This was a fun aside. It takes place tucked into the end of the Embarkation series between episodes 13 and 14. It's more the lost chapter from Episode...moreThis was a fun aside. It takes place tucked into the end of the Embarkation series between episodes 13 and 14. It's more the lost chapter from Episode 13. It's not required to grasp or complete the episode or Embarkation, but it adds a bit of extra to the story. I like extra. When I'm enjoying a story and the characters, more is always welcome. This bonus piece allows Kal to explore the different sides of himself, as if they were literal, physical beings. This is where he learns living with oneself is not always an easy thing. We all have aspects of ourselves that we don't get on with and, in fact, would rather not face. We may have sides that shock us to witness. Kal has this experience in a surrealistic, holiday inspired setting. If you're reading Embarkation, I recommend including this piece as well to further the experience.(less)
Episode fourteen brings us to the conclusion of the Embarkation series. Voyage will carry on, which is good for those of us who have formed a relation...moreEpisode fourteen brings us to the conclusion of the Embarkation series. Voyage will carry on, which is good for those of us who have formed a relationship with Kal and Tria. But where have we left off fourteen episodes and a side story later? It really isn't a conclusion at all, but more a mile marker. This series is more of momentum right now than of destination. We're going and we'll find out where exactly we're going when we get there. In that same spirit, we've been introduced to the central force of antagonism in Kal's multiverse. This force didn't really show itself recognizably until the latter half of Embarkation and I spent some time and consideration on who or what it may have been. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a 'pull the rug out from under you' moment where I realized that I had no reasonable hope of figuring out who this antagonist was due to withheld information(I had some really neat ideas, though). It wasn't maliciously withheld information, just...never thought about by Kal, ever. Since Kal never once thought about this individual(to the best of my recall), there was no way I could have the satisfaction of 'aha, I knew it!' or the legitimate surprise of 'ohhh...wow, I would never have assumed it would be him...'. For me, this kind of thing is irksome. I don't like surprises for the sake of it or that are only surprises because I didn't have the necessary information to even begin to guess. That said, once I met the antagonist I got over the fact that they and the very idea of them was a total stranger. I found his motivation childish, but he and Kal were children when all of this started and someone trapped within childhood grudges can be a significant problem. This situation was not resolved, so we'll have to see how Kal takes this and deals with it in the next set of episodes. I definitely plan to be on that ship when it sets sail.(less)
This one covers some social-political ground. You could say that many of the episodes do, if not all of them, but definitely some more than others. Th...moreThis one covers some social-political ground. You could say that many of the episodes do, if not all of them, but definitely some more than others. This is in the more end of the spectrum. More than anything this illustrates the yet again Utopian-esque mindset of Kal. He's always very surprised by social conflict, particularly widespread shared ignorance, bigotry, greed, lack of compassion, etc.. He's very surprised to witness it and also, in his youth and naivte, he believes it's 'just that easy' to correct and silly everyone else for not seeing it. The effect of this is to further cement Kal's present attitude and keeps him consistent in the reading. He's a slow grower, this Kal, but he's neither erratic nor static. He'll get there when he get's there. I believe he'll get there. I note this because this episode focuses again on a more grounded place, a slower pace, and a more mundane environment with not a lot going on. It give us time to consider Kal as a person and during these times, I especially like to reflect on where he's been and where he may wind up.
I think so far this is the point where I'm the most irritated with Kal; one for his naivte and two for his selfishness. It's taken him to the point where he insists to Tria that he's doing something for Tria, therefore it's important...yet Tria doesn't want him to do it(which should be more important) and in that we see that ultimately Kal is serving Kal and using Tria to justify it. I know that makes Kal sound awful, but these are things young people have to learn. They have to learn, sometimes through their own selfish actions, that they're being inconsiderate and not very smart. This is also something that we, as readers, go through with a character that helps us to realize by the end of it that we watched them grow and maybe grew with them.
On a side note, I enjoyed Sten. He was so very reminiscent of people I knew in college.
Liberty was interesting. In a way, it may have been the best written, from a literal perspective(pacing,...moreOriginally shared at The Immarcescible Review
Liberty was interesting. In a way, it may have been the best written, from a literal perspective(pacing, character development, etc). The events were far more mundane or 'of the normal world' than in many of the other episodes, but it was more interesting in a literary sense because I felt there was more opportunity to be with the characters, to walk with them at a more normal pace, so to speak. I do have a helpless way of feeling rushed with short pieces. I like it when characters can converse and do everyday things versus being constantly ran around by the plot. So, for that reason, I enjoyed the characters more. Unfortunately, I found the subject matter dull. This isn't a slam on the story. The reason I liked the story had to do with the characters and having more time with them, so the fact that I found their daily grind totally boring doesn't matter as much as it may have. The largest obstacle for me in this is that you have to be a coding geek to enjoy what they were doing, and I'm not. This is where we're glad the characters have enough personality to still be fun and interesting.
