Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Absconded Ambassador, by Michael R. Underwood

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(Multiverse SF; Genrenauts) The Genrenauts go to the Space Opera universe to fix a story involving a kidnapped diplomat, threatening aliens, and the future of the galaxy. (28,300 words; Time: 1h:34m)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

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Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The cheesy Space Opera story is actually kind of fun. Little touches like finding a room full of children on the Dark Stars' station are entertaining. And Leah's adventures trying to pacify the alien diplomats are interesting as well.

Con: This just doesn't hold together without the material from the first installment. We have no idea why there's a multiverse filled with plots from stories, nor do we know why anyone cares about problems. Obviously there's a "breech" but what the heck does that mean? Why are these people trying to fill the roles of missing characters from a story? Lacking that sort of info, it's very hard to get into this story.

Worse, every time we start getting immersed in the space opera story, some reminder of the Genrenaut gimmick pops us back out of it. One is left with the feeling of reading a writer's really long inside joke.

It doesn't help that there are too many characters and too many alien races to easily keep track of. Perhaps part of the idea is to convey just how confusing this particular universe is, but it's overwhelming and makes the first part of the story quite a chore to read.

Finally, there are some serious editorial failures in this novella. The race called the "Nbere" for most of the novella are called the "Enber" at the beginning. We're given a list of seven races joining the alliance, then told there are six, and given physical descriptions for just six (omitting the Xenei). Two or three times the same info dump is repeated twice. And there's an awful "as you know Bob" speech from Roman to King during the big fight scene.

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