Convergent Space by John-Paul Cleary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Convergent Space by John-Paul Cleary
I love a novel that entertains me and I don't mind having to suspend my disbelief long enough to do that. This novel delivers in that department and I would love to give it really high honors; but I do have some issues, so while I give it high marks I will feel compelled to air some of the issues. Basically I give it a 4 star and it could be a 5 star, but not with the way things are.
The novel starts with a great mystery. Earth has devolved to a planet of artifact hunters sort of the Indiana Jones of outer space. This creates for the reader a feeling that the Artifact hunters care more about the hunt then others lives. Enter into this Ronella Tintet who has had some doubts and has retired from being an Archeosoldier. After having been responsible for the loss of many lives she has retired to a place called Renick that belongs to Renaissance space and is governed by her friend Viggo. Rone is working at a post for the Earth Search Archeosoldiers, but is not actively doing much. She has a history we'll hear about later and a good reason for not wanting to be part of the search, but when a dying Archeosoldier shows up with some important leads to the Search to clear the Human's name in regards to the Great Wave that nearly destroyed many worlds and brought the Guild to an end; she has to once more take to space to follow the lead to its end.
This part is both a good plot and a bit contrived in the sense that it's a solid lead that the Search people should take seriously, but the reader gets the impression they want to press Rone into doing it because they can't spare anyone else. It might be that they mean to force her back into action, but it still seems a bit thin here and either it is a good lead or it isn't and 'the' Rone, that everyone gets to know in the development stage, is not really the person they want on something as important as this seems to be.
Also the race that Viggo belongs to seems to be a mystery. It could be he's human too; but it's not likely, though he must be humanoid because we never gets much description. There are a lot of alien races in the story and most seem humanoid, which I can live with though it seems a bit Star Trekish. The annoying thing is that they all talk like people who come out of some dialect in or around Great Britain.
Certain words almost become annoying; such as crikey and scupper. Scupper might have more than one meaning-I don't know- but it didn't fit in this context at least not while trying to unravel what the plot was calling for. The larger problems in grammar are the construction of sentences that seem a bit unwieldy and difficult to unravel the intended meaning.
The science is not hard science, but that's not a problem for me; except that the plot of the story is reliant upon a lot of the science so that makes it difficult for the reader to digest it all. What I mean by that is the scope of the Great Wave of destruction, as to a later explanation of the device that causes it, makes it difficult to grasp how it manages to do such widespread damage. The real plot of the story seems more centered on an older notion of opening the Pandora's box in this case the search seems to, at each step, open the box more and more until we reveal something that no one really wants. More than that though the Great Wave itself is a mystery that is just as much a Pandora's box. So this is really not a hard science story, which is a relief because the science is not all that well explained or examined. But it is unfortunate that it does dominate the story.
The story itself becomes a sort of quest for the key story, where each step leads to more information about the next step. First we have to catch an impossibly fast ship that might have the key in the form of a pictorial history, a Phlegar artifact; The Wits of Forlihn. Aboard the burn ship she gains a crew-member along with the Wits. And each step they seem to gain things like this-crew members and clues. At one point they run across an invasion force, which ends up being a plot device that looks like the cart before the horse. But a lot of the plot is driven this way, which gives the feel of Deus ex Machina that smacks of a DejaVu feeling. By that I mean that in this case the invasion fleet could have been a good reason for Rone to decide to start on the quest, but since she didn't know about it until later it becomes a reason to continue on the quest. Still even then it's not that clear cut to the reader for quite a while how important it is since Rone keeps trying to ignore it.
The characters in the story are not the strongest of characters. They all have some major flaws and that can be good in many ways. The problem I had with it is when it came time for the big decision it was very difficult to sort out from the development that they were ready to make the decision that they made. And this is a big Pandora box thing and it really is a determinant factory in the whole plot.
But a lot of this can be considered my own subjective opinion and a person really needs to read this to get a real understanding of what I'm saying here.
This is really science heavy and character light, where for my own preferences it would work out better the other way around. Not to mention that the Science is more simple than simon pure.
Great story for lovers of SFF light on the science and might work well for Young Adults though there are some questionable moral dilemma in the story that bear some scrutiny for the younger end of that scale.
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