I love sci fi pulp novels. It’s a guilty pleasure – a relic of the mid 20th century – and a history lesson. These often quick reads feed my obsession with reading over a hundred books per year (check my Goodreads account if you don’t believe me). For that reason, I absolutely loved S. Evan Townsend’s The Smugglers of Mars.
Townsend’s 189-page book follows lieutenant Titus Chumba of the Core Empire Intelligence Corps on his assignment to investigate a water smuggling ring on Mars. As the book progresses, so does the pace. The conspiracy grows bigger as Lt. Chumba unearths more evidence during his investigation. From secret assignments to cold war conspiracies against a lizard-like enemy, The Smugglers of Mars is an exciting read.
With danger around every corner and well-thought-out details for every scene, character, and situation in the book, I felt immersed in it. At times I checked how far along I was in my Kindle version of the book. I read much more than I realized. Thanks to Townsend, I lost some sleep simply because I didn’t want to put the book down.
That’s not to say the book doesn’t have flaws, of course. Every book has them. The Smugglers of Mars needed an editor’s eye at certain points. The opening sentence, for instance, “I learned that day that getting shot hurts.”, could be rewritten with one less “that”. Changing it to, “Getting shot hurts.”, makes it easier to read. Some of the transitions between exciting, dangerous moments could be more seamless, too. They felt rushed at times. Other times they felt rough as if the transition was a bit of a stretch.
Those are minor critiques, however. Obviously, I made it through the first line and the entire book. As I mentioned before, Townsend’s real talent lies in creating fast-paced, exciting near-death scenes that are “un-put-downable”.
In the author’s own words, he has been called “America’s Unique Speculative Fiction Voice” and writes novels that cause thrills and rapid page-turning. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives in central Washington State with his wife and has three grown sons and one grandson. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel. He currently has thirteen published fantasy and science fiction novels.
Townsend cites his inspiration for writing as a combination of his own imagination and the pulp novels he’s read throughout his life. He specifically referenced Poul Anderson, Robert A. Heinlein, Tom Clancy, Larry Niven, and even random documentaries he’s seen on TV. With such an eclectic source of ideas and inspiration, it’s no wonder the author can pull off a fast-paced, exciting book.
Where to Find the Author and His Books
You can check out all S. Evan Townsend’s work on his website, http://sevantownsend.com/. I enjoy his blog posts, too. He’s a car enthusiast, recent grandfather, and genuinely nice guy, referring to his retirement in a more positive light as his “next career”, aka writing. I, for one, am grateful for his career change!
Check for my weekly “Best New Sci-Fi Kindle Books” articles, for other great sci fi reads.
The Smugglers of Mars, released September 13, 2020, is the first book in Townsend’s newest trilogy, Chumba of the Intelligence Corps. Published by Space Resources Publishing, all three books are available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions. Pick up a copy on Amazon here.