GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ When the Sky Fell | I Smell Sheep

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Friday, August 26, 2011

When the Sky Fell

A while back K asked me to review When the Sky Fell by Mike Lynch and Brandon Barr. Well okay, Mike asked K to review it but since it appeared to have no smut in it whatsoever and was actually, you know, a book, K decided that I should review it instead. Anyway I finally got around to finishing it and managed to wrest control of the blog from K for about five minutes so I can talk about this book.

To start out, I'll talk about the plot in sort of broad terms so you get the idea. Basically, as recent as a few years ago the Terrans (that's us) and the Antarans, a race from Antares were at war. Fortunately the Terrans won, we just decided not to wipe them out. Because we're nice like that I guess. Anyway so these new aliens that call themselves the Deravans show up and say "We come in peace, wait no fooled you!" And so lots of things blow up. So it's up to Commander Frank Yamane and the crew of the starship Corona to go meet with the Antarans and team up so they can hopefully beat the Deravans.

I really have to be honest about this, I just didn't really care for this book. I personally felt like I was reading the novelization of a sci-fi TV series and it didn't really translate well to paper. Let me explain a little more of what I mean. I've watched plenty of sci-fi series, such as Battlestar Galactica, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, and Macross Frontier and there are certain things that work really well visually but don't work so well in text, space battles being the main example. It's really fun to watch the Andromeda Ascendant go toe-to-toe with an enemy warship, or to watch Apollo and Starbuck dogfight with Cylon Raiders. There's an inexplicable visual appeal to watching ships fight in space. Heck, this is why the game Gratuitous Space Battles exists, solely for the visual pleasure of watching ships fight in space. The problem is that the experience is highly visual, as you probably guessed from my emphasis. You certainly can describe space battles in text, and both Lynch and Barr do that, but it lacks the visual component. Maybe some people can really enjoy just reading about a space battle, but I really love that visual element.

Another thing I noticed with this book is that there are certain events that happen which I kind of lumped into "episodes". Just as an example which doesn't really give too much of the plot away, at one point during the book the Corona's coolant systems fail and the ship's engines are in danger of going critical. Naturally there is a race to fix the problem before the engines explode and kill everyone. Maybe you're familiar with some of the sci-fi TV series I've seen, but this would totally fit right in. There's an overarching plot, like trying to find Earth or restoring the Commonwealth, but in this episode there's a problem we have to fix before time's up. And there are a couple of instances where something like that happens in the book, which further increased the feeling that I'm reading a TV show which I would be happier watching.

Finally, I felt some really strong comparisons to TV shows that I've seen because of similar elements used in the plot. Towards the end of the book characters start getting, not quite religious visions but religious experiences, which further reminded me of Battlestar Galactica. (Okay, yes, I'm referring to the reimagined series, but the old one was just silly.) For those of you that don't know, BSG always sort of had religious themes in it, but towards the end of its run they got really dominant in the writing. Also When the Sky Fell pulled in some elements of beings from a higher plane of existence which reminded me of Stargate SG-1. Maybe not a fair comparison, but something I noticed nonetheless.

Overall my thoughts are that the plot has a lot of a TV show. As a book I feel like it relies too much on visual elements that are better suited to a visual medium instead of a text-based medium. If the authors could get this made by someone as a show I'd totally be in support of it but as it stands now, I can really only give it two sheep. However, if you want to check it out and support the authors, it can be found here.



  1. baaaaahahahaha "had no smut so K decided I should do it" oh BAK you crack me up! A very honest review you did here, I love that. And I can totally see what you liked and disliked about the book.

    You amaze me!

  2. I too appreciate the depth of Ben's review. Even though he didn't like it as much as I would have hoped, I respect the fact that he gave an honest evaluation of the story as he saw it.

    Mike (co-author of WTSF)