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Synthesis: Weave by Rexx Deane #BookReview

A note from Lilyn: About a year ago, I reviewed Synthesis: Weave myself on the site. We don’t normally do spaced individual reviews of the same book (we do double-dips as a planned all in one post). However, there was a bit of a mix-up, so you will get a special treat of this review from Michael, and in the near future, his review of the sequel: Afterglow.

A tsunami on a space station. An explosion with no trace of the bomber.

Cyber-security expert Sebastian knows evidence doesn’t magically disappear, yet when he and his colleague Aryx, a disabled ex-marine, travel the galaxy to find the cause, there seems to be no other explanation.

Can they unravel the mystery before his family, home, and an entire race succumbs to an ancient foe?

Title:Synthesis: Weave | Author: Rexx Deane | Publisher: Forcefield Publishing | Pub. Date: 18th August 2018 | Pages: 567 | ASIN: B07FC4BKLV | Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Author for review consideration

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Synthesis: Weave Review

In the author’s own words: “This is all like some bloody fairy story dropped in the Space-Age…”. The border control between science fiction and fantasy has always been flaky, and “Synthesis: Weave” by Rexx Deane skips childlike across that blurry line without a care in the galaxy. To establish a baseline, this novel is science fiction, or more specifically, space opera. Humans mingle with extra-terrestrials on space stations, they traverse star systems, bending the redundant laws of time and space to their will while scoffing pizza and fretting over school fees. The rest is fantasy.

Synthesis Weave’s “whole thing” is that magic exists, it has always existed, we only never understood it. Alchemy, demon possession, fairy dust, these are all scientifically testable and repeatable phenomena that we simply don’t understand. It can all be explained because… “quantum physics”. The trade-off for this Chopra-esque mumbo-jumbo is the potential for creative storytelling. Except this book is not terribly creative.   

From the very visible contents of an invisible man’s digestive tract to an “Entmoot” uprooted directly from “Lord of the Rings”, Deane hordes a collection of borrowed tropes and smashes them together. This would not have been a terrible thing had the results not been lukewarm. But the plot is unchallenging and the characters less so. The leading man, Sebastian Thorsson, is an Icelander who half-arses his pagan religion. His trusty sidekick is a double-amputee former marine with a prejudice against computers. Thorsson is an IT security geek who is promoted to field agent and assigned his first case. Being a total noob, he brings his grumpy wheelchair-bound engineer chum Aryx Trevarian along for moral support. It is all good fun until those pesky terrorists do their thing.

There you have it, two men and a buddy-cop story, also magic and artificial general intelligence. The drama is more melodrama, the stakes are high but not that high. The terrorist attack succeeds only in soaking some people. The body count is low and there are no true villains or horror. I neither laughed nor cried. Everyone tended to be OK. The task of saving the galaxy seemed as troubling to these characters as their choice of space restaurant.  

Now to focus on the positives. The problem with “Star Wars: The empire strikes back” is that Luke Skywalker gets a new hand. The enormous impact of having his own father cut off his right hand during a duel is immediately erased by a medical droid who grafts a perfectly realistic robotic hand, nerve ending to nerve ending, onto Luke’s stump. Okay, that was easy. But imagine how great “Return of the Jedi” might have been with Luke struggling to come to grips with being a lefty. (If I have spoiled the “Star Wars” for you, you have only yourself to blame.)

“Synthesis: Weave” shuns the “easy way”. Aryx does invent force-field prosthetic legs, but these are not an absolute solution, and that is a point. We should not be seeking perfect technical solutions. Perhaps science fiction’s elegant inventions are a disturbing projection of our wish for the disabled to simply go away. Deane argues for empathy. We cheer for disabled veterans completing marathons on carbon-fibre blades, but we seldom appreciate the vulnerability, the discomfort, and the mental toll that those women and men grapple with every day. Aryx is an ardently tough and independent man, but he needs his friends, not to help him but to understand him. This the author handles with acute sensitivity and without condescension.

Finally, I must applaud the author for not embodying “Wolfram”, the artificial intelligence, in an attractive humanoid body. Few authors have the guts to write about a grey box and I loved Wolfram more as a result. I recommend “Synthesis: Weave” to younger sci-fi readers. It is delightful and easy-going. If you are looking for the harder stuff, keep looking. 

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on GoodReads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inScience Fiction Book ReviewsStarred Reviews
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