Book Review: The Thirteenth Man by by J. L. Doty (Three Stars)

Book Review: The Thirteenth Man by by J. L. Doty (Three Stars)

“It could be worse—­you could be de Lunis.”

A fun if obvious space opera. Popcorn for the brain. Linear plotting. While there are certain overarching challenges, the protagonist is never seriously threatened. Yes, half the chapters end with him unconscious, but we don’t feel the menace. The roles and presentation of females is antediluvian. Profanity overused.

“They rolled over and the man was on top of him … The cabin door burst open. … one of them lifted the man off him.”

The protagonist is something of a Mary Sue: no matter what happens he comes out on top. The is not so objectionable as the fact that usually it is some other character who is the means of Charles’s survival. For the hero to be saved over and over by others weakens his status.

“He writes full-­time now and continues to focus on speculative fiction, but never with lasers as a weapon, since most writers invariably get that wrong.”

Quibbles: In his acknowledgements Doty admits to eschewing lasers as weapons, but he makes just as many errors relative to space travel and orbital dynamics. Since faster-than-light travel seems impossible to current science, he’s free to posit whatever physics he wishes. And he does. “His Majesty, Lucius the First …” No, the first monarch of a name is not called the first.“ Charlie watched his screens as Roger firewalled the sublight drive, accelerating at well over ten thousand gravities.” Without some sort of defined compensation, the crew should be reduced to a pinkish slime on the aft bulkheads.

“But should the headsman miss his prey, the thirteenth man will rise. And rule the headsman’s ax one day, no limit to his prize.”

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Thirteenth Man by by J. L. Doty (Three Stars)

  1. Love your phrases, popcorn for the brain etc. You’re a pro, even when I’m not interested in the book I usually read all the way through! You’re a natural.

  2. Thank you. That applies to my ratings, too. On an absolute scale this would merit two stars, but folks would think that was bad, where it’s supposed to be neutral, as in “okay.” Most of my ratings of genre books are relative to their genre.

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