Author: M. C. A. Hogarth
Price: $5.99 (ebook) / $18,80 (paperback)
Publisher: Stardancer Studios
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
This blog has been reviewing the work of M. C. A. Hogarth since I reviewed The Worth of a Shell back in 2009. (Full disclosure – I was not the target audience for that book.) So, when word came of Ms. Hogarth’s run-in with Games Workshop over an attempt to trademark “space marines” I decided to purchase the ebook version of Spots the Space Marine. I can report that I am the target audience for that book, and that I enjoyed it immensely.
Written in the form of a screenplay, and originally serialized on the author’s website, Spots is the story of Magda Heloise Guitart, a thirty-something woman who is called back into military service from the reserves. She’s shipped out to a backwater world, part of a detail guarding a Naval supply depot. Perhaps needless to say, problems ensue nearly immediately. Spots (the marines all use call-signs) is significantly older and more mature than her fellow Marines, and headquarters was in error when they thought her area was a backwater.
The “Fiddler” they are defending is an alien named Samuel-Colt, who is a member of the race that gave humanity the technology they need to fight this war. Spots befriends Colt, while dealing with hostile aliens and becoming a valued member of her team. The book is in short classic space opera, and a real romp.
I should be clear though what it’s not. Despite the title, the book is not at all light-hearted. It’s serious, and there’s not a whiff of “Boy’s Own Adventure” to be had. The screenplay format does create a certain urgency when you’re reading it, which works out well for this material. There’s one other idiosyncrasy to note – Hogarth stars out (***) all the soldier’s curse words! Presumably this is to avoid offending Spot’s maternal ears. It works but it’s weird.
And I think “it works but it’s weird” summarizes the entire book. It’s not something that would be seen as “commercial” but it’s highly enjoyable, and highlights what can be done with self-publishing. Recommended.