Monday, January 23, 2017
Review - Regeneration by Louise Lyons
Author: Louise Lyons
Published: January 15, 2017
Genre: Gay fiction, science fiction, MM romance
Length: 75,000 words
Cover design: Simon Searle
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NAL4NJ8
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01NAL4NJ8
In the 23rd Century in the galaxy of Sigma Kappa, Kim Fortune was the first surviving experimental enhanced human—a regenerate. Aged fifteen, he escaped the lab and years later, his failings as a regenerate and the suspicion of regular humans, leave him lonely and lacking in self-worth. Stranded on an abandoned planet, the arrival of a stricken ship and its crew give him hope that he may finally find what he always longed for—love.
Christian Novak is a successful regenerate with all the intended attributes—including lack of human emotion. Despite their immediate attraction to each other, Kim's failing confidence, and Christian's inability to empathize are a recipe for disaster. But war, imprisonment, and danger throw them together, and after each saves the other's life, their feelings begin to change.
Can a seemingly unsuitable pair ever find love, or is a future together destined to fail?
I'm going to lay it on the line here. I'm a Trekkie. I've seen (bar one or two) every episode of every Star Trek incarnation and every film at least once. I can greet you and swear at you in Klingon. I made Bajoran hasperat once, and for a year, I was a ship's counsellor in STRPG. I find Roddenberry's utopian vision uplifting (ignoring the Cardassian/Bajoran situation and Ferengi commerce culture for the time being) and I think it's awesome when Star Trek inventions become scientific reality.
I've also seen Star Wars 4, 5, 6, 1 and 2. I love Red Dwarf, and I've watched more episodes than I care to admit of Blake's 7, Battlestar Galactica and Andromeda.
That is pretty much the extent of my engagement with space-based sci-fi (which probably has an official name, but you know what I mean). I've never read Star Trek novels, and I've read next to no other space-based science fiction books, for one reason: the names are STUPIDLY unpronouncable to me. If I can't say a character's name (or the name of their home world) in my head, then I can't connect with the character.
I've mentioned it on my blog before, but it's a deficit of the way I learned to read (whole words rather than phonemes and syllables), and there are still a lot of words I get wrong when I say them aloud: bombardier, Arkansas, Yosemite, archipelago, to list but a few.
All of this is the context for my reading of Regeneration, the recent release from Louise Lyons, and let me say how DELIGHTED I was to find that the main characters are called...
I can say BOTH of those. :)
I did have a bit of a problem with S.K.# for the planets, but I got the numbering straight fairly quickly. The name Immortasia is absolutely perfect for that nasty ole place, and Pardus is explained, so that made sense. I have no idea of the different planets' numbers now, but no matter. It's not necessary to understanding and enjoying the story. I got that Pardus is too hot, Immortasia is too cold and SK...the only one with three digits...is farther out and had lots of trees.
The world building is subtle and excellent. The caveat for that opinion is where I started. For anyone who has seen or read any popular space-based sci-fi, the principles of travel and the different kinds of habitable planet will be at once familiar, but there is enough explanation along the way for the complete sci-fi novice to pick it up, and the science fiction element isn't heavy-going. Regeneration is, for the most part, a character-driven story, where the two main characters happen to be enhanced humans in the Sigma Kappa galaxy (I'd expected a star system within the Milky Way galaxy, but I guess I was thinking too local).
The cast of characters is interesting, relatively diverse, and those of most significance are well developed. Kim Fortune starts off with an almost child-like innocence, and his biography before we pick up his story gives an insight into why this is. Christian Novak, on the other hand, has a very definite feel of the jaded rebel soldier. I'm particularly fond of Novak. He's a beefcake.
The writing is excellent, and the plot moves along at a good pace. I did experience a bit of a blip in this regard, which is related to my preferences as a reader. I found the shift in name use very off-putting. I understand why it happened, and it makes sense in context, but it did take me out of the story for a while. The other minor niggle I have - and I have absolutely no right to it, so I'm going to be honest, because it's a selling point for other readers - is that it's too 'MM Romance' for me, by which I mean the emphasis is on Kim and Novak's relationship and associated intimacy, which follows a fairly typical trajectory for the subgenre. There's nothing wrong with it - it's written very well - and the novel is clearly marked as Sci-fi/MM Romance, but I'd have been happy to see a few of the smaller 'mysteries' conclude and sacrifice some sexy time. Or both, maybe. Now I'm being greedy.
All in all, I really enjoyed this story. I read, write and edit mainly within contemporary subgenres, so it was a lovely and welcome change to read sci-fi, and well-written sci-fi at that, with characters whose names I could pronounce (++), natural world-building, strong female characters (for the most part) and a believable romance. I will most definitely be reading other stories by Louise Lyons. I'm still thinking now about Kim (trying to figure him out) and Novak (for far less innocent reasons - did I mention he's a beefcake?).
(Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.)
Louise Lyons comes from a family of writers. Her mother has a number of poems published in poetry anthologies, her aunt wrote poems for the church, and her grandmother sparked her inspiration with tales of fantasy.
Louise first ventured into writing short stories at the grand old age of eight, mostly about little girls and ponies. She branched into romance in her teens, and MM romance a few years later, but none of her work saw the light of day until she discovered FanFiction in her late twenties. Posting stories based on some of her favourite movies, provoked a surprisingly positive response from readers. This gave Louise the confidence to submit some of her work to publishers, and made her take her writing "hobby" more seriously.
Louise lives in the UK, about an hour north of London, with a mad dog called Casper, collection of tropical fish and tarantulas. She works in the insurance industry by day, and spends every spare minute writing. She is a keen horse-rider, and loves to run long-distance. Some of her best writing inspiration comes to her, when her feet are pounding the open road. She often races home afterward, and grabs pen and paper to make notes.
Louise has always been a bit of a tomboy, and one of her other great loves is cars and motorcycles. Her car and bike are her pride and job, and she loves to exhibit the car at shows, and take off for long days out on the bike, with no one for company but herself.
Thanks for reading!