The Observers by C. R. Downing


The Observers

As a sci-fi read , “The Observers” doesn’t fit cleanly into any specific  subcategory of the genre. And this, precisely, is one of the best things I enjoyed about the book. This is a novel written with great originality, keeping away from the formulaic tropes that plague most works today. As an inveterate fan of science fiction, you won’t hear me complaining …

Mxpan and Zerpal are observers of an advanced alien race which has adopted a paternal, supportive attitude towards its neighboring star systems. Think of them as Jedi knights, the slugs’ relationship dynamics even going so far as to border on the master-padawan bond we know so well. Yes, you read correctly. I typed “slugs”. Were you expecting long legs and light-sabers?

Plagued by a lack of athletic ability in the face of danger, the Glieseian Observers depend instead upon their extraordinary intellect to get the job done. And a smidge of luck, to be honest.

Positive points aren’t lacking:

  • This is a richly imagined universe, where great care has been taken to present the numerous alien races not only as well-detailed biological entities, but also as social ones;
  • The relationship between the two observers is immensely amusing and a source for much of the humor in this book;
  • Besides the dynamic between the two principal characters, there is also a great deal of situational humor, the sort that can only arise from the very odd situations they manage to get themselves into;
  • Unlike with many books nowadays, “The Observers” has been well edited, and I detected less than a handful of errors (a missing word here a misspelled word there). This did not affect the reading experience in itself, which I found delightful.

Conclusion: Written with humor and no little wit, this story will not rock your world nor change your life, but to fans of quirky science fiction it will turn a Saturday afternoon into pure gold.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair, unbiased and non-reciprocal review.

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