The Trilisk AI, by Michael McCloskey
A few months ago I reviewed several of McCloskey's books, including the prequel to this one, The Trilisk Ruins. I was not entirely complimentary - the book was flawed, but was also cheap and entertaining, so I gave it three stars and recommended that you read it. Recently, the author contacted me, having read my reviews, and asked if I'd like a review copy of the sequel. Well, of course I would! I ended my last review by saying I was looking forward to reading it.
McCloskey said in response to a negative review written by someone else "if you give me a bad review, so be it. Authors have more to fear from obscurity than anything else" - and then sent the reviewer a copy of another of his books. I've found this to be a refreshingly common attitude amongst the new breed of good self-published e-book authors - I confess that the first time I ripped into one of their works I was half-expecting to have to ignore a whiney response, but so far all I've heard from authors has been things like "thanks, you made some good points, I'll upload a version that fixes some of them soon", and "thanks for the review, would you like a free copy of the sequel".
Damn all you authors for stomping all over my cynicism gland!
So, on to the book - is it any good? It's better than the previous volume in this series. Dialogue is improved, as is characterisation, although both could still do with some work. For example, when Our Heroine says "Big gold centipede-things scurrying around here. No idea how many. They scare the shit out of me" that's just it, she's saying it. Possibly in a robotic monotone. Even in context it's hard to get pant-wetting terror out of this sequence.
There are also a couple of minor inconsistencies, things which the characters really should have - and would have if they were real - thought about. Not that those really matter. It's a good story, well-paced, we can empathise with all the characters, even the one designed to be thoroughly un-human (I've said it before - McCloskey absolutely nails aliens), and it sets the main characters up with a Mission that will do nicely for at least one more and perhaps several more books. I'd happily buy this book.