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Red Claw by Philip Palmer

Posted by travizzt on December 10, 2009

With an awesome cover like that, Red Claw can’t be bad right? …Right? Help me.


Red Claw by Philip Palmer- This is Philip Palmer’s second book, his first being Debatable Space. This is a science fiction based story.

Red Claw is about a colony of soldiers and scientists that are to categorize all the species of a planet, in this case, the planet called New Amazon. After the categorization, the team is to terraform the planet, which would destroy all life in order for the planet to become more “Earth-like.” During a routine exploration, a small team comes across a Godzilla creature, which they quickly subdue and capture for examination. During the examination, the robot’s, called DR’s, within the colony start to turn on their human masters, slaughtering all but a handful. These handful are then forced to escape and hopefully, with the help of a famous scientist, survive. However, during their travel to a safe-house the group is quickly whittled down by the creatures and the harsh environment of New Amazon. Upon reaching the safe-house, they celebrate, which turns into yet another massacre. Now out of the handful that remained from the first attack, only about a dozen survive. Forced to flee, the survivors find out that someone isn’t who he seems and the reason behind the robots going haywire links with the false person. It’s up to the team to pull together and defeat the robots and their leader and to conquer the New Amazonian jungle.

Negatives:
1) Explanations/ Descriptions. Within the first few pages you are mercilessly thrust into a world were you have no idea what is happening at all, and I mean at all. There is no real background on what is going on, what these alien species are, what these “DR’s” are, nothing. It makes the story almost unbearable to read. I just found it frustrating and just utterly pointless to list off all these species, only to mention them maybe once or twice throughout the story. Then you have the attempted, half-hearted explanations and descriptions of things. For example, a lot of the creatures have simple names, such as Two-Tails. That’s really all the description the reader really gets. Of course, here and there you get a little tidbit of information (if you’re lucky) about this or that. A little more effort would have gone a long way in this department.
2) Short, Pointless Scenes. There were times when you get a scene that doesn’t add to a character or the plot. For example, in the first chapter, you get a scene in which one character is just moving his hands to lower these “Dravens” (which I still have no idea what they are). It doesn’t set up anything, or add to anything, seeing as the previous two scenes pretty much summed up what just happened. Were these scenes really necessary? No. I really think that it would have benefited if they were totally removed and some better descriptions took their places.
3) Profanity. Now I don’t have any problem with cursing at all. But this book is just too much. And needless to say, it’s pointless. Honestly, do I need to read the f-word almost every few sentences? Profanity does have a purpose, to emphasize a point. Yet when I read this book, I honestly felt like I was reading something a middle schooler, who just discovered cursing, would write. It bothered me like nothing else. And it got old fast. Seriously, if you’re going to use the f-word, at least use it to stress a situation and not in everyday language. It’s just juvenile in the usage.
4) Structure. It was horrible, confusing, and caused everything to seem pointless. It just jumps around WAY too much. What I mean is that the scenes don’t feel finished. They feel rushed and seemed to be cut off to soon and then you are immediately into the next scene. Nothing feels finished. Then you have the problem with jumping into someone else’s viewpoint only to see them die within a sentence. Which leads me into my next point…
5) Pointless Deaths/ Characters. This is hard to really explain without talking about the characters. To put it simply, why introduce someone just to have them killed within the next few paragraphs? This happened to probably half the characters within the story. Because of that, you never really have a good chance to have a relationship or start to think of so-and-so as interesting. For example, one of the neatest ideas presented were these humanoid species called the Noirs. Not much information was given about them (look at negative point 1), yet they were fascinating. But what happens? All but two die. Oh only two left, eh? Lets just make that one. Now let’s forget about the remaining Noir and suddenly remember that, oh shoot, we still have the last Noir alive, better kill him off. Seriously, that happens. Another example is early in the story you are suddenly introduced to this character (I’m sorry, I don’t remember her name or where it is). She seems interesting at first and all of a sudden, her rover goes down, she’s injured. Her companion lives her to die. Is it necessary to introduce a character, only to kill her within a few pages? No, it’s annoying and stupid. But, there are times when it is okay to do this, such as enforcing something. But does that happen in either of the cases I mentioned? No, they are utterly pointless deaths. You never get to connect with any of these characters because you never know who is next to bite the bullet.

Positives:
1) Humor. I have to give the story something, it was pretty funny at times. This is mostly due to the journal entries by Hugo, a scientist. Then some of the dialogue was humorous. For example the Beebe’s conversations. The Beebe’s are a husband and wife that talk to each other ironically and I imagine very quickly. I just found it funny.
2) Three Characters. There were three interesting characters. The first is Professor Helms. I can’t really say why he was interesting, else I give away the story. But then again, I will not recommend anyone reading this so, basically Helms isn’t who he says he is. He’s the main reason the robots went berserk and he is surprisingly noble, in a way. The second is the man I mentioned above, Hugo. Mostly because of his humor. The last interesting character is Ben. The reason is that he is a psychopath.

Side Note:
1) Noirs. I mentioned how I thought they were interesting above. Yet, I don’t remember anything about them. Why is this? Because they were stupidly glanced over. Honestly, I’d like to read more about them.
2) Cover Art. I really like it. The two toy spacemen standing over those dead bugs are just funny. It really catches my eye for some reason.

Overall: 1/5

Final Thoughts:
Okay, so you are asking why am I so critical about this story? I HATED it. It started off bad, the middle section was painful, and the ending was slightly better, but still horrible. Why? It’s just confusing, petty, stupid, pointless, and juvenile. Heck, I’ve read horrible, disgusting fan fiction that Red Claw wished it could be. This really felt like a chore to read though. It would have helped greatly if there were more descriptions or less pointless scenes.

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