I just completed Waiting Weapon, a science fiction novel by fellow Champagne author K.M. Tolan. It was a satisfying read and one that required my full attention to follow the sharp twists and turns of its plot.
The story is of the clash humans and the Me’Aukin in the future. Faster-than-light space travel is a reality in Tolan’s future, but few inhabitable planets exist and the competition for them is fierce. Humans with their fusion weapons have driven the Me’Aukin from their planet. The Me’Aukin, though, are masters of nano-technology and have left behind a Waiting Weapon to destroy the colonizing humans.
Me’Aukins Rick and Jamie were discovered as embryos and raised by human colonists. Rick is the novel’s protagonist. Me’Aukins are similar to humans, only shorter, with olive-colored skin, large doe-like eyes, and with long fingers. However, there is more to them than meets the eye. Their psychic or telepathic skills are far beyond ours. Rick wants justice for his fellow Me’Aukin, yet he can also sympathize with the humans that raised him.
Events move quickly along. Rick and Jamie realize they’re pawns between different human factions. They flee to search for their fellow Me’Aukins. They want to disarm the Waiting Weapon, but also to reconcile and meet their own people.
What made the novel for me is Tolan’s intricate and fascinating portrayal of the Me’Aukin, which is a proud species. There is some similarity between the Me’Aukin and old Japanese samurai society in that clan and family, and honor and personal history are all important. But, there is so much more to the Me’Aukin people. For them revenge beyond the grave is still possible and marriage ten times more intimate.
I recommend Waiting Weapon.
I recently read Shawndirea: Chronicles of Aetheaon: Book One by Leonard D. Hilley II. The book’s captivating cover art caught me and the book fulfilled my expectations. I recommend the book to any readers of the swords and sorcery genre.
Shawndirea is a pint size faery that technophobe biologist Ben snags in his butterfly net, destroying her fragile wings in the process. It’s love at first sight. Or is there something magical about their meeting? Ben vows to return the plucky faery to her homeland to repair her wings even if he has to go through Hell to do that.
He does have to go through Hell. Eventually they reach her world of Aetheaon. What follows is well-told tale of swords and sorcery. I haven’t read any recent books in this genre, although I’m a fan of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion and the Lord of the Rings. There are many similarities between Moorcock’s books and this one.
This book is the first of what appears to be a sweeping saga. There are many subplots, which hopefully will be resolved in future books.
I look forward to reading more books by Mr. Hilley starring Shawndirea and Ben.
Xenophobia is a good first contact novel, but could be better. I quickly became invested in the main character, a Dr. Bowers, and the U.S. Rangers that guard her. They’re in the midst of an African civil war when first contact occurs. Surrounding them are warlords with too little brains and too many drugs and guns. Can Bower and the Rangers get to safety?
The plot was good, the aliens were unique, and I cared about the characters. The Rangers were not just cookie cutter soldiers.
I give the book three and a half stars. It has two flaws. First, there are occasional long preachy soliloquies that slow down the book if you read them and are unnecessary if you don’t read them. They are a clear case of author intrusion. The other flaw is that the reader learns of most the human/alien interaction by Bower and the Rangers listening to the radio. Yeah, it’s all fiction, but I could believe what was happening to Bower was real. The reports on the radio just seemed like made up stuff. I think the author should have had another protagonist, perhaps a brother of Bower, who directly experiences the human/alien confrontations, rather than have a periodic telling of the first contact.