Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Review: THE PROX TRANSMISSIONS by The Starset Society


Rating: 2.5/5 stars 

This novel is one for fans of the band Starset. They’re my favorite band, which is why I picked up this book. The Prox Transmissions, written by the singer of the band, is a prequel of sorts to their first album, Transmissions

If you’re not familiar with the lore of the band, Starset was “commissioned by The Starset Society to spread broad awareness of The Message through music and media. The Message contains the knowledge necessary to spare the future of humanity.” The primary objective of the Starset Society is “to shed light upon various emerging near-future technologies, investigating the potential and inevitable social, economic, political, and philosophical impacts thereof,” and one of the ways they do that is through the band Starset. The Message was received by the Society in a mysterious transmission from space, and the known details of that transmission are laid out in the book The Prox Transmissions.
(If you’re confused and want clarification, listen to the band. 🙂) 

I thought the premise of the novel was quite interesting. I’m not a huge sci-fi reader, but I was able to follow along just fine and stay engaged the whole story. The writing style is a bit amateurish, but I didn’t really have a problem with it.

The plot itself is intriguing—our protagonist Stephen receives a mysterious message leading him to obtain a mysterious transmission, and he has to decode its meaning before the enemy corporation steals the data from him. Even though Stephen receives more than one transmission from the planet Prox, this book only delves into the first transmission, leaving this book feeling incomplete in a sense, like not all the questions were answered. It does end on a cliffhanger though, and I know the Starset Society has more books planned for release in the future. 

I thought the plot was the strongest part of this book as neither the characters nor the setting were very fleshed out. There was only the tiniest bit of backstory given to Stephen, but everyone else felt rather two-dimensional to me. Unfortunately, every female in this book is described as “beautiful” in a way that is cliched and over-sexualized, not to mention that the word “sensuous” is used as a synonym for “female” in one instance. 

My biggest complaint, however, was that this novel badly needs a copyeditor. There are typos on nearly every page: incorrectly used punctuation, misspelled words, poor grammar choices, inconsistent word usage, and even some words cut off due to poor layout choices. Did I mention improper punctuation? The biggest offenders are missing quotation marks and missing hyphens, which made for a few confusing sentences as my brain was trying to figure out the intended meaning. As an editor, I could feel my eyes burning as I read this book. But if you can get past all that, then the story is actually worth reading if you’re a Starset fan. 

I would recommend this book only to hardcore fans of Starset who want to know more about the lore behind the band. There are a handful of references to lyrics and other things related to Starset lore, such as mentions of “Carnivores” and the “BMI” and the “Everything Machine,” among others. Any regular sci-fi reader would be able to understand this novel just fine, but I don’t think it would be as enjoyable or meaningful if you aren’t familiar with the band because you wouldn’t understand the references, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you aren’t a fan—and frankly, there are better sci-fi novels out there to read instead. 

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