Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on SF Chapman's blog tour for The Ripple of Space-Time. Chapman is touring the blogosphere to promote this science fiction mystery that involves plenty of spaceships, space pirates, and physics!
The Ripple of Space-Time
Released February 1, 2013
Science Fiction / Mystery
When the huge lunar Ultra Energy Laboratory is destroyed by a mysterious blast, Inspector Ryo Trop of the Free City Inquisitor's Office is called in to sort out who is responsible for the disaster. Early reports imply that rogue moon miners are to blame but Ryo quickly discovers that a far more complex and sinister scheme is afoot. With the help of a promising young Liaison Agent and a faltering Grad student, Ryo searches for clues and culprits in the corrupt and moldering feudal fiefdoms of the Warlords that dominate human affairs in 2445. Ryo's longtime friend, Biology Professor turned spy Malcolm Evans, suggests that the wave of space piracy that has recently vexed the Solar System is connected to the obliteration of the lunar lab. But why would reckless and marauding space raiders have an interest in a research facility?
The Ripple in Space-Time jams a lot of things into a short 115 page story – murder mystery, political drama, space ships, science talk, budding romance, and detective novel. It’s hard to cram all of those things with so few pages and feel like it’s been fully developed. Instead it feels like things are missing, that a little more meat needs to be added to a compelling set of bones.
There is a lot of science babble, particularly physics, and I couldn’t tell you if any of it is even remotely accurate, but it mostly sounds good. Chapman is trying to create hard sci-fi, but mask it inside of a fast-paced detective story. Mysteries involving space travel is always more fun than mysteries on solid ground.
The Ripple in Space-Time takes place several centuries in the future when the world has broken down into several fiefdoms and colonies have developed across the universe. The book opens with a terrorist attack on the moon that kills several hundred scientists, who specialize in developing high efficiency energy sources through Tau Iron atoms and antimatter. This spikes all the other stories – the government hunting down the terrorists, a despot warlord attempting to kill his equally evil brother, pirates traveling through asteroid belts with dangerous antimatter cargo.
I loved how Chapman interspersed the story with news releases of prime moments that aren’t necessarily occurring to the main set of characters. This built out the universe a little more and gave insight to the structure of this future Earth and its relationship with the colonies. Politics and the drastically different political environment wouldn’t have been able to come across during the actual story without significant boring exposition. It’s a neat story telling construct that also helps give a sense of time passing.
The characters have room to be developed further, never really getting beyond their initial defining characteristics. Ryo Trop is the gruff, seasoned detective, while Lev is the young narcissist, who’d rather sleep with all the women that cross his path rather than do anything constructive. The pirate captain has a grey moral compass while his second-in-command is a meathead with anger issues. None of the additional characters have any further depth either.
Chapman ties together many vaguely associated plotline into a complex narrative that literally goes across space and time. Much of the story takes place on spaceships and involves vague interpersonal relationships. When the action happens, conflict occurs quickly and wraps up only for another slow burn to the next big moment.
This novella isn’t for those who don’t want the heavy science babble because there is a lot of physics talk throughout the novel, including a detailed discussion on the advancement in antimatter technology and how it has been harnessed over the passing centuries. Throw in the addition of the space-related tech babble and some readers might be turned off by the exposition.
This is one of many stories in a series of novels Chapman is writing in the same universe. It’s supposed to cover all the time from present day to when The Ripple of Space-Time occurs and possibly even further into the future once the series is done. If you’re looking for a fast-paced mystery and aren’t turned off by science exposition, this book – and the series it’s part of – could be of real interest to you.
I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review as part of the blog tour.