Reviewing Indie Authors One Book at a Time

Posts tagged ‘science fiction’

A Far Out Galaxy – Marjorie Thelen

A farcical space opera, A Far Out Galaxy plays with the popular notion that humankind was seeded on Earth by another race from another world. That race has since lost interest in sexual procreation, opting for cloning. The story contains a great deal of humor about human customs and activities.AFOG-MT

Queen Vita of Oriana, who is also the principal information technology manager for the Galactic Oversee, is expected to learn all about sex and conceive a child in a hurry to create an heir, now that the cloning technology has been sabotaged. To quicken the interaction, the Queen and her forced romantic interest, Commander Will, are traveling together on a mission to rescue Earth. Meanwhile, the villain Rodan, Will’s brother, is chasing after Vita to be his bride.

They refer to Earth humans as Bluebies and explore the cuisine and beverages of the culture while discussing our predilection for negativity and violence. Perhaps in an homage to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the story takes stabs at describing the human condition through ridiculous circumstances and an off-world point of view.

Unfortunately, I felt that the hyper-focus on learning about sexual attraction obstructed the flow of the other storylines, including the persistence of Rodan to capture Vita, the center of his unrequited love, and the mission to Earth.  While this may have been the author’s intention, I wished for a break from the constant banter about appendages and hormones.

3 Stars – An interesting perception of the human condition with comical stylings.

 

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Achelo: Social Evolution – Andrew Neal

AcheloIn this universe, the humans are not the center of the existence. In fact, humankind is treated like animals: hunted by some for sport and meat, protected by others as a developing intelligence. Others revere them as the wisest race in the universe. There is a constant political battle over the rights and status of the human race that come to a head as the Alliance falls apart and war breaks out between star systems. The planet of Achelo is at the center of the conflict.

I was drawn to the book by the cover and the title. “Social Evolution” promised to offer me some interesting perspectives. The novel contained several thought-provoking passages. One particular paragraph put in words an intriguing concept that rang with a omen of truth:

“It is theoretically possible for such species to evolve further physically, but destruction seems to be inevitable as a result of one particular phenomena of society: science and its resulting technology; that is, the ability to become consciously familiar with one’s environment and transform it.”

That is to say, once a species begins to alter its environment rather than being altered by it, evolution stops and the decline begins. This idea is extremely relevant at this point in time here on Earth.

Bringing us this story from a unique point of view, we are witness to the human race being considered simple animals by many and and an enlightened race by others. Some believe that humankind learned how to avoid complete destruction by surpassing the impediments of advanced society and continuing to evolve. I found the concept curious. We imagine that alien civilizations sharing our galaxy may be more advanced than our own. We so often focus on how we will perceive alien races and spend little time imagining how they might view us.

Some of the dark humor and embellishment within the story creates a satirical-like structure, reminding me of Candide.  Certain characters are drawn in the extremes, such as the Umaan president who represents the epitome of megalomaniac callousness toward his own race, and the vicious Vulon commander who wants to take control of the Alliance by force. Our heroes exhibit many noble traits, but lack depth or complexity of character. I found “Umaan” and “human” to be too close of a match for comfort while reading.

3 Stars – A bold attempt at offering a unique theory of further human evolution, but the execution left me struggling. The book was too long and could have been trimmed down and reorganized to better hold reader interest for the duration.

 

 

The Only City Left – Andy Goldman

indexThis title offers a unique combination of dystopian sci-fi and paranormal characters. I found myself engaged with the characters and trying to keep a close eye on the details that would help solve the bit of mystery running like a thread throughout the digital pages.

We are in a wrecked, vacated, ruin of a city cast in perpetual darkness. Pockets of civilization struggle against dark forces to maintain existence, and not all of these communities are human. Allin, our young protagonist, encounters ghosts, talking cats, and werewolves in this creative adventure.

Andy Goldman sets up the reader with an immediate entanglement of a literal nature. In an attempt to reach The Roof of the World, Allin must escape a pack of metallic tacmites with razor sharp teeth and is left dangling in the dark above the floor of a decrepit shopping mall. From then on, the adventure doesn’t stop.

