Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review: A Question of Balance by Robert M. Blevins

I really don't have a good excuse for waiting so long in review Bob Blevins A Question of Balance (selected works 1982-2007) but if I want to get a read the book myself lol.

Anyway, the title pretty much sums up what Mr. Blevins had in mind when he put this compilation together. We are treated to a smattering of different themes in different formats, from flash to novella or maybe short novels.

Even though the book is a soft cover, it's got some size and heft to it. Hard cover in size and thickness so you needn't worry about running out of material to read anytime quickly.

If you haven't treated yourself to Robert's style, this is an excellent cross section. Most of the stories have been around for a bit, but they really hold up well. Blevins throws his imagination out there a bit that you never feel like you're reading dated material.

The flash section really is a flash. You tend to steam right through that section. And its great fun. But when we come to the meat of the volume is where the serious entertainment starts.

Blevins may be a lesser known author, but that in no way reflects on the quality of the writing. Like any author, Blevins has his strengths and weaknesses. He may be a little weak in characters, a very very minor thing and he may be slow to get going, but I want to tell you that when things start to happen, Blevins can maintain the tension like no one I have read. A true strength for Blevins is his ability to describe a hostile environment and move his characters through these environments with ease. What's more he may and does handle several downright hostile environments all at the same time in his first novel "say goodbye to the sun". We are treated to the the obligatory dangerous space emergency, then a horrific near death struggle in high altitude mountain survival, that is so real it will make you shiver and we will deftly switch to scorching desert survial where you can practically see the heat shimmer. It made difficult to put the book down. My only complaint is he just couldn't resist keeping the story going. There were a few excellent places to end the story but he continued to tie up ends after ends.

Where the first story takes place on a planet around a distant start, "The 13th Day of Christmas" takes place on Mars. Like the first story Blevins, really underplays political resistance that would result from such large mandates. They are all but blown aside in something akin to the Kennedy/Apollo mandate. I would have to say in this story there was a real push to get the story going, but it still drags as we see the interaction between the characters...but when things start to happen...... Because whatever misgivings that I might have started with as soon forgot in a rush of this and that going wrong....constantly. It certainly is a "how the hell are they going to get out of this?"

The most improbably of the bunch is the last "The Corona Incident" which spins government intrigue with time travel and UFOs. Pretty heady mix that keeps you turning the pages.

Overall I found myself really enjoying Robert Blevins writing so if you you can find a copy of A Question of Balance, it's well worth checking out. I would check with Adventure Books of Seattle for availability.

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