Category: Review

Vampires… in SPACE!: Reviewing Rob Bartlett’s The Turing Revolt.

I was generously given the opportunity to review Robert Bartlett’s novel that came out last year titled The Turing Revolt: The War Against Infinity Book 1. I was given a PDF version to review.  You, however, can get it from Amazon. I was given permission by the author use quotes to develop this review, so let this serve as your warning that I present some potential spoilers.

Also check out his website and follow him on Twitter.

I love sci-fi. If I had to relate this book to other notable media it would be the plot of Star Trek with the character development of Lost Girl. So, if you’re into those, this might be up your alley. I think that adding earth fantasy into science fiction is an untapped goldmine. It’s certainly not anything, I’ve come across yet. Bartlett is a writer with ideas!

Bartlett writes, “One of the chief characteristics of successful vampires is a hugely inflated sense of self, a megalomaniacal ego,” and this description serves to describe the protagonist, Milo Sapphire, to the T. Like I’ve said, Bartlett has such great ideas, his world building mirrors Star Trek closely only with a more natural capitalist twist, but we’re stuck having to see it through the lens of a character who reminded me too much of the guys who wouldn’t leave my desk when I worked in the hotel industry. They knew I had to stand there for eight hours listening to them go on and on, which would always evolve into larger, more unbelievable tales as the night went on. And at the moment they thought I should react, they’d say something, like maybe a “heh” (looking at you Milo Sapphire with your 51 Heh’s at the end of narrative sentences), and I would purse my lips and nod my head to acknowledge that I heard them, but really I had given up listening a long time ago. As such, there was no actual room for character development. He’s already too awesome, the literal chosen one of He/it.

There was great world building, superior to most indie books, I’d say, but like the character development, it got bogged down by the narrator having to tell us over and over again how strong and powerful he was. <~ When it came to the point in the storyline for him to show how big and strong he was through action, it didn’t get delivered, and when it’s realized by the narrator that it wasn’t delivered, there’s continuous “well what happened was…” Additionally, there are at least four non-earth worlds, and at least 2 different sentient races, and we barely get any description on the planets or the ecosystems because that’s not the what the narrator is concerned about showing off, unless it’s determining the race’s (or tech’s) gender. He seemed real hung up about ensuring there was some binary construct, or giving detailed explanations well after the item has been introduced. As such, my needs as a science fiction enthusiast did not match up with the narrator’s descriptive capabilities. But I know Bartlett can bring it, he’s shown that through the complex plot structure. I’m going to lean towards the notion that maybe he didn’t think the audience cared about those details as much, or he was true to the persona of Milo Sapphire and intentionally left it out.  

If you are someone who gets a little bogged down by grammar concerns, be aware that this text has minor errors throughout it, none of which inherently prevent the context from being understood. (There are ten that I found on the first page of Chapter One, and they are still present in at the least Amazon digital copy of this piece, so I assume the text that I received hasn’t been altered from what could be purchased). Personally, the author writes this conversationally, as if the narrator is speaking directly to the audience, and thus writes heavily with the personality of Milo Sapphire in mind, so I think the errors are an element of helping to display the character’s true persona. Additionally, there is a lot of repetition in what is delivered, but I rationalized it, again, as the personality of the narrator. Finally, the chapters are short, and sometimes things like a conversation gets broken up into multiple chapters, which I assume is for emphasis. For example, one conversation spans eleven pages and four chapters.

Like I said, I had the pervy desk stalkers in mind when I read this, so I’m not surprised that all the women are described based on items like shrugging “her shoulders in frustration making her barely contained breasts jiggle distractingly causing several boyfriends to get slapped by their female companions for so obviously ogling her” (I chose this one because it also displays the grammar that is presented throughout the text). There is only one woman (a female accountant who is only mentioned in one sentence) that isn’t viewed from a very misogynistic lens. Even the avatar of one of the sentient ships is described as “she wasn’t appealing to me as a potential playmate for the evening, unlike the lovely young lady whose view was now blocked by three strangers,” and Milo Sapphire states this comparison twice in adjoining paragraphs. As a female reader, I would define this depiction as concerning. I value representation of women to be a make or break in what I read, so if I’m being honest, if I wasn’t being asked to review this piece, I would have stopped reading after the first chapter. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily bad; more so a recognition that I am not the key demographic for this piece.Although to be fair, the males are viewed descriptively from a similar lens. The only physical description that Sapphire gives of himself is “while I don’t brag about it, I’m generously endowed” and of course that endowment must be used to save a woman from the clutches of a succubus. Women are literally throwing themselves at him at every turn because he’s so powerful (note not handsome, his physical description as far as I could see was never noted. The women are purely attracted to his ability to pump out pheromones and be the baddest dude in the room.)

The main concern I have is when the narrator clearly defined his instance with Nikki as rape, but he rationalizes it as being ok because another woman (a rape survivor herself), his vampire subordinate along with his subordinate, and his AI say it’s the only way to save her. He fully commits to raping (or dominating) Nikki, but to save face (and likely backlash) the woman comes out of her stupor to say, “Please make me yours. Her hold is weakened but it’s still there. Please take me now!” It’s every Incel’s wet dream… and my need to shower to cleanse my soul from the whole experience. Despite that concern, I could see Bartlett trying to walk this fine line that he created, and even with the RED FLAG I addressed, he did his best to dance around it. I haven’t read any of his other works, so it’s hard to say if this is the byproduct of trying to stick within the boundaries presented in the fantasy lore he sets up and the personality of the character, or if it’s just Bartlett trying to live out his fantasies via writing. My gut says it’s the former, because he had plenty of other opportunity to throw in further gratuitous sex scenes, but he didn’t.

