The economy of Earth has crumbled to nothing and most of the planet has been sold off to wealthy aliens, making the New Middle East the primary center for the dregs of humankind. Humans are considered the lowest form of life – even half-breeds of human-Amphidian hold a higher status. Alekzander Brede is one such hybrid and a hired gun, paid by anyone with wealth to eliminate “obstacles” and seek out treasures. On this job, he’s seeking an ancient Egyptian Treasure.
Brede’s personality has been influenced by his mixed heritage, creating a man who views any weakness as a fair reason to die. He enjoys watching as well as causing the suffering of others, including the women he is attracted to. He is friendless and his family members despise him. He has learned not to care about killing and even threatens his own son with death for his behavior. Brede is not a protagonist one will feel sorry for, love, or empathize with, and at times he acts as the antagonist in his own life story.
Because he is always at war with someone and has few (if any) he can call friends, Brede lacks any sort of understanding of how to behave like anything other than the thug is hired to be. He fails at romantic relationships and at parenting. Occasionally, but rarely, he shines with a moment of sophistication and understanding but for the most part is no more than the sum of his parts.
The world is entering a new age, leaving our current phase of natural laws and lapsing into a new phase where the chemical reactions that keep our machines and technology running no longer exist. Replacing our combustion engines and our cell phones are abilities to heal and transform and communicate with plant and animals, abilities we consider to be magical. Factions battle for control of this new age, the White Order, the Black Order, and the Gray Order, each seeking to control the Chosen and the rest of humanity. The book crosses boundaries between Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Several different individuals start out apart and on separate paths, each dealing with the sudden change in Earth’s physical reality by seeking to retreat from dangerous cities and people, all traveling north. Eventually, all of these individual converge into a battle group, all heading for the promised land of New Atlantis. Through this mode, we learn of each character’s personality to a minute depth – the sheer number of participants does not give ample time or space to delving deeply into each one. (Perhaps future installments will give each character their due.)
The first several chapters kept me engaged, following just two of the main characters into a mystery known to one and not the other. As soon as the other major characters began to arrive, the momentum suffered. The main storyline of the imminent phase transition and power struggle after its occurrence became lost in a muddle of names and descriptions.
3 Stars – Great beginning, but lagged in the middle and slowed the enjoyment.
School kids are always worried about something – lost books, what other kids say, what test? – and Jemima, “Puddle” to friends and family, is no different. She has a few worries she’d like to not worry about, and the new worry dolls under her pillow are going to help her out.
At first, Puddle thought the dolls had come from her mother’s shop, but the shop dolls were more plain and less interesting than the colorful, funky set she found in her jacket pocket. As a test, she gave them some problems to solve, such as locating a missing charm bracelet and helping her pass her math quiz. When these tests appeared to be successes, Puddles attempts to use the worry dolls for a really big problem – the school bullies.
In an attempt to use the special worry dolls for the greater purpose of stopping bullies, the story steers dangerously close to justifying nasty pranks as a vehicle to teaching the bullies a lesson. From the sound fact that bullies gain power from their groups, we are witness to Puddle and her friend trick the bullies into breaking their friendships and even going so far as to get one of the bully girls into serious trouble with the principal of the school. In the end, everyone seems the better for it, with new friendships forged between the bully and a former victim.
Bouncing with nearly tongue-tying alliteration, Franny the Fearless Firefly warms the too-fearless to sometimes take caution, lest they find themselves in more trouble than they care for. It is pure luck that keeps Franny from finding herself in the stomach of a finch, a fish or a frog. Accompanied by colorful illustrations and bonus material in the back (glossary and firefly facts), this book may please your preschooler.
3 Stars – Alliterative f-word fun for the fidgety four-year-old. (No, not that “f-word.”)
Find the book on Amazon.
This humorous science fiction novel displays a future where corporations run the galaxy and the employees are bought and sold as slaves from department to department selling products as models, performing as musicians, driving shuttles buses, and so on.
With mildly funny sarcastic pokes and satirical probes, Space Tripping uses an ensemble of young musicians (and an acrobat) known as the Shredded Orphans who play a genre known as seismic rock. Their adventure begins with a fateful crash landing, leading them to a group of “misplaced” advertising slaves and causing them to miss their scheduled concerts. Each leg of the misadventure amplifies the flatness of the characters who struggle to improve their image points in order to keep from being sold off by their current owner. They move about the city committing indecent and obscene acts in public and asking for reviews.
Where the characters are wanting, the world building makes up some of the image points for the book. Brand names become characters in and of themselves, developing a universe where everyone is subjected to materialism at its height and pleasure is purchased with credits.
3 Stars – Flat characters but interesting world-building.
Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other retailers.
Using his imagination and perspective, Tim Newton Anderson offers up this collection of 20 short stories with attributes of fantasy and the paranormal.
The collection opens with the amusing fantasy that cats (and dogs and other living creatures) are fashioned by guilds of artisans at a commissioned price. “The Cat Factory” is also a cautionary tale about appreciating things that aren’t perfect and, perhaps, to be mindful of what our cats might be conspiring to do.
“Angel House” bands together a group of people who are along in life for one reason or another – the death of a loved one, self-deprecation, substance abuse – and faces them with the prospect of seeing angels after taking tainted diet pills.
Each story examines human nature through the experimentation of free imagination, letting go of the laws of physics, nature, and even society to test the morality of human nature.
Available on Amazon