Christian Tamblyn

Sid Harta (2009)

ISBN: 9781921362583

Reviewed by Joanna Kasper, June 2010

Alex Hall is an exile from a ruined Earth. Part of the maintenance crew of humanity’s last hope, an ark of frozen people orbiting the destroyed earth, Alex is forced by a lotto draw to leave the ark to maintain their population balance. He is placed in a cryo-sleep in a space pod and sent out into the blackness. When he wakes from an unknown length of time, with no knowledge of how far he has travelled, he finds himself on a fertile world, with an abundance of life in many forms, all amazingly similar to those previously found on Earth. It is at this point that we move from the science fiction portion of the book into the fantasy. This new world is your typical big fat fantasy world, basically Earth transplanted, with some superficial changes so we know we’re not in Kansas anymore. This is not a book to read if you really appreciate detailed world building.

It is at this point that I make my confession … try as I might I could not read past page 125. I have a sneaking suspicion that there is an interesting story in here somewhere, but it is one in desperate need of a good editor. There are large info dumps in the early part of the book, mostly in the form of individual exposition. Unfortunately, technical problems with punctuation make these tedious to read and force the reader “outside” the story. It can be hoped that once past the point of needing all the explanation of this new world the story would pick up, and I am almost curious enough about what will happen that I may even make the effort one day. Or I might donate the book to my local charity shop.

On the positive side though, Tamblyn has managed to avoid some of the pitfalls of writing a story of the stranger in a strange land. Alex, our protagonist, doesn’t miraculously learn the language within the first couple of days, he travels for several months with his newly found mentor, learning as he goes. Although he turns out to have great talent for the local form of “magic”, he still needs to be trained, especially in the area of control.

Due to my abandoning the book so early, most of the characters were still in their early stages of development, but again, they showed promise of being more than just cardboard cut-outs.

Tamblyn has written an interesting book that shows promise. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this was not the final draft.