Publication Date: December 21, 2014
When Commander Lisa Chang and her team take the Brane Skip device on a test flight they expect to revolutionize space travel. What they don’t expect is to land in a medieval world while Orcs are attacking. In an unexpected world of dragons, magic and a king can they find their way home?
The author, D.L. Morrese, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Brane Child: A Science Fiction Counter-Fantasy has a cheeky self-awareness that is just a lot of fun to read. This is a fish-out-of-water story of scientists landing in a world they can hardly believe. Morrese shows a keen skill and a balancing humor with a solid sci-fi plotting and juxtaposed worlds. Chang and crew are planning to be bored, hoping they don’t die and thinking they’ll land on Earth without event so where did the dragon come from?
Lisa Chang is shown in a roll that punches character from the start. She was assigned to the Brane Child project and is prepared to embrace the challenge. No one is quite sure what the Brane Skip device is, but they know what they think it should do, and Chang is the type to see it through. Chang is the perfect straight-man for the absurdity of their newly discovered world. She’s thrown when approached by Milton the Magic Seller. Chang is cautious as a good leader would be and not ready to show her hand fully, but Chang knows that if you don’t ask questions, you don’t get answers. Chang is ready for adventure but not foolishly so. Morrese has shown a talent for strong women in his previous work and Lisa Chang is no exception. She’s decisive when needed but fully committed to her team and they respect her for that commitment.
Milton is the fantasy world emissary to Chang and her crew, hoping they’re peaceful and at the same time obtaining information for the King. Milton is living a fairly average life in a land occasionally attacked by Orcs with impulse control problems. He’s lived through vampires, zombies and varied other not so desirable characters (though some of the younger girls loved the way the vampires sparkled). On page 108, Doc of Lisa Chang’s crew says in a way to cause the meta-fiction loving soul to sing “There’s no plot without a hero.” The challenge then is to identify the hero in Brane Child: A Science Fiction Counter-Fantasy. Is it Lisa, the time/dimension traveling commander, a quick thinker on her feet? Is it Milton the Magic Seller pining away for the unattainable Mari (her father simply will not approve) and looking for a purpose? Is it Morrese for mixing the two worlds with a gentle humor reminiscent of the late Terry Pratchett and late Douglas Adams?
Morrese’s characters are delightfully believable and his melding of worlds is masterful. Readers will smile through the bulk of Brane Child: A Science Fiction Counter-Fantasy. This fun and clever read that takes “adventurers” to a world that has been plagued by misfortune and poor hygiene. Most of the characters are adaptable while not seeming unbelievable. They are looking for hope and see it in each other.
I will admit to not being completely sold on Brane Child: A Science Fiction Counter-Fantasy until Chang and crew landed in their alternate Earth-like medieval universe. The building of the Chang character and the Brane Child project was interesting but not wholly engaging. When they landed in a full-on war, I was on the edge of my seat gesturing with enthusiasm like Meryl Streep when Patricia Arquette accepted her Oscar (in no way meant to minimize that very important acceptance speech for women everywhere).
In the midst of adapting to their new environment, Chang and her crew are trying to understand how it came to be and, more importantly, how they came to be there. The programming language “Assuming Brane Existence; Preparing to Jump to Conclusion Point” cannot help but bring to mind the “Improbability Drive” of Adams “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” though as a homage instead of a copy. That similarity of flavor primed the pump for the brilliance that was to come. This is an author who injects meaning while maintaining a strong entertainment value.
While the other novels I’ve read by Morrese are very well written and invested with delicious little Easter Eggs of goodness for the reader to find, Brane Child: A Science Fiction Counter-Fantasy is differently structured and perfectly what I like to read. Brane Child: A Science Fiction Counter-Fantasy is wacky without being ridiculous, self-aware without bring pretentious, smart without being indecipherable and perfectly molded for the reader’s enjoyment. I squealed with glee every time a character offhandedly acknowledged a story was at play. Brane Child: A Science Fiction Counter-Fantasy is clever, funny, masterful and just a truly awesome read. Morrese is planning a sequel and I will be first in line to pick it up. Brane Child: A Science Fiction Counter-Fantasy is a credit to the fantasy/humor/worlds collide genre.
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D.L. Morrese is a Florida based, full-time author. His book The Warden Threat received the Awesome Indie Seal of Approval for Excellence in Fiction and the Indie Book of the Day Award. Check out the reviews of The Warden Threat as well as Amy’s Pendant, Disturbing Clock and An Android’s Tale.
For more information about D.L. Morrese and his work, visit his website. You can connect with D.L. Morrese on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter: @DLMorrese. Series readers can track his books on FictFact.