Tag Archives: #scifi

Wireless, by Greg Dragon

Waking up in a brothel with no recollection of previous events, Tricia, an android, is on a desperate quest to find her true creators. Trapped in the hands of gangsters and slavers, she’s done being abused and manipulated by the men of this world. But what she discovers after regaining her memory is more terrorizing than she ever realized. Now, it’s up to a robot with a conscience to carry out an impossible mission. Will Tricia prevail or is her fate already sealed?

Those that follow my haphazard book blog know that I like Greg Dragon. I find his writing to be excellent, and I’ll read anything that he puts out. I asked him for a review copy of Wireless, and he acquiesced.

I’m not sure if Wireless is the final book in the “Wired for Love” series, if so, it has been an exciting series to read. The ending is quite satisfying, and if I must bid the series farewell, it’ll be with a sense of completion. This series, plus Greg’s futuristic detective series, “The Synth Crisis,” offer an imaginative view of a possible future.

Not quite dystopian, not quite mystery, and not quite post-apocalyptic, the “Wired for Love” series blends all these elements, while focusing on human interactions, be they with synths or other humans. We cheer for Tricia when she succeeds, and cry when she fails. The series has something to say on the nature of being a person, discrimination, the dangers of an overreaching government, and the corruption of corporations and wealth.

As is the rest of the series, Wireless is must read, and like everything I’ve read by Greg Dragon, highly recommended.

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Greg Dragon has been a creative writer for several years, and has authored on topics of relationship, finance, physical fitness and more through different sources of media. In particular, his online magazine has been a source of much pragmatic information, which has been helpful to many. As a result, his work continues to grow with a large and loyal fan base.

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Plains of Exodus, by Robert J. Burnett

Mankind’s first contact with an extraterrestrial species didn’t exactly go well. The inadvertent destruction of the Earth saw a call go out to the vast and ancient empire for help. Despite the quick response to this plea for aid, the remnants of humanity find themselves refugees in an overcrowded galaxy and at the mercy of an empire whose existence predates mankind’s own existence. Unwanted and unwelcome, humanity languishes in a dozen massive colony ships around an energy poor star. As a young smuggler, Jonah Mctier is one of those fortunate few who has access to this millennial old realm, and it is he who after fleeing a triad of imperial cruisers, discovers the answer to mankind’s dilemma. In desperation Jonah finds refuge in a parsecs deep dust cloud where he discovers not only a habitable and empty planetary system but one of the most sought after resources in the Milky Way a spatial conduit. Except this is no ordinary conduit. Exploitation of this unique and unknown type of spatial gateway offers an alternative to the slow but inevitable descent into extinction for the children of Adam. Key to this bright future is the need to keep their phenomenal find a secret from the resource hungry empire who would take this discovery for themselves and themselves alone. To complicate matter, Jonah discovers that there is more than one of these gateways, and for humanity to be successful in their question mankind must hold and eventually destroy all of these rare portals.

I really liked Plains of Exodus, by Robert J. Burnett. It’s not without a quibble or two, but I just had to keep reading it all the way to the end. (It still took me three days to read – it’s long!) I guess I’ll start with what I didn’t like about the book. The author introduced a major female character by her physical attributes. Curves, boobs, hair – standard sci-fi stuff for twenty years ago. It was really only the introduction, and the character is pretty bad-ass, but the description was a turn off for me. The other quibble was that the book formatting was hella odd. The chapters seemed to have scene breaks that had their own numbers? Hopefully it was because I was reading a pre-release version from NetGalley.

Now, on to the good stuff. Plains of Exodusis a straight up popcorn sci-fi. No deep political machinations, no heavy-handed social or religious subtext. Just a group of humans versus an overpopulated universe after tragedy destroyed the Earth. The entire book is an exciting read, and this would make an excellent miniseries. (They did it with Altered Carbon, and The Expanse, so this totally could be one too.) I can’t wait for a sequel. You hear me, Robert? I want a sequel. Five stars, and a must read.

