There is an increasing trend of authors offering the first ebook of their series for free every now and then on most of the major bookstores. This is a marketing tool to ‘hook’ readers into buying the rest of the series and is rarely successful for small-name authors.
I have read hundreds of such free ebooks and most of them have not been compelling enough to hook me in and justify the measly $3-5 dollars for the second book (I know, I know, I’m a cheapskate).
Then I read the first book of Spinward Fringe by Randolph Lalonde, and I was out for the count, baseball bat style. The minute my eyes drank in the last sentence of Broadcast 0, I found myself back at Amazon desperately taking advantage of the one click buy for the second book. No mental arguments over justifying my spendthrift behaviour at all. It was THAT good.
It would be a disservice to give away spoilers to the amazing twists to the storyline, so readers will have to make do with the following very basic (and boring) summary of the plot. Basically there is a group of friends (ex-military mostly) who band together on a regular basis to hack into a military training stimulator to pit their wits against the fresh crop of cadets. It all comes to a head when they catch the eye of the top brass who forces them to re-enlist to gather knowledge and technology to further Freeground Station. They embark on a long journey with many obstacles, twists and turns.
I quickly became an addict of space opera à la Spinward Fringe mode. As soon as I finished each book, I immediately bought the next. And the next. And so on. Then I ran out of books and the result was inevitable. I started stalking Randolph Lalonde. Well, his blog... and his earlier blog, as well as his website. And his facebook page too of course. Despite being able to get his book torrents for free on the world wide web, I continue to buy his ebooks to support him. It is truly a rare find to come across a self published author who can actually write.
So let me tell you about Spinward Fringe: Origins (also known as Broadcast 0). This book is available for FREE on major bookstores and via the author’s page. Not only is it free, it is actually a trilogy, three novellas in one. Science fiction can be pretty unwieldy to read at times, but not this one. It is fast paced, fun, interesting and full of space adventures ending in an intense and deep seated craving to know more about the main character, Jonas Valent, and the rest of his crew.
One of the things I most liked about Spinward Fringe was how creative and interesting the author made the technology. This is where things can get a bit bleary and dusty in most sci-fi books, but not this one. There is a definite snap crackle pop to how technological advancements are described. The Spinward crew builds, designs, adjusts, invents and develops technology that has huge practical use throughout the book. It keeps their ship going, and in other situations, gets them out of danger or awkward situations.
Furthermore, the characters are well-developed and behind all the scifi-ness, readers will find conflict laden interpersonal relationships, friendly bantering, comradeship and thought-provoking personal growth of the characters. With the way Lalonde writes, readers become so invested in the characters and their journeys that it is impossible to keep a lid on the need-to-know drive once the book ends.
Not convinced? Have a look around at other reviews - the majority of them give this book the full five stars. And did I mention it was free? No harm, no foul. Go download it already and give it a whiz. You won’t regret it.