Pacific Book Review: SPECTRA by Joanne Elder

Reviewed by: Lisa Brown-Gilbert

As an avid reader of science fiction and its sub – genres, I personally find that there is nothing quite like coming to the end of a well-written, completely enjoyable science fiction story and wanting for more. Spectra by author Joanne Elder is exactly the type of sci-fi story that I am talking about. This is a completely enthralling science fiction genre novel that not only excels in creating a great science fiction/ adventure /thriller/Romance but the story is so well put together that by the end of the book it leaves the reader wanting for more.

The author Joanne Elder, who is a Professional Engineer turned author, has created a world that aptly combines the elements of an engrossing sci- fi tale, an intriguing thriller, fringe science, romance, and the many theories pertaining to the existence of the soul. The story of the life forms of Spectra continues in Entity the next book in the series.

The story of Spectra creatively delves into the long postulated theories of the existence of man’s soul, especially the cannons of Theosophy (a form of esoteric philosophy). Spectra is not overwhelmingly bogged down in particular theories but does present a very well researched overview into the subject as part of the plot and at the end of the book there are references to the information sources used by the author to research the subject matter.

It is the years 2298, an exploration team of space miners while on a mission on the planet Spectra, make a tremendous discovery that if announced would turn the world of science on its ear. They encounter a life form on the planet that exists without the confines of a body, the existence of which is very similar to the doctrines by many earth cultures and religious/spiritual sects as the human soul as it exists. With the discovery of the entities, the crew also finds that when exposed to the life forms there are changes in their personal energy fields that result in a significant increase in cognitive and physical abilities but at a terrible cost to the alien life forms.

Most members of the crew want to leave the planet alone to help preserve the life form on Spectra except for the leader of the mission – Ivan Campbell. Ivan does not want to leave their incidental discovery alone, his desire to harvest the power of the entities for his selfish desires, drives him to extremely evil actions including murder and false imprisonment.

The diverse casts of characters in this thrilling adventure are well drawn and you will find yourself rooting for the “good guys” as you are pulled into their suddenly erupting world. All the characters are interesting especially, Ivan Campbell. Ivan has a cold and calculating demeanor that makes him a well-suited antagonist who knows how to wield his power. Other characters of note are Dean Weston and Laura Simmons.

Dean Weston is a likable hero who is handsome, macho, sensitive and gallant. Laura Simmons is vivacious and resilient and turns out to be a love match with Dean. The energy that develops between the two throughout the story aids in creating a romantic adventure as they manage to fall in love as their world has erupted into a seemingly hopeless chasm of chaos.

Overall Spectra turned out to be an intelligent, worthwhile read that keeps the reader intrigued and offers food for thought.

Review of Steven Moore’s Science Fiction Novel

SURVIVORS OF THE CHAOS

Steven Moore’s Survivors of the Chaos is a well written sci-fi novel detailing a dismal future for the human race. I find apocalyptic novels have become tiresome, as have zombies and vampires. Personally, I like to read a futuristic novel that has at least some elements of potential realism to it. Survivors of Chaos skips the end of the world scenario and leaps just over a century into our future—a future where the empires of the developed world have crumbled leaving a society bordering on anarchy. Some rudiments of our society remain intact including corporate driven greed and human kind’s scientific curiosity to further advance itself on Earth and in space. Individuals are left to struggle in a world segregated by two separate classes of rich and poor. These are the three facets of society that provide the framework for Moore’s story. In particular, the lives of three distinctly different people are followed independently, with the story cleverly tying them together later in the book. Action scenes are strategically placed to keep the pace moving and the book wraps up on an upbeat note.

As for constructive criticism for the author, I found there was an overuse of acronyms to the point that it was difficult to keep track of what they all stood for. Also, the book would have benefited from an introductory blurb to describe the structure of the world after the Chaos in some detail. The reader ultimately pieces together Moore’s futuristic vision but I found this took away slightly from the story at the beginning. For those who enjoy sci-fi and are tired of the typical plot recipe so many sci-fi novels draw from, Survivors of the Chaos is both refreshing and enjoyable.

