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Final Entropy
Nelson Lucier
PublishAmerica, 304 pages

Final Entropy
Nelson Lucier
Nelson Lucier's other books include Prime Dimension, Tower of Tsangpo and Storm Sleeper's.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cyd Athens

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The premise of this novel, allegedly a deep-space science fiction thriller about survival on an alien world, is appealing. It is the execution that exemplifies the stigma against works that are not traditionally published.

We begin with this notice on the copyright page:

  "PublishAmerica has allowed this work to remain exactly as the author intended, verbatim, without editorial input."  

The author appears to have taken this as a directive rather than as a disclaimer. This novel is replete with so many errors -- spelling, grammar, word usage, non-standard chapter lengths, and the like -- that the story must be excavated before it can be read.

After the copyright information, we move on to a sixteen page infodump of a prologue that reads like a science lecture on light speed and faster than light travel. Finally, on page twenty-three, we get to chapter one of the novel proper and meet Charbe Shen Tumaz. Charbe is an alien who is reminiscent of Avatar's tall, blue Na'vi minus the ponytails.

Charbe is, in his very Earth-like environment light years away from Earth, pondering that "the earthlings" are coming. He remembers how he, and others of his people had helped "cede" the Earth themselves. And the humans had trashed the planet.

From there, since the author has chosen parenthetical explanations within the narrative as his way to explain unfamiliar terms to the reader, we get our first language lesson. Rather than give us a glossary or show us in a more interactive fashion, we are told about "The Great Order of the Beldiax Swacte (the teachers of the family provinces)," "the ancient crelexor trees (similar to banyans)," and "kalla, (focused electrical energy of the brain)."

In chapter two, we meet the Earth expedition, led by Lieutenant Colonel Michael L. Brenner, and spend a lot of time with Brenner's backstory. Thrown in are a few details related to traversing the light years and getting to Charbe's area of the galaxy.

This style of storytelling continues for another fifty-three chapters of unequal length. At the end, we are treated to "A Note from the Author," a quasi-lecture on the science presented in the novel.

To add insult to injury, both the paperback and the hardback editions of this approximately 85K-word novel are more expensive than the average $20 US of a New York Times hardback bestseller of 100K words or more.

Works of this caliber or better are plentiful for free on the Internet. If the premise of this story intrigues you, save your money and seek out similar stories on some of those sites.

Copyright © 2013 by Cyd Athens

Cyd Athens indulges a speculative fiction addiction from 45° 29 30.65 N, 122° 35 30.91 W. The public library was Cyd's gateway drug.


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