Monday, February 8, 2010

Ariel by Steven R. Boyett (review)

Title: Ariel
Author: Steven R. Boyett
Illustrator: N/A
Kindle Locations: 6,547
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Boy
ISBN: 978-0-7592-9932-0
Kindle Cost: $7.19
Do you think the Change should be this neat Disney movie with animals like Ariel? Come on, Shaughnessy—it’s not Disney. It’s Dante.
There are many references out there that compare Boyett's Ariel with S. M. Stirling's Dies The Fire. Some in a kindly, gentle manner and some in a accusatory and disgruntled manner. But we'll cover that whole can of worms in another post.

After shelving those thoughts of Stirling's Emberverse series and focusing on Boyett's work individually, it's actually a very nice read. It is very simplistic, full of action, and even has a sex scene to seal the deal. Boyett's style is just what you would expect from a young author writing a fantasy/sci-fi book in the mid-1980s. In fact, it can be funny at times because you can almost see Boyett pounding away on a shiny, new typewriter (old and rusty by now, I'm sure). Like another powerhouse writer, this book reminded me of the level of work R. A. Salvatore gave when he wrote The Woods Out Back. Simple but fun.

Aside from the overall simplicity of the novel, the characters are a bit thin at times. Something addressed to some degree in the Afterword, but I think it worked. I focused on Pete (the lead male) and Ariel (the lead female). The go a-questing to beat the big bad guy and have mini-adventures along the way. The action was very well thought out and easy to visualize. But more importantly, it was easy to believe. Aside from hang gliding off the World Trade Center, that is.
But as it stands, the Change is an awfully inconsistent phenomenon, isn’t it? I mean, how come a bicycle doesn’t work but George’s watch does? They’re essentially the same thing, using gears to transfer motion. Ditto fires: people smoke cigarettes and light campfires all over the place, but guns don’t work. Why one combustion and not the other?
In the end, it was well worth the money to buy the book. It was entertaining. It was fun. It did not take a lot of thought to digest every nuance written (unlike an epic fantasy novel). And of course, it leads to the big elephant in the room: S. M. Stirling

But more on him later.

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