Now, this episode is also unique in that it gets very political, and a tad preachy. It could be the young adult scope of Kal that puts things into such black and white, right and wrong, left and right, liberal and conservative points of view, but if a reader wasn't already invested in him and/or the series, this is where the terrain gets dangerous. Kal's method of getting points across to the audience can be very heavy-handed. He seems to have a young/naive/Utopian view of the universe, and when he comes upon something that isn't that, he gets more than a little self-righteous. I don't hold it against him; kids can be this way. It's just another trait to observe and see whether or not he grows out of it.
I really enjoyed the fact that a new character may be carrying over into the series. I hope we get to see more of him and though his initial role in the story seemed overly convenient, it does pan out in the end and makes sense. We shall see what comes.(less)
This read was a bit lengthier than a typical Voyage episode, but the tone and atmosphere were true to form. Departing from a moment's pause in the pre...moreThis read was a bit lengthier than a typical Voyage episode, but the tone and atmosphere were true to form. Departing from a moment's pause in the previous installment, we're back to more serious touring of the multiverse. Once again we have Kal exploring relationships in the metaxia. Well, not relationships, but human contact. There's nothing wrong with that, of course; he's a teenager on his own and being deprived of the social existence many teenagers experience. That said, I feel that there's not much hope of forming a true relationship for Kal unless he's willing to be patient. At the moment, he's in a teenaged rush, which equates to spotting up someone he finds attractive and very quickly wondering if they should hold hands and kiss, and then what? And then nothing. They don't know each other and Kal can't really know anyone because the truth of the matter is that he's not sticking around. Sucks, we know, but at the same time a relationship can work one day, provided Kal takes it slow and it's allowed to evolve over the course of more than one episode(this is what I'm holding out hope for). Until then it can really only ever be a meet and crush. I sympathize with Kal's want for involvement and affection, but I'm not torn up about the fact that it didn't work out this time, or the time before. It's much too fast and much too short a period of time for any real deep emotion to be involved. These are more like dates that don't really go anywhere in terms of the long haul. No biggie. He's young yet and has lots of time.
As for the alternate location and the rest of the story, I see Kal's continuing to deal with a mysterious yet consistent antagonist, which I enjoy. Now there's something to really try to figure out for us from one episode to the next. Endings are becoming more overlapping...bridging the episodes with a more immediate sense of flow, versus wrap-up endings in episodes that previously could almost have stood on their own. Events are becoming less contained and unique to the current situation and are beginning to encompass more in the larger picture. We shall see how Kal 'grows up' as the stakes escalate.(less)
This is well put together. The story is interesting, the characters are believable, and the writing is articulate. It was presented to me as a young a...moreThis is well put together. The story is interesting, the characters are believable, and the writing is articulate. It was presented to me as a young adult story, but I don't entirely agree with setting it into that niche. To me it seems adult level reading with some characters who happen to be young adults. I think there's a bit of confusion in the current 'genre' landscape where young characters equate to young adult material and that quite simply isn't true. The story does not specifically handle young or teen concerns, it doesn't overly focus on coming of age, nor does it involve a highschool of any kind. It also isn't a romance, which seems to be another prerequisite for YA. Reader, you shall find no teen romance here. What you will find are different people unknowingly walking the same path. The 'King' who had marked servants(super powers included) was an interesting premise. It had aspects about it that clearly worked, aspects that were acceptably mysterious, and a few aspects that were roundly confusing. Those few aspects are forgivable if not ignorable for the most part. It really depends on how discerning a reader you are and just how much you want answered by the end of the story. I'm a tad capricious about that. There are times when I can go without and there are times where I sincerely want to be fully informed. Here was a case where I found myself more on the former end of that spectrum...but still.
Things I would have liked to have known included: Who was the King? He seemed to only have been gone a short time, respectively and there were servants present(to my understanding) who had worked directly beneath him before he went missing. Why did they neither think nor speak of him in any detailed regard? I would think loyalty, devotion, or even bitterness that tested both would demand as much. Why did the King leave? Why does no one speculate why, even if there's no way of knowing for certain? What factors decided on the steward who took his place? Who exactly was this man? For that matter how did the King even become the King?
