There’s a lot you can buy for $2.99 these days. Back in my day, $2.99 would get you lunch at the Cambridge Gardens school canteen. Now you can buy whole books for that amount! Aristeia: Revolutionary Right by Wayne Basta is part of the new wave of indie publishing, a space opera novel released by Grey Gecko Press.
Former Alliance starfighter, Maarkean Ocaitchi, has been forced a life of smuggling after his sister’s near arrest. When she is taken captive by the Alliance, Maakean must decide where his loyalty lies. Is it with the Alliance, whose deceptive messages hide racist policies, or the Kreogh Sector Congress, who need a face for their revolution? Aristeia, taken from the Greek, refers to the dramatic term of when a hero has his finest moment.
The story is pure space opera, reminiscent of Star Wars, where a reluctant smuggler gets involved with a group of rebels and resists being involved out of his own self interest. What can I say? I like Star Wars. I was particularly surprised by the innovative jail break, easily the best scene in the book.
Basta has created some credible and interesting characters in Maarkean and Zeric. While borrowing ideas from the cult Whedon series Firefly, the two protagonists have clear motivations and reasons for doing what they do. The relationship between the two men develops from onboard enemies to accidental revolutionaries. Maarkean’s willingness to do anything to protect his sister is believable, as is Zeric’s friendship with his shipmates.
Accompanying the main characters is your standard mish-mash of aliens borrowed from every major science fiction series, including Ewok-wookies, insectoids, Cardassians and the blue Andorians from Star Trek. I don’t have a problem with borrowing alien types, in fact it provided a familiar space for me to place myself within the universe. But I found it difficult to keep track of which characters were from which races, apart from the three main characters. Perhaps if Basta had added some more details along the way, like “she nodded her antennae in response…” And while the main characters are interesting, the side characters can get confusing. Often Basta introduces characters for no reason at all; excess characters muddy the ones that are actually involved in the plot.
There are a couple of laugh out loud moments, like when Zeric meets up with an old flame:
It wasn’t like they had been in a serious long-term relationship. Granted, it had been one of his longest: over a week.
But as a first time writer, Wayne Basta has fallen into the trap of telling and not showing. There’s a few too many info-dumps. Instead of explaining how someone feels about someone else, I’d like to see a scene of them interacting.
My biggest issue with the book is the overuse of cliched language. For example, here there are three cliches in two sentences:
Saracasi’s heart was pounding rapidly, and she was sure it would explode out of her chest. Her hands were slick with sweat, and she wanted to wipe them off on her clothes.
While the book has been well proofread (how many times do you read an e-book to find spelling errors!), I felt it needed another read through for hackneyed language and to tidy up some of the passive voice during the action scenes. By creating a tighter novel the story would have propelled forward at a better speed. In fact, what stops Aristeia: Revolutionary Right from being a three star (or even four star) novel is the lack of structural editing.
While Basta borrows ideas from every major science fiction series, Aristeia: Revolutionary Right is an enjoyable first novel. I’d recommend it as an easy holiday read for fans of space opera and Firefly.
You can find out more about Wayne Basta on his website. The second book in the series, Aristeia: A Little Revolution, will be released on June 1.