Frontera-Stand Alone-2.5/5

By Lewis Shiner

Ambition drove their dreams, blinding them to the price others would pay.


10 years ago governments around the world collapsed. In the chaos, communication with the Martian colony, Frontera, was lost. Ten years later the world’s most powerful companies have decided to mount an expedition to Mars. Even dead, the colony is an important step towards reclaiming the stars. But when they arrive the crew find Frontera alive and well, and in no mood for visitors. Tensions mount as secrets come to light, forcing everyone to question who they can trust.

Audiences are thrown into an adventure already underway, with very little to guide them. Frequent flashbacks help to fill some of the gaps, but information is always carefully managed, doling out answers a few at a time, ensuring audiences always have a question to drive them forward. Crisp scenes compete with dry summaries that force audiences to slow down. The temptation to hurry on is palpable; almost every segment ends on a cliffhanger, but those who rush will miss out on most of the story, which lies buried under the words on the page.

Brief references hint at a deeper meaning, as each character struggles between their individual dreams, their obligations to others, and the grim, graphic realities that no one wants to face. Unfortunately it’s just too much. The story tries to do it all, but while the writing is sharp, there just isn’t enough time to properly “show” who the characters are, and simultaneously build up to a proper catharsis. The story is forced to rely on flashbacks and inner reflections to blatantly state what should be left for audiences to infer on their own.

+Strong Pacing through information management
+Challenging writing
*Complex but under-utilized characters
-Overly hurried narrative
-Overuse of Summary


Next Time…
Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom

8 thoughts on “Frontera-Stand Alone-2.5/5

  1. Hmm, this is a bit of a shame. I really liked the synopsis youndescribed for this novel. Too bad it isn’t as good as it could have been. Especially when characters are underused I tend to not enjoy a book (or movie) as much as I otherwise would have done. Still, it doesn’t sound all bad. Great post 😊

    • Thank you for the compliment. Among other things these reviews are an exercise in good writing, so I’m glad you enjoyed this one.
      It is a shame that this story faltered, but it was an interesting learning experience.
      If you’re in the market for a science fiction story about a space colony with secrets, I’d recommend Fortress on the Sun by Paul Cook. Granted, I haven’t read too many science fiction stories that focus on a colony, but I enjoyed it. The premise is a penal colony inside one of the layers of the Sun, a place too dangerous for regular colonists. It’s a fun read, though aside from a little discussion over what is ethical in regards to criminals, there’s little in the way of underlying ideas.

  2. It’s too bad but on a positive note I like your little summary. It gives a quick view of the story. Or at least how you experienced it as it’s the case with ant review 😉

    • Thank you. That’s very kind of you to say. My aim is to write reviews that can stand alone, without any other information, and improve my skill at writing a back cover synopsis that captures the heart of the story without giving too much away.
      Speaking of reviews, I really like how you’ve organized your content. The various menus offer a wide range of options, making it much easier to browse, or find something specific.

  3. Pingback: Synners-Stand Alone-3.5/5 | Write Thoughts

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