Posts Tagged kal spriggs

The Fallen Race — A Tale of Two Novels

The Fallen RaceIf you were the son of a traitor and sent out into the border regions of your empire to languish and (hopefully to some) die, how much loyalty would you have if you found out that suddenly those who banished you desperately needed your help when the entire universe is on the line?

This question is just among the many confronted by Baron Lucius Giovanni, commander of the War Shrike in Kal Spriggs’ science fiction novel The Fallen Race. The alien Chxor have completely decimated the Roma Nova Empire and, with his back against the wall, Baron Giovanni is struggling to keep the remnants of its citizens — as well as his make-shift fleet — alive. Assuming his political masters back home allow him to even retain command of his ship, that is.

After keeping his ship alive just long enough to help a convoy escape an ambush of Chxor vessels, the War Shrike stumbled onto a barely-alive Ghornath dreadnought. Surprised, Baron Giovanni discovers that the alien captain is the same one who spared his life many years before. He rescues him and a few of his crew and bring them on board the War Shrike. It is then that Baron Giovanni finds out that there is a human world in the system, one that nobody had known was there. A small world, still loyal to the Imperium, called Faraday.

Part of the charm of this novel is the obvious homage to the Honor Harrington novels by David Weber. This book has it all — aliens, telepaths, pirates, staff meetings… all in direct correlation to a Weber novel. Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a straight “filing off the ISBN numbers” book, far from it. The fall of the Roma Nova Empire is something that is fresh and different, and the turning of the main character from ostracized ship commander to military warlord (of sorts) is very reminiscent of a Mad Max in Space vibe (I don’t know why, that was just the feel I had while reading this book). It’s a fun joyride through space.

However, there are some major issues in the first half of the book, enough so that I had a heck of a time just getting through it. There are some minor issues like the changing of the Roma Nova Empire (it goes from Nova Roma to Nova Roman to Roma Nova in about three pages), as well as a very tedious “staff meeting” where the author hits us with an info dump that is oddly placed and ill-timed. There is also mention of the main character’s father being a traitor, but without any context outside of the title “Baron” that the main character has, you really don’t get a feel for just how deep the word really goes (until about midway through the book, when suddenly everything has a much deeper feel to it, and just how poorly the word “traitor” has been used throughout thus far). There is also nothing really setting anything up as the author tries to counter world-building with random action, which unfortunately doesn’t work well initially because there hasn’t been enough time to create any sort of relationship with the main character.

All that said, this is not a bad book, not in any sense. Because while the first half of the book is problematic, the second half of it is simply stellar, and that can be laid at the feet of Kandergain, the psychic pirate captain (yeah, that combination is just as awesome as it sounds). The book, quite frankly, could have been written from her perspective and been an amazing novel. The author handles her much better than he does the main character, and she is a likable, mysterious individual who dominates every single scene that she’s in. It’s almost as if the entire first half was added just to delay her arrival, because once she does, the pacing and action flow smoothly, the dialogue is crisp and fits the characters well, and it changes from being a run-of-the-mill SF novel to being something special.

I’ll give this one 4 stars. I can forgive some of the editing mistakes (as this is an indie novel), and when you have such an amazing character as Kandergain, that can cover and hide a lot of other, smaller mistakes that would normally derail you. Solid story here. I’d definitely buy this one on Kindle.

Reviewed by Jason

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Interview: Author Kal Spriggs

Editor’s note: One of the really near things we get to do here at Shiny Book Review is to interview new and upcoming authors. It’s always fun to see what goes on with the thought process behind any author’s mind, and when a new voice breaks onto the scene, it’s captivating to see just where their mind goes. 

Today’s interview was set up on a whim. I’ve been horrible about reviewing books lately and decided (with Barb’s assistance) that we were going to start doing some interviews. The problem, naturally, was to decide who to interview.

After much deliberation, I decided on this young writer named Kal Spriggs. Kal is a new science fiction author who was introduced to me by past SBR reviewer Leo Champion. His first two books, Renegades: Deserter’s Redemption and Renegades: The Gentle One are both available at Amazon for a low price of $0.99. While many people shy away from an underpriced book (or, in this case, novella), I know a good deal when I see one. So without further ado, here is our exclusive interview with Kal Spriggs.

Shiny Book Review: Okay, so tell us… who is Kal Spriggs?

KS1Kal Spriggs: Hmmm, interesting question

I would say that Kal Spriggs is a guy who likes to explore things, both in real life and in his head. He’s a guy who likes to ask what might happen if things were different, and likes to find out how things work. Less introspectively, Spriggs is active duty military, an engineer by education, and an Army brat by origin.

He’s a Scorpio, likes long walks on the beach, and meeting interesting people…

SBR: Wow. I… uh… wow. So what in the world possessed you to become an author?

KS: Frankly, I love to write. There’s few bigger rushes for me in life that can match the feeling of writing an awesome scene. Writing is something that I find to be a catharsis, and it lets me really delve into some of my curiosity about how things work. Creating an entire universe, society and then the physics, and even the fundamental laws of the universe lets me dive into asking the complicated questions.

