Fatal Boarding

Rated 4.72/5 based on 18 reviews
“I have never believed in going strictly by the book. It’s the main reason I’ve never been offered a higher position on a big-draft. But, when things really go to hell, I’m always the first one to get the call. They trust me with their lives, but not their jobs.”
--Adrian Tarn, Chief Security Officer, Starship Electra More
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Review by: Richard Lung on July 20, 2017 : (no rating)
Fatal Boarding
ER Mason

In the decades when e-books were still the joke of a promise that never happened, it was already true that one could never hope to read more than a tiny portion of all the SF books that had been written. This growing galaxy of the imagination can never be toured, any more than the stars themselves.
What is certain is that there is a great deal of good and honest work there, intelligent and informed enough, to make one wonder why things have to be so bad.

In this stalwart space opera, by ER Mason, things do go really bad, as the title ominously hints. The narrative character is not your prominent socialite, of the comic books. Difficulties, however, only bring out of this reticent personality his capability.

Once in awhile, one comes across a story that says a little more (which I won’t give away) than the run of quite commendable fictions. Looking back at the opening lines of the first chapter, I can see this promise.
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Review by: Hannes Birnbacher on June 2, 2016 : (no rating)
Great entertainment. I like the Books from this author. Three stars for "very good SF".

Remark: In my system, five stars is reserved for the most important SF of world literature, e.g. "1984" from George Orwell, and four stars for those I consider all-time best, for example Michael Crichton or some novels from Larry Niven.
This leaves three stars for most of really good Indie SF, but as everybody else at Smashworts does rate a SF novel at five stars if he liked it, I was detoriating the average rating of Smashwords authors I like best! So I decided to change my previous reviews, one by one, and repost them without the smashwords rating. Watch out for my rating in the review text instead!
(review of free book)
Review by: Gerald Sibley on Sep. 12, 2015 :
This guy is GOOD! The stories flow well, the characters are balanced and believable, the situations could easily happen. After reading "Fatal Boarding" and "Deep Crossing" I could not wait to buy "Shock Diamonds". I do hope the author will write more Adrian Tarn stories of the same high caliber.
(review of free book)
Review by: James Jenkins on Jan. 31, 2015 :
This is the first book, the second is 'Deep Crossing' had I read them in order I would probably have given Deep Crossing 5 stars as well.

There is a great story line, realistic characters, and things just keep happening, Everything is reasonable in universe, and yet not overly predicable.
(review of free book)
Review by: Camilla on Sep. 10, 2013 :
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the suspense.
(review of free book)
Review by: Teri Lester on Feb. 25, 2013 :
I read Deep Crossing, the second Adrian Tarn book first, before I found that it was a series. Usually I dislike that, because I don't like knowing some of what's already happened.

However, I loved Fatal Boarding anyway. I love books with well-developed characters that you can envision and care about, and ER Mason is really good at this. Adrian Tarn is great character and I really hope to see more books in this series.
(review of free book)
Review by: Joey Jones on Jan. 14, 2013 :
enjoyed this very much. will be reading next installment.
(review of free book)
Review by: dmjay on Jan. 8, 2013 :
Thank you for the awesome free book! I really enjoyed it!
(review of free book)
Review by: L O'B on Dec. 1, 2012 :
You read books, and slowly grow accustomed to the taste of them. You eat enough fast food, and McDonald’s sates your hunger. You dine on excellence, and the Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee may be only enough to provide you sustenance.

You never realise you’ve grown corpulent on mediocrity and complacency until you have a new dish to dine upon.

This is not to say fast food is bad, or that you always have to eat a meal made for gods. Everything has its place. But it is refreshing, and good for you, to be reminded of a part of your diet you have not fed for a while.

Fatal Boarding was was my four star meal on the London South Bank, but with a hundred pound bottle of wine to wash down the already excellent food. It was not perfect, but that is only when you define ‘perfect’ as it truly should be defined.

Fatal was a 7.8 out of 10 as a book, and a 9 out of 10 as a product of what it sought to be.

Let me first of all explain why a 7.8 is actually very good, and then I’ll do a bit more of a proper review of the book.

You could write your perfect book and get a 5/10, if your book never intended to be a rolling epic with days upon days of reading material. Of if yourbook never intended to make a marvel of character development, or drive deeper exploration of a fascinating topic. The list could go on. One of my favourite films of all time is ‘The Girl Next Door’. It’s a comedy about a teen guy who dates a pornstar. When rated as a film, I’d give it a 7.5/10. When rated as a finished project of what it was intended to be, and my enjoyment of that project, I’d give it a 9.5/10. It does not have LOTR’s epic scope, nor The Fountain’s overwhelming exploration of a central theme. It does not have The Exorcist’s impact on modern media, nor generate the feeling of a circle complete that you find in Toy Story 3. But I love it nonetheless.

