David Redl
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Welcome to the weird mind of David Redl, capable computer scientist, sometimes ScrumMaster, and aspiring author.

I am passionate about stories and started this blog to share my experiences with the written word as a reader and, hopefully someday, an author.

My family and I are blessed to live and work on Treaty 7 land in Alberta, Canada.

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High-Seas Adventure in a Whole New Space

A review of Devil to Pay by R.M. Olson

R.M. Olson book review sci-fi 2023 Canadian creators

2023-09-24 - David Redl

Only a few short months ago I reviewed a book by science-fiction author R.M. Olson, the first book of the Singularity series, Redshift. With that series concluded (and a fun prequel novella released), the author has started on a new series with this month’s release of Devil to Pay, book one of The Devil and the Dark. Upon reading Redshift, I was enamored with Olson’s mastery of, and ability to subvert, the space opera genre. Devil to Pay, however, veers off in a brand-new direction, in the uncharted territory of naval officers, pirates, and ghosts… in space! The stakes are high and the enemy is everywhere.

It may seem like it would be difficult to balance the themes high-seas adventures with science-fiction as they have fundamentally different settings, but the author pulled it off. Even the ghosts in this universe hint at the intricacies of the worldbuilding as they fuse pulp-style horror with well thought out science-fiction realism.

Devil to Pay shines from start to finish with pulse-pounding action sequences, expertly delivered plot twists, intriguing worldbuilding, and finely tuned humour. As with Olson’s other works, however, its true highlight is its cast. Silas Hunt is a student of the naval academy on his way to becoming a commissioned officer when his sense of duty to justice and integrity leads him away from that path. Captain Mad Dog is a complicated and compelling mystery of a pirate captain. Her opposite on the field of battle, Captain Hollis Ives is a newly minted naval officer with a chip on her shoulder and everything to prove. The supporting cast is equally enjoyable and carries on Olson’s legacy of normalizing and celebrating diversity with transgender and nonbinary characters, a mechanic using a hover chair, and a non-verbal weapons specialist.

With the masterful pacing and compelling characters, Devil to Pay is difficult to put down. Even after finishing, I want more: more of the story, more of the characters, more of the universe. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more books in this series and I recommend that readers start on this one right away if they are fans of space operas, high-seas adventures, or action fiction.

Side Note: I’d like to draw my readers’ attention to the fact that R.M. Olson’s books are more accessible than ever with audio versions available on YouTube. The latest story is none other than Redshift read by the author! Check it out at the link below.


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