REVIEWER

Joanne Elder

A Review of Spectra by Joanne Elder

by Imogen Reed

Release Date: 28th  June, 2011
368 Pages | MuseItUp Publishing
Author: Joanne Elder
Available: Kindle ($5.95), paperback ($13.50),  Smashwords ($5.99).
“Do we have a soul?” asks Joanne Elder in the preface to her book. As mentioned, all manner of human civilisations have sought to answer this prescient question. It is no surprise, therefore, that scientists too have sought to work this out. Where is the root of our consciousness and does it last? The Human Energy Field or HEF for short, appears to be the best guess we have right now.
HEF proves to be the central plank on which Elder’s debut novel is built upon. The nuclear researcher from Toronto has taken ideas surrounding HEF to their logical intergalactic conclusion. As her preface states, Russian scientists have recently studied the self-organising properties of plasma. Elder takes this and conjures an alien species on a planet far away that is able to exist purely as an energy form.
When a mining exploration crew set down on a new planet, they find more than they are expecting. Instead of just ores and minerals, they find an intelligent life form composed entirely of energy. Taking the form of small lights, the life form grants any human it’s exposed to enhanced mental powers. However, this comes at a cost. If exposed for too long, the human dies.
Two members of the crew find themselves pitted against the rest when rogue scientists decide to classify the mission and study the creatures further. Naturally, one by one, members of the crew begin to die and it falls to Dean Weston to stop them. The only problem being, he’s been fitted up with the murder of his ex-wife. His only hope is Laura Simmons, who witnessed the fit up and knows he’s innocent.
This leads to a tale full of intrigue and group politics, but also challenges our ideas on human nature and the soul. At the same time, it proves that humans should not underestimate other species and should be careful how we use and interact with intelligent species. While set on a rock in the middle of space, this is reminiscent of ideas about how humans should interact with dolphins – think The Cove, but in space.
The idea of an alien life force taking the form of energy is not exactly new in science fiction.  Examples include the recent movie Darkest Hour and novels such as Peter F. Hamilton’s Night Dawn Trilogy and. H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space. Many versions of this trope take the form of gas clouds or take on semi-human forms, whether naturally or to appease the humans interacting with them. To be made of plasma, is at least more plausible.
The Colour of Space appears to have been a big influence on Elder’s work as with the Lovecraftian tale, the energy beings drain energy from their host. What Elder brings to the table though, is a well rounded set of characters and in depth knowledge of the scientific ideas at play.  She even manages to throw in a love story.
However, this tale has been placed in a well-developed science fiction universe, which adds these old ideas a new flavour. Set in the context of  The Consortium, a kind of United Nations for plants, her setting gives an idea of a human-only version of Star Trek or Babylon 5 where nations and planets are developing their own senses of identity and mankind is exploring the universe alone until it finally discovers a new life force.
Image 3:
Elder is also clearly a writer with potential. One who does not allow the book to get stuck in stodge. That is to be overwhelmed by the ideas and science behind the notions she’s trying to elucidate. Spectra is faced paced, which keeps the reader turning pages and carries them along on the journey, although, that said, it does begin to lag in the last third as the story is drawn to a conclusion.
Overall, Spectra is a solid first effort by Elder. It introduces the universe and the idea of the energy beings well. It could be better written, but first novels are usually about growing and developing as a writer. Best of all though, she balances well the need for scientific information and ideas with the need for a gripping story. With a sequel, Entity, due out soon, it is a good book to launch us into Elder’s universe. Let’s hope the second one can develop the story and universe further.
In memory of her father, a World War II veteran, Joanne is donating fifty percent of all her e-book royalties to Alzheimer’s research.

 

Another Great Review of SPECTRA

Steve Moore with Book Pleasures says:

“Once I read beyond the first pages of this novel, I was thoroughly engrossed and tempted to read far into the night.  This is excellent sci-fi—your old space opera taken to the next evolutionary level.  I recommend that you download it now for your spring and summer reading.  I’m anxiously waiting for the sequel.”

The full review may be found here: http://stevenmmoore.com/?p=1911#more-1911

Iron Admiral

By Greta van der Rol

This is what Elaina’s Writing World said about this Science Fiction Thriller/Romance: “This is a quick read (the kind you pick up…and then don’t put down until done), fast-paced with loads of action and changes and scenery.”

For full review follow link: http://elainajdavidson.blogspot.com/2011/04/review-iron-admiral-by-greta-van-der.html

Splintered Energy

By Arlene Webb

Sift Book Reviews said “Overall the unique characters and interesting predicaments make this story a worthwhile read.”

For the full review follow link: http://www.siftreviews.com/search?q=arlene+webb

Girl Gone Nova

By Pauline Baird Jones

Christy Tillery French from authorsden.com said “The action is non-stop, the suspense gut-wrenching, and the plot rollicking fun.”

The full review this science fiction thriller/romance can be found here:

http://www.authorsden.com/categories/article_top.asp?catid=54&id=56923

The Key

By Pauline Baird Jones

Jones has written novels in several genres including action-adventure, comedy-mystery and suspense. What did Ann Wilkes from MostlyFiction Book Reviews say about Jones’ science fiction thriller, The Key?

“Clearly this author knows how to tell a story…”

For the full review, follow this link: http://mostlyfiction.com/scifi/jones.html

Cimmerian City

by Rae Lori

Quality Book Reviews said:

“This is another highly recommended read and a definite 5 stars.”

Read the full review at http://qualitybookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/05/01/cimmerian-city/

 

Leviathan Waits

by James S.A. Corey

 

The Book Smuggler rates Corey’s first book in the expanse series “Very Good”. Check out the review at http://thebooksmugglers.com/2011/06/book-review-leviathan-wakes-by-james-s-a-corey.html and see what Corey has to say about his recent novel on John Scalzi’s blog The Big Idea http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/06/16/the-big-idea-james-s-a-corey/. Cool cover by the way!