Star Matters by David John West. Book review

Star Matters by David John West, Matador, PB, 426pp, £9.99

Reviewed by Steve Dean

Those of you familiar with Matador will know immediately to expect a vanity published novel, but we at the BFS never judge a book by its cover, so let’s give it a chance and find out if it’s any good.

Earth, present day, and all the conspiracy theorists’ claims of aliens walking among us are true. Not only that, but we aren’t even native to Earth at all, and neither are the other humans living on other planets. Instead, an ancient alien race scattered humans far and wide across the galaxy on suitable planets, and let them evolve on their own. I’m not sure why they did this, but it was probably Tuesday afternoon and they were bored.

Of course, some of these races developed quicker than others, heading off into space asap. And some of them were nice and some were nasty, just like us. One such race, Dawn of Gaya, have arrived secretly on Earth and have adopted us, feeding us technology and philosophy to help us improve. Another race, the Spargar, are the opposite and just want to control us all through the very same technology.

What about the plot? I hear you cry. Well, the actual story is very difficult to extract from the dense prose, which reads more like a dictionary crossed with a travelogue than a novel. There are long sentences making up long paragraphs of half a page or more all the way through the book. There’s only a scattering of speech, but too many over-long descriptions of things that should be obvious, like a metal reclamation yard the author tells us is used to reclaim metal. This happens far too many times, almost every incident, and even simple musings going on for far too long. A decent editor could cut the length of this book by half, at least.

Also lacking in this novel is any passion, it’s as dry as the dictionary it resembles. There’s no spark, no emotion, no drive, just a flat rendering of the events within.

I’m not really sure what the author is trying to achieve here. Is he a frustrated conspiracy theorist himself, trying to pass this off as fiction when he believes it’s fact? Or is this a genuine attempt at a novel? Either way it fails, it falls between two stools and manages to be neither one thing nor another.

Apart from the above, the writer knows how to spell and punctuate, but it takes far more than that to tell a story.