Review: Data Runner by Sam A. Patel

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Publisher: Diversion Books
Publishing Date: May 2013
ISBN: 9781626810600
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 3.8

Publisher Description: Now even the internet is owned, and the only way to transmit sensitive information is by a network of highly skilled couriers called “data runners” who run it over the sneakernet. It is a dangerous gig in a dirty world, but Jack Nill doesn’t have much choice in the matter.

Review: Although the verbal interaction between the characters is sometimes stilted and lacking depth, this novel delivers action from start to finish. The inner monologue in the form of narrative usually bugs the crap out of me, but in this case it worked very well. Character development was pretty good for the main players, and undervalued for the fillers. You had no sense of loss when they died, as they never really contributed to the story-line in a meaningful way.

Reviewers were a pretty mixed bag on this one. One reviewer said that it was “shallow and gratuitous” as well as racist. Huh? So, because part of the story involves a Japanese man lopping of arms of data runners with a Katana, the author is racist?? What the fuck? This crap is a juvenile attempt at playing the race card in order to garner a sense of self-righteous indignation. Another reviewer/inverted misogynist stated there was no care given to the complexity of the issues presented. Really. Then write a book on “complex issues” that are near and dear to your shriveled heart and develop your own story-line.

The cover art is ok. Would have liked to have seen real parkour rather than some guy falling through space.

This is a “Have Fun and who cares about the details”, kind of novel. It is a short read and should be enjoyed in it’s sole ability to transport you to another time and place. I am sure the author will only get better at developing characters and storyline with a prose to do it justice.

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Review: Skulk by Rosie Best

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Publisher: Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry/Osprey
Publishing Date: September 2013
ISBN:9781908844712
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.0/5

Publisher Description: While out tagging one night, Meg witnesses the dying moments of a fox… a fox that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a beautiful and mysterious gemstone. It isn’t long before Meg realises that she’s also inherited his power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.

Review:

I really liked this novel. Great character development, solid story line and inventive prose. You really feel for Meg in all her chubby angst. Her mom embodies the ire of a wicked step mother along with an invisible father and back stabbing house maid. Reviewers complained that the character development was weak, but I attribute that to the novels length vs. the developing subject matter that was a bit compressed. I really like how the thoughts of a human inside an animal translated into expression. The foxes head butting each other etc. was inventive. There were some subject flaws. Foxes do not have retractable claws that they hide in sheaths. Only cats do. There were repeated referents to unsheathing or sheathing claws. Minor, but there.

Due to the shorter length of the novel in which to purvey the story line, the author sets up a sequel. I think this would have been a good stand alone novel with some story line changes and a well developed culmination. As it is, another novel to complete the saga may have to be stretched and edited with filler (internal dialogue). Hopefully the author keeps the action and adventure persistent.

The author loves the cover art symbol. The cover art was weak whereas the 6 people walking in a tunnel ruins the symbols effectiveness. Just keep the Skulk logo, emboss it and your done. Any subsequent novels get the same treatment but in a different color and slight change to the design to include the other shifter groups since Meg is the metashifter.

I gave this a solid 4.0. I had originally made a scathing review on the publisher, mainly due to their lack of following through on free source material for established reviewers that meet their criteria. My bitching must have paid off, as the novel(s) I had previously requested, arrived. Perhaps they are so inundated with requests, that it is hard to keep track of it all.

Buy this novel with confidence in hopes that the sequels deliver in good measure.