Over the last year I have enjoyed the fact that you can find a huge range of relatively inexpensive books on Amazon, and as a writer I have been very interested to observe the number of self published titles that are cropping up. Self publishing gets a lot of criticism, some warranted and some unfair, and the Amazon selection provides ammunition to both sides of the debate.
Quite a few of the books I have purchased are ones where I have read a few chapters and it has quickly become obvious that they are self published for a reason. Many haven’t been proofed properly and could have done with the services of an editor, or just contain terrible writing, and would have never seen the light of day if it weren’t for the platform Amazon provides. But, there have also been some books where the quality, both of production and of writing, has been indistinguishable from anything coming from a traditional publisher, and demonstrate why self publishing can be a legitimate avenue that provides opportunities for the production of great books.
“Gabriel’s Redemption” is one of those books. From a technical point of view the production values are excellent, with less errors than I have seen in releases from major publishers, though there were one or two places where an a little more editorial input might have been useful. Umstead’s writing is extremely tight, and gives the impression of someone who has been writing for a long time and has put a great deal of effort into honing his craft (whether this is the case I don’t know). Some self published work can be self indulgent and sloppy, but Umstead avoids this trap and is writer at the top of his game.
But, none of that would matter if the story itself wasn’t any good, and this where “Gabriel’s Redemption” really shines. Some so called “military sci fi” simply substitutes lasers for machine guns, but “Gabriel’s Redemption” is science fiction in the true sense of the term. It examines the impact that technological advances would have on combat and the changes it would bring about in traditional strategy, and creates a convincing future with a well fleshed out world and believable science.
This does not come at the expense of action by any means, “Gabriel’s Redemption” moves at a frenetic pace from beginning to end. The plot is full of twists, most of which I didn’t see coming, and the characterisation is strong. It was great to see some original concepts in what can be a derivative field, Unstead is to be commended for the scope of his ideas.
If you are a fan of this genre there is no excuse to not give it a try, especially at this price point (I felt vaguely guilty for getting it so cheap). If you enjoyed books like Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War”, Michael Marks’ “Dominant Species” or S.M. Stirling’s “Draka” series you will undoubtedly enjoy this book immensely.