God’s Tear: Project TigerShark: A Review

This review is part of my judging effort for SPSFC2. For a little intro to the whole thing and an explanation of my judging style, see this practice review.


Next up we have God’s Tear: Project TigerShark by Gabriel Pearson or possibly Aidan Pilkington-Burrows. Gabriel Pearson may be a pen name since there seem to be several romance-adjacent / adult / BDSM books under that author, whereas Pilkington-Burrows does sci-fi and fantasy, and there’s something of a mix-up between Goodreads and Amazon on the subject. My Space Leftovers teammate Pax reviewed God’s Tear too, and I find myself unable to say much more than he already did. The book was released in 2011 and was last reviewed on Amazon in 2013, and it’s always rough to see a book not getting eyeballs. All told, though, this looks like a combination of messy marketing effort and a confused approach to the whole production.

Oof, okay, where do I go with this one? It was challenging. I guess we just start at the start, which was actually great.

So. God’s Tear, in this book, is a deposit of ice on the moon and the site of a future mega-wealthy retreat / ultimate gated community where the oligarchs of the world seemed to intend to sit out the climate collapse and eat cake while the world burns. It’s part of the setup and (sort of) part of the pay-off for the story. Project TigerShark, on the other hand, is a secret development initiative where scientists are building super-soldiers. Not out of the criminally insane per se, but with way more physiological input from death row prisoners than any reasonable person would expect in the circumstances. You know, more than zero physiological input.

Robert Downing Jr is an amusingly unfortunate character name, by the way. Just getting that down before we get too deep into it.

We open on a strange cabal of nine influential (terrorist?) Illuminati-types gathering in a decidedly John Wickian summit where their mysterious leader appears to them and makes a speech. The intelligence and crime-fighting community is watching surreptitiously, and when the cabal get in a circle and annihilate themselves (and the hotel they’re meeting in), everyone goes “huh. Wonder what that was about.”

Following this tantalising prologue, we see a terrorist-style ransom call to an orchestrated plurality of world leaders. This vastly powerful and mysterious alien force (or is it alien? Is it the new global unified Terrorist organisation, or is it that cabal from the prologue?) basically demands that humans be nice, and share their resources with each other. If they don’t do as they’re told, there will be big smacks.

Of course, all the world leaders are terribly cross about this because they’re shitty fucking people. So there is a bit of a demonstration of the power “The Nemesis” has. Military bases are destroyed, and the world leaders are told to name a city (each?) to be destroyed. What I thought was going to happen at this point was some kind of undertaking, while maybe taking a look at some of the destroyed cities if that actually happened, to actually do what The Nemesis demanded. Some introspection on the nature of bowing to the demands of terrorists, balanced against the fact that what they were demanding was basically … good actually?

We didn’t seem to get that. What we got instead was one suggested military base set aside for destruction being turned down by The Nemesis, because there was something super important to the future of humanity happening there. What was happening there was Project TigerShark, as previously mentioned. A new strain of superhuman killing machine, nano-manufactured from the ground up but also weirdly using mind-wiped murderers and psychopaths to create Meta, or homo superior sentiens (echoes of the homo superior of Star Marque Rising). So that just seemed like the worst possible idea. I mean, in a good way. Terrible idea for scientists to even think about generally equals great idea for a sci-fi action story.

When it comes to telling a fun story, you definitely should.

So, while The Nemesis and its strange malleable cylinders of indefatigable darkness was threatening humanity with a good time, we go off on a Bourne-style exploration of these sexy, sexy male-and-female Meta teams and their mind-probin’, fast-movin’, definitely-going-to-remember-their-past-lives-as-murderers-and-go-rampagin’ ways. I’m not sure I really got the point.

There were quite a lot of word confusion typos: they new of her instead of they knew of herthat she was instead of than she was, and so on. They’re hard to find with a regular spell-check, and I understand that good editing can be hard to come by. There were also echoes of Planet B (Complete) in this story, for a variety of reasons. Not bad reasons! Yes, the editorial and overall production issues were there, but there was also the genetic engineering angle, and the solid earnestness of the storytelling.

From such a promising and intriguing start, things seemed to drag out with the not-a-clone Meta characters and an assortment of scenes that … well, the scenes made a sort of sense taken individually, but their transitions were jarring and strange, and the overall narrative was increasingly disjointed and hard to follow. I found the way male and female  characters were handled, in the prose, to be mildly uncomfortable but that seems to be a hazard of the genre, not necessarily just in indie writing but not not that, either.

There was fun action and fight scenes, but mostly it was just difficult to understand what was happening. And The Nemesis seemed to be completely forgotten about, finally returning to the narrative at the 78% mark. Maybe I was just disappointed because I was expecting the wrong thing, and I missed the point of the story. Oh well.

Sex-o-meter

A resounding Meh out of a possible Way-Hey on the sex-o-meter for this one. The Metas are very sexy, it says so plenty of times; and there’s a whole lot of male gaze to go around … but  there isn’t much actual hot-and-steamy unless it was hidden somewhere in the strange scene transitions.

Gore-o-meter

A fair amount right from the start, with the self-atomisation of the mysterious cabal and the even-handed mass-destructiveness of The Nemesis. The Meta are entertainingly brutal in their training and operations. It all adds up to a solid three quivering flesh-gobbets out of a possible five.

WTF-o-meter

I’m sorry to say it, but the biggest WTF here is how a book with such a promising opening and fascinating premise could slide so strangely into whatever the plot turned out to be. Like I said, some of this could have been my expectation of what the story was going to be about based on the prologue and opening chapters, and that was then subverted to my absolute confusion and discombobulation as the narrative progressed. I don’t know.

My Final Verdict

There are great and imaginative ideas here, and the (opening) philosophy of human selfishness and the possibility of working harmoniously and to universal benefit only if forced by some “evil” outside power is just brilliant, but executing those ingredients into a book has … been something of a mixed-result challenge from what I can make out. I can only award God’s Tear: Project TigerShark two stars.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy. https://hatboy.blog/2013/12/17/metalude-who-are-creepy-and-hatboy/
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