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Pale Boundaries Paperback – 6 Jan 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Createspace (6 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449994954
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449994952
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,744,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. J. MacDonald on 30 May 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Concept/World
Scott Cleveland has created a big canvas which at times can be confusing; it wasn't till the end of the story that I really felt I'd got to grips with "who, what and where" about the various cultures within the world. That said, it was an interesting and well written, detailed environment and the spacetech was intriguing.

Story
The plot does tend to leap about and needs focus to keep track of what is happening. It is pretty violent at times and I could have done without characters vomiting quite as much as they did, but it is certainly action packed.

Characters
The characters are well written. I didn't find many of them sympathetic, as Nivia seems to be populated by a whole lot of self serving, amoral and ruthless people. Terson Reilly, the main protagonist, is a kind of Typhoid Mary - it isn't just that trouble and disaster seem to have plagued him from birth but as he observes himself in the book, seems to infect everyone he cares about. If this man wants to be your friend, RUN!

Presentation
The front cover is okay but could be in any genre and is far too tranquil to portray the intensity of action and complex betrayals in the story. There are a couple of minor editorial blarts of a kind which would not be picked up by a spellchecker (altar/alter, breaks/brakes) but overall the quality of editing, spelling, grammar and punctuation is excellent.

Overall
This book reminded me of Peter Benchley's books in the punchy style of the writing, action-driven story and brutal characters. I was unable to review this book on the Starships and Aliens website since it does contain swearing, sex and violence. However I liked the quality of the writing and the intriguing premise in the sample enough to buy a copy to read for myself.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Myke Duncan on 14 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this e-book because of the basic story outline, and admittedly, the very low amazon price. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about characters or storyline, except to say that the characters were well developed and believable, with good dialogue. The story as a whole was definitely a slow burner, and it did take a while to set up some of the main people, and their backgrounds etc, but that only made them real. Halfway through though, when things started to go wrong for our Reilly, things definitely took off with a flame under it's ***! The book became difficult to put down then, as I wanted to see how the story panned out for the hero (or anti-hero maybe?). All I can say is he must have the nine lives of a cat, with what he's been through. I began to know there was bound to be a sequel getting near the end, when the story didn't finish smoothly, but with more of a cliff-hanger. But hey, that's not a bad thing, it leaves you wanting and waiting for the sequel, and I know I am. That must be the sign of a good author!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Custard on 7 Jan. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, slightly concerned buying from an unknown author but was pleasantly suprised and would reccomend it. sc-fi adventure type book and looking forward to the next instalment.
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2 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jolly Roger on 22 Sept. 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Terson Reilly was horrified by what she found on Nivia. Never had she expected the harsh control of the population. A whale of a story. Enjoyed.

Pale Boundaries
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 30 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Beyond the Pale 23 Nov. 2010
By Isabela Morales - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Pale Boundaries is a great example of how a creative author and strong writing can bring realism to a literally out-of-this-world concept. Realistic characters live in a world of realistic technology-Cleveland's description of Terson Reilly's hydrojet made me feel I knew its propulsion systems inside and out, and I don't even drive a car.

In fact, I don't know that I'm even comfortable calling the novel science fiction: the adventure, detail, and high-seas action puts me more in mind of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt than any literary spaceman.

Reading time: One week at a leisurely summer pace (though maintaining that gets hard about halfway in, when the real action starts to build)

Recommendation: For general fiction readers, not just SF fans
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.8 out of 5 6 Oct. 2010
By JOA - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.8 out of 5

Diving into an excellent work of science fiction can be like swimming through a sea of red tape; it's muddled, sometimes it can tie you down and be more than a little confusing, and yet, once you put everything together, you finally know the answer and the effort it took to get through becomes worth it.

This was my experience reading "Pale Boundaries" by Scott Cleveland.

In truth, this is the first science fiction novel I've read since my high-school love of the Cyberpunk micro-genre. At times I found it difficult to keep everything in order - the technical terms tripped me up occasionally and I found myself backtracking constantly, trying to stay the course and understand all that was going on - and because of this, a book whose length I can usually complete in four days took me a little over a week. Now this is not a complaint, mind you; in fact, the act of staying with a book longer than usual struck me as a cathartic experience. By the time I reached the end, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the mind that created the work.

