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Miasma by Pete Alex Harris

Saturday, July 11, 2015
science fiction, Fiction, mystery, utopia, dystopia, On My Kindle, book review

Miasma by Pete Alex Harris is set on the planet of Misama; a wet, swampy planet surrounded by a gaseous cloud that filters out quite a bit of sunlight. Readers are led to believe that Miasma is aptly named because of its atmospheric qualities; however, as the story line progresses, readers learn that there is more behind the meaning of the planet's name.

I was given a copy of Miasma in exchange for an honest review

Miasma revolves around three central characters:

Tanaka Emi is a polite, soft-spoken, dignified, and bookish female. Much to the chagrin of her parents, Emi cares more for books and knowledge than she does marriage and money. She has feelings for Lanton; however, she is confused and a  repulsed by these feelings for reasons that are revealed to readers during the course of the story. Her career choice on Miasma might be described as archivist, transcriber, and librarian.

Lanton is an active and rugged male that one might label as "the dumb jock." He has an appreciation for mystery stories and a sensitive side that few people, including Emi, see. He is a packet runner, a courier that runs between settlements to deliver lightweight parcels containing research papers, books, transcriptions, and written messages. Lanton sees Emi as a friend; while it's apparent to readers that his feelings towards her surpass friendship, he seems to be oblivious of them.

Mokan is Miasma's mad scientist and inventor. If he isn't offending his peers in the settlement with his arrogance, he is disgusting the females with his libidinous nature. Mokan comes across as a bit of a jerk; however, one gets the impression that his offending traits are hiding the fact that he's a square peg in a round hole on Miasma. Lanton sees Mokan as a rival, but I think Mokan messes with Lanton to see if there is more to Lanton than meets the eye.

Out of respect for Harris, I will not spoil the plot for readers; however, I will say this: Miasma is a combination science fiction and mystery story. The three central characters in the book are working together to solve the mystery of the "monsters" on Miasma, and trying to solve their own personal mysteries. Each part of the book is written in the first-person point of view, and readers have a chance to experience three distinct points of view; which is something that I really enjoyed because I felt that these points of view added to the suspense of the conclusion without making it seem like a "typical" mystery.

Given the title, I was expecting a darker story line with characters that were cynical and depressed. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by the vibrant and rich characters with distinctive and unique personalities. I really appreciated that Miasma's story flows effortlessly from one point of view to the next; readers have to really pay attention to the different points of view in order to find clues to solve the story's central mystery and each character's personal mysteries.



Like a lot of science fiction books that I've read, Miasma is packed with social commentary; it's not as obvious as the commentary in Heinlein's work, but it's there. I appreciated the subtlety with which these commentaries were presented, and it took me a little bit to recognize them. 


I am glad that I was given the opportunity to read this wonderfully intriguing sci-fi/mystery novel! Miasma by Pete Alex Harris is one of those books that readers will want to read again: the characters are likeable in their own ways, the story line has subtleties that I know I missed during the first reading, and I am curious to see if I missed any social commentaries that I missed because I was engrossed in the mystery aspect of the story.


Miasma's re-readability makes it a value at a cost of around $2.99 (USD); I know that I will find something new each time I read it, and already view the characters as friends that I want to visit again in the near future.

To find out more about Miasma and Pete Alex Harris, visit Pete's blog; the blog includes three samples of Miasma, and provides an in-depth look at Pete's struggles and victories as he published the book. Pete is also very active on Twitter, so check out his account and chat with him while you read Miasma.

Enjoy!

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