Tag Archives: sci-fi

More Book Reviews

Ore Pirates (Federation Diplomat #2)Ore Pirates by E.J. Randolph
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An oddly entertaining story about the (mis)adventures of Kate Stevens, Federation diplomat. The author sets up some humorous situations and laughably named characters–like Really Big (her supervisor). For anyone who has ever worked in a government bureaucracy, the bosses and their behavior will be unfortunately all too real. Still, it’s sci-fi–so we have the issues of meals aboard a spacecraft, the effects of gravity that’s higher or lower than Earth’s. That makes for some interesting development of the emigres who live there. On the political side, we have the standard problems of greed, corruption and malfeasance. In examining the development of colony planet cultures the author even tosses in a planetary regime clearly modeled after North Korea–complete with a “Beloved Leader” and not just secret police but secret, secret police. I enjoyed it. You will too if you like your political humor a paler shade of dark than Vonnegut or Dick–maybe a mid-range gray.

A Spider Sat Beside HerA Spider Sat Beside Her by K.E. Lanning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An intriguing work of the perhaps no longer new but not yet widely known cli-fi genre (a subset of sci-fi). Lanning develops well the lead character of Lowry Walker, her somewhat estranged (and angry plus manipulative) father, an uncle and the nefarious political villains. She throws in some dishonest politicians and the corrupt intent of–yes, latter-day colonialists against what in Canada are known as First Nation folks, just like what happened in the USA way back when. But then, all is not what it seems in the conflict over who really attempted to sabotage the International Space Station (ISS). Despite her credentials, the author doesn’t make this a truly hard sci-fi story so don’t be put off by technological talk–it’s not much more than most of us are familiar with in today’s world. A great book. I’ve already downloaded the next book in the series, which apparently stands alone along with an upcoming third one.

The Broken World second revised editionThe Broken World second revised edition by Harley Brent Hightower
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many folks have heard the admonition to “write from life,” especially those who are writers. Broken World is styled as fiction but the characters are so real that one might easily conclude there were some biographical (if not autobiographical) elements to it. Assuming not, then Hightower has some good observational skills and a vivid imagination enabling the creation of a very dysfunctional extended family of characters. Parents who verbally abuse children. Spouses who argue with one another. Self-absorbed people who justify their own misbehavior and withdrawal into small worlds of their own. It’s not a book with a happy ending. Nonetheless, it’s entertaining and worth reading for how the protagonist, Byrd Keane, escapes the insanity of the broken world that surrounds him by his excursions outdoors in rural New Mexico. He is intelligent beyond his twelve years and seemingly one of the few normal characters in the book. In some ways, I can see elements of John Irving mixed with Kurt Vonnegut. Take note that the fictional northern New Mexico town that Byrd lives in is called Alma Perdido, which means Lost Soul in Spanish. It could mean abandoned, missing or other things; you be the judge if you read the book.

UpstagedUpstaged by Aaron Paul Lazar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Still good, but I’m getting less keen on the Julia Child parts, the song lyrics and the church services. The characters, the crimes and looking for foreshadowing is all there. It’s not quite a “cozy mystery,” as I understand the term but it is certainly not as hardcore as some. So if you are looking for less blood, gore or heavy violence (It does have some but not too graphic) then this is a good choice.

View all my Goodreads reviews here

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Book Promo – Get ‘The Fountain: and six more fantasy and sci-fi stories’ FREE from 14th to 18th December…

Humor, twists and more in this collection of seven fantasy and sci-fi short stories.

Karma can be painful in “The Fountain”–when a plunderer meets a long-dead shaman.

A family adopts a retriever with special talents in “Lily, an Amazing Dog.”

The cover of The Fountain, a Kindle book

A vampire has a strange problem, in “Alfred’s Strange Blood Disorder.”

A perennial favorite, dimensional travel, with a strange twist in “The Closet Door.”

What could that column of fire be, rising from the Atlantic off the Outer Banks, read “The Flame” to find out what it meant to troubled writer Carson.

A wizard casts a spell that works well for a princess, but

will it be as good for him?

Check out “The Wizard.”

Finally, “The Fribble” offers an alien encounter of an odd sort, to a pharmaceutical company rep searching for new drugs in the Amazon Rain forest.

