Monday, December 23, 2013

Science Fiction Review: The Zondon by Robby Charters

The ZondonThe Zondon by Robby Charters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good, well-researched sci fi.

The story opens with Ernie, an undermotivated guy whose twin outshines him. Growing up, Ernie experienced vivid dreams of space, a tomb in Egypt, and a multi-faceted glowing crystal. Now, when he and his brother get the opportunity to resume the exploration of a tomb their parents were forced to abandon before they were born, they jump on it, but Ernie begins to suspect he's been there before.

I found this to be an interesting book, with a good mix of real and fictional science, just enough to be plausible if not probable. As for the story, it's well-fleshed out and planned, and I didn't notice any plot holes. The origins of the aliens, both good and bad, and the tie in with the creation story,the dinosaurs, and the current events in the story are interesting and entertaining. The characters are from extremely different backgrounds, but their personalities, mannerisms and belief systems ring true, probably due to the author's research. This and the travel in the book makes this story appealing from a contemporary standpoint.

Unlike many sci fi books, this one includes research references and a list of definitions (including source and real vs. imaginary). I really liked that, because I don't tend to want to have to research stuff I find in a book designed for entertainment in order to understand it. However, it might have been better if the terms were linked to their explanations the first time they were introduced in the story, perhaps with footnotes. As it stands, I didn't discover them until I had finished reading. Then again, maybe that would have distracted from the storyline. I can see it going both ways.

On the down side, some of the details came too much at once in places. Already complex theoretical physics becomes even more challenging when fictional particles are added to the mix. Also, when about halfway through, the number of characters began to grow almost exponentially. I began to find it hard to keep up with them. Then near the end, they started using nicknames for some of the characters instead of the names they were introduced with. That was very confusing especially for Ed, Eddie, and Edward. Three names refering to two people. With some context and a little flipping back, I was able to figure it out, but it made that part of the book a bit slower to get through.

Besides the occassional information overload and confusing naming, I found the book to be peppered with word choice errors and verb errors, mostly the kind that would not be caught by spell check and that would sound right if read aloud. The story did seem to be edited, don't get me wrong, but it needs a little bit more to polish off a few rough edges.

Overall, The Zondon is a good story that fans of contemporary science fiction will likely enjoy. There are some grammatical issues, but the interesting storyline and well-researched science (and well-developed fictional science) make it worth picking up all the same.

I found this book for free on Amazon and made a goal to read it as part of an A-Z book reading challenge I'm participating in this year.

View all my reviews

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As a side note, did you know that the ratings on the various book sites have different meanings behind them?  In particular, Goodreads provides more levels of like than Amazon. Lets take this book, here is how I plan to rate it on these sites (note I always use the Goodreads scale on my blog).

Rating info for this book:
  • 3-stars on Goodreads = I liked it.
  • 4-stars on Amazon= I liked it.

I don't always post my 3-star Goodreads ratings on Amazon at the higher star rating, but when I do it's because the story is near the top of the like range.  When I post 3 on both sites, it's because the story is near the low end of the like range. Purely subjective, but there it is.

Similar to the 'I like it' ratings, Goodreads 2-star = It's ok, while Amazon 2-star = I don't like it, and Amazon 3-star = It's ok.  Luckily I don't come across many books I don't like.  But when I do, I try my best to fit my rating appropriately into whatever scale a site uses.

On both sites, 1-star means 'I hate it' and 5-star means 'I love it.'