Review: ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ by Felicia Watson

Spooky Action at a Distance by [Felicia Watson]

Genre: Space opera

Description: This is a sequel to Watson’s We Have Met The Enemy, which I reviewed on my blog (judimoore.wordpress.com) in May this year. I enjoyed that, so when I saw this in Big Al’s ‘to review’ list I grabbed it.

This is, actually, the better book of the two in my opinion. The prose is supple and accurate. It begins with action. While the reader is given time to breathe, the action thereafter never really lets up. The introspection which sometimes slowed the pace of WHMTE is more lightly worn this time. Old griefs and enmities have been reconciled when this book opens (mostly): there is more humour. There is a fresh challenge to occupy the very talented and skilled crew of the UDC spaceship Lovelace. An engaging sense of jeopardy is maintained; characters interact credibly, and blossom – sometimes in surprising ways; McGuffins are skilfully crafted, aliens are both imaginative and credible, and the tech is believable and serviceable without getting in the way.

Author: Felicia Watson’s day job is as a scientist. But when she’s writing she says she is “drawn to character driven tales, where we see people we recognize, people who struggle with their mistakes and shortcomings, acknowledge them, and use that knowledge to grow into wiser human beings.” (Goodreads biog). Certainly that is what she has done with these two books set aboard the Lovelace.

Appraisal: I found this novel galloped along. I finished it inside a week (which is quick for me). The structure of the book works well, enabling the story to be character-driven as much as plot-driven. The Lovelace, the space-ship home of the protagonists, is tasked with an urgent mission to The Expanse to rescue two UDC ships which have become stuck there. Time is of the essence (of course) as The Expanse is becoming increasingly unstable and will shortly leave the area of space in which it is currently located.

There is a canine Corpsman (3rd class). There is interesting information on Native American peoples. There is pink dust (you will love the pink dust). The author continues to consider, alongside the rollicking action and with a light touch, what a more equable society in the future might look like, and how it might yet leave room for improvement.

As with WHMTE, Watson has prefaced each chapter with an epigraph. Once again she has ranged widely for these, from Milton to Emily Dickinson, and taking in some interesting outliers along the way. They are always germane to the matter in the chapter to come.

The only thing I didn’t get was the title.**

Given that this is the second book of two – does it stand alone? Pretty much. There are just a couple of things you will need to take on trust if you don’t start with We Have Met The Enemy.

I don’t give 5*s to many books I review. The top rating needs to be reserved for the really good stuff, right? This is a ***** book. If you like SF, I heartily recommend it to you.

*Prepared for Big Al & Pals review site. Received a complimentary file of the book for review purposes.

** which, I have since learned, references Albert Einstein’s view of quantum entanglement

Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed.

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