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Tour guide, emissary, diplomat, thief — and a long-lived, genetically engineered Synth — Brianna Rei travels the Hundred Worlds, hiding in plain sight. She knows her survival depends on staying one step ahead of the bounty hunters who have nearly exterminated her kind.

All that changes when she teams up with fellow-thief, Jerrold McKell, and he discovers her true identity. Now Brianna must choose between trust and survival, and what it means to be truly human.

-Goodreads

Book Information

  • Title: Gold Record
  • Series: Memoirs of a Synth #1
  • Author: Leigh Saunders
  • Page Count: 532
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Rating: 4.25/5.0
  • Date Read: April 30th, 2024

Opening Thoughts

My fourth read finalist from the SPSFC-3 competition was Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record by Leigh Saunders. I didn’t know much going into this read as it hadn’t caught my eye prior to the finalist round. I decided to split up the four that I needed to read to even out the page count between April and May. This was the second of the two for April with the other being Dark Theory. That leaves me two more to comfortably read in the month of May or the official deadline in June.

As with all of my competition reads, please keep in mind that the ratings and review below are of my own opinion and in no way reflect the overall scores from our team (Peripheral Prospectors).

Pacing

The pacing of Gold Record went fairly well for me. I would consider the length of this book in the mid range for my usual tastes. It might be a bit longer than some readers prefer but it is by no means what I would consider an epic length book either. Maybe one of these days, I’ll create a post on my feelings regarding lengths of books, but not today. This was a visual read for me in which I opted to pick up a copy of the Kindle version to help support this author as well. I didn’t have any trouble with any names which is a bit surprising because there are a lot of different races and cultures in this story. More on that in the next section though.

I felt the author did a great job in being descriptive throughout this read. Whether I was picturing the inside of a futuristic museum, the bitterly cold areas of a winter type of planet in general or in a bit of a backwater planet that was still futuristic but adopted more of an old school feel to their way of life where they didn’t accept technology as fondly as many others. There were a handful of editing issues with the misuse of a word or typo here and there. As much as I enjoyed this read, these moments were still noticeable and tripped me up briefly when I came upon them.

World Building

The world building was very interesting to me as well. As I mentioned above, there are a lot of alien races and cultures introduced in this book. So many of them were intriguing to see not only how they function as a society but how they interact with our main characters. I’m not even sure where to begin with this from an insectoid race to giant snake people. And most of these races are not just given a simple glance but we get to know quite a bit about them and their history as the story progressed. I’ve already mentioned the story hops around several plants which are also nicely fleshed out for our pleasure as well.

Then we have the different technologies sprinkled into this tale. That is an entirely different aspect of this world. There are different types of weaponry, data devices, ships and vehicles and a uniquely described type of transport as well which was such an interesting part of this story to me.

Character Development

Character development was unique and I’m sure difficult at times to comprehend when writing or reading this story. We certainly have some solid character arcs which at times might seem to drag on a bit or become redundant. I didn’t feel this way, but I could see some readers having that type of experience. The reason I feel this might have been difficult is when you have characters that are 200 years old or perhaps even older in some cases, that can’t be easy to deal with. You’d think after a few dozen years you’d be kind of set in your ways and might not change much. Well some characters might not while others continually adapt as time goes on.

Really there are some fascinating characters to be found in this story. The many names of Misha is a story of it’s own and I won’t list them all out there as I don’t want to spoil things more than I need to. Jerrold was interesting but at times I didn’t quite understand his reasoning. I think I’d like to know more about his history to help me understand this. I’m not sure if we will learn more from him in future installments or novellas but that would be interesting to me. There are so many great supporting characters as well. An insectoid information broker who has the connections to find out almost anything yet a process to forget conversations for the protection of himself and his clients. The three very different snake people who are hunting down Jerrold for his past deeds are another example of imaginative writing from this author.

Roundup & Recommendation

Overall this has been one of my favorite stories that I’ve read in the competition so far. It’s unfortunate that I think this read could benefit from another pass or two through a keen eyed editor as I’m sure that will ultimately be a strike against this book in the competition. We shall see.

If I had to describe this book to someone, I’d say it was a futuristic sci-fi heist and the heists just keep on coming. There were some excellent twists and turns with our characters and plot as well which is always enjoyable to be.

I’d recommend this book to someone looking for a science fiction read that revolves around the pre-mentioned heist aspect along with some very interesting locations and characters and some strong connections between many of these characters.

Scoring

World Building 5/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 4/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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