Travel Documents 32: The Korpes File

The Korpes File (The Korpes File Series Book 1)

 J. I. Rogers
Genre: Dystopian, spec-fic, literary

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The Dust Cover Copy

“As if being born Diasporan wasn’t enough, Technician Nash Korpes had the bad luck to resemble his Tyran ancestors almost identically in both form, and manner. These traits, though highly prized by the special projects division at the shadowy Korlune Military Research and Development, mark him as a specter from their warlike past. With only his intellect holding his sanity in place, he wages a private war against the entire socioeconomic status quo and begins to uncover the truth that threatens them all.”

— The Korpes File contains coarse language, adult situations, and controversial themes such as, but not limited to racism, xenophobia, arranged marriage, genocide, and genetic experimentation. Set against a dystopian sci-fi backdrop, and told from multiple point-of-views, the story centers around the main character’s experiences as a genetic anomaly. —

The Deets

The Scene

Worldbuilding

Rogers has built a fascinating world that takes us through decades of social unrest, eugenic ideation, and a painful social discussion on race, human rights and post-marital recovery. The setup is fascinating: a culture in which Terran (think European) bloodlines are remembered by all other groups as naturally aggressive and bloody-minded, Nash is a throwback: too pale, too tall, and too unpredictable. He’s required to take (unpleasant) medication for aggression and constantly monitor his actions. This could strike readers as reverse oppression narrative, but it is well handled and approached from a very personal, plausible angle. In this universe, rank and public standing decide much. Disporian communities who arrived late in the settlement process are allotted a lower social standing, and when things in this post-earth settlement come down to the wire they’re the first to be sacrificed for the ‘greater good’. It’s not a nice situation. But it is a powerful discussion on the worth we ascribe to our fellow humans. In the current world of migrants at borders and fear of immigration, it’s a salient world to explore.

The Crowd

Characterization

Thoroughly embedded in the world, the characters are well rounded and engaging, with nice touches of personality. I appreciated the depth with which Nash’s psyche is explored, though constantly self-referential commentary on his state did get a bit old by the middle of this fairly long ten-part tome. As a general comment, I’d say characterization was one of the things that kept me going through the story.

The Lingo

Writing Style

Creative and fluent, the style flows well. It could have used one more pass with the copy editor, but hey, whose work couldn’t?

The Moves

Plot

Sadly, the matrix of the plot starts to collapse under its own weight about half way through the novel. There is just. So. Much. Of this story. In the Heinlein mode, this story attempts to cover many decades of life, but it starts to feel like Highlander in style: one thing after another happens, one disaster after another is presented, and they feel like beads of distress on a chain rather than events coherently linked. Rather than being drawn along by the narrative, I found myself reading something else in between each ‘episode’ or part of the book, returning to it with a dull dread and a sense of ‘oh man, what awful snafu will Nash be in for this section?’

Each section is lovely in its own right, and could easily be expanded into its own story. But when you string disaster after marginally connected disaster together, the reader gets a serious case of fatigue.

Overall Rating

This is a book that I really wanted to like, but found myself dazedly skimming by the midpoint. Oh well. Fans of long arcs, give it a shot. Everybody else, better look elsewhere.