Friday, 17 June 2011

The Metalmark Contract (Metalmark Book One)

The Metalmark ContractTitle: The Metalmark Contract
Author: David Batchelor
Series: Metalmark

Succeeded By: ???


Score: 7/10
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: I'd like to.


Now although it might not seem it to anyone who reads this blog, but I generally don't read books set in our world. I don't tend to enjoy them as much as those set in different ones. But occasionally there is one such book that I really enjoy. This is one of them. But before you read any further, I have a warning. This seems to be the first in a duology/trilogy/series/something. I didn't realise this, and it doesn't seem to say anywhere online or on the book except for the words "End of Book One" after the end of the narrative. Because I didn't realise this, I was a little disappointed when the story didn't reach it's full conclusion.

Actually, the ending seemed a little anticlimactic. The pinnacle of the agreement was reached, when the eponymous character Metalmark was using Mercury as per the Contract, which was quite exciting. And then there was a court case, which was in comparison done quickly and didn't really seem to add anything to the book. Which disappointed me.

But the rest of the plot was very interesting. A lot of the ideas, which I don't really want to talk about as they would be spoilers, were fascinating or perceptive. They range from political opinions of the contract to the scientific ideas of how Metalmark and his technologies worked and existed. They were quite fascinating. But as in any book that I give merit to, the characters were the highlight of the book. For me, in particular, the best characters were Metalmark himself, the "Taikonaut" Liu Xueli and Pres. Jackson. I also liked Dr. Steve Simmons before he got a job with Metalmark - afterwards I felt his relationships developed a bit too quickly, unless I misunderstood the timescale.

I was particularly fascinated with Liu Xueli and her position as a Taikonaut. (Chinese Astronaut, I'm not sure if this is set in an alternative present or a few years in the future - I went with the latter in my mind). At first I didn't like her, but once I realised how deceptive she could be I started to like her more, and with every scene I seemed to like her more. I would have to say that she was probably my favourite Character, although Metalmark did come close.

The main problems that I had with the book were mainly formatting and narrative problems. Such as websites being underlined as if they were an actual link. Some of them anyway - some weren't, which makes me suspect that this is something from a word processor rather than an intention.The first is one that I seem to have found in quite a few books in the last couple of weeks, and that is the use of parentheses. I find that it breaks the flow of narrative or dialogue, and although I found their use somewhat appropriate on one occasion, it still made me withdraw from the sense of being "in the book". The other thing that I found hard to read was the abbreviations. Things like Sec. Jen. and Pres. I found to be non-conducive to easy reading. I felt that it was unnecessary and that the full titles would have worked a lot better. Especially at the start of the book when I had to remember what they all meant. The same was true of acronyms, NASA, CIA, UN are all recognisable worldwide, but EPA, ESA, and a few others are less clear.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and many of the ideas it contains. The abbreviations and acronyms annoyed me a bit, but not so much that I didn't enjoy the book. It ended weakly, but hopefully that will be resolved in the sequel. But the majority of the book was very good, with an admittedly large cast containing some great characters. I Look forwards to the sequel.
More Information

Main Protagonist(s): Mixed, 2 Female, 1 Alien, Several Male

Main Antagonist(s): Various Organisations - all named are Male
Main Relationships: Heterosexual
Genre: Science Fiction
Brief Synopsis:

The alien Metalmark offered mankind a starship and its advanced technology in a trade for the rights to planet Mercury and moon Triton. What could go wrong? But his appearance sent the nations of Earth into turmoil as many people suspected danger and a trick. Our dreams of futuristic breakthroughs made Metalmark a celebrity in the West, but inflamed the Islamic world. A scientist with the space agency and a CIA spy became two of Metalmark's defenders. Our chance to join superior beings and travel the stars depended on the clash of futurists with ancient traditions. Could he sell us the means to a quantum jump in progress? But . . . he wanted Mercury and Triton for habitats where his species could spawn . . . what did that mean?  
ISBN: 978-1612960111
Amazon Link: UK | US
Pages: 250

Published: March 3 2011
Publisher: Black Rose Writing

1 comment:

  1. Hi Adam. Chinese Taikonaut Liu Yang recently flew into space in the first real flight of a Chinese female astronaut. In an amazing feat of prediction, the fictional first Chinese astronaut in my novel, The Metalmark Contract, had the same family name: Liu! Again science fiction is a window on the real future ;-)