September 15th, 2020 by Jane Turner
I am reviewing Fearless by Alan Stroud as part of a Blog Tour, organised by Random Things Tours. I received a free print copy of the paperback. Fearless is published by Flame Tree Press.
AD 2118. Humanity has colonised the Moon, Mars, Ceres and Europa. Captain Ellisa Shann commands the Khidr, a small escort and rescue ship with a crew of twenty-five. When she picks up a distress call from the Hercules, a supply ship, three days out from Phobos station, she decides to investigate. What she finds will push her, her crew and her ship to the brink of destruction.
The Hercules is drifting dead in space, but there is another ship nearby, one that is decidedly not dead. In fact, it seems all to ready – and eager – to destroy the Khidr. Under attack by an unknown enemy, and fearing treachery from her own crew, Shann will need all the skill and courage she has if she wants the Khidr to survive.
ARGH! I WANT MORE!!
As you can see from Mr Stroud’s bio below, he’s the chair of the British Science Fiction Association (of which I’m a member) and very well versed in what makes good scifi. And it shows. Very clearly indeed.
Mr Stroud has created a world not too far removed from our own. Set mid-2100s, there are relatable and recognisable pieces of equipment, systems and people. Humanity is in the early stages of life in space, and there are ethical and moral tales interwoven with the main story here. As well as possible alien life…
The engineering and ship functions are all entirely plausible for early-stage colonisation, the systems and processes make sense. This isn’t hard scifi, full of engineering and technical discussion, this is character driven action. And one I think will appeal to a wide audience.
This is a whopper of a book, twisting and turning, and written in the viewpoints of three characters. The viewpoints gel coherently and are nicely done. All are relatable and have backstories and personalities, though if I could make one tiny comment, I don’t think there’s enough variation between the voices of the characters, particularly Shann & Johansson. But that’s a very minor comment which (along with the few typos) doesn’t really diminish the reader’s thrill.
The story starts with one mystery and ends with another – something I find a little frustrating; I want to know what happens!! I’m hoping this is the first in a series, as I think there’s loads more of this story to tell. I wish it was another 300pgs!
Very well done Mr Stroud, very well done indeed. I’ll be watching for more!
Chair of the British Science Fiction Association, Editor of the British Fantasy Society Journal, Allen Stroud was Chair of Fantasycon 2017 and 2018. He has a PhD and a Masters in Science Fiction and Fantasy world-building. Stroud has written video game novelisations such as Elite: Dangerous and Phoenix Point) and his short stories have appeared in 2001: An Odyssey in Words and 2017 Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF.
Allen Stroud is a lecturer at Coventry University, where he teaches BA (Hons) Media and Communications. Stroud completed a Ph. D. at the University of Winchester, entitled An Investigation and Application of Writing Structures and World Development Techniques in Science Fiction and Fantasy. This thesis covered his work on the computer games, Elite: Dangerous (2014) and Chaos Reborn (2016). For Elite: Dangerous, Stroud wrote six guidebooks that inform the game’s fictional narrative and also served to help other writers with their novelisations set in the game world.
He was a founding host of Lave Radio, an Elite: Dangerous fan podcast that started in February 2013 and runs the annual convention Lavecon. His novel set in the Elite: Dangerous game world, called Elite: Lave Revolution was successfully funded on Kickstarter and published in late 2014, with a second edition published in 2015. Stroud then supported Spidermind Games in
developing the Elite: Dangerous Roleplaying Game. Stroud worked on Chaos Reborn with Snapshot Games and is working on Phoenix Point, due for release in 2019.
Stroud was the 2017 and 2018 chair of Fantasycon, the annual convention of the British Fantasy Society, which hosts the British Fantasy Awards. In June 2019, he became Chair of the British Science Fiction Association, taking over from Donna Bond. Stroud continues to write academic papers, reviews, articles and fiction in science fiction, fantasy and horror. He lives in a messy
house with two cats and his partner, Karen.
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