Sunday, October 25, 2020

"Dark Star Rising"

Bennett R. Coles served as an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy for fifteen years, where he saw many adventures and also had many boring times to think about writing. As his career shifted to one of international business development he continued to explore all corners of the Earth, but now had thirteen-hour flights across the Pacific where he could churn out chapter after chapter of military space adventures. He is a recipient of the Cygnus Award for military science fiction and the Cygnus Grand Prize for science fiction. He attends SF cons across North America whenever he can, but is far more likely to be spotted at cons closer to his home in Victoria, Canada.

Coles applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Dark Star Rising, and reported the following:
From page 69:
When they were well clear he leaned in with a wink. “The things I do for you, darling.”

Realizing they were in public she restrained from hugging his arm, but she did add a skip to her step. “Thank you.”

Their destination loomed ahead, a brick-fronted façade from which a sign hung declaring this café to be the Cup of Plenty. A patio full of tables hosted the regular crowd of patrons, a few of whom glanced up without interest as Liam and Amelia walked to the door. The air inside the café carried the soothing aroma of coffee, laced with the sweetness of pastries. It was Amelia’s favourite moment whenever they came to Windfall.

The café was arranged in neat rows of long tables, each able to seat three a side in comfort, on a dark, tiled floor under a vaulted roof. Wealthier clients were scattered around the room, enjoying the fresher air and richer fare, and Amelia immediately spotted a familiar face. Propped with his back to the wall on the left side sat their usual merchant contact, Matthew Long. His broad form hunkered over his cup, a pot of coffee and additional cups resting before him. His dark eyes rose and did their usual pass over Amelia’s form before settling on Liam. He struggled heavily to his feet.

“My lord,” he greeted, his deep voice wet with phlegm, “welcome back to Windfall.”

“Thank you,” Liam responded, taking the nearest seat. “It’s been a while. I hope you’re keeping well, Mr. Long?”
Does this page properly represent the entire book? Meh. None of the biggest elements of the story are on display here, but it’s not without some representational value. It does offer a description of the Cup of Plenty, which is a key location that our heroes visit multiple times both in Dark Star Rising and in its predecessor Winds of Marque, but the most important detail of this café (its alien owners) isn’t unveiled until page 70. The opening lines of the page also hint at the relationship between Liam and Amelia, and the fact that they have to keep it hidden in public.

The page does offer the chance to highlight some writing craft, though. The fact that Matthew Long looks lasciviously at Amelia might seem like an unnecessary (and misogynist) detail, but it’s actually a subtle set-up. Later in the book, again in the Cup of Plenty, the fact that Long suddenly is not interested in Amelia is one of the big warning signs that something is about to go very wrong for our heroes. Even the smallest details should be important in a tightly written book.
Visit Bennett R. Coles's website.

--Marshal Zeringue