Review of “Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter” by Kent Wayne

from goodreads

Plot:

More than a thousand years before the action of this book, the earth was abandoned because of environmental degradation, and humanity settled on the earth-like planet of Echo. Echo has stagnated, its citizens living under the autocracy of the Regime. There is perpetual civil war with the Dissidents. The military is highly developed, with specialized, lethal weapons. Additionally, its soldiers are also specialized and are offered enhancements.

One of those soldiers is Atriya, a member of the elite Crusaders unit. He trains for fun. The reader is told about Atriya:

“He embraced the pain. In a way, he was addicted to it. Not the pain itself, but the validation it gave him.”

One day, as he is out running, he comes across a Crusader (or “Crew”) Selection class. Part of the class is punishing those who fall behind (“stragglers”) with severe physical abuse and humiliation. The instructor, Clement (hmmm… an odd name for a character in that job….), recognizes Atriya as “Crew” and asks if he’d like to join in the abuse.

The ritual is nothing new to Atriya, but he finds himself unable to take part.

Thoughts:

I have to start by saying that this is not a genre that I usually read. I follow the author’s blog because I find him interesting.  The book was offered as a freebie one day, and I thought I’d try it out, thinking f I could not give it a positive review, I would simply not review it. Happily, that was far from that case.

I do have to add that the language is, as one might expect, something other than dinner table polite. Given the genre, dinner table polite would be inappropriate.

The great strength of this book for me was the character of Atriya. The author makes him real, even in this dystopian sci-fi environment. As a reader, I easily became invested in him, although I have little in common with him. Atriya is violent and can and does kill without compunction, but something else bubbling to the surface, something he can’t grasp just yet.

He goes to seek advice from a chaplain, another Crusader, a woman named Verus. I suspect that Wayne is familiar enough with the Classical world to know that “verus” means “true” in Latin. (A purist might bellyache it’s for masculine nouns, of course.) Verus herself seems something of an enigma. Atriya understands this. She is a chaplain, but she is not overly religious. One overdone aspect of the character is she seems to be something of a prophet. She foresees Atriya leaving when he has no reason to leave.

Their relationship is platonic. As a matter of fact, unlike so much of this sort of writing, there is no sex. Atriya does not stop by to toss the sheets with a casual lover or working girl and discuss the meaning of life on Echo. I found the absence of such a hackneyed scene a relief.

However, the reader has to endure some info dumps regarding things like nifty weapons and societal hierarchy. The reader encounters a lot of specialized terminology throughout the book, including the title, which is only explained near the end. There are some gory scenes, including cannibalism.

Tension steadily builds till the end. Atriya manages to annoy the wrong people, who are willing to seek revenge with friends. As a reader, I’m fully there with him. I care. I want to see him succeed. His career is threatened, and his life is in danger. He has limited choices. He decides if this is it for him, he’s going to take as many of them as he can with him.

—Flip the page… the book ends… I mutter words that cast doubt on whether the author’s parents were married—

The first volume, which I admit I did not pay for, includes the first three chapters of the next volume, so the reader gets a good glimpse of what’s to come.

Tricky!

Will I read volume two? Probably. After I wade through some fifty other books, including the one my dearly beloved gave me for Christmas.

All in all, I enjoyed this book.







Title: Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter
Author: Kent Wayne
First published: August 7, 2015

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

6 thoughts on “Review of “Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter” by Kent Wayne

  1. I have to admit, I was caught up in your style of writing and almost forgot you were reviewing another’s book! But as I read further, I realized you captured the essence of the story, also was gratified that it wasn’t the usual shoot em’ up bang and long slides beneath the sheets. I am not a prude but there has to be something else going on to hold my interest.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. My goal is to give the reader enough info about the book/story I’m reviewing to judge whether the book is something they’d be interested in pursuing, and I confess, entertain the them at the same time. Hearing that I seem to have been successful makes my day.

      With respect to sex in fiction, I agree. On the one hand, it is part of life. To act like it doesn’t exist it to deny characters something important. On the other hand, if that’s all character do, it’s shallow and, frankly, boring.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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