Fatal Boarding fails to reach a 10 for a number of reasons-

Reason 1- It’s short. It’s not actually short, but then I’ve just come from reading SOIAF, after reading the Wheel of Time, after reading an endless stream of all the Jack Reacher novels (I have read other books between these and Fatal Boarding, but they are close enough to still dictate my measurement of novels). My diet of books has accustomed me to not finishing in weeks. I finished Fatal Boarding in one week, therefore- it’s short.

Reason 2- Characters. They are great- really great. I liked them all, and never felt them to be a caricature or 2d. The reason they contribute to lowering the score is because… well… there were a lot of them, and I did not see the reason for so much development of them in such a short book. R.J, for instance, did not seem to contribute too much. I liked him a lot, but at the end of the book found myself wondering why he received so much focus when he did so little (not strictly true- he does a fair bit, but I felt other characters could have done that better. And he is being used as an example for how I found many of the characters). The reasoning for this might be that the author is intending to write more books (looking at his Smashwords page this is clearly the case), and so perhaps these will be recurring characters in a list of adventures. I hope so. But within the scope of Fatal Boarding, it felt needless.

Reason 3- the threat. I can’t say too much on this without spoiling a huge amount. Let’s just say, I liked more the way it was going at the beginning than at the end.

Reason 4- the… hmm… how to say this without spoiling anything. Let’s just say ‘Golden Aura’, and hope anyone who has read the book understands who/what/where I mean by that. I felt it removed an element from the book (intentionally) which would have otherwise been interesting, and felt almost like… well… a deus ex machina. I could go into this more, but doing so would be to spoil the book, and I don’t want to do that, because it really is worth reading.

Now the reasons I would give it a 9/10 as a finished product of what it intended to be?

Reason 1- The characters. I know I’ve already criticised them, but then characters should always be the most complex part of the story. People are complex. Therefore as complex creations, there will be good bits and bad bits. The characters are overall good. I liked (or disliked) them all as I was meant to. I found them interesting. I wanted to be friends with the likeable ones, and wanted to push the dislikeable ones out of an airlock. They were believeable, their dialogue was well handled, and they all had clear identities.

Reason 2- The style. The book was very well written. There were a number of typos, which is disappointing but then I fully get that it is hard to clear them all out (I just read through my own book and found 50… So I can’t judge). But otherwise it was very well written. It was easy to read, and the first person narrative was very well handled. Adrian Tarn’s thoughts made me smile, sometimes laugh. They were mature and cool, rather than snippy and irritating. I found the writting around character interaction better written than that around the action/sneaking scenes, however the best written sections were the tense/scary moments. Those were verywell written- all the more so for the balance with humour.

Reason 3- The science. I know nothing about science, especially the science of spaceships. I fully believe that E.R.Mason is an expert. The characters would discuss the necessities of space flight, the difficulties of going into warp without gravity, and impact of space through a tear in a space suit, and I would believe every single letter of it. Within a well written, stylish book, having something that also credibly feels like scientific, factual substance was brilliant. Whether it was accurate or not (I know spaceships like those in the book don’t exist…) doesn’t matter. It felt like it was, and that’s all that I care about.

Reason 4- The mystery. I fell for the twists and turns, and hungered for every morsel of information that came out. And it came out in trickles then waves then trickles again, which is brilliant because it adds diversity to the pace of the book. The eventual cause, in my humble opinion, was disappointing compared to some of the earlier possible ideas. But the way we got to that point was brilliant- I loved the ride.

I think that’s the main point actually. I loved the ride. I want more Adrian Tarn. Fatal Boarding did not break the levees of narrative genius, but it brought me one hell of a lot of fun when reading it. Even considering ASOIAF, Fatal Boarding has been one of the most difficult books to put down in a long time. I read it so quickly, in part, because it demanded reading (thought I don’t have much free time to read, so maybe the book is still short).

I would pay for that book. It’s free on Smashwords, but I would pay. If E.R.Mason came up to me after writing this review, and said ‘you said you would pay’, then I would say ‘yes sire, I did indeed. Thank you for giving me a number of hours of immense fun- here’s five quid’.

I wouldn’t pay more than five quid (pounds for the uninitiated), but that’s just because I’m poor.

So yeah, read Fatal Boarding. If you don’t, then you’re an idiot (or you don’t like sci fi…), especially considering that it is free.


(P.S. I wrote this review on my blog. To Mr Mason, if you want me to remove the review from my blog, I will of course do that. I'd feel bad about it, so please dont, but if you do then let me know)
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