Book Review: Escape from Tekmar II

Jill reviewed Kiti Lappi’s Escape from Tekmar:

I’m technically a bi-lingual person.
However, I would never have the confidence to pull off a book-length
manuscript in my second language. For that reason, I applaud Kiti
Lappi, the author of Escape From Tekmar, whose native language is
Finnish. She rose to a challenge and actually met that challenge.
Undoubtedly, she improved her skills in English by doing so. That
being said, while her book is readable in English, the level of
readability is extraordinarily low. The sentences are wordy and
awkward, and she often uses words improperly. For example, she
repeatedly confuses “commend” and “recommend”. While these
words are similar, they have subtle distinctions in usage. In
addition, there are many unclear run-on sentences, and I’m not sure
if this is owing to her limited knowledge of English, or simple bad
editing. Completing a cohesive thought in sentence-form is a matter
of logic, as far as I’m concerned.
Despite all that, the manuscript is
irredeemable. I would highly recommend (that is, advocate) that
pull this book off the market and choose one of two options: hire
native English speaker to help her with language edits; or write
book in Finnish and hire an English translator. Left as is, the
author risks giving herself an unnecessarily bad reputation as a
self-publisher of junk, which is a shame.
And to be fair, the story isn’t junk.
The elements of a well-told story are there, albeit lost in the
awkward language. The plot, itself, is a simple sci-fi adventure
story about the space travelers, Rahan and Ryn, who find
unwittingly involved in another world’s revolution. The author
many sci-fi tropes to give the basic plot color: genetic
modification, space travel, invasive spy technology that is too
expansive for upkeep, etc. Some of it is quite interesting and
imaginative, such as the “silver” that repairs the
genetically-engineered Shemasharras and gives them their
silver eye color.
The characterization is decent,
especially when the author depicts the relationship between Rahan
Ryn. Their relationship shines through enough that I’m not left
reeling when the author reveals their true relationship near the
of the book. Although the female protagonist, Lida, isn’t as
out, I find it believable that she, as an idealist, has become
embroiled in a revolution that isn’t about the good of the people.
the other hand, I never get much sense of Ryn’s character, except
that he feels duty bound to always protect Rahan. Ryn is a
genetically-engineered human, yet he fills the ubiquitous sci-fi
of the almost-human robot. Sadly, there are many sci-fi robots out
there with more personality than the genetically-engineered Ryn.
is too good, too intelligent, too strong to be entirely relatable.
Along the same lines, the main
character, Rahan, has a strong character arc, from childish
dependency on Ryn’s saving him from disaster (as shown in the
scene), to fighting his own battles and becoming the rescuer of
Likewise, the main female character, Lida, also transforms
the story, beginning with reluctant compliance and ending with
defiance. Ryn, as befitting his flat character, doesn’t change
however, the author allows him to be possessing of weaknesses, as
is able to be captured at a crucial moment.
The scene-setting is also quite well
done for an author who has a limited vocabulary in English. I’ve
that there are literally no cognates between Finnish and English,
which further gives me admiration for the author’s skills. That’s
obviously beside the point, as I get a general sense of a planet
had one time been decked-out with better technology, but has
into an economic and social decline. The scene-setting works, even
it’s not extensive. For the record, I prefer books with extensive
scene descriptions, almost to the point of travelogue, but I
certainly don’t expect that from modern authors.
If I have any banal writer-workshop
type recommendations for the authors, they are these: she needs to
learn how to write without giving info dumps. Info must be told in
order to ground the reader, but it needs to be accomplished a
at a time through the scene itself (showing vs telling), or
natural dialogue, or through SHORT pieces of exposition. I don’t
really give a shit about the absurd convention of excessive
in fiction—the pretense that fiction should be written as though
were a film—but the author needs to work on her art of subtlety.
Storytelling is an art, in which scene and exposition are woven
smoothly together, and the author needs to work on this.
As an
extension of show-vs-tell, the facts the author presents in the
often don’t sound planned. I found myself wondering if the author
made things up as she went along. For example, Rahan will suddenly
possessing of useful items in his backpack, when he had a moment
before been deficient in useful items, which left me thinking,
convenient for him!” This credulity could easily have been avoided
if the character had been shown finding whatever-useful-item in
scene time.
As a last word, the beginning scene is
necessary, and a great way to demonstrate the relationship of
and Ryn, but it’s too long. The author spends an inordinate amount
time describing a world that the characters are just passing
before landing on the planet where they will spend the next 250 or
To reiterate, Escape From Tekmar has
merit. It’s a story that would be worth more of the author’s time
attention, as well as the money it would cost for an
editor to clean it up. As it is, though, I can’t rate it well. In
fact, I would probably give it 1 or 2 stars out of 5 due to the
difficulty in reading the language.