Genre: Sci Fi
About The Book
Katarina Daskalos is a survivor. She lived through being shunned from her family, escaped a life of homelessness, survived an IED in Afghanistan, overcame addiction, and the death of her beloved wife and child. Kat was succeeding at creating a new life teaching troubled, adolescent kids when she suddenly finds herself holding the fate of the human race in her hands after the Earth tries to rid itself of the human sickness plaguing it.
Following a cataclysmic disaster which causes mass casualties all over the planet, Kat and her group of misfit teenagers must fight their way out of the wreckage and past subhuman creatures who were not fully killed. With the help of an unknown ally, Kat is startled to discover she now has powers she never thought possible and can use them to set things right as humanity begins again.
Dubbed “The Karmanator” by her students, Kat is able to unleash a person’s karma with the touch of a button. Using her new ability, Kat makes plans to gather survivors and find a safe place to start anew.
Things do not always go as planned.
I was immediately keen to read and review Earth’s Karma because the summary ticked almost all of my spec fic interests. Hardass lesbian war vet with a tragic backstory? Check. World-wide disaster? Check. Fight for survival? Check. I am very glad I picked this one up, as I devoured it in a matter of days.
The main character, Katarina “The Karmanator” Daskalos, is the driving force of the book. She is tough, competent, and she has a huge heart and an incredible warmth despite the pain she has endured in the past. She is impossibly kind, and during this impossible situation, it is clear that kindness – and the ‘karma’ she is able to unleash – will be the world’s saving grace. The earth’s karma, indeed! She is a modern Xena, both in physicality and in integrity. She is a true leader and commands respect on the page, both from those she seeks to protect, and from the reader. I definitely appreciated that the main thrust of the novel is not about Kat being a lesbian, but rather, her strength of character and abilities as she battles for the survival of her teenage students and friends; the fact that she’s a lesbian is just a matter of fact.
The action sequences were, by far, the stand-out scenes in the book. They reminded me of action sequences from The Last Of Us and other apocalypse-survival video games. Danger is around every corner, not just of the apocalypse extinction-level variety, but from their fellow humans. Biedermann weaves in a sense of urgency and vivid detail with each sequence, keeping me on the edge of my seat, accentuated by some fascinating sci-fi plot revelations around the midway mark.
From a technical standpoint, there are some flaws. This is Peggy Biedermann’s first book. The inexperience in writing a full-length novel is noticeable, but it is nonetheless an impressive effort, particularly for a self-published one. The writing style is pretty easy, though I felt that the book could have used a thorough edit to trim out some unnecessary scenes and details that didn’t seem relevant.
This is a large book, clocking in at around 87,000 words, when it could easily have been trimmed down to a tight 60,000. The first couple of chapters featured heavy exposition dumps for Kat’s tragic backstory, which were interesting to read, but ultimately could have been better served being woven through the narrative steadily.
There was also a lot of telling rather than showing, and there were a few too many characters to keep my mind on. I wasn’t a huge fan of most of the teenage characters, but I felt the interactions between each of the characters, who each were dealing with their own personal issues in a radically different world, were done quite well despite some occasionally stilted dialogue.
While imperfect from a technical point of view, I had a great deal of fun reading this book, and my love for Katarina “The Karmanator” Daskalos kept me interested the whole way through. I look forward to seeing more in this series from Biedermann.
I recommend Earth’s Karma for readers looking for action/sci-fi that is plot-driven first and foremost, which just so happens to feature a lesbian main character.
H. L. is a Australian writer of LGBT+ fiction. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations (2015) and a Bachelor of Media in Communications and Journalism (2012), both from the University of New South Wales.
She is a lesbian of Jewish and of Middle Eastern (Egyptian) heritage and is an #OwnVoices writer. She has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. She is the author of M/M fantasy romance novels Heart Of Dust and Soul Of Ash, Books 1 & 2 of the Death’s Embrace series.
She has had two speculative short stories published: “The Collector” in the 2014 Future Times Award Collection A Tick Tock Heart, and “Entente” in the 2020 Twisted Stories Award Collection Just Alice.