Science Fiction

SPSFC2 Quarterfinalist Review: Black Table by Anttimatti Pennanen

The At Boundary’s Edge team has narrowed our original book pile down from 28 to start, to 7 “Quarterfinalists”, all of which we are now reading in full and scoring out of 10 points. The top three books out of those seven will move forward as semifinalists.  As always, this is my own review and the thoughts reflect only my own individual opinion and score.

Going again in alphabetical order, my first full read is Black Table by Anttimatti Pennanen.  Let’s take a look at the book and then I’ll share my thoughts!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Black Table
  • Series: The Black Table Series, #1
  • Author: Anttimatti Pennanen
  • Published & Release: Self, 2020
  • Length: 238 pages
  • Rating: 4/10 for the SPSFC

Here’s the synopsis via Am*zon:

Jon and Gus, science fiction fans from Finland with a penchant for fist bumping and pop culture references, travel to the Portland Comic Con where tragedy strikes. Their hero, Dr Wells, suffers a heart attack. With his dying breath, the doctor exhorts Jon to “find the …” as he pushes a book into Jon’s hands. Following clues inscribed in the book, Jon and Gus discover an alien structure with a mysterious Black Table which they accidently activate, transporting them to an alien world.

Jumping from world to world via the Black Table galactic transportation network, Jon and Gus embark on the adventure of a lifetime where they encounter monsters, alien tech, giant vessels made of water and make new friends. But those friends are facing an unstoppable and mindless enemy. An enemy that is destroying the galaxy, and Earth is next in its path.

Can two fans from Finland save the day? Black Table is a rollicking yarn of two likeable, wise-cracking friends who like nothing better than pranking each other. That is, except when they are not doing something more serious, like saving the universe.

My Thoughts:

This is a fun sci-fi adventure for those who love pop culture references in their books. My original draw was the Finnish characters, which ended up being a bit of a let down because the humor was nearly entirely American and there weren’t many noticeable references to Finnish customs or culture.

The characters are adults but the writing feels geared towards middle grade or YA, with lots of excited shouting and fist bumps and such.  Jon and Gus are definitely likeable, if not static characters, cracking lots of jokes and Star Trek references when they’re not busy saving the world.  They’re relatable enough but man, they just felt entirely juvenile.  Huge Bill & Ted vibes.

It’s also quite full of typos and sentences with poor structure so I’m wondering what an editor and a proofreader were doing while reading it. I may have been reading a prior version from Kindle Unlimited, as it seems like the book was re edited at some point. I totally understand the authors note about Finns speaking English, but this goes well beyond dropped articles to just not being well written or edited.

Ex: “He rolled one end a few times around his free hand a few times…”

Like I said, the dropped articles don’t bother me. It’s the repetitive phrases, frequently off putting verbiage, sentence structures, etc, this book just frankly needed a strong proofreader and it affected the reading experience.

That said though, it is a fun book with a fast moving plot and likeable characters.  That’s why I originally voted to read the entire book. The characters are fairly static so the plot is driving, which I definitely prefer because I hate books with tons of inner monologue. That said, I did enjoy reading it quite a bit and the concept is actually cool, with the discovery of a time and space travel device, alien races, a threat to the Galaxy, and of course, hissing Star Trek doors.  I was smiling too, I mean it’s funny but it’s only funny so many times.

Overall: I don’t regret reading the full book, but based on the overall presentation and perceived reading level of Black Table, I can’t go much higher than ⭐⭐✨ , or 5/10 for SPSFC grading purposes.

I’d recommend it for YA or middle grade sci-fi fans that don’t mind reading through some rough editing, and those who enjoy plot driven books with lots of jokes. This would have made a great graphic novel

Thanks for checking out my quarterfinalist book review of Black Table by Anttimatti Pennanen.  I found my electronic copy on Kindle Unlimited and all opinions are my own.

2 replies on “SPSFC2 Quarterfinalist Review: Black Table by Anttimatti Pennanen”

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