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Thu, 8 Nov 2012

Wired Kingdom, by Rick Chesler

I'd never heard of Mr. Chesler until some random stranger started "following" me on Twitter. I have no idea how he heard of me, I suppose that he reads the blogs of other independently published authors, one of them mentioned my book review. I often talk about how much I love reading some of the cheap self-published sci-fi that the Kindle Revolution has sparked, and so I guess that explains things. Anyway, I wondered who this random stranger was, followed a few links, read a description, and moments later, I had a book to read.

And a jolly interesting book it was too. Now, let's get the bad bit out of the way first. The technology is a joke. To take just two examples: first, small portable satellite communications systems require a lot more power than would be available in the system described and have nothing like the required bandwidth; and second, water is opaque to GPS.

But, despite some people saying that it's sci-fi, it ain't, and so I won't criticise the author for his bad science and engineering. It's really a crime thriller. It has all the right ingredients - a seemingly unsolvable crime, then shocking evidence that emerges, a race between the bad guys and the good to get hold of it, action, hidden motives, and of course some great deception so that both the good guys and the reader go down utterly the wrong route in trying to figure out whodunnit. I'd give it five stars out of five, but for one thing.

The rabid animal-rights terrorist just doesn't fit quite right into the plot. Some of his actions are significant, it's true, but I think he could be fairly easily swapped out for a more believable character. His attempts to harpoon a whale[1] - to be the first sail-powered whaler in decades, as he points out - as a mere publicity stunt to draw attention to the plight of whales is not in the slightest bit believable. Sure, we all know that animal rights extremists are mad, but they ain't that mad. In reality they know that they can get away with murdering people to draw attention to their cause, but the moment that they start strangling bunnies with their bare hands they know they'll lose both any future converts and their current members.

So I deduct one star, and recommend this book.

[1] Grrr. There are many species of whale. The current whale species are as diverse as all the species of cows, sheep and deer are from each other. You wouldn't order some sheep meat in a restaurant and be satisfied with cow, and it's just as silly to talk about "saving the whale". And the particular species that stars in this book isn't hunted today. At all. Not by anyone. It isn't even sensible to talk about "saving the whales", plural, because many species don't need saving and could be sustainably exploited. It makes about as much sense as "saving the ruminants", only some of which are endangered.

Posted at 22:10 by David Cantrell
keywords: books | crime | thriller
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