Cover Image: Battle Beyond the Dolestars

Battle Beyond the Dolestars

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The battle is on!
The human revolution is strong, but the path to victory is not an easy one.
This book is a great read. It's got humor, war tactics, romance, betrayal, and mostly absurd situations you can't help enjoying.
I'm so happy this second part was written. It made me laugh so much I think I'll have to read it again.
Also, I have a new respect for cats on the internet.

Thanks NetGalley and the author for my ARC.
Was this review helpful?
As much I loved humor in this book I still had a little trouble with getting through it because of the writing style and because of it I had a problem with connecting with story and characters. And that's real shame because I found many ideas in this book very clever (like internet being tourist place) and it made me smile a lot.
Was this review helpful?
I liked the previous one, as my review would show. This is the kind of second in a series that cannot be appreciated if you have not read the first. It is imperative that you read and understand the ongoing chaos on Earth and beyond as depicted in the first to relish the (mis) adventures in this instalment.

When we last left the humans, they had successfully launched an uprising, but they now had to keep it afloat. As most things about this book are, the word afloat is both literal and figurative. Each paragraph is usually littered with such references that a person with even a basic understanding of mechanics, electrical bits and pieces or even the gadgets most use daily would have great fun 'decoding'. The story is filled with a lot of action and planning, both by machines and humans (even mild help from a technically abstract cat(s)). There are spies, double-crossers and a whole lot of heroes. I am not going into more details of the situation itself because that would mean a complete revelation of the first book, and if you have not read it, you should!

It is wacky to an extreme but at the same time has an intelligence within it making it a delightful read. It took me a couple of sittings, unlike a few other genres, but on the whole, I appreciated it and had fun trying to make sure I spot all the hidden double-meaning references. We have spunky breadmakers (with a secret sourdough starter from her mother), a gun or two (and all the darker implications that go with it), cyborgs, memes as tourist destinations, a couple set on helping each other survive a war and a man who finds his inner diva to name just a few of the most random assortment of characters who make a compelling and coherent narrative. 
Some lines I remembered to highlight while reading that might throw more light on the tone of the book:

"Without the right machine learning, they struggled to distinguish their needs from those of others"- apart from being insightful it actually means machines - learning

"..Spiteful, wasteful and determined to use its ingenuity to the wrong ends."- Which I think speaks louder than could be expected from just these few words.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience, and my primary degree in Engineering probably helped too.
Was this review helpful?
The idea? Phenomenal
The humor? Amazing
My problem was the writing style. I had to reread all the sentences twice to understand them, so I wasn't able to connect with a single character. I'm so sorry, because I thought this was going to be a five stars.
Was this review helpful?
You’ll be pleased to hear that book two of the Battlestar Suburbia continues in exactly the same vein as book one, with kick-ass women, sympathetic characters, and puns up the wazoo. I honestly think that Chris McCrudden is some kind of pun-generating machine. They were everywhere, stuffed into crannies ready to leap out at you with no warning. My favourite was one where, after dressing for the part of “renegade spaceship captain” in knee high boots, tight trousers, and a dark waistcoat (sound familiar?), Darren ends up stranded in space and pondering his future alone. He’s never been entirely comfortable with his current costume, and was only wearing it because it seemed appropriate for the role, but on reflection of his current circumstances he isn’t, he decides, made for the “solo life”.

I have been thinking about that pun ever since I read it. I nearly messaged the publisher to express my delight. It was built up subtly over chapters, and then just dropped in the rhythm of narrative with no force whatsoever. I find myself wondering how many other puns which were threaded through like this I actually managed to miss. Probably more than I should admit to.

This instalment takes place over a similarly truncated time frame as the first book, but despite being split over more narratives it feels less frenetic because it’s essentially a siege plot, with the machines unleashing their (hurriedly-assembled) Ultimate Weapon against the Battlestar Suburbia. Darren ends up trapped with his nuclear-missile-turned-spaceship somewhere on Jupiter, Pam wrangles her multiple versions, Freda attempts to escape from virtual prison, and newly-introduced printer Fuji finds herself attempting to fly a spaceship which has the mental age of a toddler and only wants to watch cartoons. McCrudden somehow finds time within this to explore more fully some of the ideas he introduced frantically in the first book. Darren’s habit of wearing costumes is brought back, as he tries to find out who he really is and work out how it meshes with who he thinks he’s supposed to be which has quite a lovely resolution.

