Tag Archives: #scifi

Unknown Horizons, by CJ Birch

The moment Lieutenant Alison Ash steps aboard the Persephone, she knows her life will never be the same. She will never again watch the sun rise over the asteroid belt, never again see Earth from a handheld telescope, and never again see her family. In less than three weeks, the ship will dock at the Posterus and begin the most important journey humankind has ever undertaken. More important than discovering fire, creating language, or even abandoning Earth to live confined in biospheres among the asteroid belt over 100 years ago. What Ash doesn’t expect is that by keeping her recent memory loss a secret she is jeopardizing not only the Persephone’s mission but humankind’s launch of the first ever generational ship. Nor does she anticipate her attraction to Captain Jordan Kellow, but both will change her life forever.

When I saw Unknown Horizons on NetGalley, I figured I’d give it a go. When you start a book with the ending, it has to be epic to pull it off. Unknown Horizons didn’t manage to pull that off. It’s still a fun read, but the ending left me scratching my head. The protagonist wasn’t likeable at all, but I think that was done by the author intentionally. Upon further reflection, many of the characters were unlikable. But, it somehow seemed to work as a story. There’s plenty of conflict to move the story along, and the science fiction tropes are fun. Unknown Horizons is a fast read, and I’d like to check out the sequel. I saw that it’s on Wattpad, but I’m an e-reader kind of guy, so I’ll wait until it’s available in that format.

I waffled between 3.5 stars and 4 stars for Unknown Horizons. The narrative is definitely different, almost fractured. In the end, I’m rating it 3.5 stars. Perhaps after reading the second story, I’ll revise my star rating up. CJ Birch is a talented debut sci-fi author, and I’ll be checking out more of her stuff as it becomes available.

CJ Birch has a number of degrees, certificates, and diplomas from various establishments (some more reputable than others), all of which have nothing to do with what she does for a living. After spending a few years ruling out jobs, she finally settled into video editing for a company in Toronto, which is essentially an excuse to get paid for watching movies all day. Of all the jobs CJ Birch has had, the 45 minutes she spent bartending is probably the most memorable (for reasons that don’t include nominations for employee of the month). A lover of words, coffee (the really strong kind that seeps from your pores announcing, by smell alone, your obsession) and sarcasm. She doesn’t have any pets, but she does have a rather vicious Ficus that has a habit of shedding all over the hardwood, usually right before company comes.

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Shiplord, by Felix R. Savage

As the alien vessel once known as the MOAD turns its deadly sights towards Earth, the survivors of the first human mission to Europa face their greatest trial yet. Stranded, and under constant attack, acting commander Jack Kildare is determined to return the Spirit of Destiny safely to Earth. But when his desperate warnings go unheeded at home, Jack is forced to confront the reality that he and his crew will have no place to return to if the alien ship arrives at Earth unchallenged. Forgotten, alone and left to die without any assistance from Earth, Jack and his surviving crewmates have no choice. Embarking on a life-or-death pursuit of the alien behemoth that now has Earth in its crosshairs, they find help in the oddest of places… a group of dissident aliens brought on board the Spirit of Destiny. Unfortunately for the crew, the alien passengers dangerously overload the ship’s life-support capacity, and Jack must fight off challenges to his authority from the very people he’s trying to save. With the heavily burdened Spirit of Destiny launched into a perilous homewards trajectory, the chase is on. Can Jack and his ragtag crew manage to beat the impossible odds of catching up to the alien planet-killer? Or will his ship and crew’s survival be imperiled by his generous decision to help the refugees? The future of humanity depends on the Spirit of Destiny … if it can reach Earth in time … and if there’s anyone left alive on board when it gets there.

Of the three books thus far in the quartet, I feel Shiplord is a step in the wrong direction. It felt as if the story was written, and it was too short, so a bunch of odd sex scenes were shoehorned in. There’s some great action in Shiplord, and you pretty much have to read it to keep up with the story, but I just didn’t care for it.

That’s not to say that the rest of the writing isn’t excellent – it is. Like books one and two, there is a lot of cool hard science fiction that’s no too in-your-face. No one will nerd out or anything. Whereas in Freefall and Lifeboat, there is a constant political undercurrent that interests me specifically, in Shiplord, the politicking seems to not follow the established canon from books one and two. The characterization established in books one and two seems to fall apart where Hannah was concerned. She seemed to be acting contrary to how I’d expect her to act. Finally, you all know I’m not a fan of cliffhangers, and Shiplord is the cliffhanger-y of them all.