I also had a bit of difficulty accepting Del. Twenty-four(ish) is far too young for the title of legend. Legend is typically something assigned to an individual of tremendous(*tremendous*) fame posthumously. It may also be a title acquired by someone later in life, who's old enough to have affected a generation. I was confused on just how long ago the war had taken place, but regardless, even if she'd been a mercenary of amazing skill from the age of fourteen(unlikely, especially considering the fact that she'd been involved in a very serious love relationship prior to setting out on her own), that's only ten years to become famous. Famous or notorious, not realistically legendary. Even so, had she been thirty-four, it would have been easier to suspend disbelief. That was the largest thorn for me while I was reading and in the larger picture it doesn't matter all that much. It just needled me during her scenes and made it difficult for me to pay full attention to her.
Alongside Del came Maro. I liked him(barring his worship of a legend that was too young to be one). I liked his personality and how he adjusted to circumstances within that personality. I liked where he wound up by the end of the story. I disliked that there were suddenly characters around him who we didn't know before being written of as if we did. The ending rushed together like that, though(more on that in a bit).
My favorite characters were without question Isra, Ketlar, and Samel. I thoroughly enjoyed the three of them, as a trio and individually. I cannot go into depth about them without giving away too many details, but there was a complexity to each of them and among them that really worked. It created a chemistry in its subtlety that many characters fail to deliver because an author is too busy telling us everything they think we need to know. Herman's characters do have a way at letting us get to know them, over brandishing all of their character traits and feelings/positions like shiny banners. The same thing can be said for her world. While it did leave some details missing in its lack of telling and banner waving, I was able to venture through the world making discoveries on my own. I appreciated that to an overly guided tour. In fact, I would have very comfortably read an entire story centered around the river people. Leti and his family almost trumped the above mentioned trio. Almost. It was so close. I think when his and their threads merged it ultimately put more focus onto the other three and while Leti himself was still present, his culture fell into the background enough that I was easily caught up in the others instead. I think the last significant party to mention is Chay. I really liked her at first. Over the course of the story that interest dwindled. It wasn't that she became less than she was. It may have been that she stayed so much the same and as her surroundings shifted, she still stayed exactly the same. In a sense it was in a stubborn way that was precisely in character, but at the same time, I felt like she wasn't gaining anything from the experience. By the time things were wrapping up, she almost told me as much in her own words, which I found ultimately unsatisfying. It happens, I guess. Not everyone changes in a changing environment. Some people just stay the same. Chay did. Even so, she had a solid voice and I found her believable, even at her young age.
Speaking of youth, it took me a while to accept that many of these Marked were so young(born after the disappearance of the King) because they were simply the next generation. Once that clicked, it made sense. I was confused, however, about how much they seemed to know about their role beneath the King, considering how most people would not speak of the Marked beyond their being traitors. It seems to me Chay was far too young to remember much about the King as either of her parents may have mentioned him. Leti's family tried to shield him in ignorance, yet at one point he confidently assures that the King will be back. Why would he feel that conviction or presume that it would be a good thing? I feel that in his position he might be more neutral on that subject. I also feel as if this part of the story could have been much fuller. Connecting to the characters was no trouble, but connecting to their circumstances and concerns was difficult at times.
I'm still rambling, because this story was well written and gave me a lot to consider and debate. The author's writing style is reminiscent of writers such as C. J. Cherryh or Terry Brooks; clear character voices and a concise language style that was tastefully complex when it needed to be. Getting back to the rushed ending, that's my only style complaint. I felt that by the end of it, it came time to 'wrap things up'. The sense of accomplishment slowly drained out of me and when I got to the last page I felt like it had simply ended. It was sort of 'Oh, I guess we're done here.'. It was akin to having a really interesting conversation with a new friend and they suddenly announce they have to leave, set about pleasantly confirming any last details of the chat, then promptly depart. You don't know if you'll hear from them again. Even so, I did really like the very last image we were shown regarding one of my favorite characters. I really liked that, but it didn't help the way everything ultimately got tidied up. Maybe I'm too much of a chaotic person to appreciate tidiness.
