Jane and the Queen by Rusty Keele


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Post September 16, 2011, 01:01:01 AM

Jane and the Queen by Rusty Keele

Werewolves and nasty aliens both in the same story -- ??

Why?

What next?

Maybe it's obvious that I had problems with this story. Never mind that one of the nasty aliens was using a werewolf for cover. I had a hard time with the aliens, period. Destructive pests with no knowable motivation for their behavior, which raises unanswerable questions about what they were doing in spacecraft to begin with.

Saving graces? Despite the unsupportable quirkiness of this plot, the characters, action, and setting were quite well done, and a good deal of effort was obvious in the children's search for a queen ant.

Nice try, but it just didn't work for me. A well-executed work, ruined by a plot that made no sense. This author could likely do pretty good work if he would watch out for plot-holes -- and not try mixing sci-fi with horror/fantasy.
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Post September 16, 2011, 01:47:56 AM

Re: Jane and the Queen by Rusty Keele

I was reminded of Robert McCammon's great B-movie-style novel "Stinger"... and, in a way, of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (although at this point, the aliens hadn't replicated normal humans). Suppose you want to xenoform ('terraforming', except that the object is to replicate non-Earth conditions or ecology). You want your ecology to supplant the existing one, so you might seed the planet with adaptive engineered lifeforms at multiple levels... Bacteria and fungi and other unicellular lifeforms, insects, and so on up to the apex predator to keep the rest in line. In this case, the most dangerous predator would appear to be the werewolf, combining features of humans and wolves. Since the environment is still essentially "Earth", your early-generation colonizing lifeforms would to some degree replicate native species. (Humans would be tricky to imitate successfully, John Campbell's "Who Goes There?" and its movie incarnations (not counting the 'giant carrot' original) notwithstanding.)

As for the werewolves... you just have to take it as a given. Mr. Keele did not explain the mechanism for the transformation (could be magic, or bioengineered nanotech for all we know), or why werewolves had become so common as to justify facilities to help them control themselves. They were somewhat necessary to the story, since the plot needed a predator that the authorities would not just kill and dissect if it was too threatening (as they likely would have done with what they thought was a real wolf behaving too aggressively toward humans).

Fun stuff: the acid-spitting mechanism that the 'queen ant' and the werewolf turned out to have in common. That allowed the scientist-protagonist to deduce that they might have a common origin -- combining that with the mysteriously-empty pod-like landing craft, he was able to declare that they were both alien.

RM
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Post September 16, 2011, 10:44:48 AM

Re: Jane and the Queen by Rusty Keele

Well enough, Robert, but reader speculation does not equal authorial explication. Not that a good story needs to answer every question, but it should make more sense than this one did, to me, at least.

That acid-spitting trick . . . I think they need to call up Sigourney Weaver and the space-marines. :lol: The heat trick was good -- burning someone up at a distance. MIcrowaves, perhaps? Wear a tinfoil suit, and make sure it's properly grounded!
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Post September 19, 2011, 04:20:15 AM

Re: Jane and the Queen by Rusty Keele

I really liked this story. The werewolves were just there, clearly a part of the setting, as were the empty spaceships... all the clues the reader needed were laid out fairly early in the story. The finding of the queen ant, the realisation that it's not a queen ant, and the subsequent revelations made perfect sense; the aliens are clearly some sort of shapeshifter, but with common features across all shapes (and apparently, having chosen a shape, they can't easily change again) - clearly a hostile force, and being shapeshifters they are no doubt trying to not merely conquer, but supplant the native beings, killing off people and taking over the cities slowly enough so that the city as a whole never stops working, the population merely changing species over time (then they don't have to build their own frontier civilisation).

I really enjoyed this story

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