Equally, the technique Pam learns in book 1 where she splits herself between multiple machines becomes a thread here, but each split Pam begins to develop their own variant personality around the core Pam, and seeing these different shades of Pam try to work out how they rub along together and co-exist. It’s a great way of exploring the facets of Pam’s personality and all her neuroses and issues.

There’s always some slices of truth in humour, and this book opens a year after the end of Battlestar Suburbia, and life has continued. Machine culture has embraced filth as a response to the human cries for freedom, and the Machine government is busy riling the citizens up into febrile hatred to gain support for this war against humans. Pam tries to find human sympathists but is instead fighting an uphill battle against bombastic soundbites and populist sentiment. Fuji shows the other side of this, drafted into the front lines of the operation underneath battle-crazed Generals. It’s a clear parallel to much of the history of combat – leaders rushing troops out underprepared and with shoddy equipment, trying to push them over lines with the power of momentum rather than actual preparation and training.

Yeah, it’s a little near the knuckle, but McCrudden doesn’t linger too much on it, and instead uses it as catalyst for what comes next. He explores the nature of personhood, of right and wrong, and of leadership. What makes a strong leader, what makes a good leader? Where does your moral code stop and your duty to your nation begin? It’s also an interesting dynamic where for humans death is final, for machines it last as long as it takes to load your last backup into a new body. Machines wouldn’t even remember the trauma of their death. The risks are unequal between the sides, but so is the sanity, which is weighted in the other direction.

I’m not sure if this is the final book in a duology, or the second book in a series. I think there’s more to be explored in this world, but the ending to this book felt more final. It was a nice ending, and worked really well. I hope there is more, but if not I will be interested to see what else McCrudden has to offer.


Continues in the same vein as Battlestar Suburbia but explores more nuances as the plot gives room for more personal introspection. McCrudden is kind to his protagonists, and treats them gently even as they are embedded in the humour.
The puns in this are incredible, some more clearly broadcast than others, some slipped in with incredible nuance to surprise you. Every word and set up is carefully chosen, I get the impression that nothing here is an accident.
There’s something refreshing about the mix of this cast – two mothers, four old ladies, and a man exploring his identity openly and vulnerably. McCrudden doesn’t really give us any traditional action heroes, or even antiheroes. He gives us normal people, voices of sanity, but with flaws and confusions of their own.
Rating: 5/5 – something feels very kind in this series, at its heart, even where it deals with violence and oppression. McCrudden knows people, I think, and it comes across.
Was this review helpful?
Battle Beyond the Dolestars is a new humorous SF romp and the second book in the Battlestar Suburbia series by Chris McCrudden. Released 19th Sept 2019 by Farrago, it's 352 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats.

This is a sequel, following a cast of returning characters (human, machine, and both/neither) who are fighting to save humanity from an oppressive machine empire run by Sonny Erikzon (*groan*). There is enough backstory included to not feel terribly lost, but the reading will be enhanced by having read the prequel.

The setup and humor remind me very much of other humorous SF(ish) classics: Fforde, Fowler, Grant/Naylor, Moore, Stross, It's not derivative, not exactly, the author has a slightly different humorous slant and oh, good heavens, the puns flow like a mighty river. Whilst reading, I definitely felt like the aforementioned authors were being channeled though...

There are genuinely funny moments and the pacing is frenetic and relentless. The bad guys are boo-worthy, the good guys (mostly identifying as female) are plucky and funny and brave and the end result is enjoyably readable.