All that stated, this is a well written book. I shall say it again, because it truly is. The read is not at all cumbersome in the technical aspect. Very smooth, good vocabulary, wonderful perspective(through the eyes of the characters). I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys light fantasy with some political flavor and a dash of magic.(less)
What we have with the tenth episode of Voyage is an interlude, a space for pause...a moment of reflection and contemplation that fills a space between...moreWhat we have with the tenth episode of Voyage is an interlude, a space for pause...a moment of reflection and contemplation that fills a space between Episode 9 and whatever lies ahead of us in Episode 11. There's very little accomplished here. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Because Voyage is an episodic work, it often lays with a disadvantage where space to reflect and consider would normally be within a novel. This wouldn't work if it wasn't on the heels of a significant event, or a couple such events really. Things began to take a turn into more severe territory with Episode 8. Kal began not only facing problems larger than what he was accustomed to, but he's been forced to make decisions and to live with those decisions, which have not always been correct. Now he's also been made to live with the actions of others; actions that were committed in direct relation to him. It rattles him a bit, owed to his age and the lack of truly serious decisions he's had to make. Before it seemed that he could always appear and disappear where these alternate Earths were concerned at will and on a whim. He's having to grow up and see himself as a member of a multiverse's population rather than simply as a detached witness or visitor. Understandably, Kal's not so certain he appreciates that. Tria, the curiously more mature of the pair of clone-twins, seems perfectly aware of how their actions or lack thereof may affect a given people or place and is set to move forward with that in mind. Kal would rather dodge the topic for now and that brings us to Episode 10, where Kal stands at this crossroads and continues to choose a path marked 'safe'. Tria manages to convince Kal to take a chance in new territory which turns out to be very new indeed, and potentially dangerous. The experience brings them both to a middle ground. Those following Kal's journey should look to this episode to offer a moment of balance in light of events up to this point.(less)
This episode tackles some issues of scope the likes of which we have not yet seen in Voyage. War, (nano)-pestilence, and death. We're one shy of an ap...moreThis episode tackles some issues of scope the likes of which we have not yet seen in Voyage. War, (nano)-pestilence, and death. We're one shy of an apocalypse. I appreciate the author's willingness to the challenge and the characters' readiness to step off this cliff. That said...how ready is the series itself for topics of this magnitude? My honest, personal opinion is almost there, but not quite.
The reason I think this is because these stories/episodes are finitely contained within a greater infinity. They've yet to break out into that infinity in a cohesive manner. In other words, there's not enough time within a single episode to tackle truly massive sociological issues. Such topics would be better dealt with spread out over several servings of Voyage, versus having it all heaped onto one plate as a single course. I say that, but the series isn't set up that way, so it doesn't seem that it can plausibly do that without deconstructing itself and its original premise. So far as I've seen, it's one realm per episode and in this case we maybe should have had Nanogen Part 1 and 2, or more even. But now I'm carrying away from the series' intention again, so it's really not a viable option. Or is it? I mean, it could be, but we've had no indication...so I have to assume that standalone stories will continue to be encapsulated within single episodes and placed within the larger picture as such, as single doses. In my opinion a single dose just isn't enough for truly significant sociological themes to be more than visited. What does this mean? It means for me this came across as an episode with powerful themes but that was not as strongly executed as other episodes have been. There just wasn't enough time to explore the politics, the psychology, or the sociology deeply and it stole impact from the action as well as the emotion. Both felt rushed and I personally felt disengaged, owed to the pace and the sensation that these themes were being oversimplified.
This doesn't mean that I disliked the episode or that I'm annoyed or disenchanted with the series. I'm actually intrigued that Kal and Tria are coming across problems that are quite a bit larger than themselves or their perceptions of the universe. In a way they probably made the first step in that direction with the last episode. My concerns are that in the two steps we've taken into this territory, Kal seems less capable of making a really considered and considerate decision. He's demonstrating some thoughtlessness and some selfishness that I'm citing him for, not the writing or the story, or the author. Kal's a person(I'm convinced); he may not always make decisions that I agree with. For this reason alone I recommend this series. The personalities are realistic and they have the capacity to grow. Whether they grow for the better or the worse is less significant in the larger picture to me, as long as by the end of it I'm convinced that they got to where they are and who they are naturally. I believe Kal will and I believe that Tria may be the one to help steer him more at better than worse. Tria is rapidly becoming my favorite character(sorry, Kal, you're getting upstaged by your 'brother'). Clone though he may be, Tria is extremely likable and has a propensity for making measured, thought-out decisions, almost reflexively. It's interesting to study what is technically a copy of Kal exploring and applying different aspects of the same personality.
