Shiny New Swindle, by Simon Cantan (12:54)

IOD-ShinySwindleEven when the ride is going great, a little vibration can feedback on itself and buck the rider into a swamp.

What I gleaned about the story: In a cyberpunk future where every human is wired and every sense augmented, the perfect crime is just one hack job away. This is the story of that one hack job, and its unforeseen consequences.

Find the book on Amazon.

WTF #1: He backed in and pulled his long, thin legs inside, slipping his cane into the gap between us. He shoved the duffel bag between his legs and slammed the door shut. He shook his head and sprayed me with droplets of water.

Analysis: This one’s a bit picky, but it happened in the second paragraph, and I’m particularly sensitive to stylistics on the first page, because I figure that’s the one page that has probably had the most editorial attention. Plus, my feelers are all wide open at the start, trying to get a sense of what kind of book this is and what kind of adventure I’m on my way into. In this particular case, the first paragraph had done a very nice job of painting a very specific setting and mood for me and I was already immersing.

But then I tripped on the repetitive headwords and structure. He did something. He did something. He did something. Not a fatal flaw. Just an irritant. But enough to draw my attention to the words, rather than the world. Immersion broken.

WTF #2: […] the robot slammed its metal arms into the security panel, cracking it in two. The robot kept going until only shards of glass and strings of wire remained. The robot rotated, its head cranked to the side, seeming confused.

Analysis: Arggh! I was really getting into this. Lots going on, no pedantic over-explanation, an intriguing world, with what appears to be an intriguing premise shaping up… And then BAM! More echoing headwords and sentence structure to yank me out and make me look at the words again. And worse, I have a sinking feeling that this is going to be a recurring problem.

WTF #3: I saved the account to a quick list and pulled up the source code. I would have to hurry, or they would find our change. I found the account calculations and typed in my prepared changes. Flipping back to Erika’s balance, I sent ten kroner from her account to a registered charity.

Analysis: Yup. There it is again. And then again on the next page. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m seeing it everywhere. And worse, because the story is in first person, this is giving it a case of Galloping “I” Disease as well. (See this previous review for more about that particular problem.) Just to be sure, I flipped forward a few more pages, and kept seeing it. Repeated headwords. Repeated sentence structures. Subject verb noun. Subject verb noun. One editorial pass to break up these cognitive echoes would do a world of good for an otherwise promising story.

Note: This one was really frustrating, because I was really enjoying where the story seemed to be heading, and aside from this one issue, I found nothing at all to even quibble about. If there’s a take-away lesson in all of this, I suppose it’s that, even when all other things are right, it only takes one problem to pick at the reader’s skin as he goes by. And though it may be minor, if it happens often enough, it can still destroy the immersive experience.

Wisdom Beyond Her Years, by J-L Heylen (17:18)
White Dwarf One, by Dario Solera (14:36)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.