A Preliminary Review: Ascension Point by Dan Harris

Recently, I stumbled upon Dan Harris’s blog, dan-harris.net, chronicling his journey to become an independently published sci-fi author. I enjoyed his humor and his story and was, therefore, intrigued by his recently published book, Ascension Point. I found his book on Amazon and got the sample sent to my Kindle.

After reading the first two chapters and meeting two of the four main characters, I have decided that once I finish my current book, I’ll buy Ascension Point and do a complete review. Until then, I felt the need and desire to share my thoughts of the first two chapters and explain why I decided to buy the book (even if it will be at a later date).

Harris has a great grasp on understanding how important detail is in his writing. He picks up on a lot of the beauty of his action and his world by properly focusing on details. His writing has a lot of potential that given the right guidance, I think could really soar. While he is able to focus on details, sometimes I worry if they’re the wrong details and sometimes fade into fluff. With a good content editor or critique group, I think Harris could really grow his writing to a point where someone like me won’t complain (with my background in literary writing, I am much more critical than the typical sci-fi/fantasy reader).

The development of both Luc and Neela has made me intrigued–they’re opposite ends of the spectrum in various ways: Luc is thrust into responsibility and Neela seeks it out; Luc is a ladies man and Neela can’t keep a man. The premise is that Luc and Neela will have to work with two other people to find/reach the Ascension Point so having them as part of a team will prove extremely interesting. I hope that Luc and Neela, however, don’t fall into the character trap of simply being cut-outs thrust into a story to serve the plot.

I wouldn’t have reviewed this book in my blog if I didn’t like it but that doesn’t make it perfect. I think it’s an amazing first book from Harris and it’s Shakespeare compared to a lot of the drivel I’ve read especially from traditional publishers. I think he has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to read Ascension Point and more from him.

11 thoughts on “A Preliminary Review: Ascension Point by Dan Harris

  1. Dan Harris

    Well, now – this is a wonderfully positive (preliminary) review. Thanks so much for taking the time to not only grab a sample and give it a read, but also to post your thoughts. I’m always delighted to get any feedback, but the largely-thumbs-up kind is especially good!
    I’m very pleased that you found the first couple of chapters intriguing; while I’m very happy with how the beginning of the book turned out–after many edits–I still think it’s not quite as strong as the latter half of the novel where I really feel I hit my stride with the story. I’ll leave that for you to decide, though!
    All the best,

    1. melanie_unabridged Post author

      I think the beginning is really hard too! You have all this information you need to get out to orient your reader and explain your world (one downfall of sci-fi/fantasy).

      We all struggle, I think at the end of the day, you need a great critique group that’s not going to be afraid to say the things that might hurt your feelings because a spouse/friend/parent only says “Oh it’s good.”

      If you’d like, we could exchange some of our work in the future.

      1. Dan Harris

        Absolutely – avoiding the dreaded infodump can be a nightmare. I’m writing my second book now, which is a follow-up (though not a direct sequel) and here I have a different, but related problem; I need to convey enough background that it isn’t necessary for a reader to have read Ascension Point first, but not so much that I’m repeating myself. Tricky!

        I’d be delighted to read anything you’d like to send me, and likewise I’m always happy to have another beta reader to give me a critique 🙂

      2. Trey Montague

        This is an excellent point. Because I hadn’t really been into reading sf before I decided I wanted to write it (and then did my reading before crashing into writing the novel!) I write my sf in a really accessible way (so my readers tell me) although I didn’t realise that was what I was doing until I got feedback.

        Good to see someone doing a proper review of new sf from a non-famous author. Well done.

      3. melanie_unabridged Post author

        Thank you! I thought it would be nice to get his name out there, though my blog is not at all well known, because his story is good and it deserves credit.

        I’ve read every genre that I could possibly write in, so I am lucky that I have a background. With writing in speculative fiction (sf/f), you have to have a strong sense of plot, while I am the opposite–I’m a character person. So that’s one thing that I’m always working on–strengthening my plot! That’s why it’s so important to find a good group of people to help develop your writing–everyone is different! I’m writing a post on that very topic that should be up tomorrow, you should check it out, especially as a new writer!

      4. Trey Montague

        I will check it out, thanks. I’ve been writing fiction for around twelve years but only got serious three years ago when I wrote my sf novel (I’d written lit fic before that and a historical novel). I find the whole process of networking so much more difficult than actually writing but know I have to work on that in order to get my work noticed. I’m lucky to have an excellent writing partner who has encouraged me to set up a blog and link it to my novel serialisation.

      5. melanie_unabridged Post author

        I am a lit fic person too! I don’t know how to word it sometimes, haha like… “I’m classically trained” basically. It makes me invaluable to my writer friends as it makes me more of a “character” person vs a “plot” person. Also, I help escalate their sf/f above the cliche that some sf/f writers think they can get away with.
        I am really trying with the social networking thing because it helps with traditional publishing and I’d like to have a reader base in case I decide to go the independent route. But it is definitely hard. It’s very slow going! It’s like oh yeah, 21 views today! Score, people are actually reading my blog.

  2. Dan Harris

    Reblogged this on dan-harris.net and commented:
    ASCENSION POINT–or rather, its first two chapters–has received its first review! Our good friend Ms. Sokol found herself intrigued. All should follow her blog, as she is clearly a lady of exquisite taste.

  3. anju

    I read this book on a very cold trip to Prague and was happy to escape the cold by immersing myself into this new world, which is described in great detail and with feeling. I very much liked the way the relationships developed and unfolded, and shared the pain and joy of the characters. The use of language is subtle, economic and not overplayed. Harris got under the skin of all the main characters who came to life for me. Let’s hope there is more to come.

    1. melanie_unabridged Post author

      Dan is actually a pretty cool guy. We’ve chatted briefly about a follow-up novel that’s not a direct sequel, I’m pretty excited to hear about it. It’s great to find a new, independently published novel with such great quality. I have to finish Ascension Point as I try to do NaNoWriMo!


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