I love SF and I love romance, so for my first review I chose a story which combines the two genres under a compelling title “Between Two Galaxies”, and subtitle “Alien Romance Story” by Kerry Webb.
Even though the topic is more fiction than science, such books can be fun, if frustrating. Ever since my experience with “The Krinar Chronicles” by Anna Zaires I have been on a lookout for a hunky alien, with whom I could have the first contact (and the second, and the third…). Unfortunately, we need to be realistic here – the probability of having a wild, interspecies sex with an ET are very low, despite the many sex scenes in the book of Ms. Zaires, some of them copy-pasted from her other books (did she think we wouldn’t notice), which would imply otherwise. But let’s get back to the original story I intend to review here.
To try to give an honest evaluation of all the books I plan to read, I have decided to make several categories and give stars for each of them, plus the comments. Five stars is the maximum. The mean value from all categories will give the final review in terms of star numbers.
The Book: “Between Two Galaxies – Alien Romance Story”
By: Kerry Webb
Published on: 09. August 2021 (So, a recent publication)
Publisher: as far as I could tell, self-published
Page count: 38 (on the short side, so more of a story than a novel)
Price: 0 $
Star rating so far: One 3* review on Amazon and an average of 4.67 * from three reviews on Goodreads
Review categories: 1.) Cover, 2.) Language, editing and formatting, 3.) Plot and believability, 4.) Character development
1.) Cover: ***
Not entirely bad, but not really reflecting the content of the book. To give an idea what I am talking about – the book tells a story of a NASA biologist Alessandra and her crush on an alien Ka. The cover shows a woman in a wet shirt and a bikini hugging a half-naked guy. If that’s what they standardly wear at NASA, I want a job there, please. But maybe it is a scene from the time after they got together and had a chance to go to a beach. I don’t know. I like the starry sky in the background, it looks quite cool and alien.
2.) Language, editing and formatting: ***
Formatting is reasonable, I was a bit put off by the curly letters used for the chapter titles. I would have liked something more scientific or with an alien flair. Language… well, how can I say, there’s some space for improvement there. For example, one sentence in the beginning:
“Sometimes, she had to admit, working for NASA could be boring sometimes.”
There’s one sometimes too many there, if you ask me.
Also, capitalization of the words (is it Alien or alien? Is it The General or the General?)
The book would profit from an editor or a proofreader.
3.) Plot and believability: **
Sorry, I am trying to be positive here, but although the plot is not that bad, there is significantly more fiction (or fantasy) than science in the SF part of the book. Let me elaborate (spoilers ahead, be warned):
Our main character is Alessandra, who works for NASA as a biologist. Her best friend is Emma, a chemist. As the writer informs us, quote “Even though they were in different fields entirely, it never seemed to influence their friendship”. Is there some secret feud between chemists and biologist that I wasn’t aware of? Or do people only become friends with others working in the exact same field? More importantly, what are two (presumably young) women, a chemist and a biologist, doing in the middle of the night in NASA headquarters? What happened to all astrophysicists? Are they on a vacation? And how can Alessandra (a biologist) figure out by just looking at the screen that the asteroid is a) manned, b) going to hit the Earth? Last time I checked, the asteroid trajectory analysis needed some serious observation and calculation, and I am kind of skeptical that a biologist would be able to do that in such a short time (or at all – most biologists I know have studied biology because they are bad in math and physics). Emma, however, seems to be much more convinced in the abilities of the chemists, in this case, to do complex astrophysical calculations because when at one point the military wants to check if the asteroid is really going to hit the Earth, she rolls her eyes and says:
“Oh, like the military scientists who went to the same schools we did know more than we do.”
Ahem… Yes? Because they have studied physics perhaps? I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that not all military scientists are either biologists or chemists.
OK, so then everyone is alarmed, and they go to the spot where the asteroid is going to hit and expect to be protected from the effects of the impact by sitting in an armored vehicle. Well, tell that to dinosaurs.
The spaceship lands (because it was a spaceship, in an asteroid, or that looked like an asteroid), and in it, they find a naked alien with a loincloth and a glowing hand. So, the representative of this highly developed alien civilization, which has mastered interstellar travel, is essentially an ET Tarzan. Alessandra is the first on the scene, and somehow, here I was really confused, one minute she was wearing a protective suit, and the next minute she is touching his glowing hand with her bare hand. How? Why? I had once been warned not to touch a dolphin with my bare hands, let alone an alien!
