Moon Berry Wine, by John Argo

moon-berry-wine-by-john-argoGenre: Science Fiction/Romance
Publisher: Clock Tower Books
Published: 2015
Reviewer Rating: two and a half stars
Book Review by David L. Felts

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Moon Berry Wine, by John Argo, is a short work, probably falling into lower end of the novella classification, that being works from 17,000 to 40,000 words, so it was a quick and easy read. I’m not sure, however, that it’s science fiction, in that the speculative element is essential to the story. It’s a war-time romance. Replace the speculative elements and set it in World War II and it’s the same tale.

Renay, a student at a prestigious university, is from a remote planet. Zara Uplander is a high-born “noble” from the Corduwaine System. While students they fall in love and head off after graduating to meet the Uplander Patriarch, Trask the Lord Uplander. While there, the Corduwaine is attacked by the Kaarrk Swarm, a hive culture of aliens who bear an implacable hatred for humanity.

With circumstances suddenly going from idyllic honeymoon to war, Renay and Zara find themselves torn between love and duty, struggling to preserve their union and their world.

The action takes a back-seat to Argo’s overwrought prose, which fits well with the romantic aspect of his tale, but obscures the action and hamstrings the pace. Take for example the third sentence of the book:

A reddish sunset wallowed amid dusky, sweet clouds in the peaceful atmosphere.

And Argo is just getting started….

There’s nothing wrong with this type of writing, of course, but it imparts a certain lethargy to the narrative.

Nevertheless, there’s a strong core here. The world-building is intriguing.  Argo’s universe bears a more streamlined and less cluttered-with-adjectives attention. I would read more of his work, and I suppose when it comes to the binary aspect of a review, that’s the best praise.

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