Overall, this episode was not as strong as preceding episodes, but it did make a firm contribution to the series and opens up some new and deeper possibilities for future episodes. (less)
This was a very unique piece. The psychology is perhaps the most important aspect as it follows the inter...moreOriginally shared at The Immarcescible Review
This was a very unique piece. The psychology is perhaps the most important aspect as it follows the internal struggle of George, who remains traumatized(though not cripplingly so) over a childhood accident involving himself and his nephew. Close to the same age, George and Steven were growing up like brothers. A vehicular accident takes Steven, but leaves George. As George grows up, he overcomes the trauma and doesn't allow it to affect him on a daily basis. The key is that he 'doesn't allow' it to affect him. With some psychological training he has learned to be more lucid in his dreams and control what goes on to a moderate degree. But then, on the verge of a milestone in his life, he finds himself continuing a recurring dream without those controls neatly responding as they used to. He also finds his nephew. I think the speculative aspect of this fiction is to consider whether or not it's purely psychological or whether or not George made some metaphysical connection with Steven. Either way, we get to witness George respond to these new circumstances and learn some things and also come to terms with some things along the way.
The writing style has a very orderly flow. The author considers what he wants to say and then says it. It was very easy to follow. This is an emotional, psychological read, paced well and at a comfortable length.(less)
What can I say about Orion? Firstly, that the author clearly just likes to tell stories. That clear desire to spin a a yarn and enjoy it shines throug...moreWhat can I say about Orion? Firstly, that the author clearly just likes to tell stories. That clear desire to spin a a yarn and enjoy it shines through. Even though this type of science fiction is not a typical go to for me when I'm seeking entertainment, I was still entertained. It had a television show quality, particularly in the vein of such shows as Firefly; some heavy action, quick pacing, and bouts of light humor. I appreciate the lightness of the humor because the characters delivered it more like normal people. Some of the jokes may have been silly or even clunky, but in the way guys can be when they're just being guys, which lends the characters more credibility.
The setting was an alien world, inhabited by aliens, which naturally created some conflict. The way it was come to and resolved could be likened to the style of Star Trek storylines; quick and brutal. The story itself is also not long, resting somewhere in the vicinity of short story and novella. If you're just looking for a quick escape into the wilds of space, Orion may be for you. (less)
Okay, I'm not going to finish this one. I read a third of it, so it still gets a review for two reasons:...moreOriginally shared at The Immarcescible Review
Okay, I'm not going to finish this one. I read a third of it, so it still gets a review for two reasons: 1, I've read enough to have some perspective on the book, whether or not I finished it and 2, I didn't stop reading it because it was awful.
So...what is this exactly? Well, it's kind of like a dark parody of every comic universe you may have ever dipped your kid or adult toes into. I say dark because it takes the very concept of 'hero' and twists it into an uglier version of what it once may have been. And I say parody because there's so much resemblance to every other comic culture and situation already out there that it seems to be mocking them, very openly and in a sinister tone. If it was meant to do this, then it's a success. If it wasn't, then...well, that's what it comes across as. And I think that's one of the reasons I stopped reading it. Again, not because it's awful, but...it doesn't bring anything new to the genre. The author has his own version of several well-known superheroes....as in near-clones of well-established superheroes. In some cases he changed the gender or some minute details of the background. But really these virus-infected individuals are mutants, just like in the X-Men. There's an Iron Man character, complete with suit of armor and playboy lifestyle. The Detective is a 'smarter'(less impulsive?) Wolverine. The premise of the Seven versus normal human beings is also not new in concept to the comic universe. The largest difference is that this is a novel instead of a comic book. The writing style doesn't really provide enough extra depth, though, to justify the lack of illustrated panels. This is my opinion, of course. I just didn't find enough uniqueness to render it a fulfilling experience.
All of that said, I did find the premise intriguing, for the simple fact that I once had boxes of comic books under my bed. And for some it has obviously and could very easily rekindle that nostalgia or satisfy the constant appetite for those still actively reading comic books.
Another reason I stopped reading was that I found myself sorting out the mystery well beforehand. I also grew quickly tired of the women all having 'powers' that at some point rendered them naked. I found the incessant demonstration of violence at its height as brains being spread all over the room(almost literally worded as such on every occasion) mildly juvenile. In a comic book setting, you kind of have to expect that sort of thing, but in a novel, you kind of want to see the author be more creative and avoid repetitive description.
The author has a good imagination; I will not slight him that. If he were to come out with something a little deeper and fresher, I would definitely try it. For anyone simply looking to enjoy a lighter, action-oriented showcase of heroes/anti-heroes we're all familiar with in idea this could be for them.(less)