Review of “Splintered Suns” by Michael Cobley

Despite the high praise on the back cover and intriguing premise, this novel left me feeling kinda meh.

The worldbuilding and the plot were at least interesting enough that I wanted to keep going for awhile, and I did manage to make it through twelve chapters before setting it aside. However, the characters are as flat as a Kiskashin’s sense of humor, and often take actions that don’t seem to be motivated by anything except it would lead to a gosh so cool scene or situation.

While intellectually interesting and many-layered, the plot and side-plots weren’t tightly bound to a cohesive story thread enough for me to become emotionally invested in what was happening. It doesn’t help that the star of the show, Brennan Pike, comes off as a happy-go-lucky cross between Han Solo, a leprechaun, and a cartoon pirate. The dialogue as-written reflects this. So annoying.

Highlights: expansive world-building, huge ancient alien starship, creative meshing of artificial and advanced biological life forms, interesting side plot that takes place inside a mind crystal

Lowlights: somehow manages to be pretty boring overall, despite all of the above

DNF (pg 252 of 483). 3/5 Stars.

Sci-Fi Story Elements That Really Hook Me!

For well over a year now, I’ve been spinning my wheels on a sequel to Red Soil Through Our Fingers. Despite the well-known writing advice that the first draft will be crap and you just have to power through it, somehow the three drafts I’ve started and scrapped so far seemed to have more wrong than merely being ordinary first-draft crap. Something really fundamental felt like it was missing.

So I finally took a break from trying to write the fourth do-over and decided to just freewrite about what I love in the sci-fi novels that I read. I analyzed my very favorite speculative fiction novels for common threads, and tried to distill them into individual motifs. The results were enlightening, and subsequent work has helped me re-plan and restructure the work-in-progress to better align with the elements of speculative fiction that I find exciting.

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Space Opera!

A long, long time ago… in a galaxy far, far away… [cue amazing, soul-electrifying fanfare]

It is a period of civil war.

Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil GALACTIC EMPIRE.

During the battle rebel spies managed to steal the secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the secret plans that can save her people and restore peace to the galaxy…

I think I must have been about ten years old when I first saw those words scroll across a television screen. Oh boy, was it awesome.

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