Review: 'The Laputan Factor' by Tristan Black Wolf
Tristan Black Wolf's The Laputan Factor opens with software developer Night O'Connell enjoying a well-earned rest in the company of his hyena boyfriend. Or with fighter pilot 1st Lt Ambrose Bierce Kovach about to enter a simulated exercise aboard the star cruiser Heartwielder. As scenes and viewpoints switch, which of these almost-identical, head-hopping tigers is the real one? Both? Neither?
The story that follows is a science fiction gay romantic comedy mystery caper, with two realities' worth of characters helping or hindering the increasingly urgent quest to work out what's going on and how to fix it.
That's about as much as I can write about the plot without the risk of ruining readers' enjoyment by blurting out spoilers. I can't even be specific about which cult 1960s TV series turns out to be vitally important. However, I can and will say that I enjoyed The Laputan Factor very much, and that if you like your furry fiction with buff, wisecracking characters, action, and a touch of mystery, you'll probably enjoy it too.
At just over 200 pages in the softback edition, this is a long novella, and those pages are packed with external and inner conflicts for both O'Connell and Kovach. The pace is fast and the writing flows easily. There's a temptation to burn through the chapters and find out what happens next, but you may miss something important if you let impatience get the better of careful reading.
The dialogue and interactions between the characters are fun, but I did start to wonder whether they would ever stop exchanging quips, or thinking about sex, no matter how much the peril increased.
Other nitpicks? A couple of the clues were delivered by bluntly, although this didn't diminish the suspense of wanting to know what, exactly, they were clues to, and I'm not sure how well some of the science behind the fiction would hold up to close scrutiny. This is a lighthearted read, however, and when you're offered Bradbury drives and plasma shurikens, it's best to sit back and enjoy the ride.
The cover and internal illustrations are by Dream&Nightmare. The cover image is very striking and atmospheric; the internal artwork doesn't add a great deal to the text, but is a nice bonus.
Author Tristan Black Wolf has been published in issues 1, 2 and 3 of Allasso, and is a frequent poster on SoFurry. His first novel, The Man with Two Shadows, reviewed for Flayrah by Fred Patten, was published by AuthorHouse in March 2012.
Released in softcover and ebook formats through AuthorHouse and also available on Amazon, The Laputan Factor is full of banter, pheromones, and tongue-in-cheek references to movies, TV and literature; a smart page-turner that doesn't take itself too seriously but is genuinely engaging. I look forward to seeing what Black Wolf will cook up next.
Disclaimer: I was offered a review copy by the author.