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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Last Star Standing is a dystopian science fiction novel written by Spaulding Taylor. When they came for him in the middle of a class he was teaching, Aiden Tenten’s heart sank. How had the Xirfell found out about him? He was almost relieved, however, when a sadistic demonstration of a tester’s zuge was going to be performed upon pundling 3034, a particularly gentle soul who had answered the tester’s call for a volunteer even as his fear was evident in his posture, trembling lips, and frightened eyes. Aiden couldn’t look away from the scene though he dearly wanted to. His arrest was really why the testers were there, however. And they left with him, leaving the terrified pundling unharmed. Aiden knew it would be a soul-shattering experience being a guest of the Xirfell, the inhuman overlords who had swept in and conquered earth after the ravages of World War III.
Spaulding Taylor’s Last Star Standing visits an earth toxic and reeling after a devastating third world war and under the supposedly benevolent dictatorship of the Xirfell and their King. Taylor’s plot is an engrossing one as it follows Aiden Tenten’s journey through the tortures inflicted by the Xirfell’s testers and other creatures designed to elicit extreme agony and maintain control over their victims. There's also his marvelous life story beginning with his birth to an aborigine mother and an infamous politician and his initiation into the resistance, a band of earthlings sworn to rid their planet of the alien overlords or die trying. I loved how Taylor develops Tenten’s character throughout the story. His adventures with his friend Bully and the diminutive and powerful gromeline, Pavlina, are grand entries into the realm of classic science fiction. Taylor displays a masterful touch at bringing his characters to life, and his writing is effortless and fluent, making reading this action-packed and thought-provoking offering a rare treat indeed. Last Star Standing is most highly recommended.