The Blackshade Machine

Book 1

Fiction - Science Fiction
357 Pages
Reviewed on 06/20/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

The Blackshade Machine by William D Latoria is a science fiction dystopian novel and the first book in the Original Design series. William Blackshade is a respected high-ranking colonel in the Candaerica military, the name given in a futuristic combination of most of North America. Technology is at its historic peak and at this moment an alien race makes first contact in New Mexico. This is obviously critical as any move perceived as threatening or untrustworthy on either side could lead to cataclysmic fallout, with mankind probably not faring as well in its outcome. Blackshade is cautiously optimistic, but it is difficult to remain completely objective when the chatter surrounding you instills doubt and provides some good reasoning on questions that have no clear answer—even when some are literally scrolling across a forehead.

There is a great deal of trust that goes into beginning a new science fiction series and, I admit, I wasn't entirely sold on The Blackshade Machine when it crossed my path the first time. It sounded overly simplistic on account of it being a first contact story and, honestly, the renaming of the US/Canada/Mexico takeover as 'Candaerica' wasn't exactly doing it any favors. However, upon first contact with the novel, I found that William D Latoria had a few author tricks up his sleeve and they eclipsed my expectations quickly. The standout is the creativity of the first contact itself, and the state of the States when it happens. Even though North America was already connected geographically, there is something super Pangaea-esque in it formally becoming one. Blackshade is an intriguing character and his evolution from Colonel to Ambassador is a great arc. He's flawed and likable. It's the wit that makes the reading fun. The writing is clean and engrossing, the details are all there without turning into information dumps, and there is an authenticity to a meltdown on social media that would 100% happen in real life. Overall, this is a great start to a new series and absolutely worth putting your trust in.

Asher Syed

The alien race Omega has arrived on Earth for humanity's first contact event in The Blackshade Machine by William D Latoria, book one of the Original Design science fiction epic series. Set in 2072, Canada and the United States of America are now combined to form Candaerica with Mexico also pulled in under deadly force. Chosen to lead first contact with the Omega, Colonel Blackshade, who the aliens are receptive to, is soon ensconced in the physical and technological advancements of the Omega. He is also made privy to what the Omega claim to be the history of everything earthly, including mankind. Their power is superior but they are oblivious to cultures, customs, and respect for human advancements, and this leads to a deep divide between Omega and man, and man and man, especially when mistakes prove deadly. “As Candaerica’s Ambassador to the Omegas, it was his duty to ensure the relationship between Omegas and Humans was an amiable one...”

The Blackshade Machine by William D Latoria is, in my estimation, a great initiation into science fiction for those who might be new to the genre. The plot is clear-cut with writing that is straightforward enough for readers who aren't accustomed to sci-fi-speak but not detailed enough for seasoned die-hard fans. Having point-of-view characters that include the aliens themselves is one of the book's greatest advantages because it kind of highlights the odds stacked against humans and Omegans and isn't a single-sided human cheerleading routine. Humans are technologically inferior but not so ridiculously insipid that we are what the Omega believe and believed in the past, or where we are not even worth taking. I never thought I could get mad about not being abducted by aliens but Latoria makes us feel how offensive it is. The reverse of this coin is that humans can be so ridiculously insipid that we turn against ourselves in the way we always have, by rioting and killing and looking for God in all the wrong places. The best and worst of man in a universe we do not control. Well done.

K.C. Finn

The Blackshade Machine is a work of fiction in the science fiction, action, and military subgenres. It was written for the mature reading audience owing to scenes of violence, the use of explicit language, and scenes of a sexual nature, and was penned by author William D Latoria. As the opening work in the series, we are introduced to a future world where Candaerica is the new power that has taken over the North American continent and Mexico. Our protagonist is Colonel William Herbert Blackshade, who spearheads the operation when an alien race makes contact with humanity. What follows is a dangerous and mysterious journey as Blackshade learns the secrets of the universe but only becomes more and more suspicious of who to trust.

Author William D Latoria has crafted a superb series opener that will have fans of alien-themed science fiction hooked from its earliest chapters. I enjoyed the grown-up sensibility of the work, which maintained a strong focus on the plot but also left room for character development and let us get to know the Colonel’s inner thoughts and feelings when it was appropriate to do so. In terms of the actual alien race themselves, the Omega are a highly original creation that doesn’t play into the over-dramatized tropes of aliens from many other types of sci-fi. Instead, their intellectual, calculating, and philosophical thinking made them formidable figures for the Colonel to match wits with. Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Blackshade Machine to readers who adore superbly crafted plots with interesting twists and realistically-penned alien fiction that sounds intimidatingly believable.