 4 Stars

Check out Andy Goldman’s Website

The Only City Left is available on Amazon.com

Children of Earth – Paul J. Fleming

COFA cavalier ship’s captain, an autonomous computer program in a mechanical body, and a young Venusian woman who made a few wrong turns come together on an unintended mission to stop an up-and-coming resistance faction. Earth is not the economical or politic center of the solar system in this futuristic depiction, but the slave of the Mars Colony. The people of Earth want their planet and their freedom back and some groups are willing to go to drastic lengths to get it.

From the outside looking in, Captain Maddox and his crew of two would rather stay out of the mess they find themselves in. Maddox approaches every situation with a flippant attitude and keeps an escape plan in his back pocket, but there is a nobler side hiding beneath the aloof exterior. Ezri, once the nanny program for a rich brat, is a version of an android with her ownership rights turned over to herself. Maia, originally believing she was in a great get-rich-quick scheme, is a young woman tainted by years working in a space port, but is naive to the nasty ways of the big, wide universe.

The story is intriguing and you find yourself drawn to these main characters and hoping they make it through to the end. They find themselves in a puzzling, twisted scheme no one could foresee. In some places, the writing is a bit verbose – a few words too many to describe the scene or action (and a little bit of repetition now and then) but forgivable as the story goes on. The plot is captivating and includes aspects of terrorism, AI, and exploration into political and social expectations.

I like the uniqueness of this story within the genre, and appreciate a chance to give it a read. It was worth buying. I hope future installments of Fleming’s works find him fine tuning his style, which is loaded with wit and detailed planning.

Fine Children of Earth on Amazon.

The Power of Six – Nicholas C. Rossis

SixThese six short stories reminded me so much of classic science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. Rossis has the ability to use the minimum of description and still fill the reader’s head with wonderful imagery.

Each story is fabulous on it’s own, and the collection is aptly named. The power of these stories together makes for a wonderful reading experience. I don’t have one negative thing to say. I’m happy I grabbed a copy of this collection. You will, too.

If I had to pick one favorite in the bunch, I would chose I Come in Peace. One issue humans will always deal with is deciding who and what is safe, and trusting ourselves to be the judge, even if someone else disagrees.

5 Stars to Nicholas C. Rossis.

 

Find The Power of Six: Six (plus one) Science Fiction Short Stories on Amazon.com

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On the faraway planet of Bona Dea, in a society forged by ancient settlers, trouble is brewing. Young psychic Axandra, never comfortable with her gift, is being forced to use it for the benefit of her people as ruling matriarch of the entire world and host to a powerful entity known only as the Goddess.

Struggling with her fate, used as a pawn between warring factions, life for Axandra is almost too much to bear. Even the ministrations of her beloved companion, Quinn, may not prove powerful enough to overcome the stress threatening to destroy Axandra’s fragile soul.

 

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A Pride of Lions – Mark Iles

Pride of Lions CoverThis is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It is well written, providing a balance of character-building, suspense, and action packaged in 233 pages you’ll breeze through.

Selena Dillon is an officer in the Penal Corps, the last chance for convicted criminals to escape the harsh sentence of prison or death. She commits herself to providing the best service she is capable of, hoping one day to finish the job she started back home.

The characters are brutally savage at times, but softened now and then by having real emotions and affection for each other. This story isn’t just about the dangers of space or the politics of colonization, or even the dangers of alien species as human beings spread throughout the galaxy. There are so many vital interactions between the characters that there aren’t many wasted words in this novel. Only on one occasion did I feel a reverse in the momentum mid-book, leading me to wonder briefly if the plot was heading in the direction I expected – but once the action re-intensified, I was not disappointed.

While this story stands alone well on its own, there is a fabulous lead-in to Book Two of the Darkening Stars series that I am looking forward to reading. I am greatly intrigued by the premise that human kind has been out to the stars before and fought the very same war. Those who forget history are bound to repeat it?

If you love dark sci-fi with a glance into some evil minds, you’ll enjoy reading A Pride of Lions.

 

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