The Backworlds by M. Pax
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This novella is a quick, easy read that acts as an intro to an upcoming series. Set in a sprawling universe inhabited by genetically modified humans tailored to their specific worlds, it makes for an interesting twist to the usual space opera. I like all the different "races" and little details such as living hair and sentient trees.
The characters are well drawn although not all of them are fully fleshed out. This isn't such a problem since the purpose of this novella is to introduce readers to the people and their setting.
The pacing dragged in the beginning. While this is supposed to be about a young man's adventures in space, he doesn't get off-world until a fifth of the way through the book. This is largely due to the author's overexplanation of every motivation and thought process. The last few pages are similarly afflicted to the point where I felt like yelling at the author "Yes, yes, WE KNOW!!!"
This is not to say M. Pax is a bad author. In fact she's quite a good one. She simply has a beginning writer's lack of confidence in her work. The protagonist is well-drawn enough that we know what he's thinking without the author having to explain every single action and emotion. Hopefully in later volumes M. Pax will be more trusting of her talent (and her readers) and let the story tell itself. She's already showing, so she can stop telling.
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