Some science fiction books, admittedly, are slogs. You really need to set aside quite a few hours, days, weeks, or months even, of reading. If you’re like me and have young kids, big work commitments, and little time to read, then those kinds of stories are just not practical. Without pointing figures at those authors who like lengthy, immersive stories, everyone knows what I’m talking about.


For me, I like to read stories that offer the excitement, the adventure, the thrills, and of course the escape to somewhere exotic, somewhere fantastical… somewhere cosmic. But I don’t want eight hundred pages to enjoy that. So I want to talk about a recent sci-fi novel I read.


First Encounter, book one of the Ascension Wars, by Jasper T. Scott.


Now never judge a book by its cover, they say. Well, I did. And I’ll tell you why. 


I was scouring Amazon for book cover ideas, for something that I thought would fit my book, and just for something that I thought I really wanted to buy, just by the look of the cover. This is how I stumbled across this book. The cover is fantastic. Created by artist Tom Edwards, it depicts a man in a spacesuit standing on the shore of an alien lake with a moon overhead and what is clearly an interstellar starship. Not only is the cover just a beautiful piece of art, it tells you exactly what kind of story you are going to get. We know the starship doesn’t have artificial gravity, based on the spinning habitat. We know that the alien world they are on is likely to be dangerous, since the man requires a spacesuit, and with the dull lighting effect with the ominous red on the moon and the billowing smoke beyond the trees. While the title clearly indicates we are going to meet some aliens, and for the first time.


The cover is basically the gold standard. Looks great. Gives you a feel for the story.


Now, George, you’ve gone on a bit about the cover, but is the story any good?


Well, yes, in fact, the story is excellent. I’m not going to spoil anything here, other than to say that this story appeals to all fans of general science fiction. The author skilfully employs well-known tropes to great effect and uses a good blend of characters to keep the story moving alone. There is never a dull moment, and there are no disappointing twists and turns. Everything pans out in an effective and rewarding manner, and with little predicability, which sometimes a lot of sci-fi books are guilty of.


Another thought that struck when reading was that this story would be wonderful source material for a series on Netflix or Prime. It definitely had a written for TV vibe, much in the same way that The Hunger Games or Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) clearly had that put-me-on-the-big-screen kind of feel. Those authors knew how to appeal wide, and that’s what is happening here.


Anyway, five stars, and one to add to your sci-fi library.


Available on audible, kindle, or paperback at Amazon.



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