There is a massive risk faced by a writer who attempts to mix genres. It is the equivalent of water skiing while juggling chain saws—impressive if successful, a bloody mess if not. Thankfully for readers and author alike, R. G. Chandler managed to ski the course scarred, but mostly unscathed.
Surviving Xcarion is a mix of a moody, under-class thriller with a sci-fi alien invasion. Blues music played with ray guns. Chandler’s novel starts with the moody thriller as Rheannon, a back-street young woman with an addiction to needles and blues guitar, has her world fill with unknown threats while she herself is being pursued for …what? Rheannon doesn’t know, we don’t know, and the chase is on.
When the sci-fi element is first introduced, my first reaction was a distinct, ‘Uh oh.’ I worried that I had run across another book where a writer had tried to jam two ideas into one novel. But the result is quite good, saved by two crucial factors. One, Chandler can write—there is a strong hint of Raymond Chandler to R.G. Chandler; and second, the author manages to keep the focus on the characters rather than the shiny things that go beep. In sum, a trip from alleys to planets that is well worth taking.
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