Even by themselves, the terms “amateur,” “adult,” and “furry” can all give one pause when it comes to fiction; when all three apply to the same work, there can be even more reason for hesitation. Still, when it’s only a mere ten bucks to see whether someone’s debut novella is any good, it can be worth it to gamble from time to time, and in this case, for the most part, that gamble has paid off.
Basecraft Cirrostratus tells the story of Elor Kaya, an esteemed professor who is wanted for sedition and indoctrination against a totalitarian regime. Fleeing the country with the secret police hot on his tail, he escapes into self-imposed exile aboard the titular Basecraft Cirrostratus, a massive flying machine that operates in international airspace. Once there, he seeks out the only connection he has left: Vinz, his ex-lover from a decade prior.
Problem is, Vinz doesn’t want anything to do with Elor anymore, having moved on both personally as well as romantically. Instead, Elor is forced to turn to the organized crime syndicate that acts as the true power within the decks of the Basecraft Cirrostratus, which, as it turns out, is home to many a political refugee aside from Elor.
The plot itself is actually quite solid and very breezy. The pacing is good, with events never dragging and the story never going off the rails. Lamar clearly has a good handle on the setting, and the political backdrop and behind-the-scenes machinations play very well into the events of the book as they unfold. Things get a little heavy-handed at some points, but only very occasionally, and it’s never bad enough to induce eye-rolling. The ending lacks some emotional punch simply because the emotional framework didn’t have time to develop thoroughly enough during the course of the plot, but the plot itself does have an arc (as do the characters, to be fair). On two notable instances, dumb luck sees things through where it would have been preferable to have direct action on the characters’ part, but for the most part, the plot itself stays together fairly well.
When it comes to amateur writers, one of the biggest pitfalls one usually comes across is the author belaboring points too much, or taking too long to say what needs to be said. Here, though, I had the opposite problem: much of the time, I wanted the author to slow down and take some more time to build on things, especially as they related to the characters and their relationships. For example, there’s a love triangle that serves as an emotional focus for much of the story; I definitely bought into one of the relationships, but not the other—we’re told that they’re in love, but it never really comes across on the page. A bit of a textbook example for the caution of “show, don’t tell,” which might have been avoided if more time were taken to develop things.
This is also an adult story, with the erotic aspects being entirely male/male. Sex, though, happens on page as something that’s important between the characters, and (with one marked exception near the very end) it’s never gratuitous, and it serves itself as part of the story and not a goal of it. Most of the sex scenes are actually pretty tasteful, and, like much of the rest of the book, never slow things down at the expense of the plot.
The best thing I can say about the book is that it’s very cinematic. With the right special effects (and maybe a little less on-screen sex), this would actually make a fairly decent action thriller flick, the kind you watch with a big tub of popcorn without needing the story to shatter and rewrite your world.
In the end, Basecraft Cirrostratus bears some hallmarks of amateur writing, but when taken as a whole, it does more things right than it does wrong. It’s good—not great, but certainly not bad, and Lamar certainly shows promise for future offerings. If it were maybe half again as long, with some more time spent making some of the character relationships a little more believable, and if the point of view were a bit tighter (it gets kind of loose in some points), Basecraft Cirrostratus could have been better. Still, as-is, if you’re the kind of person looking for a dieselpunk action thriller and don’t mind some gay sex and relationship drama thrown in along the way, you could do worse than check this book out.