Review: The Illumination Query – Sarah Baethge

The Speed of Darkness Sarah BlaethgeThe Speed of Darkness 1

My version:
iBooks ebook
Science Fiction Thriller
Net Galley (so far)
First published: 2018

A surreal romp about a dissatisfied zookeeper’s endeavor to contemplate his toxic new allies as they create an terrible situation for his unintended enemy to grapple with.

What makes someone a monster?

The zookeeper Ronald Carpenter needs help recovering his escaped charges and is grateful when the secretive Eclipse company steps in to help. Little does Ronald know just how nefarious a company they really are and why they have such expertise in taking unwilling subjects captive. Can their offer of a higher salary make him leave a job he loves and help them do what he feels is just wrong?

Nigel Hunter’s experiment in an Eclipse lab looks like it could enable incredible movement powers. Intrigued with the prospect, he voluntarily gets the company’s help to try the procedure upon himself. The Eclipse now decide to take him prisoner with their other test subjects so that they can test the unbelievable speed it has given him more fully.

When the Eclipse pits Ronald and Nigel against one another in this way, can either one of them manage to get away?

Well,  I said I’d read it, and I have. Am I any the cleverer after having read it? Debatable. I’m stil really not sure what she wants to do with this book, or series as it seems to be, or what I should have got from it.

What was missing, was a sense of coherance, some sort of feeling that there was a purpose to the book. The guy at the start, the Zoo-keeper, seems to effortlessly push his morals aside as soon as there’s money involved. Not that he knows really where and whom it comes from. But no matter, before you know it, he’s batting for the home team. At any point before he -seemingly – signed an ungetoutable contract, any normal, sane, intelligent person, would have bailed. Sure, he thinks he burned his bridges, but not in the way that would prevent him – or any of us reading it – saying “STOP!” and getting off.

Then, the second half is from someone else’s viewpoint, one of the scientists from the first half, if I’m not much mistaken. This, actually, is the better half, more coherant, more logical and much more compelling. My copy, had some supposedly hand-written documents involved, which didn’t work, as they obscured several paragraphs of the text which followed their inclusion. But, I really did get to care for the scientist and feel his distress.

The good is, she’s trying something different. It just feels very raw, not fully thought out and nowhere near ready to be published, I’m afraid. The story idea is good, but…there needs to be more explaination, logical explaination for the motives of the corporation, their leader’s back-story, how they have escaped detection so far, given what they’re doing. The security people – we only meet two, as far as I can tell. Are there only two? If so, not much of a corporation, eh? If there is a date for when this is set, I must have missed it, I couldn’t be sure if it’s now, or in the future. And ‘Werewolves’? Where did they come from? Are there Vampires? Maybe, hard to tell. Plenty more description is missing. We need more details of their surroundings, the buildings, the labs, everything. If everything is to be explained in the second book, that’s way too late.

Probably the cover – as above – isn’t the final thing. You’d hope not. And the name, how do you say that? It looks like there’s a letter missing somewhere. A great opportunity for a pen-name if ever I saw one.

In summary, a decent first effort, unsettling, surprising, but a long way from readable or publishable.

The book was supplied to me for review, this is it.

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