Saturday, March 26, 2011

KiTE : A Novel in Earth Orbit By Bill Shears

I wasn't sure what I was going to experience when I started to read KiTE (yes, spelled with a lower case "i" on purpose--which is as quirky as the rest of the book) by Bill Shears. And now that I've finished reading it, I'm still not sure what I experienced --if that makes any sense.

KiTE is a science fiction book that doesn't take itself too seriously. Mason Dash, who is basically a outer space garbage man, plays the antihero of this tale--and KiTE is the name of his spaceship. I kept thinking that his character may have been influenced, either consciously or subconsciously, by Arthur Dent from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. He's very peculiar. In fact, as the main character, he was almost a bit too peculiar for me. He acted in ways and said things that were clever and interesting, but perhaps too much that way. I had a hard time relating to him as a character, which, unfortunately translated into me not really caring about him.

He has two main women in his life, sort of. One is his wife, Janet. The other is his computer assistant (for lack of a better term) named Shelia. Though she is a computer program, Shelia takes on a life of her own, and is an important character in the story--though she lives inside a computer. And she's not alone.

A big part of the story is the emergence of another computer life form on the spaceship KiTE. He changes his name over time as he develops into being, and ends up with the name He_Ra. He's pretty ambitious, and looks to take on more and more power.

A good chunk of the story deals with these computer characters, which again, made it a bit tough for me to follow. I have a basic grasp of technology and how computers work, but even then, I kept wondering what rules these computer programs were playing by--meaning, what defined what they could or couldn't do. I'll openly admit I'm very opinionated in this area--if I don't understand the basic rules characters play by, I have a hard time enjoying the "game".

The actual main plot of the book seems to take a backseat to the creative characters Mr. Shears has created. When the "twist" of the book is revealed at the end, I found myself smiling. It was certainly clever.

What I enjoyed most about the book was the parallels I drew from what was happening in the book to what is happening now around us. There is most certainly a social commentary about work place relations, interpersonal relations, greed, fear and power underlying throughout the book.

KiTE isn't a long read, clocking in at 234 pages. There are some adult situations and some language, so I'd rate the book as PG-13. I will give the following praise to the book: it's like nothing I've read before. The author stays true to the tone and pacing of the book, which is always a plus.

As for who would enjoy this book? I'd say people who are a bit on the technical savvy side who also enjoy reading solid science fiction--while at the same time have a sense of humor. If you don't fall into that category, I doubt you'll appreciate what this book offers.

For more on the author Bill Shears , click here.

To order KiTE, click here.

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes. However, this did not influence my review. Also of note: I wrote my review before reading any other reviews so any similarities are purely coincidental.

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