I'm excited to have my husband be a guest blogger today!
Kite by Bill Shears
Book Review by Joey Smith
Inside Kite, an alarm screeched. This one more shrill than the last. In addition, lights flashed on the console. A disinterested institutional-grade, gender-non-specific voice was activated for this event, and it announced: "Reducible waste in Orbit #1. Inhabited craft endangered." Dash woke wide up, but he still didnt' rise from his couch.
Out the front window he saw the two-seater skid ahead.
What do self-aware software, space debris, sly references to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker trilogy, and the Tunguska Event have in common? All appear in Bill Shears excellent novel "KiTE".
Mason Dash, the presumptive protagonist, works collecting space garbage in low Earth orbit while carrying "relationships" with both his human girlfriend, Janet, and his digital mistress Sheila. When he sees signs of activity on the supposedly abandoned International Space Station II toward the end of a shift flying the eponymous garbage ship Kite, the three of them are pulled into a dizzying whirlwind of events involving stowaways (both physical and digital), self-aware computer programs, and an alien named Troy.
I have to admit that after reading the summary on the back of the book, I wasn't sure whether I would enjoy the book - I expected something that was going to try to be the next "Hitchhiker's Guide", a prospect which seems unlikely to be successful. I was not prepared for the deft touch that Bill Shears has with words - he tread a very careful line between the outrageous and the plausible. Things that would have been silly and groan-inducing from a lesser author turned into witty or engaging moments in this wonderful tale about a space garbage-man.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the book was its unpredictability - I often pride myself on knowing where a book, TV show, or movie is going before the author has spelled everything out, but Mr. Shears had me completely baffled until the final 6 or so pages. Normally, I would have difficulty enjoying this sensation, but the story was frankly so enjoyable that I just didn’t even care where the story was going, I just wanted to know what was going to happen next.
Most of the characters - including a number of the digital personalities - were relatable enough that you will probably recognize them in someone you know personally, and before the end I found myself sympathizing with almost all of them on one issue or another. In the end, the story manages a feat almost unheard of to me - Mr. Shears both wraps up all the loose ends, as well as leaving a great opening for what could be an equally entertaining sequel. I have no idea on whether there's going to be any further stories in this particular universe, but speaking for myself, I would be happy to see it.
If you like rollicking Sci/Fi, and are ready to have your expectations shattered, pick up a copy of Bill Shears' "KiTE" from from Amazon and check out the author’s blog at infinitybound.com - I think you'll be glad you did.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review, but this did not influence my opinion.