It takes a lot to stop someone in their tracks on the blogosphere, but that’s what happened to me when I came across J.S. Collyer’s creative writing blog “The Path” last year. Her short and flash fiction pieces jumped out to be read. In each piece there was a masterful control of plot, scenery and sensations, and a depth and humanity that made even the tiniest flash fiction memorable.
Then I heard that J.S’s first novel, “Zero” is being released this August by Dagda Publishing!
I put my hand up for an Advance Review Copy and settled down to read.
So is “Zero” a good story?
IT SURE IS!!!!!!!!
Kaleb Hugo is the perfect officer for the Service, an organisation that keeps order in a not so distant future. But after disobeying his superiors in a spacefight with rebels, he is demoted and becomes Captain of the ramshackle spacecraft Zero and its rag tag crew.
Officially the Zero is a privateer vessel. Unofficially, it does covert missions for the Service, sailing unnoticed into the darker ports of the universe.
The adventures begin with a spine-tingling raid on a data facility in the mountains of earth (with motorbikes and goggles!). Then Hugo and his Commander Ezekial Webb are told to investigate suspicious shipments to the Lunar Strip colonies, once the centre of a revolutionary uprising.
Collecting the sassy young Marilyn Harvey, a spacer who flies cargo missions and has shadowy contacts around the Lunar Strip, the Zero heads for the Lunar 1 colony.
Lunar 1 is vividly imagined with an almost very, very dark Dickensian feel. Hugo and the crew race through damp side streets and along flyways, under glittering spacescrapers and through grimy industrial works, encountering sinister criminals and the downtrodden ordinary folk. It is on Lunar 1 we learn more about Webb’s past and the history of the uprisings.
Then comes a HUGE twist. Suddenly we are hurtling non-stop through unexpected secrets, shock discoveries, political intrigue and action sequences that will have you on the edge of your seat (or beanbag in my case!)
Zero is a breeze to read, with the pace never dropping. The episodic nature of the early story is turned on its head by the midway twist. The action sequences are vivid and full-on (with some characters having a James Bond like indestructibility!) and there’s certainly some strong language once Hugo and Webb start arguing. But it’s when the action drops that J.S’s strengths in description and character writing lift the story to a new level. Her empathy makes the disclosure of the character’s darkest secrets particularly powerful.
Story rating: 5 stars from me
Genre: Science Fiction
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My current science fiction/steampunk reading list
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest