I was approached by Nathan Beauchamp to review his new collaborative effort Chimera. I was given a free copy to read and review, I was not paid to do either. I was promised entry into Valhalla after my death, but other than that, I have not received any compensation.
In the last year I have been approached by several authors and asked to review their work and so far, I luckily haven’t disliked any of those novels; Chimera was no different.
The story was fantastically crafted and left me wanting more, which is good since a sequal – and probably more than one – is on the way. For those of you who don’t like stories ending on a cliffhanger, this one ended on more of a large overlook that you were safely standing on. Oh sure, there’s more story to tell, but it wasn’t as though it ended with the hero hanging by his belt about to be sucked into space. The story satisfactorily finished the initial arc it was meant to tell.
The Sci-Fi Aspect:
There are two ways a writer can go with science fiction when it comes to the technical aspect of the story. You can go Star Trek on your reader and throw in a lot of techno-babble that is meant to convince your reader/viewer that the physics and theories of the babble are real and important to the story. Or you can throw in unobtrusive tech that is there for a reason but doesn’t need to be explained – a little more Star Wars than Star Trek.
Chimera had a lot of tech in the story and some of it was integral to what was happening. But it wasn’t outlandish or so far-fetched that it needed explanation. One character has a neural implant called a spider. I think any sci-fi reader is sufficiently versed in the concept of neural links that this didn’t need to be explained any more than what was done in the book. Selena used her spider to communicate with the ship she was flying. Cool, I get that and thank you for not delving in to how the spider works, how it’s made, why it was made, who has them, who doesn’t, what the extent of its abilities are, etcetera. I don’t need those details and you can easily add them one at a time if a certain scene requires me to have that detail.
Along these lines is a major science fiction point – faster than light travel. We know what warp is. We understand light speed. Other authors come up with different names for the same thing or different theories for FTL. Chimera uses “fractal” for how they travel FTL. It’s not explained in the book, but how it works is hinted at multiple times and how it works is going to be integral to the story progression – I assume. But at this point in the story, we don’t need to know and we may never need a full explanation other than – it works, trust me.
This is what I’m getting at when I say that this story has a lot of great science fiction moments/tech that aren’t crammed down your throat. It’s there and easy to understand without needing further or in-depth explanation.
All of the main characters were crafted well and I felt close to all of them. There were a couple of support characters with extremely small parts that I thought weren’t written very well. There’s a nurse who helps one of the main characters and I thought she was very flat and her dialog not tended to very well. It’s almost as though the writers took so much time developing and planning the main characters that they were creatively exhausted when it came time to write for the two or three characters that were kind of just passing through the story. A minor gripe and not worth docking my overall opinion of the novel.
My one other minor issue with the story is this gesture that’s referred to or the characters often perform. One character will take another’s finger – that’s it. What is this? I’m guessing it is evolved from the Earth custom of shaking hands, but we’re never told. Is it submission? Acceptance? Greetings? Aloha-like in that it can mean all of these and more depending on the circumstance? In fact, the gesture itself isn’t ever fully described. Which finger are they are taking? Is it finger to finger? Palm to finger? Pinky swearing? Pull my finger?
I think it’s interesting when authors take current behavioral norms and warp them with time. The hand shake and the hand salute have their origins among warriors who were greeting each other without weapon in hand, and that’s from a relatively short time ago. What gestures and customs will change in the next five hundred years as we venture further into space? It’s interesting to see other writers’ take on these concepts.
But I find it annoying when authors throw something out like this and don’t explain it at all, especially when there were several scenes where this gesture set the mood because someone did or didn’t take the blasted finger. How big of a snub was this? I have no idea.
So three paragraphs dedicated to a finger pull, but when there aren’t any major issues with a book, it’s the little details that stick out the most.
Two minor gripes aside, this novel is well worth your time. My only fear is there won’t be a follow-up novel(s). If Stephen King writes a novel with a sequel intended, you know that unless he dies, it’s going to happen. With independent or new authors, that may not happen. I can see these characters and new universe living on for many stories to come, and I truly hope they do.
**NOTE: All of my novels are professionally edited but my posts and reviews aren’t 🙂