Crossover

Crossover
Crossover

Crossover is a science fiction novel by Joel Shepherd. It was originally published in 2001 in Australia. I think it was also published somewhere in 2006, and finally, in this Pyr edition in 2009.  I  believe this is the author’s first published book. The cover illustration for my paperback edition was done by Stephan Martiniere.  My edition is 455 pages, but it took me half of forever to read it. As you can see, I finished the book in late December, but started it way back in August!

12/21 page 399

12/20 page 379

12/20 page 348

11/13 page 323

11/13 page 298

09/01 page 248

08/29 page 230

08/27 page 201

08/19 page 189

08/17 page 176

08/16 page 165

08/15 page 145

08/14 page 136

This book takes place in the far future. Cassandra Kresnov is a GI – an artifical lifeform.  She was designed to be a solider in the League.  She basically goes AWOL and heads to the planet Callay, where she attempts to start a new life as a “normal” organic person.  She is very much like a Terminator, except she’s described as being ridiculously beautiful.

The city that Kresnov joins is called Tanusha.  The city is a massive, giganic futuristic city that is people mainly with African, Asian, and Indian cultures.  This is significant and yet not all at once.  This adds a bit of “difference” compared to the typical science fiction novels that always seem very much to be based on, say, middle America.  However, while the author names characters with cultural names and dresses them in cultural clothing, that’s basically all the influence this has on the novel.

There’s also this “contemporary” thing with male authors writing about the sexual exploits of their female characters. Are they bisexual? Are they “loose”? It’s really odd stuff, not explicit or graphic so much as just really unnecessary for a quality story. Kresnov is a hypersexual – and the author really wants us to know that.

The best parts of the novel are the action parts.  These are actually very action-film-like and enjoyable.  Also, the author is obviously intelligent and he raises questions regarding what it means to be human, how politics affects civilization/culture, and a variety of ethics issues.  The author does this without preaching too much or hammering the reader over the head with any particular position.  Unfortunately, the author isn’t a good writer. While the story seems to be quite good and the questions raised in it are interesting to consider, the actual writing is pretty awful.

The worst part of the writing is the dialogue.  Characters all seem the same: emotionless, stilted, flatline. The reader is supposed to be interested in the SWAT Lieutenant Vanessa Rice’s thoughts and actions, but the writing makes Rice seem stilted and stereotyped.  The reader is supposed to really be drawn toward Kresnov – feel compassion for her, worry about her, etc.  However, the writing just can’t bridge that gap and make the reader really, truly care about Kresnov.  The other facet of the writing is Shepherd’s inability to decide to write in past or present tense. He has a horrible mess of sentence fragments, chopped and odd phrasing, and awkward wordplay.  Sometimes it’s just downright unbearable.

The science-fiction is pretty cool. I have to admit, it’s interesting. I liked reading about the biotech. But there were parts of the novel that just didn’t seem smooth and seemed too choppy or random. Honestly, it took me until the end of the book to really get a handle on who was fighting whom. There’s the League, the Federation, the CSA, etc. This is not a bad book, there’s a lot in here to really like.  However, this is also a bad book, because it’s just awkward and messy.

I have the next two books that complete the series, but I cannot imagine reading them. They should be really good, but how will I make it through them!

2 stars

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