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What Gods Incite, by Clara Coulson

A month after the explosive end of his mission to the Divide, Vincent Whelan is spinning his wheels. He’s struggling to rebuild his business, frustrated at his position as Tom Tildrum’s “minion,” and uneasy about the dangers the near future will bring. So when a local spots a zombie prowling around one of Kinsale’s biggest factories, Vince takes extra precautions before he goes hunting for a necromancer in the dregs of his beleaguered city. Unfortunately for Vince, a straightforward case quickly morphs into a balancing act, when a familiar face pops in to drop a dangerous new quest on his head: Abarta has stolen a powerful tool from Manannán mac Lir, and to get it back, Vince will have to venture into the Otherworld yet again. With his allies split on two fronts, and threats rising on both sides, Vince finds himself facing the most perilous trial of his entire life: the battle to preserve his own humanity.

It really wasn’t until book three that I’m starting to like Vince. It’s not that I disliked him or anything in the first two books, but he was the reluctant hero before – almost a curmudgeon before his time. In What Gods Incite, he starts to become the hero we all knew that he’d be. More shenanigans ensue when Vince’s old friend, Rian, appears at just the right time to bail our hero out, and lend his skills to the fight against perennial villain Abarta. But as usual when fae magic is involved, not everyone is who they claim to be, so Vince, Rian, Odette and Saoirse need to watch each other’s back as they split into teams to confront multiple threats. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, and What Gods Inciteis another five star read.

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Clara Coulson was born and raised in backwoods Virginia, USA. Currently in her mid-twenties, Clara holds a degree in English and Finance from the College of William & Mary and recently retired from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC to return to the homeland and pick up the quiet writing life. Clara spends most of her time (when she’s not writing) dreaming up new story ideas, studying Japanese, and slowly reading through the several-hundred-book backlog on her budding home library. If she’s not occupied with any of those things, then you can probably find her playing with her two cats or lurking in the shadows of various social media websites.

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Relic, by Alan Dean Foster

Once Homo sapiens reigned supreme, spreading from star system to star system in an empire that encountered no alien life and thus knew no enemy . . . save itself. As had happened many times before, the basest, most primal human instincts rose up, only this time armed with the advanced scientific knowledge to create a genetically engineered smart virus that quickly wiped out humanity to the last man. That man is Ruslan, the sole known surviving human being in the universe. Rescued from the charnel house of his home planet by the Myssari—an intelligent alien race—Ruslan spends his days as something of a cross between a research subject and a zoo attraction. Though the Myssari are determined to resurrect the human race, using Ruslan’s genetic material, all he wants for himself and his species is oblivion. But then the Myssari make Ruslan an extraordinary offer: In exchange for his cooperation, they will do everything in their considerable power to find the lost home world of his species—an all-but-mythical place called Earth—and, perhaps, another living human. Thus begins an epic journey of adventure, danger, heartbreak, and hope, as Ruslan sets out in search of a place that may no longer exist—drawn by the slimmest yet most enduring hope.

At times predictable, and sometimes confounding, Alan Dean Foster is always a solid read. Alan is a known quantity with his writing, and Relic is just what you’d expect from him. Some authors, after decades of writing, will rest on their laurels, and churn out formulaic tomes to keep their existing audience coming back for more and more. Alan decides to write a story that while not exactly unique, does get the imagination going.

A dislikable protagonist is nothing new, and Ruslan certainly frustrates the reader with his antics, but there is a sad quality to the character that I can’t help but like. I can imagine what would be going through the mind of the last human ever, or how he would react to an extraterrestrial civilization that is so alien than we are.

That’s another interesting aspect of Relic: Anthropomorphism, or specifically a distinct lack of it. So many popular alien civilization stories are just bipeds with extra stuff added or taken away. It was a treat to read about a society not based on bipedalism, and more so how a biped would interact in an environment not designed for them.

I enjoyed Relic, as I knew I would. I continue to see Alan at cons, and he’s always an interesting visit. Relic is a solid four stars, and I’d love to read another book in the series, especially after the ending.

