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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Dr. Wesley Britton's Reviews Always as Entertaining as His Reading Choices


The Ascension Machine

Author: Rob Edwards

Genre: YA, 

Publication date : September 1, 2020

Publisher : Shadow Dragon Press (September 1, 2020)


Available on Amazon 

Reviewed by: Dr. Wesley Britton originally for Book Pleasures 


Maybe I'm showing my age, but my first thoughts when meeting the lead character of Grey in The Ascension Machine, I thought of Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat series.


 That's because, like Harrison's Jim Di Griz, Edward's Gray starts out as  an amoral con artist on the run from one space station to the next. He's very good at finding hiding places to elude capture all over the galaxy.   Like Di Griz, Gray's yarn is told in the first person, allowing for his personality to be expressed in nearly every sentence of the saga.


 Like the Rat books, Edwards' story is full of clever humor. For example, when we begin meeting the young students wanting to be "space alien super heroes," one is named Gadget Dude. Another calls herself Sky Diamond, born simply Lucy. But these young would-be heroes aren't in Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Hearths Club Band.  Nor are they candidates for Professor Charles Xavier's Institute where young mutants learned teamwork, how to use super-powers, and how to combat bigotry.


 Gray isn't anything like an X-Man. He only goes to the super-hero school to pretend to be a student, has no obvious powers, and has no drive to benefit anyone other than himself.    Well, he spends much of the novel in a wheelchair and ultimately becomes the leader of a team of young super-heroes out to save a planet from nasty invaders. I must admit, beyond the main baddie, Gravane/ Dr. Gravestone,    those powerful invaders aren't especially well-defined. I confess, the contrivance of villains being constant bad shots, even with super-weapons,  is a trope rather overused by now.


If it sounds like I'm describing a comic book in novel form, that's pretty much what Ascension Machine is. Nothing wrong with that.  Ascension Machine is intended to be light reading, straight-ahead action-adventure, and is quite suitable for YA readers. For example, it has a character arc where a young grifter finds his identity, finds a purpose greater than himself, and we see how important teamwork is in solving complex problems. In short, the very sort of comic book I'd be happy to give the grandkids to read, knowing they'd enjoy the colorful ride.


Me too. Reading the final coda in this debut novel, it seems clear we're going to be seeing more of the young heroes taking on new super-villains.   Here's your chance to get in on the ground-floor of an entertaining new series. With any luck, Edwards will spark up some romances among the new "space alien super-heroes" and the team will encounter some memorable new opponents.


More About the Reviewer

Dr. Wesley Britton is the author of the The Beta Earth Chronicles. His reviews appear in and this blog. Learn more about him at: 


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Dr. Wesley Britton's Reviews Always as Entertaining as His Reading Choices

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