Sunday, 13 December 2009
eBook Review (and related rant): "Dominant Species" by Michael E. Marks
I came across this book while trying to decide whether or not to buy a Kindle. I had outlined in an earlier post that the dearth of good books and more particularly a dearth of my usual reading fodder made it of little use to me. However, once I started writing I was advised that if I wanted to write I had to read. Not just the usual, I had to expand my horizons. Where better to search for and read books of many genres without futher cluttering my rapidly disappearing room than the Kindle store? ...It's amazing what you can justify when you really really want to buy something. What can I say? ...I am weak. Some of my points in that earlier post still stand but having invested in one I will now wait patiently to see how it develops.
Which leads neatly on to the reason I started to write this post in the first place. The book itself. Most of the books in the Kindle store have been 'converted' from their original print versions, however, Michael Mark's book "Dominant Species" only exists in the digital realm. I think this is the beginning of a trend that may be the future of SciFi. The argument that SciFi as a printed genre is dying is an old hat that has been argued on the "world wide" for a while now. It was recently revived on the blog of an author I've come to admire and many big names in SciFi writing joined in a spirited debate that extended to two futher blog posts. Do check out the posts and subsequent discussions, it really is a fascinating read. In the discussion I cited this book as a future model for the dissemination and futher development of SciFi in a publishing world that must cater to popular tastes to survive.
And what an entry to that model it is! The book tells the story of a top secret elite Marine unit trapped deep underground in a mysterious spaceship and their battle for survival against a mysterious and powerful enemy.The sub-genre of this book is military scifi which, while known for action and adventure, is not generally famous for the depth of its characters. However, the characters in this book display remarkable depth without losing the pace and action that makes this genre what it is.
In addition one of the arguments made in the above discussion is that we live in a world where Science Fiction is fast becoming Science Fact. It was suggested that this removes the sense of wonder experienced by the readers of early scifi with its exploration of the possible technologies of the future. Michael Marks seems to have embraced that reality and woven into the centre of his tale some of the technologies and ideas that NASA and DARPA are working on right now and in so doing has, for me, recaptured that sense of wonder at what the future holds. The fact that the future may not be so far off only serves to highten that wonder.
He often goes into almost Clancy-esque detail about the nature of the armour and weapons of the marines but for me the details never become burdensome and only serve to heighten the depth of the picture in my mind. His combat scenes are well crafted and take you to the very heart of the action in a way that almost has you ducking when the bullets start to fly. In combination with the twists of the story, the slowly uncovered mysteries and the very real characters he has a formula that will keep you gripped right up to the last page. The only irritating part of the book are the formatting errors throughout the text. They mar what is an otherwise fantastic book.
All in all I can't recommend this book highly enough to those of you with a Kindle and a taste for Military Science Fiction and even for those of you who have never really been drawn to this genre. Tense and action packed, it really is a terrific read.