Book Review: The Villain and the Golden Apple

The Villain & The Golden Apple by [Doggett, Ken]

 

Two Science-Fiction novellas and a bonus short-short:

One day, if all goes well, Earth will establish a colony on Mars.  With any luck, that colony will grow.  If it grows, it may eventually want independence, and when it does, war may be inevitable.  But other causes can also explode into war.  Included in this collection are two different causes, two different stories of a colonial war with Mars.
In the first novella, THE VILLAIN is a member of the Enclave of the Villainy who goes outside the rules. Using his power for just the “party displays” practiced by the others was not enough. Forging his own path, specializing in Illusion, he violates not only the rules of his Enclave, but of society itself. Now, after years on the run, he must use his illusions, and all of his skill to defend himself against its power.
THE SECRET OF LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING, a short-short that explains pretty much everything.
In the second novella, THE GOLDEN APPLE is a prize asteroid fought over by both Earth and its former colony, Mars. But it appears that the squabbling factions have crossed paths with the wrong man. After he loses everything to the war, he finds a drastic way to end it.

The Villain

First impressions?  Not so good.  There’s a lot of potential, but the story felt hollow – like an artist’s under painting.

  • World Building

This is always a big thing for me – I love exploring the worlds authors come up with.  In this short story, the world building started out strong, then crumbled as the story progressed.  The different biomes were defined, though again, the ones that showed up earlier in the story had better detail than the ones that came later.

  • Character Development

The main character is well presented at first, though that is quickly lost as the story begins to jumble around.  You are able to catch up before the end of the tale, which comes almost as an anticlimactic statement.  Perhaps this is because the story was later developed into a full novel, with more room to explore the character and his motivations.   Also, the time line jumps make it hard to follow what is going on – enough I was jarred out of the story despite being too long between reads.

  • Pacing

I’m actually of two minds about this.  Before I read the author’s note that follows the novella, I was highly disappointed in just how bad the pacing was.  Nothing felt rushed, but it also felt like nothing really happened.  Every time I would manage to get lost in the story, something else would come along and jar me back out of it.  Either a jumbled timeline, or an action that didn’t ring true.  On a couple of occasions, I had to guess who now was holding center stage in the narrative, as there were very few descriptions to hold onto.  Compound that with an undisclosed jump in the timeline, and it really made this a difficult read.

On the other hand, when observed in the light that this IS a clean rough sketch, later developed into a full novel, and the pacing suddenly feels much better.  (I have not read the actual novel – yet.)  It still remains a difficult read for the above mentioned reasons, though now there is hope the potential exploration was done in the longer work.

Overall rating on The Villain is between a 3 and 4, depending on which side you prefer in the pacing.

THE SECRET OF LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING

  • To be honest, I didn’t even realize this was a short story.  It read like a note from the author, or a snippet from a technical readout.

Overall rating on THE SECRET OF LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING is an No Impact for me.

The Golden Apple

  • World Building

Short as this story was, the world building was excellent.  A very limited space, enough detail to orient the reader to where (and a rough orientation to when), along with a solid grounding in science made this story “pop” for me.  Reading it, I was immersed in the experiences of the characters and what they encountered, much like a well done 3-D movie.

  • Character Development

The MC was a little on the shallow side, but did show enough growth to make it a satisfying read.  In shorter tales, such as novellas or short stories, it isn’t always possible to build a completely realistic character.  With the wonderful world building, I almost expected a cardboard cut out for the characters, Mr. Doggett managed to avoid the trap.  The secondary characters had me chuckling, and did quite a bit to help define the main, and why he was doing what he was.

  • Pacing

The pace of the Golden Apple had me chuckling several times.  In a time of war, with two worlds set on trying to destroy each other, there is a person who ambled through the solar system to do what he wanted to do.  There is a slight rift of disbelief that the actual events could happen, though not enough to kick me out of the story.  Add a small battle of wits and social commentary snark and you’ve got a lazy, fun read.

Overall rating for The Golden Apple is a solid four out of five.  Well done, Ken!

For the entire book?  The Golden Apple redeems the quick read.  That makes it a 4 out of 5 on my scale.

If you are interested in reading The Villain and The Golden Apple for yourself, you can find the book Here on Amazon.

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