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Posted April 30, 2013
Posted February 25, 2011
I am not one for simple plot summaries when it comes to book reviewsw. I will say it's the story of Sandfly, a "debugger" sent to fix a robot on an experimental spaceship. Sci-fi, yep. Not heavy, hard sci-fi. Very character-driven. And voice.... The voice of these novels is what really grabbed me. The plot is awesome, the characterization top-notch...the pacing, descriptions, everything, no complaints. Spot on. The voice, mind-blowing. Especially when you consider the point of view they're written in. OK, lesson time for you non-writers (or maybe you writers who could use a refresher): Novels are written in a multitude of pov's, including third person omniscient, third person limited, second person, and first person. Third person (either kind) is written as though someone else is telling the story, as in, "He stared into the murky depths..." Second person is nearly never used, and involves directing its prose at the reader, "You see, it don't you? Over there...." First person is written as though the character is telling the story, "I dug through my backpack, searching for..." (Keep in mind, this is the narrative part. Dialog is a free-for-all, folks.) You also have your choice of past tense or present tense. The "he stared" is past tense, the "you see" is present tense. Most books choose third person (limited--meaning you only get into one character's head at a time), past tense. Next in popularity is first person, past tense. Quite a few new books--including Kerry's here--are coming out in first person, present tense. Second person is pretty much not done, but Kerry works it in here and there. Which (finally) brings me to my point. First person present tense is like singing a capella. Third person past is more like having instrumental accompaniment. For some reason, third person, and even first person past, is just more forgiving when it comes to style. Maybe because it's what we're used to reading, so we don't look for anything "off-key," same as listening to singing with background instruments. But first person present is different, rare, like a capella singing, and you have to get it perfect or every eensy-weensy mistake is amplified. Second person, forget it. It's like having someone sing right into your ear. Kerry does it though. Flawlessly. He sings this story, no back-up, no reliance on convention. I could not put these books down. They're completely addictive, just like a great song--the kind of song you put into your mp3 player and let it play on repeat for hours. In my book, Kerry is a star, curiously--skillfully--singing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 17, 2010
Do I have your interest yet? Kerry Nietz debut novel is about as an inventive and thought provoking a piece of Science Fiction (any fiction for that matter) I have come across in a long time. Written in first person and at times direct narrative to the reader, A Star Curiously Singing places you inside the head of one small cog in the machine of a future world dominated by a global fundamentalist religion. That cog is Sandfly, a debugger. Like all debuggers, he has served at the will of his master since the age of ten, that obedience insured by a surgically implanted and state approved conscience. While we are never told the name of this all-pervasive religion, Nietz leaves little doubt what he modeled this future world after. In one candid moment the main character relates how Sharia Law became the law of the world: "We struck and then we hid. We talked peace while planning destruction. We used our own brothers' suffering as fuel against those who were more sympathetic of such things. We sowed discontent."
Sandfly is sent by his master to a place few of his world ever go, space. There he discovers a fantastic secret tool of interstellar exploration known as Dark Trench. What happens next is left for you to find out. You, meaning all you freeheads that dare read A Star Curiously Singing. People like Sandfly have paid a terrible price for instant and direct access to all the information of the world, freedom to think for themselves. And, freedom to know the truth.
While some may take offence at obvious allusions to Muslim Fundamentalism and the kind of life such a movement might bring to a world dominated by it, this story goes much deeper than any one religion. In some ways it takes a swipe at all works oriented religions. More importantly it leads the reader to consider what Sandfly discovers on Dark Trench. "A" is not God. There is another. One who is so much more. He is "A3". Does "A" stand for Allah in this story? We are never told. But there is no doubt who "A3" is. He is the One "who stoops" down to man and becomes one of us. He is the One who created all. The One who the stars sing about.
This story ends with Sandfly headed to the stars to learn more about the new song he has just discovered. A song that is about to not only change one lone debugger but a world. The good news is the story really doesn't end here but is continued in the seqeul, The Superlative Stream.
