Just finished a recent read through on the release by Fletcher DeLacey, a former fanfiction writer who recently just released her first book! I’ve posted the review over on good reads you can find it here:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I originally read Fletcher DeLancey’s fictional works well over a year ago when I was in a job I was not exactly happy about. A year later, and once again reviewing her stories about Lynn and Captain Janeway I was surprised to see she had stepped it up with a fully published work on Alsea!
So to begin, I remember the original “Without a Front” which was Voyager spinoff fanfiction. After seeing it reworked into its own complete universe, and a complete redone opening I can see I was happy to once again read about Alsea! i think in many ways Fletcher stands to mix the elements that we often see in classical High Fantasy novels with modern Scifi. Her writing style is quick, active, and gets the point across while being filled with plenty of humor. I think in many ways the story simply warms my heart, and makes me feel positive.
Without giving too many spoilers the book opens with Andira Tal, the Lancer, or planetary leader of the planet Alsea. Out of no where an alien ship, the Caphenon, crashed on the planet causing the local Alseans to rethink their place in the galaxy. Right away the exposition introduces us to an alien world with Farscape-esque replacement words such as Hanticks, pipticks, Shekkers, and doksin. Its pretty endearing, and in many ways that jovial seriousness is embedded in every word!
The book does have elements of that are slightly cliche. There’s a big old progenitor race, and heavy elements of pan-spermia more along the lines of Stargate. I would say though that I do like this aspect as it shows that in a way Fletcher took the stereotypical everyone is humanoid aspecet of Star Trek and other fantasy series and made it her own. Everyone looks the same because well all species were created by the Progenitor race. Pretty nifty really!
The book is long, and at times can feel like two that were connected together. If you are a GRRM fan who loves ongoing stories that cover a swathe of plotline. This is a thick plot, but its not the most difficult to dive into. In many ways though, there is a lot there to consider. Andira Tal right off the bat can seem a bit self righteous, and so do a few of the other characters. But the thing here is that much like any good author worth her salt, Fletcher has created a main character that we know is not your typical white knight. This is not Eragon pining away to avoid killing, or annoying chapter of Egwene from Wheel of time, this is a world leader. One willing to do what is needed to get the job done.
Like all good writings though all of this is personal, and I will admit I’m a big fan of Fletcher DeLancey. There were a few critiques I did have. First, some of the Alsean names seem a bit random, but I know nothing of Fletcher’s notes. I’m a linguist at heart so everyone time I see a place name, a personal name etc, I try to piece together how the group speaks. I also could not help but chuckle every time I saw Baldassar.
Everything else was just enjoyable. This is not a book that strives for hard science, but whisks you away for an enjoyable jump into a world that is not our own. Yet, its not at all afraid to toss you seriously questionable practices, or consider things. Alseans are empaths, and there are entire strictures in their religion related to that. The politics of the casts was also a lot more rounded, than one might expect. I cherish her old version, but the new book has more depth on the castes, and gives us a great sense of who the Alseans are.
One cool thing I want to say is I like how Alseans are shown anatomically with the ability to gender-shift naturally. The reaction that non-Alseans were gender-lock dimorphically was pretty charming to consider.
So, if you are seeking a good book to sit down and read that has a lot of twists and turns, Caphenon is for you. If you want to see an alien world that is not so alien, then I still highly suggest it!