One of the best things about using Beta Readers is that you get some straight talking and honest reviews from them which help immensely in fixing some of the holes you may, inadvertently, have left in your story. They will also tell you whether or not the story is interesting and held their interest. The key thing in selecting Beta Readers is to get a wide spread of folk, some of whom would not usually read the genre the story follows. So, when I set out to find a group willing to read and give me feedback on Harry Heron; Into the Unkown, I approached a number of friends I knew did not normally read fiction, or did not read science fiction.
One was a very good friend and former colleague who normally reads only technical and factual literature - not fiction. Here is the review he wrote -
HARRY HERON - INTO THE UNKNOWN a review by Donald C Sparks, author of A History of the Port Elizabeth Fire and Emergency Service to be published 2016
Harry Heron and his two compatriots, Ferghal and Danny, are manning a thirty-two pounder gun on board the HMS Spartan during a sea battle with the French Navy off the coast of Île de France. The year is 1804. Suddenly, strange objects strike the Spartan and the French vessel, completely destroying the latter. Harry, Ferghal and Danny together with their gun disappear without a trace, only to reappear on board the spacecraft NECS Vanguard some four-hundred years in the future.
Assimilated into the crew of the Vanguard, the three become part of a force on its way to the distant planet of Pangaea to re-establish the friendly Confederate's control over the planetary colony which has fallen under the control of the Consortium. On becoming aware of the presence of Harry, Ferghal and Danny on board the Vanguard, Dr Johnstone seeks to get his hands on them in order to conduct medical experiments on these four-hundred year old, living specimens.
A galactic battle ensues between the forces of good and evil above Pangaea. Harry and his shipmates form part of a group sent to retake the settlements on the planet for the Confederation. Faced by setbacks and challenges they are finally confronted by major failure of the technology available to them in this alien world. Can long forgotten skills save them?
What of Harry's grief-stricken family, back home in Ireland, when they hear of the disappearance of their son? Harry's father, Major Heron, sets off on a quest to locate his lost son and Ferghal O'Connor, son of his head groom. Meanwhile, a strange recurring dream troubles the Major -- one that runs in his family and has always signified danger to a family member. Could it be warning him about Harry?