Book Review: Still Falling

by Martin Wilsey

ISBN-13: 978-1507802380 ISBN-10: 1507802382

This book is Science Fiction, probably described as Hard Science Fiction, and does contain a small amount of Speculative Medicine.

The Story:

Still FallingThe main story is really about Roland Barcus, part of the crew of the Ventura approaching the planet Baytirus, when his ship is destroyed. The narrative describes his crash-landing on the planet, the death of his close friend and colleague Chen, and his struggle to establish his own precarious survival on this planet.
That struggle brings him into contact with Olias and Po, humans (it seems) of this planet who are part of the established culture and class system. In addition, his interaction with several persona in the form of Artificial Intelligence entities, the Emergency Module (EM), and two other structures, his own extra-vehicular suit named Ashigura, and a spider like structure Pardosa. All three of these appear to have their own particular characteristics, described over the course of the narrative in the story, although EM seems to have a level of control and influence somewhat higher than the others. There is also STU, which appears to be the AI associated with the shuttle.
The book involves the development of the description of these entities and their function while Barcus tries to prepare for winter and subsequent conflict with the indigenous class system, in particular, the Keepers, violent overlords enslaving this world.
There are levels in this book. The story itself is part of a report issued investigating ‘The Solstice 31 Incident,’ incorporating n evaluation of the AI functions and the activities of the hero, Barcus.
The book is interesting and exciting. The character development is competent. The world seems to be a description of a dreadfully misogynistic society, with not so veiled parallels to some organized religions.

Technical.

The book is well constructed with very little technical problems that might distract the reader. Occasional quotation structure is a bit confusing, as is some dialog attribution. In addition, the book would probably benefit from a Table of Contents. I thought at first this might be the copy the author kindly sent me, but I could not find one in the Amazon Look Inside function either.
The use of Chapter tags at the beginning is an interesting approach to orient the reader.

Style.

The story flows well, with only occasional areas of confusion, though some characters come and go without clear purpose. It is not self-contained; that is, the story seems to begin in the middle of the space-ship crash, which is acceptable, but still implies obvious further continuation in later books so that some issues are not resolved. There is a fair bit of violence, though much does give the reader a warm fuzzy feeling, given the appealing way the upper class treats the lower.
The dialog is believable, and the relationships are well developed and appropriately strung-out and rewarding. The development of interactions with AI’s is interesting.

Speculative Medicine.

This book has some speculative medicine. A nasty injury is dealt with through the use of something similar to topical thrombin to stop excessive bleeding and then somewhat magical ‘nanites’, possibly also growth factors, used to bring internal injuries under control. In addition, a sick bay within the shuttle is utilized, and there is a passing description of skull fracture and sub-dural hematoma.

I will likely get around to reading the rest of the sagas once I catch up on these reviews. It appears that this is the first of a series, The Broken Cage, and Blood of the Scarecrow being the other two, and the flow of the story certainly invites the reader to check out the other two. Martin Wilsey Amazon Author Page

I enjoyed the book, and would give it 4.4 over-all.

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