Bestselling science fiction writer Alan Dean Foster was born in New York City in 1946, but raised mainly in California. He received a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA in 1968, and a M.F.A. in 1969. Foster lives in Arizona with his wife, but he enjoys traveling because it gives him opportunities to meet new people and explore new places and cultures. This interest is carried over to his writing, but with a twist: the new places encountered in his books are likely to be on another planet, and the people may belong to an alien race.

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Never Enough Time, by RTW Lipkin

What if your entire life passed by in just seven days? 16-year-old Delaney Archer’s mother is always complaining that there’s never enough time to get anything done. Delaney, on the other hand, always waits until the last moment to do everything. Nevertheless, she’s the top student in her class. She’s even about to graduate as valedictorian . . .Until one morning, when she wakes up in a strange place. Suddenly, she finds herself in graduate school. Seven years of her life have disappeared without a trace since she went to bed last night . . . but how? It takes a while for Delaney to get used to things. But it’s not all bad, right? After all, she can drink alcohol now, and she’s almost finished school . . . Then she wakes up the next day . . . and another seven years have passed. Every day is another brand-new adventure for Delaney as she struggles to adjust. But no matter what she tries, she just can’t seem to break the cycle. Now she just has to figure out what’s happening . . . before time runs out . . .

Time travel- check. Confused protagonist- check. Available on NetGalley- check. I finished reading this almost two months ago, and I can’t seem to remember the ending. I remember that as a supposedly smart protagonist, Delaney is pretty dumb, willing to accept ludicrous scenarios to explain her time jumping. Every singe character is annoying, with Sara being the worst of them all. The selfishness and hedonism is rife throughout. Really, Sara and the boyfriend are wretches of humanity, and for someone so smart, Delaney should’ve cut them loose long ago – especially since she didn’t even know them! Many reviews complain about the swears, but apparently, those reviewers have never encountered a teen in the wild- which Delaney was supposed to be, albeit in an adult body.

Overall, the book wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t very good either. There were a lot of issues, with flashes of brilliance. The fact that I can’t remember the ending so soon after finishing the book makes me think that it wasn’t that great. Never Enough Time truly is a middle of the road book. I’d award it just to the positive side of middle of the road with 3.5 stars. I saw that the author wrote another sci-fi novel, Prediction, so I think I’ll check that out at a later date.

R. T. W. Lipkin lives in New York with her husband and three cats. Her genre-defying novels occur at the intersection of science fiction and fantasy, with mystery, romance, and adventure threaded throughout.

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Buying Time, by E. M. Brown

In January 2017, something very strange happens to screenwriter Ed Richie. He wakes up one morning to find that he has been shunted back in time nine months and is now inhabiting the body of his younger self… Worse is to come: the following day he jumps three years, to 2013, with all his memories of the intervening years intact. What is happening to him? Is he going mad? And where will his involuntary time-travel end? Meanwhile, in 2030, journalist Ella Croft is investigating the life of screenwriter and celebrated novelist Ed Richie, who mysteriously vanished in 2025. She interviews friends, acquaintances, and old lovers – and what she discovers will change not only Ed Richie’s life, but her own… Buying Time is a time-travel novel like no other. No man is rich enough to buy back his past – unless that man is Ed Richie…

Any time I see a time travel story on NetGalley, I’m ready and willing. It includes an aging novelist? Yep, I can totally relate. I liked the shifting between Ed’s romp through time, and 2030 Ella, and her fight for LGBT rights. Oh, and she’s also trying to track down Ed, and solve the mystery of his disappearance. Often when reading an A-B story, one of the branches is boring. Not the case with Buying Time. Brown fills in interesting back-story with the Ella “B” line.

Ed Richie isn’t a very likable character, but that’s not a bad thing, since his time-traveling situation rings true. The theme of the story is one of sadness and regret. Who among us hasn’t remembered that thing that they did, and wished they could go back and make a different choice?

Overall, this was a good sci-fi read, and I’ll definitely check out other works by Brown. Four stars.

