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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street, East Providence, RI 02914

AST UPDATE 1/14/18

The Stone House by A.K. Benedict, BBC, 2017

Another tie in novel to Class, from the Doctor Who universe. Despite some rationalization, this is essentially a ghost story. A teenager realizes that there is a personality held captive within the framework of an empty house. If the prisoner cannot be freed from this psychic imprisonment, her personality may be extinguished when the house is torn down, which is scheduled for the near future. So naturally she and her friends have to do something about it. Okay prose, not very interesting plot. The show was cancelled so I think this will be the last book in the series. 1/14/18

What She Does Next Will Astound You by James Goss, BBC, 2016

This is a tie in novel to Class, a short lived spinoff from the Doctor Who universe. A group of high school students has to deal with aliens from outer space and other dimensions. This one involves another invasion but it never really gets interesting, the characters are flat, the situations are not believable, and the climax is rather dull. In one sense at least, it reflects the television show, which had similar problems. 1/7/18

Arachnosaur by Richard Jeffries, Lyrical Underground, 2017,  $15, ISBN 978-1-5161-0502-1   v906 

Lyrical Underground is an imprint of Kensington Publishing that I had not previously heard of. I really wanted this to be a promising new thriller mixing SF and adventure but I’m going to say upfront that this is a terrible book. I don’t enjoy the “killer” style review, but I think this time it’s necessary to justify that label and if the author ever reads this, maybe it will suggest some improvements. The two worst mechanical problems are a lack of transitions between scenes – like a video game it is choppy and is missing explanations – and occasional murky writing. There were instances when I just couldn’t figure out what the author was attempting to describe. But worst of all are errors of fact and logic. As the story begins, a corporal and a sergeant are the only survivors of an operation in Yemen which was an utter disaster. Somehow they transition to an out of country hospital because the corporal had a concussion. The marines are considering him for a battlefield commission, which makes no sense at all since these are only awarded for extraordinary combat leadership – which was not displayed – and generally only when there is a shortage of the higher rank, usually due to combat losses, which also does not apply. The corporal/protagonist has also been a marine for a long time, over ten years, but has never been promoted despite a spotless record. This does not seem possible due to the systematized promotion system which is now in effect, and the corporal himself says that he was denied promotion because he was unpredictable. That suggests insubordination – and he is in fact frequently insubordinate – and he would long since have been denied the right to re-enlist on that basis. One of the marines, a woman, was captured by the evil terrorist leader during the mission. We meet her as she is tied naked to a chair and mildly tortured, then left alone. First, since she is firmly gagged, her interrogation makes no sense at all. Second, the terrorist actually wants her to escape into a warren of tunnels where the monsters live so that he can observe their attack. But if that’s the case, why the elaborate charade? He could simply have ordered her to enter it at gunpoint. And why nude except to provide some cheap titillation? And why was there no air support for a mission involving a full marine battalion? Further, the Black Death affected Europe but did not almost wipe out the human race, who were largely unaffected in Africa and Asia, not to mention the Americas and Australia. And when a soldier wears civilian clothes and a false cover to infiltrate another country in search of military secrets, that IS being a spy, despite the author’s insistence otherwise. I could go on but the point is that these errors could easily have been fixed by googling the subject, and the flaws of logic should have been pointed out by the editor. And finally, while the title may be euphonic, giant spiders would never be referred to by this term. Saurians are reptiles, not spiders. 1/2/18

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