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    Book Synopsis

    A successful raid takes place on a haborside foundry in Osaka, Japan. Kazuo is the security chief at the foundry compound. As Kazuo prepares to meet the threat, he recalls a casual affair with Yukiko, a young woman who has gotten under his skin. Yukiko is in reality Nyssa, a former high-class call girl who plied her trade in Tokyo. Nyssa has since joined Dog’s Breakfast co-op, an elite group of spacer operatives. Nyssa trains to achieve a blackbelt. Meanwhile Nyssa seeks to heal her psyche and find a wholesome relationship. She discovers strange new spacer customs in the dome city of Tsawwassen. During the raid, Nyssa must betray Kazuo. It is a difficult choice for she has unwittingly fallen in love with him.

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    Rundog: Toll for Tomorrow, An Alternate History by J.O. Quantaman needs clarity of purpose. The main plot revolves around an ice maiden, rescued from the sex trade, who joins an espionage cooperative that cleans up syndicated crime in a futuristic world set of the 2070s. Quantaman strives to describe an alternate reality in the 2070s, proclaim the benefits of psignology, attempt an erotic novel, and write an espionage novel. Rundog suffers from multi-tasking.

    If J.R.R. Tolkien had integrated as much detail of the Silmarillion universe into the Lord of the Rings as did Quantaman, Tolkien's trilogy would have dragged. Consider the futuristic world of the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Collin's world of the individual starts where the reader only knows what the main character knows. As the character travels, the individual learns new things, a little bit a time. Tidbits of information tantalize the reader with never a broad picture of any sector. A writer's vision of his universe should influence the characters' words and actions but not overpower a reader. Quantaman burdened his fiction work with details of the alternate reality and occasional slots for his characters' adventures.

    Quantaman's alternate reality developed from extensive research and reflection. When an author visualizes solutions to society's problems, any futuristic ideas have merit. Packing too much information into plots can destroy the reader's involvement and entertainment. In Rundog, one-time characters or spy coworkers describe different sectors with all-embracing specifics. Being force-fed lecture formats by contrived characters was excruciatingly painful. Convert the readers into the world slowly through characters, then write a comprehensive appendix on the alternate reality.

    My six most detested words were Yawh, bulbs, blinks and mimes bobblehead, and foreign words. If Nyssa the main character was a well-trained high-classed sex slave for high-ranking officials, she wouldn't say "Yawh", even outside of that element. "Bulbs" as a word for breasts just doesn't work, why not turnips or beets, definitely not sexy, just very earthy. I do not need to know when a person "blinks". Instead of using "blinks", use other synonyms such as astonished, startled, taken aback, or shocked. "Mimes bobblehead" sounded unique at first but frequent usage made it annoying. The inundation and overuse of foreign words during the first part of the book, thankfully tapered off to a reasonable usage.

    The main female character doesn't ring true. Nyssa is portrayed as an ice maiden to others while striving to find Mr. Right. Her ice maiden image was credible while looking for Mr. Right was not. After being in the sex trade suffering isolation and abuse, I don't think she is looking for Mr. Right even though Quantaman writes scenes to support this. Her overall actions, attitude and conduct do not convey this search.

    The spy cooperative gives Nyssa a job in data entry. Instead of learning Nyssa thoughts, the reader is treated to superficialities of the routine job and workplace conversations. A rare woman would say, "they deserve better from her, but she needs stronger hands." But a man would say that about a woman. At one point Nyssa equates lesbian sex as "mellow, mild and dreamy" but "guys are the real prize; they're more challenging and more intriguing". A woman wouldn't say that, especially a woman who enjoys bisexuality; but a man would say that, fantasize that. Nyssa's poise and actions contradicts the writer. The author gives her thoughts that are not in character.

    Nyssa's transition into loyalty for the group and desire to succeed at martial arts happen too fast. The story opens with Nyssa being brought into an isolated medical wing, recovering from something. Shortly after she feels trapped and tries to escape, she's working as a data entry clerk and eating in the cafeteria. Then she is allowed into a gymnasium where she sees some super-fit people working out. She has basically seen nothing and knows nothing of the spy operation except for sparse niceties. Suddenly she aims to be like the superspys or rundogs:

    "knowing it's the right choice, … She idolizes the confidence and poise of the rundogs … She hopes she can find the same bravura and raise her status…

    This commitment strikes discord against the character's traumatic state and any human's ability to quickly move into an existence of working to the higher good. Towards the end of the book, her coworkers request and test her loyalty, which challenges the writer's earlier statement of Nyssa's loyalty.

    Dialogue between the women is not realistic. One minor female character Meg describes her marriage and death of her husband to Nyssa. To move past the pain of her loss, Meg recounts how she focused on the negative aspects of her husband. The whole description and process to ease pain sounds artificial and out-of-step with the grieving process. Nyssa's response to this woman spilling her gut is pathetic. "I can't imagine what you went thru." Then Meg launches into a "brief history" on how marriages are a sacred cow with cultural constructs that began with the caveman. Readers don't need to know this past which is common knowledge. The focus should be to illustrate the futuristic shift of male-female relationships. Collins in the Hunger Games highlights relationship commitments only when her main character is personally at that stage in her life. Quantaman throws in a marriage lecture when a minor character reveals a failed marriage in her past.

    Woman-to-woman support demonstrated in Rundog is jarring. A woman named Kim is injured in a physical confrontation with a mentally-ill associate. Jan who knows Kim urges Nyssa who doesn't know Kim to console her. In a real-world situation Jan would be consoling her friend Kim. Perhaps this is an effort to show Nyssa learning empathy, but this scene displays lack of understanding of the female psyche.

    Quantaman often gives generalizations then lets the characters verify later. Does the author not trust Nyssa to reveal her own traits and ambitions? The desire to succeed at martial arts and the drive to find Mr. Right appear forced, coming from outside of the character. Looking for Mr. Right seems to be a contrived method to lead readers through the alternate reality. Her adoration of a male super spy called Cook is never fully explained. Perhaps the book should have started with Cook's actual rescue of Nyssa in the undercover operation. Nyssa remains elusive and one-dimensional.

    At the start of every chapter, Quantaman focuses on psignology. From what I could understand psigns break everything about a person into categories: hearing, seeing, breathing, moving, gravity, coordinating, warmth, balance, touch, taste, urgency, and smell. These categories are clumped into fire, water, air, and earth sectors. Then a person is to use all of this to live life. But I just could not "exercise my noodle" enough to make this analytical connection.

    Peeling away the layers the most interesting plot is where someone has infiltrated a highly-secure warehouse compound. The author incorporates two points of view from the person responsible for that night's security to the person(s) infiltrating the warehouse. His male characters Kazuo and Shepp ring true. Their dialogue and actions match their character portrayals. Rundog by J.O. Quantaman is a preliminary draft. With so many extraneous particulars out of the way, Quantaman's next novel can focus on believable characters telling their own story.

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