Do you ever read something and think, “What the ever loving f***?”
And not in a good way, like How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, which bent my mind with its infinity loop-double helix-triple lindy plot line.
Or like Deathless, which was like chewing on a high quality piece of jerky. With my brain.
More like, “I can’t believe I live in a world where an otherwise reputable publisher actually published this. The rain forest must weep for their slaughtered cousins that provided the paper for this crime against the written word.”
Friends, Tribulations by Ken Shufeldt is that book.
The story itself should be interesting enough. It’s the kind of thing where Earth has been obliterated and what’s left of humanity has set out in a refugee fleet, looking for a new planet to call home. So, much possibility there and Shufeldt pisses all over it with nonsensical choices, terrible writing, and a poor understanding of basic science and math.
The hero and heroine, husband and wife team Billy and Linda Lou West, are superhuman due to contact with alien DNA. Whatever. I can deal with that. The circumstances surrounding it are completely bloody stupid:
- “Dr. Evans had accidentally injected the baby with the recombinant DNA they had extracted from the body in the sarcophagus.”
OH, REALLY? Accidentally injected the baby with alien DNA? How did that happen? Is Dr. Evans actually Mohinder Suresh? Did Mohinder forget to label his syringes again?
That could almost be forgivable if entire rest of the book wasn’t like that. But, it is. Everything is a shortcut that makes little sense and worse yet, is written poorly.
Then we have the issue of distance between galaxies. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, you shouldn’t write space opera if you’re not willing to take 30 seconds and Google the distance to your selected galactic destination: here, it’s the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy, which is described as being over four light years away.
Yes, technically it is over four light years away. 70,000 light years from Earth, if you want to get specific. But, Tribulations isn’t specific. Has the fleet already travelled most of that 70, 000 light years? Where are they?
Once Billy and Linda Lou’s ship gets to a livable planet (with a feudal society), there’s this gem:
- “Then with four more mighty blows of his sword, he cut the governor’s body into quarters.”
I’m pretty sure I have a math disability and even I know that it only takes two mighty blows to cut a dude into quarters. Four mighty blows yields eight pieces of dead dude. Math rocks.
The only time I’d recommend Tribulations as reading material is never. Not even if you’’re living in a zombie wasteland and are starving for a book and Tribulations is the only one intact in a four light year radius. Yeah, I just mixed my nerd references (zombies? light years? hey! wha’ happened????).
Review copy provided by Tor.