Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Review of Fading Empires: Volume I
Fading Empires Vol 1
A few years ago, there was a computer game with the strange name of "Quake 3 Arena". It was one of more than a few "first-person shooters" on the market at the time. The opening sequence of Q3:A showed a character named Sarge, a burly ex-Marine sporing a buzz haircut and chewing on a stubby cigar. Sarge carried a massive machine gun, one that could be thought of as a .50-caliber. In this "cut scene," Sarge takes on a huge number of enemies and defeats them all. As I read the first chapter of "Fading Empires: Volume I," where the main character, Kilbane, fights his way through a dense jungle to reach an extraction point, I found it very easy to picture this Sarge character.
From that first chapter all the way to the cliff-hanger ending (it is a massive cliff-hanger as well!), "Fading Empires" delivers a ferocious amount of physical carnage, much like what can be expected when playing a "first-person shooter." The novel begins with parallel scenes: Kilbane fighting his way to an extraction point where he is picked up by a remote-controlled UAV while the other scene presents a professor being interviewed on a pirate radio/video show about the horrors of the "have's" of this dystopic futuristic US of A fighting off their respective "have-nots" Because of these first scenes, the reader is given a quick but thorough layout of the novel's main conflicts.
Yes. reading the novel got thinking (more than I wanted to) of playing a sci-fi first-person shooter like Quake 4:Arena or Modern Warfare; Kane must have spent a copious amount of time and effort to delinate the descriptions of so many kinds of hand-held rifles, machine guns, RPGs, etc.
Even though "Fading Empires" is set in a dystopian society fairly far into the future, Kane chooses to present that "global warming" will be a major cause of society's downfall. In this novel, global warming has caused the seas to rise which has moved the coastal populations further inland. One minor side note: it is interesting that the street-gangs (at least one gang, anyway) have very sophisticated weaponry but have to watch how much is discharged since ammo costs are very high.
I liked how Kane made a subtle transition from the action to show a more tender, dramatic side when Kilbane partners with two of his buddies. They are in the middle of planning a mission that will benefit not only themselves but possibly thousands of other like-minded souls when he gets a message from a childhood friend who's been badly injured in a gang-related excursion. It is from this point until the end of the novel that the main plot-line becomes (thankfully) very obvious.
Like I mentioned earlier, the novel ends with a heavy cliff-hanger. It is so abrupt that I literally grunted my out loud when I hit that proverbial concrete wall! Then I was greeted by an appendix that includes a "cast of characters" along with a glossary of terms for the weaponry, etc. described in the novel.
"Fading Empires" is a very-quick, action-intensive read that introduces gang-bangers, ex-cons, industry tycooons, and yes, military types like Kilbane. Even though Kane's first action-packed novel ends with a massive cliff-hanger (which I suppose should lead interested readers directly to volume two of the series), I give it a bloody -- but frustrated -- thumbs up!
Fading Empires: Volume I