Poor Man’s Fight by Elliott Kay

Poor Man’s Fight feels very much like an indie: some typos (e.g., there/their/they’re), some grammatically awkward sentences (e.g., highly educated people saying things like, “It went good.”), and far too many extraneous or superfluous POVs/situations that didn’t forward the plot or story. A strong finish wasn’t offset by a ponderously slow beginning and middle, unfortunately .

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Story: The world is ruled by corporations who have essentially used an ‘I sold my soul to the company store’ scheme to enslave most of humanity into lifelong debt. High school graduate Tanner Malone has no choice but to enlist in the military to pay off some of the debt: he’s highly skilled and among the top in his class but made huge mistakes on the final exam that sealed his fate. Meanwhile, Casey is a space pirate ‘fighting the man’ and ‘freeing indebted citizens’ through piracy (e.g., he murders all the people on a starliner except the working stiff crews – to whom he offers a chance to join his gang).  Andrea works for the President of the US and both are trying to fix the mess corporations have made of the world.  Darren worked on a space liner but got a chance to join the pirates – but he soon learns that mistakes are deadly, especially if you aren’t too bright.  All these characters will collide in an action packed ending.

As noted earlier, most of the beginning and middle, dealing with Casey and his crew and troubles, Darren fumbling as a new pirate, Andrea giving press conferences explaining away the pirate situation, and Tanner going through boot camp hell really needed to be edited and streamlined. Transitions through time periods were clunky (e.g., Tanner gets bullied mercilessly and then suddenly he’s graduating and the bully is mentioned as being taken care of in an off comment). So much of it just wasn’t needed (Andrea especially).

Most of the characters felt very undereducated and pretty much talked/acted the same way – lacking nuance. Despite all the POVs, it felt like everyone had the same education and the same outlook on life – frustration and resentment. I wanted more – scenes and situations that didn’t feel so set-up by an author so as to make a point, plot or personal.

When the action starts at the end and the characters all begin to tie together, it really becomes obvious which POVs weren’t needed and which scenes could have been jettisoned to streamline the story. As well, although the action was good, it really turned into a Die-Hard/Rambo type of story of one man against a WHOLE LOT of pirates. Believable? Probably not and that’s the achilles heel of sci fi – it really does have to be plausible and this story just wasn’t for me.

I didn’t dislike Poor Man’s War but there was a lot of soapboxing here by the author that frustrated. Especially at the beginning I felt like I was reading a thinly disguised personal manifesto by Elliott Key rather than an engaging everyman sci fi story. It was distracting and kept me from investing in the characters when they felt like constructs to make a point rather than actual people.

In all, it will not be a story I will continue since I never engaged in plot or characters.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the author.

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