Template: Piques the readers curiosity and sense of wonder

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Matthew Hughes TemplateTemplate by Matthew Hughes

Template opens with an exciting scene as the protagonist, Conn, a skilled swordsman, successfully defends himself from three opponents. You’d think this would turn into another action/adventure SF novel but Template instead drifts into mystery and philosophy as our protagonist suddenly finds himself with various choices when he previously had none.

Conn is likable enough at the start although later on we discover that his paradigms are alien. This becomes a recurring theme as Matthew Hughes presents planets and races with varying ethics, which enables him to insert philosophical discourse in a way that flows naturally with the story.

The language is easy to get into and quite functional. The text isn’t too long but what Hughes lacks in density, he makes up for with his pacing and depth.

Where Template really shines is the way it draws you in through the mystery and the drama. It piques the reader’s curiosity and sense of wonder rather than using the immediacy of “what happens next” to keep the reader going. For a protagonist whose main asset is his combat skills, there’s little action to be found here (although the few action scenes are remarkable) and the narrative is instead propelled by the characterization and plot.

Template reminds me of Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION and ROBOT series. The story is tight, it appeals to my intellectual curiosity rather than adrenaline, and much is conveyed through dialogue and introspection. With this novel, I can easily imagine Hughes to be the modern successor of Asimov.

Template is an enjoyable read that goes beyond the premise of an adventure or mystery. It features a refined writing style that’s both easy and engaging to the reader.

FanLit thanks Charles Tan from Bibliophile Stalker for contributing this guest review.


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CHARLES TAN, one of our guest reviewers, is the owner of the blogs Bibliophile Stalker and Comic Quest. He also edits Philippine Speculative Fiction. You can read his fiction in that publication and in The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. Charles has conducted interviews for The Nebula Awards and The Shirley Jackson Awards, as well as for online magazines such as SF Crowsnest and SFScope. He is a regular contributor to sites like SFF Audio and Comics Village.

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