SPSFC Finalist Review: Memoirs of a Synth–Gold Record by Leigh Saunders

We’ve made it to the finals of the third annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. Team Tar Vol On has combined with eight other teams to select six finalists to be read by every judge in the competition. We’ve already read and scored Thrill Switch and Kenai, but we’re reviewing four more as part of the last round of the competition. As always, our team has varied tastes and rarely are univocally in favor of one book. For those where we aren’t recall, that every book that’s made it this far has drawn rave reviews from multiple teams. Even if they’re not for us, they’re for someone, and we hope our reviews will help those someones find the right books. 

Today, we’re discussing the romantic sci-fi heist Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record by Leigh Saunders.

Azrah’s Review and Rating

The overall plot, though linked through this primary heist with the Gold Record did have an episodic feel to it and I’ll admit some of the shifts in the pacing did affect the overall flow for me. There is a moment midway where I remember things slowed down quite a bit and then I also found that the last “mission” felt rushed in comparison to the rest of the book, resulting in a slightly abrupt conclusion.

That being said I still really enjoyed each part of the story and how everything came together by the end. I’d definitely be down to read more about Brianna’s adventures and other stories in this universe!

Azrah has rated Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record 6.5/10. For more, check out her full review.

Bowen’s Review and Rating

A tale of thieves in an elaborately constructed world. A light romantic touch. I loved naming the teleportation fields after Madeleine L’Engle, a classy tribute to one of the greats of our genre. I also loved the gold record of Voyager fame as the MacGuffin, another heartwarming tribute to one of the monuments of the human love of space. The synths as earliest explorers turned hunted outcasts was a cool concept.

Bowen has rated Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record 6.25/10.

Dave’s Review and Rating

I found the Synth an engaging character, who had a good arc throughout the book as she discovers love, and how to be (more) human. The world was deep, immersive, and the writing top-notch. This author knows what they’re doing prose-wise. The thread of the plot is a heist novel (they’re looking for the Voyager’s golden record) that serves as a vehicle to go deep with the character and their adventures. The aliens she encounters are interesting, and fun to read. There’s a bit of romance in the air, as well, which I found well-done.

This is a looong book, which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, except the story didn’t carry me along for the ride. The main thread (the record) wasn’t terribly compelling and I didn’t connect with characters much. I suppose if this novel shaved off a few thousands of words, I might’ve been more engaged. For sure, I can see other readers really liking this novel.

Dave has rated Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record 6.5/10.

Jay’s Review and Rating

Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record feels like a book that knows what it wants to be and is precisely that thing. It won’t be the book that makes you rethink what sci-if can do, but it’s an engaging read that offers plenty of thrills and a bit of romance, while exploring the world in enough depth to keep the story from feeling too flat. There may have been some moments in the second half where the book felt its length or where the tale felt a little too neat, but on the whole, it was entertaining and immersive—an excellent read for those looking for a story on the lighter side.

Jay has rated Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record 7/10. For more, check out his full review.

Mark’s Review and Rating

Mark was unable to read Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record and will not be providing a score.

Paromita’s Review and Rating

Overall this was a good read. The writing was pleasant, the world had lot of interesting aspects which we got to explore with the character. Theming wise, the concept of what it means to be human and to form emotional connections was handled well. On the negative side, the story took a very long time to come together for me and the emotional chord felt a bit forced to me.

Paromita has rated Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record 6/10.

Rari’s Review and Rating

Rari was unable to read Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record and will not be providing a score.

Official Scores

Azrah 6.5
Bowen 6.25
Dave 6.5
Jay 7
Mark DNA
Paromita 6
Rari DNA
Team 6.45


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