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The Ardly Effect
Brambling paperback £7.99
review by David Hebblethwaite
The Ardly Effect is the first book from author Mitis Green and publisher Brambling Books, and is billed as 'Book One of the Two Moons Trilogy'. The two moons in question are Edenia and Horridoa, each occupied by the original inhabitants of the other (the more technologically-advanced Horridoans having usurped Edenia in the backstory). We begin in the company of one Kwait Naize, director of Horridoa's Space Services R&D Centre, who hypothesises that the inhabitants of the two moons are of the same species. Taking advantage of his good standing with the Board of Governors, Kwait sends out 16 drones to look for evidence - only for them all to be destroyed simultaneously.
Kwait is hauled in front of the Board and sent, along with his daughter Streemly, on a mission to investigate. They set off on board the state-of-the-art battle-cruiser Marshia, eventually discovering old Earth, and the origins of the Edenians and Horridoans - the two moons were terraformed 3,000 years previously by a media mogul named Django Twip for a reality TV series. Sadly for Twip, his show was passed over for something else, so he left Earth in a huff - but not without setting up an impenetrable forcefield around the planet, that remained in place until the arrival of Marshia. So, joined by Bev and Vick of Earth (kept alive by advanced technology), the ship and crew set off in search of Django Twip and, um...
Yes, 'um' indeed. The Ardly Effect is a decidedly odd affair, written as a comedy, but not quite sitting comfortably in that role. It has its funny moments, but the smart-alecky tone can grate a little (of the initial astronaut training: "Day one had been a non-stop round of sit-ups, push-ups, bench-presses and knee-bends with a few non-hyphenated exercises like running and jumping thrown in for good measure"), and some of the humour leans towards tedious schoolboy sniggering. There's also an uncomfortable sense that Green is using all the silly names and suchlike to cover up deficiencies elsewhere.
A closer look at the plotting reinforces this suspicion. There are the problems you'd expect to find in a novel where the heroes have access to the best technology and super-powers. It's a bit simplistic, and I'm not satisfied that the protagonists go after Twip for any better reason than it suits the book for them to do so. There's also a subplot about Marshia becoming conscious that isn't developed nearly as much as it should be, particularly since it is supposedly one of the novel's main themes: the opening paragraphs refer to consciousness, though I missed the connection between that and the book's later events on my first reading (yes, I accept this could just be my not paying attention - but doesn't the author have a responsibility to make sure readers notice things like that?)
The Ardly Effect isn't all that bad; it's a fast-paced read that raises a genuine smile (sometimes more) in places. It could be worse. But that's not much of a recommendation! I hope Green manages to improve on this in the next two books of the trilogy; there could be a good read in store if he does.
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