Friday, June 22, 2007

Paul Preuss' "Arthur C Clarke's Venus Prime, Volume 1" of 6 (novel): "Breaking Strain" expanded

Review of the novel titled Arthur C Clarkes Venus Prime, Volume 1 (of 6) (Breaking Strain) by Paul PreussThis is not a story by Clarke. But by Paul Preuss, probably under some kind of royalty agreement with Clarke.

This also is not the expansion of a short story into novel length in the sense that "Rescue Party" was transformed into "The Songs of Distant Earth" - that requires hard work. This is simply an attachment of a kind of preamble & postscript to original "Breaking Strain". Preamble takes up first 30%; postfix later 50%; rest is original story with very minor tweaks to fit the two new parts.

What was an accident in Breaking Strain becomes sabotage to a very lame cause. This volume came out of marriage of original short story with a computer game script; the overall tone (except for original story portion) appears to be meant for younger audiences.

Assuming this is typical of the Venus Prime series, I doubt I will be bother with rest of the series.

Story summary (spoiler).
Story has three plots intertwined - not always seamlessly.

First is the original "Breaking Strain". While I have not physically compared the version here with original story, I was getting a feeling it is pretty much a verbatim copy. Only beginning & end seem to have minor tweaks to link it up with preamble & postscript. This sits in the middle of the story, as a single block.

Second is the story of heroine - Ellen Troy aka Sparta aka Linda (probably also has more names). She is the one who will link the Venus Prime series. She is a victim of an innocuous experiment in psychology that was started by her parents to produce geniuses - with good intentions.

The project (SPARTA) was later hijacked by some security agency of US government to turn her into an invincible biot that will do the bidding of her masters. Experiment failed, & the powers controlling her tweaked her brain to make her forget everything. Result was - she turned into a vegetable that cannot even take care of her own needs - so these masters are safe with their secret.

Through benign intervention of someone on the project that cares for her, she regains consciousness. Since she is an immensely capable superwoman, she escapes in spite of security agencies tracking to destroy her.

Through the ordeal, she has lost most of the memory of her preceding 3 years. Also, her parents have vanished. She is 20 or 21 year old at this time. This entire story oocupies may be first 15% of the book.

Ellen's story continues in bits throughout rest of the story (& probably in rest of series) as parts of her memory return, in her effort to track her parents down, & the way she frustrates the efforts of security agencies out to kill her.

Third plot element is the conspiracy involving sabotage to the space ship involved in accident (original story treated it as an accident involving a meteor strike). This story has very lame motive, & I found it completely uninspiring.

Preamble is set on earth; postfix is set on Port Hesperus - a man-made space habitat with population of 100 thousand oribiting around Venus. Economy of this artificial habitat depends on mining Venus using robots.

Ellen is involved in this third plot as the main crime investigator. Of course, culprit is caught.

Fact sheet.
Arthur C Clarke's Venus Prime - Volume 1 (of 6), novel, review
Author: Paul Preuss
Rating: B

See also.
1. "Breaking Strain" - original story by Clarke.

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