Anyway, now we come to the part that was really bordering on the unbelievable: the alien is a prince (OK, what else, but this is not the unbelievable part) who has come to Earth (to the USA, to be precise) because his planet is under an attack, and they need help. In fact, the Earthlings (and the USA) are their only hope!
Wait a second. You have an interstellar travelling technology, and you depend on us to save you? How? By paddling to your planet? And, do you really want that? I mean, look what happened with a number of countries on Earth that have depended on others to save them. For an all-knowing alien that’s a pretty daft move.
Later on, we find out that the aliens are apparently capable of flying through a hyperspace but know nothing about nuclear weapons. And that their spaceship control panel has three buttons and one screen (a radio, an autopilot switch, a hyperspace jump button, and a radar).
There is suspicion on both sides, the president shows up, Lindsey the red-haired soldier woman has a brilliant idea of going to the alien planet to check out the situation and the president calls that “A fine and dandy idea, sweetheart”. Lindsey is a trained soldier, not a sweetheart, Mr. President.
What was really unbelievable was when they decided to send Alessandra, Emma and Lindsey as their emissaries to Ka’s planet. I mean, three women? Hello? When did that ever happen in human history? But then it turned out they planned for them to die anyway as a pretext for attacking Ka’s people and stealing their resources, so that explained it.
Three girls find out about it by listening in on some secret radio communication (I am not sure how that happened) and decide to switch sides, essentially betraying their planet and their species. Lindsey then kicks the assess of the Earth forces, Alessandra the biologist becomes a diplomat and Emma the chemist creates cures to nearly every ailment. And Ka, the prince, becomes very popular.
So… no. I need more substance in an SF book, even if it is primarily a romance. Writers, do your research. There are so many good movies out there, so much info on YouTube about the mysteries of the universe and how much we don’t know about the things. And so, so many good SF books where people speculate on extraterrestrial life and technology required for space travel. No, you can’t just get in a spaceship and fly to a planet light years away within days. And if you could, those aliens would probably be so technologically advanced that they would come and crush us like bugs (not date us). If they could find us in the first place. The universe is enormous, namely. If you are unsure of the facts (and don’t want to take advanced courses in theoretical physics, for which I can’t blame you) then please write the plot in such a way that this does not become immediately obvious. Or find someone who is an expert and ask for support.
4.) Character development: **
Enough about science. What about the characters and their emotional connection? Alessandra is strangely drawn towards Ka, and he claims she is his soulmate. There is a telepathic connection between them. At one moment, he suddenly knows everything about her. Which is that she can speak English and that she likes Jane Austen.
OK, Jane Austen is pretty cool, admittedly. I’m a big fan myself. But is that really everything there is to know about Alessandra? There is a hint that Alessandra did not have such a great childhood. At one point, the book says:
“She had never been looked at with such care and compassion before by any man, even her father.”
I was curious to know why. It could explain why she took only a couple of seconds to fall for an alien, even though we learn along the way that he is really well mannered (he gives Alessandra his seat) and that he has perfect pearl white teeth (even though he apparently has retractable claws, as well).
Regarding Ka’s appearance and anatomy, if I were Alessandra, I would pay more attention to Derrick’s report. Derrick is a physicist in charge of studying Ka’s biology (it seems that they have real problems at NASA to assign appropriate tasks to people). Also, a secondary love interest of Alessandra. He says that Ka has an anatomy almost entirely the same as human. That “almost” would really worry me! But Alessandra ignores it and seems quite enthusiastic when Ka says that she should just move in with him and stay on his planet (the one threatened by an invasion by another type of alien and devastated by war). Maybe she knows something about Ka’s anatomy we don’t?
Anyway, the character that I liked the most was the General. Why? He was always true to himself. He barked at people, glared at them, or screamed orders most of the time, as any decent General should. Also could pilot a spaceship so well that Ka could see him sitting inside and even wave at him. Therefore, capable of making his hands dirty, not only expecting others to follow his orders. Way to go, General!
Overall rating: 2.5 *
Short and a bit rushed at the end, with a potential to be a nice story, but losing points on the science part and character development.