Posted October 14, 2010
Kerry Nietz has done an exceptional job with his debut novel. A Star Curiously Singing seized me from the very beginning. The descriptions of Sandfly's technologically advanced society seemed very realistic; the constant interaction with robots reminded me of the best of Asimov's fiction. At the end, though, it was not the science that impressed me most about this book. It was the fiction. Nietz's characters are all extremely well-drawn out. His plot kept me guessing until the end. His writing is tight and clean. The concept of an Islamic society fascinated me, and the way he blended all of the science into the story was very, very good. His protagonist's voice was unique and captivating. Indeed, it is only as I began writing this review that I remembered Nietz; from start to finish there was only Sandfly and me. Some might object to all of the writing 'rules' that Nietz breaks, most notably the use of present tense and the desecration of the fourth wall. For me, it enhanced the story. I felt as if I were with Sandfly the entire time, and not once during the entire book did I recall that it was fiction. The ending left me hungering to read the next book. Well done, Mr. Nietz.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 2, 2010
Meet Sandfly, a debugger with the implant in his head. The implant is something akin to an internet connection only on a higher level. He's a mechanic, fixing lines, ships etc. One day he gets a new task. In a world ruled by Sharia law, Sandfly must go to DarkTrench, a prototype ship that had headed out to Betelgeuse. On that ship was a robot, and it tor itself apart, something that they never do. Sandfly must find out why the robot did what it did and if the ship was suitable for human travel. Once he pieces the robot back together, he listens to the robot's memory chip and is startled when he hears what he hears. Singing. This book is by far the most original, intriguing, and amazing story that I have ever delved into. It kept my nose in the book for six hours just waiting to see what would happen next, why this happened, why that happened. Invest your money in it, you won't be disappointed, I guarantee it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 13, 2010
I knew I had to read this book when I saw its title. Hasn't mankind always been fascinated with the thought of the heavens pouring forth music? The Bible says the morning stars sang together at creation. Oh, to have that on CD! Poets and musicians strive to capture the song. Google "Music of the Spheres" to see everything from wind chimes to symphonic works of every sort.
Kerry Nietz has captured the magic of that irresistible call in his first novel. With melodic language, Nietz creates a future culture where the sharia government-mandated god is not the God of Creation. In a world where technology is governed by thought, and servers governed by pain, we meet Sandfly a "debugger" implanted with a device that connects him to the information stream where he is drawn to discover the source of strange singing.
Twice I was sure where the story was headed, and twice I was wrong-but not disappointed. With enough sci-fi details to be intriguing and mysterious without overwhelming, and fascinating jargon that brings us into the lives of Sandfly and HardCandy, this is a breath of fresh air page-turner.
Write on, Kerry Nietz!
(Lois Hudson, Co-Author ENDING ELDER ABUSE: A Family Guide)
Posted September 10, 2010
"A Star Curiously Singing" is an offbeat, unconventional and absolutely enchanting read.
I love stories - I have since childhood - all kinds of them, crossing genres and periods. If an author can rub words together, conjure a world and people it with complex characters, I will follow him or her just about anywhere.
So I'm pleased to report - I will go with Kerry Nietz to the stars.
Fast forward five centuries. One particular religious/cultural group dominates this brave new world. Call them "Abduls" ("Abbies" for short. And yes, everyone is compelled to pray to "A," while facing "M").
Well - almost everyone. There's an elite group that prowls this technological future, fixing things. They are the debuggers. Unlike their hirsute overlords, the fixers are taken from their parents early and "de-haired" - but baldness is just the skin-deep manifestation of their true transformation.
Like our hero, Sandfly, debuggers have an implant in their brains. It plugs them into the "stream" - the internet to the nth degree. This empowers their work - imagine the schematics of every bot at your neuron-tips. But these potentially powerful specialists have limiters built in. Even begin to think something forbidden, and the brain pain crackles.
An Abby master (and each debugger has one) carries a remote that gives him the digital whip hand. Those like Sandfly (and his female counterpart, HardCandy), must knee-jerk to the master's every wish in order to avoid the screaming heebie-jeebies between the ears.
But as Sand is about to discover, a spaceship, "DarkTrench," has returned from a journey to a far-off star. There, something traumatic and infinitely mysterious transpired. A robot tore itself apart as a result - and an artifact of its memory provides a glimpse into the significance of the novel's title.
It sets off a chain reaction that will spin our hero's life around - and may even transform distopia.