Three and a half stars, rounded up for the writing. People who loathe puns (or humorous SF) will likely not enjoy this one. Fans of Laundry Files, Red Dwarf, HHGttG, and the others will find a lot to like until the next Shadow Police novel hits the stands (if it ever does... yes, I'm lookin' at you, Paul Cornell).
Was this review helpful?
This is a great follow up to Battlestar Suburbia, keep replicating the Pams!
The Pam-nanos strike back?
Was this review helpful?
Battle Beyond the Dolestars by Chris McCrudden is the second of the Battlestar Suburbia books is both as absurd and funny as the first one. Picking up a year after the first we see our three sets heroes resuming their fight against the Machine Republic. 
As with the Battlestar Suburbia, this second book has hints of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, however a little less of the latter’s surrealism, as well as enough film and pop culture references to keep any sci-fi fan happy.
I am hoping this is not the last of Chris McCrudden’s series and hopefully, it picks up again with our characters or even introduces further stories in his comic world.
Was this review helpful?
This was a hilarious Sci-Fi . Very difficult to picture as the characters were mainly machines but it certainly caught the imagination. I have never read anything quite like this before, Leave all your preconceived ideas behind as you enter the Battle Beyond the Dolestars
Was this review helpful?
I am a sci-fi fan and at first I enjoyed it. However, as I continued I became bored so did not finish.
Was this review helpful?
Another instalment of silly sci-fi fun in what has become one of my favourite series of late.  Wonderful escapist nonsense that will hopefully carry on for another couple of books at least.
Was this review helpful?
3 out of 5 stars.

Interesting concept, OK execution. As a reader I was sometimes lost in the prose and didn't understand the characters' relationships to one another, but the plot itself was interesting enough to keep me reading.
Was this review helpful?
Battle Beyond the Dolestars by Chris McCrudden was a struggle to read. I understand that it is meant to be satirical set in a sci-fi world. However, there were so many points of the machines not having progressed beyond having sentient thought over the course of a millennia that I had trouble suspending belief. That in of itself may have been a statement, but it wasn’t a very interesting one.

I had trouble with the end of life concept. I had trouble with the amount of time having passed between the present and the setting of the book. I felt like the author ways saying that nothing else will happen until something does happen, and when something does happen it doesn’t seem as if the human characters are driving any of the action.

The characters excluding Pam and the three aging cyborgs were rather sad. I’m not sure the author really liked any of his human characters.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Another fun adventure through space as seen through the "eyes" of your favorite breadmaker.  It's wacky and more than a little weird, but once again, as soon as I got into the mindset of a world where sentient machines, with the accompanying personalities have taken over and are quelling the human resistance, such that it is, I had a great time reading this.  I look forward to the next installment of this series.
Was this review helpful?
There is always a risk with a sequel to a book that you have loved as much as I loved Battlestar Suburbia that it isn’t going to live up to expectations. The ‘difficult second book’ syndrome. I am delighted to report that any such fears are unfounded with this book, it was every bit as mad, funny and clever as the first one and I enjoyed every minute of revisiting the Battlestar Suburbia-iverse (NB. must think of a snappier reference.)

The first book was a such a hit with me because it blended together my love of the works of Douglas Adams, a nostalgic nod to Red Dwarf and really, really bad puns. I absolutely love a really, really bad pun. This book has all of that, plus a great interweaving of subtle, and less subtle, references to the total shambles that is our current political situation. I’m not quite sure how Chris does it, but all these things which should probably end up being a huge soupy mess actually blend together really well and flow like a well-oiled machine to make a book that it sharp, funny, clever and thought-provoking, all at the same time. Did I mention the truly terrible puns?

I really, really love the characters in these books and it was fascinating to see how they have all developed in the year since the last story ended. Janice, the reluctant leader of the resistance is finding that the demands of leadership weigh heavily on the shoulders of a hairdresser who hasn’t really had dealings with people for decades, except three ancient cyborgs formed from the bodies of cantankerous, elderly customers. She’s much rather be left alone in her salon, instead of being forced to try and out spies using ingenious hairdressing techniques.

Darren also hasn’t quite worked out how to fit comfortably into his new role as space hero, particularly the costuming part, but he’s doing his best. Pamasonic Teffal continued to be my favourite character, although she actually ends up being more than one, due to her schizophrenic approach to the resistance movement. Her escapades in the world of the social hostess particularly made me laugh. There were also some great new characters to get to grips with and the whole thing was just a joyous smorgasbord of silliness and science. Honestly, there hasn’t been anything quite like this available for a ,long time, it is such a clever blend of madness and brilliance, I really can’t sing the praises of the series enough.

