Sci-Fi Book Review: “Pilot” by R.D. Drabble

Pilot,” a new sci-fi thriller, follows law enforcement officer Legitt Redd, as he finds himself in the middle of an extraordinary set of circumstances. It is set in a solar system where humans occupy 6 life-supporting planets. Each planet has a different role to the civilisation, one being an energy source, another a prison, another a holiday destination, for example. Legitt is a low ranking officer whom serves for the oppressive government, ‘The Ministry.’ He is introduced as a fairly ordinary, uninspired man whose main duty is to transport prisoners to and from the Prison planet Gorby for processing. He has a long standing friendship and affiliation with one such prisoner – Afyd Geller whom has a reputation as a leader in the underworld and has the respect of many amongst law enforcement. Once a free man, Afyd often invites Leggit for drinking sessions. It‘s on one of these ordinary drinking sessions that the out-of-the-ordinary sequence of events begins. After a few adventure and violent encounters, they travel to the Litton where the apparent real figure head of the underworld resides. Leggit find out that the mythical ‘boogie man’ of child stories of old, Murlon Furlong is in fact a real person, and the all-powerful ruler of criminals.

Murlon sets Leggit, Afyd and other members of this motley crew, on a task to kidnap a spiritual leader. There is a back story of the civilisation’s theology which, in short includes the beginning of time and the eventual coming of salvation.

When this goes horribly wrong Legitt realises his true potential, and attempts to conquer Murlon and avoid swift and violent punishment of The Ministry. This means a whole lot more than he realises and intends the reader to question what is good and what is evil.

This book has great potential. Author R.D. Drabble paints pictures with his words, as if he can see them all around him. Initially this was inspiring to read. You can really imagine the frames in which Drabble was describing. But this positive is also a negative and too much visual description means at times it reads like a script, rather than a novel. There is only the present tense and only one story line, which leaves the reader feeling a bit flat with this one dimensional presentation of an otherwise interesting plot. It would have been a lot more enjoyable if there was a sub-plot or scenes that did not include the main character. Even though Leggit was in every scene, I still felt I didn’t have much insight into him as a character.

Having said that, there are definitely great moments. The technological creations and concepts found in Pilot are really inspiring. They seem to mix the spiritual human elements with technological fantasy. And the Drabble paints an Orwell-esque picture of the Ministry ruled worlds, and there were some phrases that were so poignant and poetic, that is will make you read them twice. The book starts of in a very certain black and white view of the world but progresses a grey outlook, at the same time that character Legitt questions his own morality in certain situations.

But these great moments are sandwiched between cliché, yet lovable characters and the many un-foreshadowed random unnecessary scenarios. There is an appendix of illustrations to support the story lines and backstories, but these don’t really add value or are explored.

Having said that it is clear that Drabble has an amazing amount of imagination. The 6 worlds and their stories are quiet intricate and to be honest, could be explored further in future books. I hope Drabble can express this obvious talent of imagination in future stories, especially if they are in comic or graphic novel format.

Overall, it’s a great read with some cool concepts.

R.D. Drabble is an electrician and science fiction fanatic who has had a lifelong obsession with the strange and inexplicable. It was his love for the unusual that inspired him to write his debut novel Pilot.

Pilot is available on and

Book Review: Information, Communication and Space Technology

I was worried that the book “Information, Communication and Space Technology” had the potential to be ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ as it promises to cover all aspects of ICT and space tech, all in 200-ish pages. But I needn’t have worried. Author Mohammad Razani delivers on the ambitious goal of presenting a high level picture on all topics of Information Communication Technology(ICT) and space technology.

Although at times it seems as though there is a distinct split between the ICT and the space tech content, the author presents his information in a manner which most tech-heads and gear-geeks would love. But this book is not for the average fiction-inclined reader. Some previous knowledge is required.

It begins with covering the very large topic of ICT in health, government and education. At times it feels as though this half of the book is there to balance to latter space tech half of the book, like a student presenting the ‘boring bits’ before going crazy about ‘space technologies!!!’. He does skim over some points a little, but this keeps it interesting and exciting because it doesn’t get bogged down in the fine details. This means the book is not too overwhelming, but it remains informative by presenting enough detail.

There is the potential for some of the content to be interpreted as opinion piece…which at times it kind of is. He presents arguments for further resources and investment into ICT in education, particularly in the USA, where he is an educational professional. However, it’s presented objectively and doesn’t read as though he is shouting from the soap box. And there are enough references cited for each point he makes to make each argument objective (if that is not an oxymoron). He presents cases studies, tables and stats for the numerically-minded readers and is a reflection of past ICT and statistics to dictate possible direction of future ICT. Mohammad Razani presents studies on what challenges there are in ICT for health, gov and education, and the possible future solutions through case studies. Not being previously familiar with a lot of the industries issues he covered, I’ve learnt a great deal.

The information presented was very detailed and pleasing for the techno-geek audience. But at times was difficult to understand the information the author uses for comparison. For example, tables on satellites from different agencies presented different measurements and specifications, making it like comparing apples with oranges.

And there seemed to be a couple of product placement mentions — e.g. the software workshop the author attended. Perhaps I am cynical, but it seemed to be like when a doctor presents a certain drug, because he gets kickbacks from the pharmaceutical company.

The space technology section was more well thought-out and exciting. You could tell that Mohammad Razani was more inspired by these topics. He gave a great background on the history and development of the space technology and satellites. The cool parts were definitely the brief scientific explanation of space flight, atmospheric studies and gravity. It kept the pages turning without becoming overwhelming. I felt I learnt a great deal without the aid of any other research or references.

Tip: start your own glossary to refer to. This reader would have benefited from a glossary, instead of having to refer to the index or re-read parts of the book where the definitions and explanations of acronyms and phrases were presented.

The highlights of this book were the scientific explanations of the relevant to content. If a reader was so inclined to do self-research on this topic, it would take them years to find all information presented in this book, without the guidance Mohammad Razani. As a reader, I am left with the hope that ICT could be used to advance all of humanity, rather than promote western culture alone. As a student this has inspired me to pursue this area of technology, as we have only just begun. It gives a great starting point for any interested readers to launch their own research and further reading. I will refer to this book for years to come. The hardcover is also a bonus!

If I had to give this book a rating, it would be 3.5 satellite dishes out of 5.