Friday, October 7, 2011

Semper Audacia: A Review

Recently, I picked up the newly released e-novelette "Semper Audacia" by sci-fi writer and fellow blogger MPax.  The following is my personal review of the work:


A Space Opera
The story begins on familiar ground: a lone space marine placed to protect her people, battle-scarred and weary, she is the sole survivor of countless, bloody conflicts who must now face down one final threat.  Yet from the start there is a very sad, human angle to the story.  Leda, the last champion of her people, is indeed an ultimate soldier, her body and emotions controlled by a cybernetic armor suit and still she can't help but fill the empty defense station she inhabits with memories of her fallen comrades, some whom she misses far more than others.

This is a short work (about 13k words) so I will not give anything more specific away other than to say that the plot is fairly condensed and quickly sucked me in.  Somewhere, the expected showdown between good and evil, small and large, takes a detour and our hero is confronted with a demon most foul: self-doubt - the idea that all you once stood for is no longer valid.  If you are looking for a story about a super soldier running and gunning her way through enemy lines to save the day then this is not the tale for you.  The battles before Leda lie within her own heart, against her own sense of duty, violently bashing up against her ideals regarding loyalty.

The prose closely follows behind Leda, giving us insight into her mind which at times slips in and out of lucidity .  Rather than pull away from our hero during these times of lapsing clarity, the author puts us into Leda's state of mind as fights through her degrading perspective, a mind and body that seem to have been alive for far longer than they should have.  I particularly enjoyed these segments where reality and unreal projections of Leda's thoughts meld to paint a singular scene of confusion and, at times, controlled chaos.  And as I pointed out earlier, the plot does move fast and so does the language, propelling forward through the highly-charged proceedings without dwelling too much on long-winded histories.

If I have one complaint its that the ending felt a bit rushed, I had reached the stunning conclusion (a situation most dire with horrifying implications) and suddenly the story concludes almost instantly in a flurry of lasers and space debris.  I suppose maybe I was indeed awaiting that final, contrived showdown.  I admit I am sucker for such romantic sci-fi tropes.  But as I reached the final lines, I realized that this tale was never about gun battles and interplanetary warfare but about the depths of one soldier's commitment to her duty, to her people, and above all, to her comrades in arms.

"Semper Audacia" available from in ebook format.