In the nature of fantasy series like Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and Herbert's "Dune" books, "Star" is the alpha volume of the Dark Trench Saga. It will lead you inexorably to Mr. Nietz's next novel, "The Superlative Stream."
Come, freehead. Travel to the stars and find out what - or Who - is out there.
Posted July 25, 2010
A Star Curiously Singing is the first title in the Dark Trench Saga, written by Kerry Nietz and published by Marcher Lord Press. Sandfly is a debugger, a man who has been modified to connect to a vast information source, the stream, to fix whatever problems arise in the masters' technology. His modification lies in the form of an implant, which allows him access to the stream, and also restricts anything but a humble attitude. He is given an unusual task one day: to fix a robot. The only confusing variables in this task are that this robot tore itself apart, and that it had just returned from a maiden voyage on an upgraded ship. Investigating further, he finds that this robot heard singing, and this singing has a peculiar effect on robots, debuggers, and humans. What he will find will change his viewpoint over everything.
A Star Curiously Singing is a jewel among speculative fiction. It takes a marvelous idea (the stream) and makes it modern technology: understandable and useful. The characters have great freedom in the sense that their emotions do not have to be shown to the reader very much, as they are themselves encouraged to forget emotion completely. However, at the end, emotion requires a strong foundation, which had been growing throughout the book. Above all, it shows God (A~A³) very clearly through natural revelation (revelation through God's creation). It portrays the concept of "new birth" (in the guise of "reprogramming") very accurately. Overall, this book is a five-star wonder!
Posted June 9, 2010
I Also Recommend:
A STAR CURIOUSLY SINGING, by Kerry Nietz
In a futuristic world where sharia law is in place and mankind relies on technology to perform the simplest task, DR63 "SandFly" is about to find his life turned upside down. A 'Chosen One', SandFly was chosen as a youth to be implanted with a device that would allow him to speak to all of the machines that run the planet. Even though this would seem to give him incredible, unstoppable power, it does not because those in charge who 'chose him' hold a controller that zaps him if disobeys. SandFly is a tool who belongs to a master, no more, no less. So how can he change the world? And what's wrong with the world anyway?
I'll leave that up to you to find out. Let me just tell you how fun this book was to read.
As an author myself, I read lots and lots of books. Some I enjoy, some not so much. This book, A STAR CURIOUSLY SINGING, is one that I hated to put down and I couldn't get it out of my mind. Because of my work load, I was only able to pick it up an hour at a time, but every time I set it down to go back to work, I thought about it all day. I sympathized and fell in love with the lead character immediately and worried for him as I longed to get back to the book. I can easily say that this is one of the best books I have ever read, and this is my very first sci-fi novel.
A review would not be complete without mentioning the technical aspects of Nietz's method and style of writing. SandFly speaks in first person, and he speaks often to me, the reader. He calls me a 'freehead' (I have no implant, you see!) and through his point of view, I know him very intimately-and I like him! He is such a well-rounded, three-dimensional character that I felt often that that if I released just a little bit, I could imagine he is real and this book is true. I am looking forward to reading the sequel to this story THE SUPERLATIVE STREAM.
Bravo Mr. Nietz and God bless,
Ellen C Maze
Author of Curiously Spiritual Vampire Tales
Posted January 19, 2010
I Also Recommend:
Review by Jill Williamson
In a future governed by a strict rules, there are two types of people: masters and debuggers. A debugger is a person whose brain has been implanted with a computer. Debuggers' masters use them as a tool, to fix things, to run errands, or to discipline if needed.
Sandfly's master sends him to space on a special mission. A robot tore itself apart and the masters want to know why. As Sandfly investigates, he discovers not only that the bot picked up a signal that proves the primary rule invalid-that means the strict rules all people live by are wrong-but that his life is in danger. But should that bother him, really? He isn't human anymore, right? He's just a machine. Isn't he?
This book is the most unique thing I've read in a long time. It took me a bit to get into the flow of the futuristic and sarcastic voice of the main character, but once I did, I didn't want to stop reading. How much control can a society get away with before it comes back to hurt them? History has proven that people don't respond well to slavery. Yet there are always some who keep trying to get their own way, no matter who is hurt. I found this novel deep and intriguing and totally creative. If you love science fiction, computer stuff, movies like The Matrix, and creatures like the Borg, you must read this. It's quite entertaining.
