Lacuna, by David Adams (24:27)

IOD-LacunaGood writing brought down by a string of unlikely coincidences.

What I gleaned about the story: Earth has been spanked hard by aliens and now we’re mounting a mission to either spank them back, or maybe go apologize. I’m not sure.

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WTF #1: “Lieutenant Commander Gaulung Sheng. I’m your first officer.”

Analysis: So Earth is sending three ships out after these aliens, and the commander of Ship #1 is on board, ready to launch in a couple of hours, and only then meets her second in command? On a crucial mission like this, where you need a top crew, all working together at their best as a well oiled team, and she hadn’t even met him before? Clearly, she’d never even seen his service record, because she was also startled to find how young he was. That doesn’t wash with me. Much has been said about her competence to lead, but this situation that I’ve just be shown completely belies what I’ve been told in narration.

WTF #2: “So who’s the Tehran’s CO now?” She switched handholds, feeling somewhat better. She dared to move the paper bag away from her face.

“Yavari’s former XO, Captain James Grégoire.”

Analysis: In the opening scene of the book, Earth gets spanked by the aliens. Several major research facilities are bombarded from orbit. Our hero was in one of those facilities, along with some hunky foreign dude, and they were both being shown around by an annoying technical woman. The spank happens, the walls cave in, and hunky guy rescues hero girl from the rubble. Guess what his name was. Yup. James Grégoire.

On a multinational operation, selecting crew from the 8 billion or so people who live on the planet, the guy with the dreamy eyes just happens to be Captain #2? I rolled my eyes hard, and when my eyes roll, immersion breaks.

WTF #3: regarding a new crewman who has entered the scene: 

Liao’s disapproving eyes fell upon a torrent of floating red hair, bobbing about excitedly as though animated by a power of its own. Summer Rowe.

Analysis: Remember that annoying technical woman I mentioned above. Anybody care to guess what her name was? Yup. Summer Rowe. Now, if that research facility that got spanked had been a shipyard, or a NASA lab, or something like that, I might have let these coincidences pass. But it was a physics lab. In Australia. The crews on these ships have been pulled from the world’s talent. That’s billions of candidates. The odds against this are staggering. And staggering odds coming to pass almost always breaks my immersion.

Kudos: This is the first indie book I’ve encountered that embedded some quoted strings of Chinese in the text. The translation was provided in context, so they weren’t necessary, but it was a nice touch just the same. And it’s a great cover, too.

Sleepwalker, by Brandy Moss (9:37)
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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.