Title: Rock Killer
Author: S. Evan Townsend
Price: $4.99 (ebook) / $11.69 (paperback)
Publisher: World Castle Publishing
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
I’m not exactly sure how Townsend’s new novel Rock Killer came to my attention. All I do recall is that the ebook edition was up on Amazon as a free download, so I took a flyer on it. The book proved an entertaining read, if a bit irritating at times.
Rock Killer is set in the latter half of this century. Several private companies, including Space Resources Inc. (SRI), are mining the asteroid belt by locating and moving asteroids into Earth orbit. Charlene Jones is a member of the security group for SRI, and when the book opens, her base on the moon is under attack by terrorists, presumably working with Gaia Alliance, a group opposed to all space mining. From that point on, the action continues briskly, ending up with a dramatic battle in space.
This novel is a SF thriller, and suffers from some of the problems inherent in the genre. Character development is secondary to plot, although in fairness to Townsend there is some development, mostly of the protagonists. The author falls down on characterization for his antagonists, making them either fools or one step away from mustachio-twirling cardboard cutouts.
I also found the author’s politics both grating and gratuitous. Townsend postulates an America where “radical socialism” has run rampant, and defending oneself from a criminal attack has become a crime. These are not my politics, and so I found them grating.
I also felt that these political leanings were unnecessary to the plot. I have reviewed and enjoyed books like Charles Sheehan-Miles’ Insurgent and Republic. Here the politics were strongly left-leaning, but in Sheehan-Miles’ case, the story simply couldn’t be told without the politics. Not so with Rock Killer. The plot point of the “illegal self-defense” was simply to blow somebody’s cover, which could have been done in other ways, and the “radical socialism” was simply not needed.
Yet, despite these objections, I found myself quickly flipping electronic pages while reading Rock Killer. Simply put, it’s an exciting read, with protagonists, at least, that are believable and that one can care about.