Posted December 1, 2009
Kerry Nietz has concocted a future of immeasurable depth and life in his debut novel. "A Star Curiously Singing" had me immediately entranced by the lives led by debuggers in a world ruled by Islamic law. He mixed the details of this world flawlessly with the mystery surrounding a damaged robot's return from a deep space mission.
Sandfly's investigation into this robot's condition - and that robot's predilection for spouting phrases from a certain long-forgotten book - make for a fascinating ride. What did the robot hear? What is the mysterious source of this stream from a distant star?
With an ending that leaves you wanting more answers (the best kind, in my opinion!), A Star Curiously Singing is a science-fiction work of high caliber. I am anxiously awaiting Sandfly's further adventures.
Posted November 20, 2009
What a great, action packed read full of relevance and worldview! Really loved the short chapters that made reading this book so fun and manageable. Is it a chilling prophecy of our world to come?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 11, 2009
"A Star Curiously Singing" is a haunting tale about a futuristic world ruled by Sharia law and the cybernetically gifted slaves that keep it all working for their Islamic masters.
When I first started reading this book I was thrown off the deep end. The author employs an unorthodox style of writing, but one that is masterfully handled and produces a novel with literary prose that stands toe to toe with some of the best cyberpunk fiction out there.
This book is worth reading for the stylized writing alone, but add to that the unique dystopian future and the angst ridden protagonist of Sandfly and you have a religiously charged cyberpunk story that will keep you reading way past your bed time.
And then beyond the style and intriguing plot, there is lying beneath the surface another layer of philosophical, spiritual and religious ponderings that adds an even greater depth to the already fantastic story.
"A Star Curiously Singing" is a definite _must_ read for Sci-fi and cyberpunk lovers or anyone 'curious' enough to take a frank and honest look at a future ruled by Islam.
Posted November 7, 2009
A Star Curiously Singing is a unique book in that it projects what the world might look like if sharia law became the ultimate authority worldwide. Mix that scenario with a future, technology-rich culture and you end up with the world Nietz has built.
The main character, Sandfly, is a debugger, a slave with an implant in his brain enabling him to connect to the electronic world around him in ways that only debuggers can. Sandfly's primary job is to fix his master's robots, but when he is called upon to unravel a technological mystery, everything changes. It seems a spacecraft capable of interstellar flight has successfully made a trip to the stars and back to Earth again, but on the way, one of the key robots on board has gone haywire and torn itself limb from limb. Now it's up to Sandfly to figure out what went wrong and whether the robot poses a danger to humans. But as Sandfly pieces the robot back together, he finds a strange recording that sets his world on edge.
I found that the first-person viewpoint in Nietz' book immediately drew me into the story. Maybe it's just me but I found it intriguing to be in the head of a guy who has an implant in his head. (Ok, sorry. I couldn't help myself.) Seriously, the technology in the book was fascinating to me. How great would it be to have your own wireless computer inside your head, complete with email and instant messaging in text or video or more? Of course, Sandfly had to deal with the whole do-what-I-want-or-I-zap-your-head situation, but he finds ways to survive and still keep his sanity.
I suppose it could be a side effect of reading fantasy books that are so long they could be used as doorstops, but when I reached the end of A Star Curiously Singing and turned the last page.aaaaaaa! I couldn't believe it was the end! The book went by so fast and I wasn't through with the story. Must.read.more. I'm sure the sequel will be well worth reading.
Posted October 19, 2009
This is one of the reasons why 'Star' is such a brilliant (pun intended) read. There is more to the story than just the story. Kerry weaves his areas of expertise into the entire body of the book......astronomy, computer science, science fiction, religion, et al. Also, his fantasy future, is not difficult to imagine. It plays well with current events and their ultimate direction if left unchecked. There's something for everyone here.
The story's protagonist is an unlikely hero that, even at the end, has not realized his full potential. This serves to both, allow us to relate to 'Sandfly', as well as lure us into a sequal, which is sure to come.
Posted August 21, 2013
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Posted July 1, 2012
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Posted November 16, 2009
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