“Kelvoo’s Testimonial” by Phil Bailey

This is the weirdest review I’m ever going to write, because the author himself has made a comment in the story, inadvertently summing up the problem with his own writing.

Let me explain…

This is a Science Fiction novel in the format of a report on a First Encounter with an alien species, written by Kelvoo, one of the participants. The alien species is humans. Kelvoo’s species have perfect memories, and they observe events in incredible detail.

At the end of the story, when Kelvoo is getting human assistance in writing his report, we see this advice:

“Humans don’t have the attention span to read a minute-by-minute account of the finest details of a story. It’s about finding the right balance. You need to relate the important events while still including various anecdotes and observations that will hold the reader’s interest and make your characters relatable.”

Unfortunately, this author has not found that balance. He has spent a great deal of time and imagination in creating a wonderful world and a completely new species. Then he spends the whole of Part I describing in the finest detail Kelvoo’s observations and impressions of his interactions with humans.

In doing this, he creates a marvellous main character that we get to know and empathize with, but there is little conflict and no suspense for the first 40% of the novel.

Then we get to Part II, the action starts, and we have a perfectly good story until almost the end. Then the complexities return to get in the way of a highly appropriate ending in Part III, which is redeemed by stronger thematic material, dealing in a meaningful way with the ill effects of even the best-intentioned colonialism on indigenous peoples.

In the end, this book needs three ratings: Part I – 2 stars, Part II – 5 stars, Part III – 4 stars.

Recommended for those interested in worldbuilding at its finest. If you only want action, conflict, and suspense, I suggest starting around Chapter 16.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)This review was originally posted on Reedsy Discovery

About the Author: Gordon Long

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