Review and Author Interview: Red Queen (Substrate Wars#1) by Jeb Kinnison

After taking two weeks off to start The Classics Adventure, I present to you the next book sent to me in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you very much for Shannon (the author of The Timely Death Trilogy and Take Me Tomorrow) collaborated with the author, Jeb Kinnison to send me a copy to check out his novel, Red Queen, the first book in the Substrate Wars series.

Jeb Kinnison was also awesome enough to answer a few of my questions.  Lets start with a little interview before we head into the review.

Author Interview

1. What made you want to become a writer?

I have been reading science fiction since I was 7, and writing fiction since I was 18. I’d never had an opportunity to do it full-time until recently. I see it as a way of giving back some of what I know to a younger generation who has yet to live long enough to be appropriately cynical.

2. Who is your target audience for Red Queen?

Intelligent young people of a scientific bent, though it’s apparently a good read for older people as well.

3. Where do you get your ideas for Red Queen?

I have been following the war in academia between free speech and politically-correct censorship, which while driven by idealism about treating everyone kindly, ends up being oppressive and contrary to the free inquiry science requires to operate. I extrapolated what it might look like if those trends continued, and added my experience as a computer science researcher. The thriller aspects come out of the daily news about NSA surveillance, mind control experiments, and Homeland Security.

4. Do you identify with the characters you had in Red Queen? If so, who?

Almost all my characters are self-motivating individuals who refuse to be pigeonholed by class or group affiliation. There’s a little of me in most of them, or you could say it is not a stretch for me to be them, even though they’re modeled on people I have known. When I’m feeling old, I am similar to Prof. Wilson, and the younger Justin resembles me when I was a college student, except he’s better-looking and less awkward! Even my villains are trying to accomplish something—avoiding loss of power, at least.

5. What are your writing habits?

When I am in mid-book, I write in three periods. An hour or two mid-morning, and hour or two after lunch, and an hour or two after dinner. I hole up in my home office and go to work.

6. Who is your favorite author?

Hard to say since I have favorites in many types of fiction. Neal Asher is one of the best in adult hard SF; the late Iain Banks was also great. In literary fiction, I love “Mr. Bridge” and Mrs. Bridge” by Evan Connell.

7. What are your plans for the future? Do you have a second book in the works?

I am about two-thirds of the way through the sequel to “Red Queen” — tentatively titled “Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars,” where the fight continues. Our heroes manage to survive attacks and propaganda to subdue the Earth’s governments and stop them from waging war. Colonizing other planets and getting married are two aspects of the plot!

 There you go! Here’s to knowing Jeb, the author of Red Queen, a little better.  Its great to read about the concepts and ideas and understand a little more about the author before or after reading their novel. 🙂

(Substrate Wars #1)

By: Jeb Kinnison

red queen jeb kinnison

Set on a California college campus just a decade or two from now, the world of Red Queen is post-terrorist disaster, repressive and censored — governed like China today, but with a stagnant economy and no jobs for young people. In that sense it is a dystopia, though not so far from our own day and time; only a few steps beyond where we are now. The students are cowed but not unaware, and they seize the opportunity to make a difference when their smarts and courage allow it. And so they change the world.

This is Book 1 of Substrate Wars, the series: A growing band of campus freedom-fighters discover a new technology that could either destroy the world, or save it. They take on the responsibility of using it for good. Homeland Security is one step behind them. Spies and traitors lurk. Shall it be repressive bureaucratic stagnation, or expansion to the stars? – extract from Red Queen synopsis, Goodreads

 Let me confess that I’m not a very science-y person.  I used to be until Physical Science split into Physics and Chemistry in high school and then some principle reassured me that science was the last place I wanted to study in. Plus, I’ve never heard of the Red Queen hypothesis either. With that said, Red Queen starts with a good bit of science that took me a little while to pick up on.  I remember seeing the word “quasiparticle: and then scratching my head in confusion.  However, it doesn’t take long before I did catch onto what this new technological invention was and thats when the real adventure begins!  Especially when Homeland Security gets on the tail of our main characters.  Which leads this into a political thriller of sorts.  Talk about a mixed genre (political sci-fi thriller) that truly escapes my knowledge, right? Let me assure you that Red Queen successfully reeled me into its plot.

Red Queen was a good read and the only reason that it lost a little bit of points was that it felt like it never had that massive peak moment where things boiled into something *really* intense (emphasis on really).  This book truly felt like the first book of a series where it was a set-up for a much bigger plot.  Except, as I thought about it, every step of the way, expecting and trying to predict whether something was going to happen next kept me turning those pages on my tablet.  And I lie when the little turnpoint that it had didn’t surprise me, because it did and opened up a million ways the story can lead to now.  Which is why, I have extremely high hopes for Book 2.

But wait, getting ahead of myself again.  Now that we’ve looked at what doesn’t work too well (in a way).  There are a ton of aspects that work very well.  For one, Red Queen as a good balance of characters.  We have the older Prof. Wilson, a young and brave Justin and a genius Steven, adding in a little romance with Samantha and then a bunch of supporting characters who give the story substance building the dynamic of Homeland Security motives, the rebellious Grey Tribe and the students who want a better future. Other than characters, this future world in Red Queen is worth a mention.  Its based on a world in complete equality but doesn’t function well because the new generation has no job demand while privacy don’t exactly exist because the government can make up false stories to cover the truth without any questions asked. I guess anything has a offsetting balance because there is no perfect world to be in, eh?

Overall, Red Queen is a intriguing read.  At first, it is because its a new world with new characters and understanding this new technology.  When this happens, its watching the characters make decisions that put themselves in danger or choosing who is trustworthy.  Although there was nothing that was extreme, the book sets up perfectly for the next one with more possibilities.  With that said, Red Queen is no doubt a political sci-fi thriller pageturner that I recommend for all of you.

Thank you again to Jeb and Shannon for sending me this lovely book! 🙂

Remember to check out more info for the author and his works right HERE.  This is also his blog so drop by and check out his posts and show him some support!

2 thoughts on “Review and Author Interview: Red Queen (Substrate Wars#1) by Jeb Kinnison

  1. Pingback: 2015 Reading Challenge! | Tranquil Dreams

  2. Pingback: Nemo’s World (Substrate Wars #2) by Jeb Kinnison | Tranquil Dreams

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