Eric Brown was born in Haworth, West Yorkshire, in 1960, and has lived in Australia, India and Greece. He began writing in 1975, influenced by Agatha Christie and the science fiction writer Robert Silverberg. Since then he has written over forty-five books and published over a hundred and twenty short stories, selling his first story in 1986 and his first novel in 1992. He has written a dozen books for children; young adult titles as well as books for reluctant readers. He has been nominated for the British Science Fiction Award five times, winning it twice for his short stories in 2000 and 2002.

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Space Carrier Avalon, by Glynn Stewart

Avalon was the flagship of the Castle Federation in the last war, now twenty years past. The first of the deep space carriers, no other warship in the fleet holds as many honors or has recorded as many kills. No other warship in the fleet is as old. Accepting the inevitable, the Federation Space Navy has decided to refit her and send her on a tour of the frontier, showing the flag to their allies and enemies as a reminder of her glory – and then decommission her for good. But Avalon has been a backwater posting for ten years – and has problems a mere refit can’t fix. The systems along her planned tour have been seeing pirates for the first time in decades, and there are rumblings of Commonwealth scouting ships all along the border. It may be Avalon’s final tour – but it looks to be anything but quiet!

This review is going to seem critical, so I want to start by saying that I enjoyed the read. The new cover drew me in when I saw it on netgalley. If it had the cover featured on Goodreads, I would not have requested it. I still was reluctant to read it because there are a few negative reviews that left me wondering. There is even a plot point in the beginning of the book that had it been written differently, I would’ve stopped reading. It made me angry – but in a good way. I’ve always felt that fiction should make us feel something. Space Carrier Avalon is an engrossing read.

The book is not without issues though. My biggest complaint is the character’s continuous use of another character’s full name and rank. Rank is usually truncated in the military. I can sometimes overlook it if the story is about a paramilitary organization, but the Castle Federation series is straight military sci-fi. No one would’ve ever called me “Mechanical Gas Turbine Systems Technician Second Class Petty Officer Mark Gardner-” they would’ve called me “GSM2 Gardner,” “Petty Officer Gardner,” or simply “Gardner.” (Even subordinates.)

Which brings me to another peeve about this story. Most of the commissioned & enlisted crew would’ve called each other by their last names. In this novel, first and last names are used interchangeably, and I spent the first quarter of the book just trying to figure out who everyone was. This resulted in a lot of flipping back to see who was who. When I was on active duty, I spent almost all my time with another turbine tech- duty rotations, visits to the galley, etc. I didn’t even know his first name for two or three months.

I get that this is supposed to be hard sci-fi, and some people love all the little technical details, (I imagine people playing Warhammer 40k with their tape measures, and other accouterments) but there was way too much technical information for me taste. I really didn’t need to know warhead yields, the percentage and implementation of mass manipulators, or even the progression of shipbuilding in the world. Maguffins are perfectly fine in futuristic sci-fi; especially with faster than light travel. It just seemed like the author spent an inordinate amount of time explaining tech that seemed to slow down the story.

Of course I experienced the opposite of this when it came to the origin of the Castle Federation and the disposition of Earth. It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that I realized that Earth and the Terran Commonwealth were the antagonists, and the Castle Federation were descendants of humanity trying to live the Libertarian dream of being left alone with the overzealous Terrans trying to unify the universe under their banner. Some creepy Manifest Destiny stuff.

Overall, I liked Space Carrier Avalon. I especially liked the concept of the protagonists effectively being aliens, and Earth being the “bad guys.” Not everyone would agree with my quibbles about the story, and that’s cool. Fandom is a varied and splendiferous thing. Kudos to the author for the Star Trek references – they made me smile. I’d give this story four stars, and a warning of a sexual assault as a plot point in the beginning of the story in case someone would be triggered by that. I’ll definitely read the next in the series if it wanders my way.

Glynn Stewart is the author of Starship’s Mage, a bestselling science fiction and fantasy series where faster-than-light travel is possible–but only because of magic. His other works include science fiction series Duchy of Terra, Castle Federation and Vigilante, as well as the urban fantasy series ONSET and Changeling Blood. Writing managed to liberate Glynn from a bleak future as an accountant. With his personality and hope for a high-tech future intact, he lives in Kitchener, Ontario with his wife, their cats, and an unstoppable writing habit.

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