Fire Alive by John Steiner

John Steiner’s Fire Alive is an interesting piece that blurs the line between science fiction and near-future realism. The universe of the story seems to take place in one that parrallels ours; there are similarities, but there are major political differences which become important later in the novel.
Perhaps that’s one of the book’s major problems. The global political situation isn’t explained as fully as I’d like for it to be, and this is a problem because of how important the political landscape turns out to be.
Another small issue is the use of military jargon, and overly technical descriptions of equipment and military/law enforcement inner workings. I sometimes had to keep Google open in order to figure out what certain terms meant, and the technicality of the piece was wasted on me. I often have the same problem in my own writing, when I describe firearms down to the custom diamond plate grips the owner installed, so I understand where John’s coming from. Such technicality can certainly reach out to a niche market, however, those of us who aren’t in that niche may feel excluded. And that’s the problem here.
The writing, however, is fairly interesting. Imagery is plentiful and skillful, and I found it very easy to picture the actions of the Spots and how they operate. I was rooting for the firefighting team the whole way through, and the characters and their camraderie certainly added a pleasant element to the book.
Posted 23 December 2015

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