My judging team in the second annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC2) has sampled all 28 books in our first round allotment and narrowed them down to eight quarterfinalists for the entire team to read in full. Our next step is to score those eight quarterfinalists and select three semifinalists to send to two other judging teams for further reading and one more round of cuts before the finals begin in May.
As you read our quarterfinal reviews, keep in mind that all of us have our own idiosyncratic tastes, and a book hitting for one of us doesn’t mean it will hit for all of us. On the other hand, a book missing for one of us doesn’t mean it’s not well worth reading, and every entry that’s made it this far has earned at least one of our recommendations.
Today we’ll be discussing the first of our three hand-picked semifinalists, R.P.L. Johnson’s YA space adventure The View From Infinity Beach.
Jay’s Review and Rating
The plot is well-paced and a lot of fun. Fans of YA sci-fi who just want to sit back and enjoy the good fight against an oppressive force are bound to love this one. But while the lead gave me enough to emotionally invest in the story and to appreciate at least one character arc, the rest of the cast was a disappointment. It comes together for a tale that I enjoyed and can easily recommend to fans of the style, but not to all genre fans.
Jay has rated The View From Infinity Beach 7/10. For more detail, check out his full review.
Josh’s Review and Rating
It’s a fine science fiction YA novel of the kind that I think was pretty common back in the 90s – featuring a bunch of teens on a space station find themselves leading a rebellion against an occupying military greedy force from Earth. However, while the physics of the setting (a space station rotating to create gravity) are used pretty well, the characters other than the lead character are paper thin, and there just isn’t anything special here….it’s just very much a generic YA SciFi book full of teens leading a fight against adults in space, and there’s a lot better out there.
Josh has rated The View From Infinity Beach 6/10. For more detail, check out his full review.
Matt’s Review and Rating
R.P.L. Johnson wrote a blockbuster here with The View From Infinity Beach. My initial wariness over not being the target audience for the teen protagonists melted with each page-turning chapter. Hallmarks in this one are Johnson’s adoration towards materials science, spaceship design and high-action set pieces. His sampling of sci-fi tropes is DJ-esque in a mix that is a sure appeal to fans of Card, Cline and Gibson.
Matt has rated The View From Infinity Beach 8.5/10.
Sarah’s Review and Rating
The plot had its intriguing moments, though at times unbelievable, and I liked the themes the story was trying to articulate. The fact that these kids were navigating how to organize a resistance without adults was pretty amusing, and the story didn’t downplay the lethal repercussions of their actions. I appreciated the process the teens went through to realize there’s no waiting around for others to do the work; you gotta be your own leader.
While the character development left much to be desired, I liked what arcs there were enough to feel an emotional zing at the climactic moments. There was also a very creative and satisfying conclusion, which seems to be rarer than this reader would like.
Sarah has rated The View From Infinity Beach 7/10. For more detail, check out her full review.
* indicates judge’s top score of the competition to date