Simon Vector – Jak Holding

Simon Vector


The inmates of high security prison satellite must work together when the prison is attacked.


I discovered this universe through what Jak Holding calls Entrypoint novellas, which did just what they were meant to – provide an intriguing on-ramp to the main story. (‘Entrypoint’ is trademarked, and the ‘about the author’ note sounds less like two guys who got together to write a book than two guys who are executing a business plan that includes a novel. But that’s beside the point.)

I’ve read two of these novellas, CORRECTION and CORRUPTION, which were very well done, and I expect I’ll get others. The two so far tell the stories of two characters who end up in a high-security prison. Simon Vector tells some of the story of what happens in the prison itself.

Interestingly, Simon Vector himself just happens to be at the prison. The main story is not about the prison per se, but about mysterious killer alien cyborgs. Here, unfortunately, is where things start to go a bit wrong.

The two novellas were very good dark SF-horror. The main novel is dark SF-horror, but it’s not as good. There are several flaws.

  1. Structure – the story starts in media res, and relies on flashbacks and exposition to explain what’s happening. The explanation often arrives late, meaning that we’ve muddled through our own explanation, or just skipped over some of the confusing bits. It works, but is awkward.
  2. Cyborgs – as noted, this doesn’t really work. The aliens are intent on making awkward human-machine melds. It’s made clear what they’re for, but never why the melding itself makes sense. As far as I could tell, it didn’t. It afforded the authors a chance to describe some horrific scenes (very movie franchise-friendly), but plot-wise, there’s never a very clear argument for why you would rip a body in half and replace the legs on one part and the torso on the other. If you can control them both, why not just have a human and a robot?
  3. Language – Mostly the writing is very good, but there are a few careless errors that I found jarring enough to correct. There weren’t many of these errors, but here’s where you want an outside editor looking at things.

More to the point, I just wasn’t very interested in a key plot point – the aliens. Which means that I’ve liked the entrypoints, but not so much what they were an entry to. Even this book, for that matter, reads more as a long prologue than as a complete story. It’s entirely unsurprising that at the end we’ve only begun what promises to be a long, multi-part series.

The authors have done very well with characterization and with setting. Story, in this mainline novel, is not as strong. In fact, the main storyline (evil, incomprehensible aliens attack) is a bit tired. Fred Saberhagen and so many others have already done told this story, and there’s not much new offered here, though there are hints that that could change.

I expect to pick up the other ENTRYPOINT (TM) novellas. I think these guys are good writers. But whether I’ll continue with the main Simon Vector storyline is another question. I might give it one more try. If the plot doesn’t improve, I’m not sure I’ll go further.

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