Monday, February 28, 2011


Here is my review of 300 Nights by Kriss Perras running waters who was featured on this blog earlier this month

Review: 300 Nights by Kriss Perras Running Waters

If one was to take a coin called ‘unfettered creativity’ and casually toss it into the air, this particular coin would have two distinct sides…science fiction on one and fantasy fiction on the other. These are two genres that allow the writer total and unencumbered freedom when crafting not only their story, but the environment in which that story will be told. Personally, I have a deep passion for fantasy fiction and a natural affinity for the genre’s sensibilities, but the same can not be said for science fiction, in that I enjoy reading and watching the genre, but I doubt I could write it well. Having admitted that, I can say that I do truly enjoy the science fiction and some of the great works it’s produced over the years.

300 Nights is what is described by the author as a Cyber punk thriller and the first of a projected trilogy.

I don’t particularly like spoilers as a review element and so I will confine this review to a story overview and my impression of the way in which Ms. Running Waters crafted the work. 300 Nights is set in the future (though with the ever increasing pace of technological development, possibly not that far into the future) and deals with the apocalyptic consequences of a massive solar flare and ELE meteor storm that essentially decimates the planet. The dire circumstances this extinction level meteor storm creates are further exacerbated by the fact that the bolides (space rocks for we neophyte sci-fi readers) are infected with an extremely virulent contaminant that prior to death, evokes a state of extreme psychosis in its victims.

Yet, this global calamity is only one facet of an intricate and richly woven plot that will allow Ms Running Waters an immense amount of creative latitude in the subsequent volumes of this trilogy. Under what she has labeled Continuity of Government (cog) protocol, the governments of the day have created massive underground facilities that are controlled and coordinated by sentient super-computers. The security and integrity of these operating systems are protected by agents who employ advanced virtual technology in the form of avatars known as lightwalkers to defend against hackers attempting to compromise these computer systems. Effectively, the plot of 300 Nights unfurled along two distinct but closely related tangents and I will deal with each of these separately.

When dealing with the surface disaster, the author employs a narrative style that one might associate more readily with a screen play script, but she utilizes this style to great effect. The staccato delivery is ideal in describing the frenetic pace at which events unfold and the overwhelming sense of numb horror experienced by the survivors both during the storm and in its wake. Like novels such as The Mist and The Road, Ms. Running Waters captures eloquently the terrifying rapidity and totality of how the thin veneer of basic civility vanishes in the face of chaos and loss of societal order. To my mind, the critical element in successful weaving this type of tale is found in the authors ability to establish an empathy with the survivors on a deep and atavistic level…to experience their fear and desperation as if first hand…The narrative style achieves this admirably and will not disappoint.

As well as this segment of the novel is executed, it is in the fraught description of life in the underground facilities that the author fully hits her stride. There is a wealth of complexity to be had here and a great deal of background detail that is exposed more through intimation than actual prolonged narrative. This style was used brilliantly in Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic Wheel of Time series…In the initial offering of the series, Eye of the World, Jordan hints at a rich tapestry of history and a myriad of factions, both good and vile, but only enough to tantalize the reader…In subsequent volumes of the series, the layers of complexity are developed in perfectly executed increments. In 300 Nights, the underground facility is a techno Mecca designed to be the nexus of power in the event of precisely the kind of disaster that befalls the surface world. Denizens of this city have been selected for their technical prowess and many have lived their entire lives without ever having glimpsed the surface world. These segments of the story are rich in technical detail that should keep most hardcore sci-fi buffs engrossed and entertained. In the wake of the crisis, the lightwalkers find themselves immersed in a desperate struggle to stop a master hacker (referred to as a mind bender) from subverting the COG computer system. There is a certain level of cynicism that always seems to accompany constructs where the world is driven by technology…a pervasive loss of humanity. The author skillfully weaves this cynicism into the plot elements…conveying that impression that dependence on technology has created an emotionally sterile world. One particularly sinister literary device comes in the form of the Basic Protection Corporation…a group of nations sharing the same purported agenda and connected by the same sub-terrainian, virtual-technology driven facilities. Their vision for the post disaster world is chilling and particularly well rendered. It is apparent to the reader that there is an extremely deep and detailed back story to be had here and Ms. Running Waters had taken a tip-of-the-iceberg approach to revealing it that is sure to make readers anxious for the release of the second installment of the trilogy

To summarize, this is an engrossing, taut and well-paced novel that touches on all the requisite elements that make a good sci-fi read. I highly recommend this novel and rate it 5/5.

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