Beyond Mars: Crimson Fleet
by RG Risch, futuristic (2008)
Dog Ear Publishing, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-59858-614-5

When it comes to reviewing self-published efforts, I find it very tough to deal with books that are released by self-publishers that charge the authors a few thousand dollars to play. Author RG Risch uses Dog Ear Publishing to release Beyond Mars: Crimson Fleet and I notice that the cheapest package available from that self-publisher costs $1,099 at the time of writing. That means I'm going to shoot down the expectations and hopes of the author who has forked out a considerable amount of money to play. Ugh, I hate to do this, really. It will be so much easier on me if Beyond Mars: Crimson Fleet is a good book, but unfortunately, it isn't.

I grow up reading stories like Beyond Mars: Crimson Fleet, which is why I am looking forward to reading this book. This one is one they call nowadays "pulp science-fiction". Think Flash Gordon, the old Battlestar Galactica series, that kind of thing. We have a nasty overlord, a crew of maverick folks in a spacecraft, and lots of adventures. Can the crew of the Crazy Horse succeed in defeating the Ming-the-Conqueror type of overlords that rule Earth and beyond?

In the case of this story, the enthusiasm and passion of the author are not matched by the execution of the story. I have a greater time reading the author's press releases about how he was inspired by actual naval battles that took place during World War 2 when it comes to the battle scenes in this book. I also read that he spent twelve years working on this book and I die a little inside knowing that I have to write this review.

You see, this book reads like a very rough first draft. There are large chunks of this book that go deep into exposition, giving me a lot of information that unfortunately aren't that important in advancing the storyline. These passages bog down the story, in other words. The author's prose is filled with awkward phraseology, the conversations between his characters are stilted and wooden, and there are pacing issues. The story itself is like a patchwork of popular military science-fiction tropes. This won't be bad thing if the story is entertaining, but unfortunately, the inept writing and pacing issues kill any chance of that happening.

It's hard, really, to write this review knowing that I am basically telling the author that he has paid so much money to put out a product that is in dire need of more stringent self-editing and plenty of rewriting. This book is just not good enough. Sorry.

Rating: 36

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