I’m really hoping that this is not the last we see of the Battlestar Suburbia-iverse (damn, failed to improve on it), because I have really grown very fond of its quirkiness. Maybe Chris will do an Adams and give us a trilogy in five parts as an homage to a writer who has to have been an influence. But, even if this is the end, I really look forward to seeing what he produces next because he has a very unique way of looking at things that I am keen to see more of.
Was this review helpful?
Fans of Douglas Adams and Grant Naylor won't be disappointed by McCrudden's latest offering.  Very fast paced romp through the cosmos which results in a lot of laughs along the way.  

Really enjoyed this one and I liked how McCrudden managed to tie all the plots together so neatly, and the characters were likeable as well as memorable.  Granted, there were a few background characters I would have liked to have seen more of, but we're still early on in the series.

Looking forward to the next one.  

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the arc.
Was this review helpful?
Once again sturdy bread maker Pam Teffal and her femme fatale sidekick Pam Van Damme have to try and prevent a machine meltdown but this time also stop Sonny from destroying the Machine Republic. Oh and see if they can separate Sonny from his unwilling “fleshie” hostage. I do wish that there had been a bit more of Kelly but smart mouthed Rita, who is now part of a couple with Kelly’s mom Janice, was a nice addition as well as Danny who has plans for an exfoliating empire of face products and treatments. 

Even though I thought I remembered much of what happened in the first book, having this one start off with minimal background made it a rocky start getting back up to speed. The character development is inventive and good though it’s sometimes hard to imagine the machines being able to move as described. There are several plot threads that are woven together and must be kept track of as well as some subtle references to the state of world affairs in our present day. I followed the twists and turns fairly well until near the end of the story when I got a tad lost in the complicated plot but I enjoyed seeing everything tied together and finished off. Plus the cats – loved the LOLcats. B-
Was this review helpful?
I really love this series. It was interesting and funny. It was definitely one of a kind sci fi book.
Was this review helpful?
Take a large portion of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, add some additional pure absurdity and bad puns, and whirl madly in the blender of the author’s brain and you have Battle Beyond the Dolestars. A laugh-out-loud novel of when machines take over the world and humanity’s greatest hope is a hairdresser, a pilot impersonating Hans Solo, and a sentient toaster named Pam. What could, and does, go wrong makes for a hilarious journey around the cosmos.

Once again, the Battlestar Suburbia is trying to gain Earth back from the machines. If you read and enjoyed the first book in the series, this is more of the same joke-y play on science fiction tropes. And RuPaul, which might have something to do with the author’s history of being a burlesque dancer—or not. Still, I love assistant chief Rita telling the Rockettes, who are female and literally going to be pretending to be an asteroid belt, “Gentlemen, start your engines.” Highly recommended! 4 stars!

Thanks to Farrago Books and NetGalley for granting my wish for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book is so bonkers - in a good way, I hasten to add - so although there is a bit of a catch-up of the shenanigans that happened in Battlestar Suburbia - the series opener - you would do well to read that first!
So, we reconnect with the gang a year after the Suburbia broke free of Earth. The human race, displaced by machines, is in hiding in an asteroid belt. Plotting revenge and how to get Kelly back from the clutches of the evil Sonny Erikzon. Meanwhile, Darren is captaining his own ship, Polaris, and has a mission of his own to open up a way back to Earth via the Martian Gap.
Back on Earth and it is all in the "hands" of Pam. Or Pamasonic Teffal to give her full name! A very brave breadmaker with a special talent and alter ego!
And so begins a delightfully bonkers romp in space which really defies explanation. Kinda you had to be there...
As with the first in series, this book tickled my sense of humour. For the third time I will use the word bonkers as it just fits. It's also quite clever in the wonderful word play throughout. And the technology - some that I really wish would actually happen - is fascinating.
Characters are all, well, indescribable really, but they all work! Throw in a bit of pop culture to take me down memory lane and I had an absolute blast reading this book. The bit with the cats especially - oh my - near fell off my chair laughing at that bit!
All in all a cracking book that just defies everything but was brilliant in the way it doesn't take itself seriously. I really can't wait til episode three. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
Was this review helpful?