"Pale Boundaries" is the story of Terson Reilly, a young pilot existing on a backwater planet called Algran Asta. The story follows his adventures - from his arrest on his home planet for smuggling Militia weapons, to his relocation to a gorgeous, sun-splashed world named Nivea, where pregnancy laws and environmental controls are draconian, at best. Along the way he works through the guilt of watching his friend back home die a gruesome death, finds love (with a refreshingly strong and intractable woman named Virene), begins a relationship with his probation officer, Malaan Bragg, a noble man whose ignorance of his own society's corruption will lead him down a rather depressing path, and encounters conflict when he and Virene try and rescue the pilots of a downed shuttle, only to discover that not everything within Nivean society is exactly what it seems.

Terson, himself, is a wonderful character. He is young and brash, following a common trope among science fiction heroes, and yet he is imminently faulted and damaged. He's prone to violent outbursts, wears his guilt like a designer suit, and is untrusting. His is a grand journey of self-discovery, awakening, loss, self-destruction, and revenge. The many scenes between he and Virene are beautifully portrayed, looping together their naiveté with their not-so-innocent animal passions for each other, bring about a sense of reality and crunchiness to the characters. If we've been lucky, we know the lust and dedication for each other they feel...and quite honestly, this is the sort of pragmatic relationship I've found lacking in many novels I've read recently.

Another character I found fascinating is Halsor Tennison (Hal for short), the facto leader of The Family, a criminal organization that operates out of Nivia's other large continent. The Family is, as we find out, the real reason behind Nivea's strict ruling guidelines, which all come about as a way to keep their pockets overflowing through illegal shipping of technology and goods and help to hold down a society of people who also inhabit the Beta Continent - an Asian/Japanese-like culture called the Minzoku. Hal and The Family are constantly at odds with the rulers of these other peoples. He is without a doubt the villain of the piece, and yet his character is fleshed out with as much caring and intensity as Terson's. In fact, more often than not, you can't tell he's the baddie, at all. When he falls in love with the niece of the Minzoku ruler, Dayuki, we admire and root for their relationship as much as we root for Terson and Virene. In fact, it can be said that Hal and Terson are meant to be played against each other in a literary sense; they are mirror images of each other, each possessing strengths and faults that the other doesn't, which suggests that, had their circumstances been reversed, they might have become each other.

The plot of this book is convoluted in the best of ways. It's rife with deception and backward dealing, and none of the characters are privy to what the others are doing, which makes for an intriguing read. It also has emotional threads that are surprisingly strong. When Terson suffers the greatest loss of his life, my heart dropped along with his. I saw him give up, and said, "I'm right there with you, brother. I'd have done the same thing." There is also an exploration of power and culture that makes this much more than a technological thriller. Author Cleveland disperses throughout the text little clues as to why humans have traversed space at all, why Earth is no longer their home, and it made perfect sense. The author has an insight into human behavior that allows him to create this fantastic world and make it, in every way, believable.

In this regard (and many others), this is a great book. I've said many times that genre fiction allows us to ingest real and potent problems under the guise of something strange and otherworldly, and Pale Boundaries accomplishes this in spades. From presenting the idea of environmental protection and its drawbacks when the fanaticism involved outlives its practicality to the dangers (both for the suppressed and the suppressors) of xenophobia, it yanks you into the world it's created and forces you to think about your own world. The examination of mob culture and how much sway they have on our everyday lives is also an interesting thread. All one has to do is look at the history of their own country (no matter where in the world they live) and wonder how much of their society's success and failure has been the result of the suppression and hegemony of some clandestine group. After all, conspiracy theories don't exist in a vacuum.

In all, I loved this book. Along with being a fantastic read, it is also the most well refined self-published novel I've ever read. The structure is near perfect, and there are scant errors or typos, which is rare in this new world of publishing. Actually, when I look back on it, I don't understand why this book wasn't picked up by a publishing house. With a near-flawless construction and a potent (and concise) storyline, I would figure it would attract the attention of at least someone in the industry. I emailed the author to see if he'd ever sent the book out to agents or publishers, and he replied that yes, he had many times without a single bite. This strikes me as both odd and disheartening. If a work as brilliant as this can slip through the cracks, it doesn't gather much confidence in the decision makers who put out books for the mainstream to read.

(As a side note, though, I feel I must mention the one problem I did have with the book. Although it is well-constructed and near perfect, I reached the end realizing that very few of the plot threads had been resolved, and there is another book due out in 2012 that will continue Terson Reilly's adventures. This, I feel, should have been known from the start. Unfortunately, it could turn off readers, and this is something that I would find a very, very large disappointment. So please, Mister Cleveland, tell us it's the first book in a series from the getgo. For this, I dock you (gasp!) one point in execution.)