Finally, the ending. There isn’t one. It’s a cliffhanger intent on gearing you up for Book 2. Zero closure to any of the issues that were presented, although there was some conversations about the beauty of bureaucracies intentionally delaying some of the conflict. Personally, I don’t mind cliffhangers, assuming there will be a quick release of the next one, but if you don’t like that, maybe wait until the series is over to purchase this book.

Currently, it is $0.99 from Amazon, so you won’t be breaking the bank if you choose to purchase it. I am looking forward to seeing how Book 2 develops, given the wide range of reviews presented on GoodReads.

Stitching Together Fiction and Science

I’ve developed a love for listening to e-books on my deck while I cross stitch. It beats being stuck inside watching TV, right?

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Over the summer, I finished Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. That book- deserves a re-listen. He was throwing terms and concepts way over my head, but I was like, “This makes sense” and “Double down on the history/science lessons!” His passion for everything beyond our atmosphere was infectious!

I also learned some new concepts that will enhance my ideas for Children of the Planes, which tweaks Albert Einstein’s Theory of relativity just enough to become official science fiction.

What’s crazy, is that perhaps my ideas aren’t that far off from the truth. I think that’s why science fiction is so appealing. A lot of what is placed as science fiction isn’t always that far off from tomorrow’s technology.

For example, Popular Science has an article by Mary Beth Griggs that shows examples from Star Trek. From cell phones to Bluetooth, her article highlights just how close the gap is between what we dream as far off concepts and realistic technology. All it takes is one person to look at the colorful ideas that science fiction presents and break it down into manageable shapes, which is very much like cross stitch.

Oh, and I’d like to thank Jupiter for essentially keeping us alive every day.

Mrs. Magoo Needs Angel Intervention

Last week I had to have surgery, and before all you concerned readers get worried: I am alive and well. My vision, however, has been shoddy. I have to put this cream in my eyes that has left me seeing everything in a blur.

Yes, I am the female Magoo.

But have I let 60% of my day being a blur stop my obsessive reading habits?!

No!

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I was able to finish the book my fellow Southern New Hampshire University alumni, Conny Fuller, recently published. Green Eyes is her debut novel, and it was my honor to get to read it. Honestly, I can’t really know for sure if I had ever read Christian Fiction before, so it was a new experience!

I like the premise of her story. The idea that there is an intricate network of supporters rooting for your success (even when you have no idea what that is) is cathartic. I had so many issues involving this surgery that I was almost ready to toss my hands in the air and be like, “FINE! I”ll go blind in this eye damnit!” Maybe  I had a guardian angel giving me the strength to find a solution to every problem. They were probably also around this weekend making sure I didn’t fall down the stairs in my Magoo state…

Thanks Angel!

 

 

 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

 

A sacrifice to witches, a bog monster, and a snuggle bug dragon. Barnhill uses these elements to spin a tale of a young girl Luna, trying to cope with irreversible consequences of not sticking to a standard diet of milk and pureed peas.

This week the kids and I finished Kelly Barnhill’s “The Girl Who Drank a Moon.”

There are so many great quotes from this book that make it an engaging and soul penetrating story. Barnhill has a gift for sprinkling thought engaging quips, that I often had to stop and wonder if my life was still the same. The story is going along at a great pace and then BAM:

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As a parent, I can relate. There are things about the world that I don’t want my kids to know. I don’t want to share my secrets….to share worries that keep me up. I hadn’t really thought that there are things in their lives that they want to protect me from as well.

What are they hiding?!

By far, my favorite character was Adara, Luna’s mother. Barhnill took a very classy approach when she talks about mental illness in this novel. Although mental illness doesn’t usually have a catalyst like Adara’s does, Barnhill makes us empathize with the loss of power that is the root of Adara’s insanity. I feel that Adara had to embrace her mental instability in order to truly find her inner power, and it helps everything come full circle when her daughter Luna had to do the same. She doesn’t have to overcome the mental illness itself, which is a great concept for adolescents to be more empathetic with this situation.

 

 

You can be crazy… you can be deformed… you can be a witch…. and still be a hero.

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If your child has read these books and you’d like to engage them with the storyline, here are 5 questions that you can ask. I’ve also included some of the quotes that lead me to ask those questions:

  1. Adara, Luna’s biological mother, ends up having magical abilities of her own. In a vision, it is implied this could have been because she was a descendant of the witches and wizards who were around before the great volcanic eruption. Do you think this means that Luna was always destined to have magical abilities?

 

  1. “Their backs bent under the weight of their secrets.” Are secrets ok? When are secrets not ok?

 

  1. “Sorrow is dangerous.” This phrase is repeated often throughout the book. Has there ever been a time that you felt you were so sad that it changed the way you look at the world? What makes you happy? Does happiness have the same ability to be dangerous?

 

  1. “Compassion or Revenge? Sometimes the two were the same.” What do you think? Do you think the ending was very compassionate to the mean people in the book such as the Grand Elder?

 

 

  1. If you had Seven League Boots, where would you use them to go? Do you think they are faster than Fyrian?

 

Kelly Barnhill has a few other books available, which I hope to read with the Allaire kiddos sometime soon. You can check her out at kellybarnhill.wordpress.com.

 

If you’ve read the book, do you have any thoughts on the above questions?

 

Have a good day and happy reading!