The Backworlds (book 1) by M. Pax (ebook review).

April 25, 2018 | By | Reply More

Every now and then a book comes along that’s a real pleasure to read and ‘The Backworlds’ by M. Pax is a fine example of such a book. It’s not a long story and it’s not a very complicated plot but it is very well-written. The author has clearly spent some time thinking about the backstory which, while it doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the book, is important.

Basically, there has been a war between the Foreworlds and the Backworlds which technically the Backworlds won and organised a truce, but the Foreworlds managed to convince themselves they had won. It is a bit confusing but does explain the desolation and ruin of those Backworlds that are near the edge with the Foreworlds. It also explains the lingering distrust and in some cases outright hatred between the characters we meet.

Anyway, chapter 1 opens with the hero of the book, Craze, having a deep and meaningful chat with his father, Bast, in his father’s bar. It’s mostly one way, though, as Bast has effectively sold his son in order to improve his standing with the Verkinn Council of Elders. Not only is he getting booted off the planet Siegna, his intended wife has also dumped him. How could things get worse for Craze? Well, being hounded off-planet by a mob of Elders shouting ‘Leecher!’, which is possibly the worst insult ever, and finding out his girlfriend’s new love is his father, Base has taken a good step in the right direction to make things worse.

Just before the Elders put Craze onto the transporter to take him off-planet, they gave him a good whack with prodders which are sort of electrical stun guns. Painful but not lethal, although Craze might wish it was. When he comes around, he’s strapped into his seat onboard the transporter awaiting lift off to the planet Elstwhere.

Craze doesn’t have full use of his body yet as the stun gun effects have to wear off so he can only drool and grunt. When two aviarman (intelligent bird people) take the seats next to him, they panic, thinking he’s got the plague. It’s not a great start but the two aviarmen, Lepsi and Talos, are going to get to know Craze a lot better in the coming chapters.

I’m going to digress here to talk about Craze who is a Verkinn. They are tall and broad with living hair that can tie itself into plats amongst other things. They tend to have long hair do the Verkinns and an affinity for the native ganya trees. These are semi-intelligent trees that adore the Verkinns. Bast’s bar was in the base of a ganya tree which grew around and over the space as commanded by Bast. It might be their affinity to trees which gives the Verkinn their weakness. When things get cold, they tend to hibernate. It’s an automatic thing which they can’t control except by keeping warm.

Another thing about Verkinns, they are a close-knit group of traders who are always looking to make some money. This makes it difficult to make a profit from other Verkinns, so other races are the prime target. They aren’t too hung-up about morals neither, just as long as there’s a nice profit at the end of the day. Craze’s Pa Bast tries to rationalise kicking Craze off planet by saying it’s time for the Verkinns to expand onto other planets and get even richer.

It’s while Craze is looking around Elstwhere that the fun really starts as he tries to out-con a conman or conwoman who he believes is trying to con him and set him up. This particular individual is a Jix from the planet Jix. She changed gender before his very eyes after saving him from being run over.

Now this is another thing I liked about the book, there’s a lot of alien races. Most of them seem to be criminals but that’s to be expected as it’s the type of people Craze hangs out with. There’s a few bits of technology but it’s really a story about people and friendship and trying to get rich. Alien people I grant you, but alien people with personalities and strange body shapes. Yes, a robot does show up but even this robot has a personality.

There’s a couple of plot twists which keeps things interesting as Craze tries to make his fortune on a new planet with new friends. It’s not quite as easy as he hoped it would be. There’s also a sneak peak of the first 3 chapters of the second book in the series ‘Stopover At The Backworlds Edge’.

I was so taken with ‘The Backworlds’, that I dived straight in and read the first 3 chapters of the second book. It’s set a couple of years after ‘The Backworlds’ ends so there’s a bit of catching up to do before Craze starts looking to fleece a new tourist. I think I’m going to enjoy this second volume just as much as I did the first. As there is currently 7 books in the series there’s quite a bit of reading to be done here.

Andy Whitaker

April 2018

(pub: Untethered Relms, 2012. 186 page 1884kb ebook. Price; £0.99 (UK). ASIN: B007Y6LHAA. 186 page paperback: Price: £ 8.07 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-61568-176-4)

check out websites: http://mpaxauthor.com, http://untetheredrealms.blogspot.co.uk and www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B007Y6LHAA

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Category: Books, MEDIA, Scifi

About the Author ()

I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties. My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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