Friday, February 14, 2014

There Will Always be a New Frontier!

Science fiction brings so much to its readers - a vision of different futures; new worlds populated by unique individuals, flora, and fauna; varied and strange political and social systems. One of my favorite things science fiction exhibits could be describe as the "Where might we go from here?" exploration.  It takes what we know of this world, its people, human nature, and advancing technologies to explore a possible future. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury both did this well, though the timeline is a bit off and not everything they predicted is going to come true. Still some of the most haunting scenes, such as the dogs set to kill an innocent person on purpose, not only remains but remind me how close we may be to that type of government. Monument by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. shows us a world light years away but one which could just as easily be an island on our own planet because the problems and solutions he lays out are the same. Jeremy Lee brings us a tale of a similar nature in his book New Frontier - it could be set here on earth as well as light years away and it explores the true nature of humans and where our social mores might well take us.

New Frontier
by Jeremy Lee
266 pages
Published by Neverland Publishing Company
ISBN-13: 978-0988829053

About the Book:
    In a world where corporations rule, where only one large corporation truly rules, those who run the corporation are truly above the law. From breaking into a museum to buying a captain's commission, nothing is out of reach, especially for  Davi Cardoso, son of one of the wildly successful higher ups in the Alliance corporate ladder. But the Alliance with all its rich and famous, may not last long. The International Trading Company is biting at their heels. And like all gang warfare, neither is above using tactics outside of moral law or even written law.
    The Alliance is launching a first ever faster than light ship, The Argos, using the new Alcubierre formula. But what meets them at the other end of their journey is an attack which breaks the ship almost in half. Who attacked and why? How did they get there? Davi, a playboy who purchased his command of the ship, now has to captain a ship in the middle of war instead of a photo op lark. Davi's purchases didn't end with onlyhis commission and how well will the others he brought with him fare in the middle of a battle for their lives?

My Take:
    I enjoyed reading about the future Lee has conceived. It follows what is happening today in the world. As a friend often says, "There are only ten companies in the whole world and they own everything." Not only is this future a possibility, it is a probability. The idea that corporations even run the governments of the world's nations is something not far fetched, especially when corporations use their wealth to get governments to pass laws blocking free trade. The Alliance seems to have good intentions but their members often take advantage of their wealth and position. The International Trading Company (ITC) seem to be the underdog here but their methods are less than honorable. The whole scheme works within the bounds of humans, their nature and their politics. The plot flows easily from this, making the book interesting and believable.
     The science in this book works well. There is enough to make a reader feel grounded but not so much that he might get lost in the technical aspects. Much like the Firefly TV show, not much is explained but little holds the true plot of the story to the science so the reader needs only to believe, not understand, for the story to be enjoyable.
     The cast of characters is huge. I tend to like large expansive books with lots of characters but some readers find such a large cast intimidating and it is hard to find that special someone to 'hang your hat on'. Still, I enjoyed most all of the characters and I thought Lee did a good job of bringing most of them to life with different personalities, tendencies, and goals. It would have been nice if Lee would have explored the bad guys more fully. My favorite character by far was Danny but I believe it is because I have wanted to be her since I was thirteen. I understood her the best. Davi grew on me and Shannon was a rock in all of this. I could go on but there are just so many of them!

      I do have one bone I'd like to pick with the author. It is an old complaint but one I believe needs to be drilled into new authors. When you have a cast of ten or twenty characters quit giving them names that start with the same letter (Shannon and Suresh Singh). For goodness sakes, there are twenty-six letters in the alphabet! And a big no-no in my book is naming two characters with the same two starting letters - Davi and Danny for instance- especially when they have the same ending sound.  (Rant over.)

     The execution of the plot is done by using a series of flashbacks. Like TV shows starting with a dramatic and unbelievable scene (someone seems to die, get fired, or thrown in jail) which then says on the screen '13 hours earlier' over the next scene, New Frontier takes us to the heart of the attack in the opening chapter then brings us up to date with flashbacks, some dating years before, interlaced with chapters of the present. This plot technique is being overused in movies and TV shows and was certainly overdone in this book. By the last 10% of the book, I was ready to scream when the action took a break for yet another flashback. I was tempted to skip the last couple but couldn't bring myself to do it because the back stories Lee laid out in those flashbacks were simply too dang interesting. I loved learning about the characters' previous lives, lives that brought them to this point in the book. I think Lee might have found a better way of bringing this all to the reader, a way that would involve fewer flashbacks or flashbacks that didn't break the action so often. Yet I feel the book would be less without the back stories. They were some of the best parts of the book.
    The only other complaint I have with the book is there seem to be a lack of commas. Now commas are a funny thing - too many or too few can ruin the readability, the flow of text.  For example: "As he approached the table Admiral Wellesley tried naming all the foods and delicacies laid out in front of the president and failed." The text is understandable but the readability would have been so much better if there had been an extra comma. Yet, besides the commas and a sentence fragment or two, the book is  well edited.

My Recommendation
    I truly liked this book and read it straight through. If you like science fiction which is an extension of where we are and where we might head, this is a good book. If you like understanding the why and wherefore of various characters, this will be a good read. It is suitable for a large audience, though there is some minor sex in it.

Note: If you read this book, don't let the Chapter six with the break-in of the Louvre Museum stop you. While this is unbelievable, especially in the future, it is the only place I find suspension of belief truly necessary.


About the prizes: Who doesn't love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of New Frontier! Here's what you need to do...
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That's it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win--the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official New Frontier tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

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