Beyond Meridian

Title: Beyond Meridian
Author: C.C. Bridges
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: m/m Science Fiction
Length: 78 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

THE BLURB

Two men. One passion. No choice.

A Men in Space story.

Captain Rick Raine got more than he bargained for when he agreed to take on a brash young man as a crewmember along with contraband cargo. Karl’s spirit intrigues him, but he didn’t sign up for battling privateers, the United Planetary Alliance—or his traitorous body’s response. Especially to a naïve kid who cheats at holo poker and knows a whole lot more than he should.

Deep in the heart of enemy space, Karl’s goal, to rescue the woman who saved him from a life of sexual servitude, is finally close enough to touch. Unfortunately, so is Captain Raine, who becomes erotic poetry in motion when he pilots the ship. Raine’s an honest thief, but Karl can’t trust him with UPA secrets that could get them both killed.

But when Karl signed on for this mission, no one told him to hang on to his heart…

THE REVIEW

I like sci-fi stories and feel that it’s a much under-represented sub-genre within m/m romance. I was delighted when I discovered that Samhain were starting a new series of m/m sci-fi romance novellas and jumped at the chance to review them. Beyond Meridian is the first of these novellas, all of which are released at the same time. On the whole I liked it but there were a few disappointments, most noticeably with the world-building.

One of the things I particularly like about sci-fi is its ability to transport you to new worlds and its creation of new machines, people, ideas. In many ways a sci-fi novel is limited only by the imagination of the writer and perhaps the laws of physics (although in the latter case, not always!). So when I sat down to read this novella I was looking forward to being taken somewhere completely unexpected. I was slightly disappointed to find that although the book is well written with some unusual ideas, the setting wasn’t as unfamiliar as I was hoping.

The story begins with freight space ship Captain Rick Raine being approached by a young man, Karl, seeking passage to the planet Medlem, which is heavily controlled by the Confederation, a political and military power. As a rule Raine prefers to stick to the border planets between the Confed and the United Planetary Allience or UPA, but when Karl finds some cargo for shipment to a planet near to Medlem, Raine agrees to take him, on the understanding that Karl acts as second Mate on the ship. There’s more to Karl than meets the eye though, as Raine discovers during his journey in close proximity to the young man.

I said earlier that there is a lot that is familiar in this book. Having read and watched a lot of sci-fi books and programmes, there was much in here that I had seen before, especially from the Firefly/Serenity world created by Josh Weedon: The maverick Captain with a good heart, living his life just on the edge of respectability reminded me of Captain Malcolm Reynolds; the seemingly weak hero who hides a great secret and needs safe passage; the much loved space ship; two political and military organisations vying for power; the sanctioned prostitution; and a ship which carries illegal cargo, leading to problems in getting the cargo past the authorities. It’s not completely the same and I am in no way saying that the author has modelled this book on the ideas from that TV programme, just that the world building wasn’t in any way challenging because of its familiarity.

Having said that, there were a number of good ideas in the book. I liked the robots, one of which was shaped as a spider; the descriptions of how Raine flew his spaceship; and the slightly unusual AI of the computer system in the ship – even if I did roll my eyes a little at how convenient it was for getting the men out of tricky situations. I also liked some of the political ideas based around a system of slavery and how humans had their rights removed and could be traded like cattle, and the way that slaves are also used in a hierarchical way, with some parts of slavery being more desirable than others – again, this is a not a new idea, but it worked well within the context of the book.

The interaction between the two men was another part of the book which worked well. There was a lot of banter between them as well as a slight antagonism, fuelled, of course, by sexual attraction. I liked that Karl, as the seemingly weaker man, often came out the winner in arguments and other situations , showing a resourcefulness and inner strength to his character. The way that the men developed a mutual respect for each other before they acted on their growing lust meant that when they did have sex there was a romantic feel to it as well as the eroticism.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a good, quick read, written well, with clear explanations about the world building and setting. I never felt confused or unsure as to what was happening which can be the case in some overly complicated sci-fi books and I liked the characters. Ultimately though this book may not appeal to die hard sci-fi fans who are looking for something new and exciting in the genre, because that isn’t the case with this book. It may appeal though to those who don’t usually read sci-fi and are looking for an accessible book in the sub-genre, and it’s to those readers that I would recommend Beyond Meridian.

15 comments

  • This was an entertaining read. As Jen said the world building is not very original but that does not really matter because the story is good.

  • I love sci-fi so I will definitely pick this one up.

    Tam, I love the books more then tv or film. I know it is fake and to me it always looks fake too. I rather read the book where I can visualise myself how things look like.

  • Sci-fi is not my favorite genre but this sounds interesting enough to try. I’m a series lover and hate waiting for the next installment so it’s pretty cool that they all came out at the same time.
    *
    A definite add for my TBB. 🙂

    • Hi lily
      This book is in a series but each book is individual. they don’t follow on from one another or contain the same characters or world building, nor are they written by the same authors. The only link between them is that the setting has to be sci-fi – more specifically either space travel or life on other planets.

  • I’m not a huge sci-fi fan in books although I like TV shows and movies. Not sure why that is. Sounds not bad though and sometimes you do need a change of genre just to mix it up a bit. Definitely worth keeping in mind.

    • Hi Tam
      This book read very much like a TV show in that it was very visual. I think you would probably enjoy it if you gave it a go.
      *
      It’s short too, which I know is always a bit of a bonus for you :).

  • I’ve been looking forward to this series for months. I hope the next two are better, but I guess 4 stars isn’t a terrible start to the series.
    *
    I’m of the opinion that it’s OK to retread ideas in sci-fi provided it’s an homage to earlier films, or, at least if the book acknowledges its influences in one form or another. That’s why I liked Evangeline Anderson’s Broken Boundaries (which I know was controversial on this blog), since it’s sort of an admitted rip off. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case here, which is too bad.
    *
    In terms of interesting world building, I particularly appreciated Kayelle Allen’s Surrender Love (much more than its predecessors, although they do a lot to establish the world). I think it does a good job of keeping a lot of things familiar so as to make the differences between this world and the world of the book truly stand out.

    • Hi Alaina
      You are right, it wasn’t a terrible book, quite the opposite in fact, and I know that many people will read and enjoy it. In some ways the familiarity of the world-building made it a very comfortable read.

  • Hi Wave
    I think it’s hard to write a truly imaginative sci-fi because so much has already been done with the genre. As a fan of sci-fi, you may find this story a little pedestrian – in that a lot of the ideas are not new or original, but I also think that someone who doesn’t read much sci-fi will still enjoy the book. The writing is certainly accessible enough.

  • Jen
    This is one sub genre where authors can give full rein to their imaginations and yet not many of them do.
    *
    >>Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a good, quick read, written well, with clear explanations about the world building and setting. I never felt confused or unsure as to what was happening which can be the case in some overly complicated sci-fi books and I liked the characters. < < Even though you enjoyed the characters and the story you said that the setting fell short. I'm a die hard sci fi fan and I might find this one a little pedestrian too - perhaps it's the author's first incursion into this area. * I hope the other two books have a little more world building.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: