-fi, “fantasy” sci-fi, and a slew of other sub-genres, including Space Opera..  While I enjoy the “sci-fi classic” authors (H.G. Wells, Andre Norton, etc.) their works sometimes become “samey”.  I for one am happy that today’s science fiction authors have a much wider vista to choose from.  We the readers are the real winners because of this.

    9 Stars.  If you’re a veteran Space Opera reader, you will find this to be fine example of it.  If you’re new to Space Operas, The Spider and The Fly is a great place to start.

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