Source: Book Promo – Get ‘The Fountain: and six more fantasy and sci-fi stories’ FREE from 14th to 18th December…

Retrograde–a Book Review

Been a while since I’ve done a review. When I have, I often do two or three at a time. I’ve been so slow at reading the past several months, I only have this one today but it’s a way of getting my reading and reviewing feet wet again.  😎

Retrograde: Some Principles Are TimelessRetrograde: Some Principles Are Timeless by E.J. Randolph
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Borrowed a copy of the paperback edition. Didn’t know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the writing and the story-line. Randolph keeps the plot moving in this sci-fi tale of diplomacy made dangerously difficult on an intentionally backwards and backwater planet. Conflicts among various factions keep things challenging. Randolph makes good use of a history degree with a focus on diplomatic and military history (according to her profile). Interesting interactions among crew members set up future books about up-and-coming Federation diplomat, Kate Stevens.

The book is available widely in both paper and eBook. You’ll find it on Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc. But here’s the easy link: Amazon.

View all my reviews

The Flame

This is a short story coming in the collection for the holidays. I seldom post stories here; they belong on John Maberry’s Writing. I’m making an exception this time. All the writers out there will understand. Plus it’s a break from politics–hurray!

The Flame

Carson sipped Irish coffee, bundled against the chill wind of a late October day on the Outer Banks. He sat on the third floor deck for its view beyond the barrier dune, rising 15 feet above the sand. The swimmers and sunbathers had gone. Only the beachcombers and solitude seekers remained this late in the season. He was among the latter. With the kids away at college and Sharon at her sister’s to “think about us,” he couldn’t face the empty house in Alexandria. Reading the backlog of beach books almost kept thoughts of Sharon’s surprise announcement away. He had just put down a thriller when he looked out to see a fiery column rising above the waves. It must have been a mile or two offshore. Only the bright yellow plume could be seen, even with the high-powered binoculars. No ship. No people. Nothing. What the hell is that? There’s no gas line out there. The sight had him baffled.

He called the Coast Guard at Hatteras Inlet. “Coast Guard, Petty Officer Harris speaking. Is this a boating emergency call?”

“No, I don’t think so. I’m looking offshore from Buxton, seeing a bright flame coming up from the water.”

“How far out is it? Have you seen any ships in the area?”

“A mile and a half, maybe more. Hard to tell from the shore with no landmarks to go by. No ships out there or anything else that I can see. The plume looks about the size of a power pole from here and goes up fifty or sixty feet from the surface.”

“Ok, we’ll send a boat to check it out. Thank you for letting us know. Please give us a call if anything changes.”

“Sure. Oh, and I didn’t hear any explosions or anything. One more thing—the flame isn’t bending much in the wind; looks like it’s under pressure. It’s yellow, by the way.”

 

Carson figured at least 45 minutes, more like an hour before they showed up. They’d have to come around the inlet to the oceanside and through Diamond Shoals, also known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic for all the ships that sank there over the centuries.

While waiting for the Coast Guard, Carson refreshed his Irish coffee. Barely three PM and he was on his third drink. The caffeine kept him up enough and the whiskey dulled the pain. The pain of not selling a book in ten years. Sharon’s billable hours at the DC law firm kept them financially flush. She’d made partner just after his last book sold. No coincidence his writing suffered after that. It took a toll on the marriage.

“So you think the booze will help the stories along, Carson?” That’s what she said, more than once, when she found him staring at a blank monitor slurping a drink.

“Hey, it worked for some of the greats,” he’d laugh before slamming down the glass. “I don’t know what will help. I’m trying; the ideas aren’t there—the words won’t appear without them.” That’s when the blowups came. Hurricane force words flying between them, loud as a storm screaming through the room. She once was his muse. No more.

Continue reading The Flame

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Coming Soon–A New Blog Exclusively with Stories and Excerpts

It’s not ready yet. It will appear sometime in August. Not on this blog, on another one. It will feature excerpts from pieces I am contemplating incorporating into books. In the meantime, here is a sample of the type of writing to expect:

The path that Lily, my golden retriever preferred for her daily walks took us by the nearby retirement home. As much as I tried to steer her on a different route, three days out of four she would insist, in the retriever way with a gentle tug , that we go that way. So I yielded to her choice. With her stuffed plushie frog loosely gripped between her jaws and her bushy tail keeping up its horizontal metronome rhythm, she once again took me down that path. As we passed the retirement Continue reading Coming Soon–A New Blog Exclusively with Stories and Excerpts

You Can Write and Publish a Book, 2

A couple weeks ago I said that “Yes, you can write and publish a book.” To follow up on that topic, beyond will and determination I mentioned that some research will be required. Like anything else, you get out of writing what you put into it. Little effort produces little result. Ask yourself what and why before you get too far along in that effort. Continue reading You Can Write and Publish a Book, 2