Also, it gives me a nice escape from the mundane and a good way to share some of the cool things I’ve seen, even if reimagined a little bit.

SBR: Complicated questions? Care to give me an example?

KS: One of the complicated questions that especially appeals to me is: what exactly makes us human?

Where do you draw the line… and when you encounter aliens, or have mutants, psychics, and genetically engineered people, how does the line become blurred?

I personally think that treating people with respect is an essential part of our own humanity. But some species we encounter might be anathema to that concept. How do you respect a homicidal alien who views you as sentient food? How do you not react with instinctive fear to someone who can not only read your mind, but can bend you to their will? Human interaction at that level is interesting for me.

Another area, since I’m fascinated with warfare, is how the societal norms influences tactics, strategy, weapons design, and so-on. We see a bit of that in current warfare, quite a bit in ancient warfare (i.e., the western Greek/Roman style of shock troops versus the eastern style of skirmishers).

So I try to build a society’s war-making capabilities around their values and ideology. It gets interesting, sometimes, especially when I end up designing a race of ADHD aliens with more limbs than good sense.

SBR: So do you cover this in all of your books or do you spread it around a bit? Tell us about what you’ve written already.

desertersKS: My current series I have published, The Renegades, uses a lot of this. I’ve got psychics and aliens and even a genetically engineered ‘super-soldier.’ The interaction between them and normal humans is particularly interesting to write, and I think I manage to make it fun to read.

There’s distrust, particularly from those who haven’t dealt with these unknown people

There’s hostility from some of the aliens, who’ve been on the wrong end of a lot of prejudice, and nervousness about the abilities of a psychic from everyone.

As far as the societal influences, there are big differences in military tech of each of the big political groups. The tactics the different groups go for, and the overall strategies and goals of the various powers are complicated.

To top things off, the future is bleak for humanity in this universe. Two alien races have invaded, most of the human nations are at war with each other, and piracy has become so rampant as to be a common occurrence.

I’ve got another series that is set a few years later, which starts with The Fallen Race, where a handful of humans are the last hope to turn things around. What can I say… I’m a sucker for the underdog.

SBR: So if I suggest the first series reminds me of 1998 Somalia, you’d say…?

KS: Well, only if Somalia had a massive military bent on world domination and the main characters started out in a Somali prison labor camp and had to stage a break-out with a werewolf, a centaur and a mix of mercenaries, missionaries, and pirates.

SBR: That’d possibly be a better result than what we got…

KS: I wouldn’t rule it out… though we didn’t get to use nukes. They do in my book.

SBR: Always a game changer, nukes. So who do you like to read in your down time — assuming you have down time?

KS: Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of that lately. Still, I have a few favorite authors that I make time for. Heinlein is at the top. David Weber, John Ringo, Tom Kratman, Ryk Spoor, Mike Shephard, David Drake, Jim Butcher…

Pretty much I read at least two or three books a month. Down considerably from when I had lots of time and could read five in a week and still have time to write. Or maybe I’m just getting old, who knows?

SBR: Yeah, we have similar reading tastes. I’ll have to give Mike Shepard a look, though. So what do you have coming out next?

KS: I’m currently working on getting a military SF novel The Fallen Race ready to self-publish. It’s set in the same universe as Renegades, only the main character has a pocket battleship at his disposal.

To balance it, he’s got not just one, but two empires bent on his annihilation, as well as several rather large pirate factions.

When I finish edits on that, I’ve got my first Epic Fantasy coming out. Echo of the High Kings is my take on fantasy and magic. I’ll admit that I actually sat down and busted out my thermodynamics books when I went to see what was possible with the magic system

Though, again, rather little of that made it into the book. But at least it was math for a good cause.rgo-cover

SBR: Okay, earlier you mentioned you like to write “awesome scenes”. What, to you, defines an awesome scene?

KS: For me, an awesome scene is one where everything fits. Character, Character background, plot, theme… when it all comes together and the story damn near writes itself. When all the loose ends that were bugging me all come together in a nice little bow.

Sometimes it’s a plot twist even I didn’t see coming, and sometimes it is something so inevitable that when I read what I wrote, I realize I was headed there all along.

It normally involves a character that even I discounted stepping forward to make his mark. Sometimes it is a villain turning the tables or even renouncing his villainous ways… or sometimes it is a hero taking a last stand. It often involves some action or conflict and a strong resolution, either positive or negative. When it gets me tearing up or laughing as I write it, I know I’ve nailed it.

SBR: Nice. So is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about Kal Spriggs?

KS: There’s a question that will have me waking in the middle of the night saying “Aw, crap I should have said…”

SBR: *laughs*

KS: Seriously, I think we’ve covered most of it. Short of grovelling and asking them to read my works, I think I can safely leave it at that.

SBR: Well, that’s good enough for me. I’ll do the groveling for you. To buy Kal’s books, please follow the links below. Feel free to spread the word and let people know about this brand new up-and-coming author you heard us talk about (seriously, we like it. Lots) you discovered before he became famous. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us, Kal.

KS: Not a problem, thanks for having me

Link for Renegades: Deserter’s Redemption

Link for Renegades: The Gentle One

Kal’s Amazon Page

Kal’s personal blog

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