So go out and purchase this book. It's a dense read, but well worth it. And perhaps you'll come out on the other side the same way I did; mystified, impressed, and feeling more than a little enlightened.

Plot - 9
Characters - 10
Voice - 10
Execution - 9
Personal Enjoyment - 10

Overall - 48/50 (4.8/5)
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
No need to suspend disbelief, this is Sci-Fi how it should be written... 13 Nov. 2010
By Lonnie G. Dunkin III - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have very simple rules for gauging the success or failure of a novel. I'm not a literary genius or genre-Nazi and I certainly hold little faith in corporate jingle peddlers who do their best to "sing the praises" of an undeserving author. I've never felt bad about walking away from a book that didn't hold my attention or fell into absurd convolution. So when I say that first-time author Cleveland delivers on his end of the bargain - intelligently fabricating a world worth your attention - you'll understand the value of my recommendation.

Since others have already done a fine job of summarizing the key points and character of the story I'll limit my review to the mechanics involved. Pale Boundaries is a story of intrigue, mystery, loss, redemption, discovery, cultural procedure, social maneuvering, and the power of the human spirit when everything else is ripped away. The characters are engaging without being prototypical with just enough development to make you care about them (whether they're winning a fight or being killed off). The weaving storylines are complicated enough to make you pay attention but never overstep their bounds by getting too confusing or unrealistic.

While some of the tech is as farfetched as photon torpedoes (it is Sci-Fi were talking about) most of it resembles items we use every day, and all of it is delivered with military precision and a sense of confidence that makes it at once recognizable and always believable within the context of the story. The worlds presented are lush and well concieved and presented in exactly the right amount of detail. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. All of this imaginative and thorough work lends to an atmosphere of authenticity and takes some of the burden off of the reader who is too often expected to accept a spoon feeding of nonsense while "suspending disbelief".

I thoroughly enjoyed myself with this reading and look forward to future installments. I feel safe recommending Cleveland's work to others, knowing that I'm helping to spread the word about an unknown but truly deserving author (just a little praise singing...).

P.S. Why has this not been picked up by a major production house? The checks would write themselves...
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Not a Starships and Aliens Review 29 July 2011
By S. J. MacDonald - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Concept/World
Scott Cleveland has created a big canvas which at times can be confusing; it wasn't till the end of the story that I really felt I'd got to grips with "who, what and where" about the various cultures within the world. That said, it was an interesting and well written, detailed environment and the spacetech was intriguing.

Story
The plot does tend to leap about and needs focus to keep track of what is happening. It is pretty violent at times and I could have done without characters vomiting quite as much as they did, but it is certainly action packed.

Characters
The characters are well written. I didn't find many of them sympathetic, as Nivia seems to be populated by a whole lot of self serving, amoral and ruthless people. Terson Reilly, the main protagonist, is a kind of Typhoid Mary - it isn't just that trouble and disaster seem to have plagued him from birth but as he observes himself in the book, seems to infect everyone he cares about. If this man wants to be your friend, RUN!

Presentation
The front cover is okay but could be in any genre and is far too tranquil to portray the intensity of action and complex betrayals in the story. There are a couple of minor editorial blarts of a kind which would not be picked up by a spellchecker (altar/alter, breaks/brakes) but overall the quality of editing, spelling, grammar and punctuation is excellent.

Overall
This book reminded me of Peter Benchley's books in the punchy style of the writing, action-driven story and brutal characters. I was unable to review this book on the Starships and Aliens website since it does contain swearing, sex and violence. However I liked the quality of the writing and the intriguing premise in the sample enough to buy a copy to read for myself. I found it was a bit too much of a slaughterhouse for my personal taste (I prefer more humour and less blood/vomit) but I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys well written action stories of any genre.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Good Read, Wish I got To Read The Whole Story 15 May 2013
By Joseph Saccomanno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
'Pale Boundaries' Was A good Story, With Characters That Are Both Interesting And Engaging. Having Said That, The Storyline Stopped Right In What Felt Like The Middle Of The Book. Needless To Say, I Was A Little Disappointed. Had I Realized This Was Going To Be The Case Before I Started, I Wouldn't Have Read The First Page. This Book should Come With A Warning Label.
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