If I had to sum up what I don’t like about Shiplord in a single word, that word would have to be “rushed.” Now of course, Felix R. Savage’s “worst” book in this series is still better than a lot of science fiction out there. And despite my quibbles with book three, I’d still recommend the entire series to any sci-fi fan, especially since the books are all in Kindle Unlimited.

I’m awarding Shiplord only four stars, and I cannot wait to read Killshot when it’s “published soon.”

felix-r-savage

You might say Felix R. Savage has a long history associated with rebellion. He was born in the 1970s, a decade of American youth rebelling against the safe culture of their parents. He is married to a wonderful woman and they have a beautiful daughter. Together the three of them live in Tokyo serving their cat overlord and benevolent protector. Felix writes Science Fiction and Fantasy while not translating, delighting in his family, or catering to the whims of the family’s cat. He never stops watching out for any sign the lizard people have found him.

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Lifeboat, by Felix R. Savage

After two years aboard the Spirit of Destiny, tensions among the elite international crew are at breaking point. Despite the obvious need to stay professional and united, as they approach the mysterious alien spaceship orbiting Europa, pilot Jack Kildare is acutely aware that not all the members of the crew may wish the best for the mission. There may be a saboteur on board, and he knows of at least one spy: the astrophysicist Skyler Taft. An attack from long-range alien weaponry cripples the Spirit of Destiny, forcing Jack to disobey orders to save the ship. Now he has to face the fact that the broken crew is the least of his worries. With the risky maneuver that saved the ship putting him dead center of the commander’s crosshairs, and the crew attempting to hold together the tattered remnants of their unity to investigate the alien spaceship, Jack finds himself selected for the most dangerous mission of all… descending to Europa’s surface to find out what lurks under the ice. As the voyage of discovery unravels into a desperate battle for survival, Jack races the clock to decode the secrets behind the alien intrusion. Will he find the truth in time to save the crew? Or will the thin threads of companionship snap under the strain of Skyler Taft gunning for his knowledge… or his blood?

Book one, Freefall, focused on the trials and tribulations of Kildare and the crew of the Spirit of Destiny on their way to Europa. I liked the political intrigue and the “real world” ramifications to such a discovery. Lifeboat is all spacefaring adventure. I might even say that Lifeboat is a more likable story than Freefall for a majority of sci-fi readers. Personally, I found the intrigue from Freefall made Lifeboat so satisfying.

I’d still classify this series as “hard” sci-fi, but it’s hard in a way that it addresses things that most “soft” sci-fi doesn’t namely, hygiene, and other little details that obviously had a lot of research performed to get the nuances right. The crew of misfits is so perfect, it reminds me so much of the interactions between the cast in Firefly.

I rated Freefall five stars, and I’m happy to say that Lifeboat is even better. Since I can’t rate it above five stars, I’ll have to settle for only five stars for Lifeboat too.

felix-r-savage

You might say Felix R. Savage has a long history associated with rebellion. He was born in the 1970s, a decade of American youth rebelling against the safe culture of their parents. He is married to a wonderful woman and they have a beautiful daughter. Together the three of them live in Tokyo serving their cat overlord and benevolent protector. Felix writes Science Fiction and Fantasy while not translating, delighting in his family, or catering to the whims of the family’s cat. He never stops watching out for any sign the lizard people have found him.

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The Judas Cypher, by Greg Dragon

In a war between man and machine, he must find a way to protect them all… After a devastating war forced humans to rely on synths for survival, the two have learned to coexist peacefully. Until now… When detective Dhata Mays is called in to investigate a homicide, what he uncovers threatens the serenity of this futuristic society. The gruesome murder means only one thing: someone is ready to incite another war. Now, it’s up to Dhata to ensure that the truth stays hidden—to protect both sides of the battle. But can he be unbiased in a black and white world that forces him to take sides?

I have yet to read a book by Greg Dragon that I haven’t liked. From his space opera to his futuristic world of androids and self-drive cars, you can’t go wrong with Greg Dragon. I know that The Judas Cypher, Single Wired Female and Re-Wired aren’t all part of the same universe, they sure feel like they could be. I’m not sure if the author intended to write a story that parallels today’s societal trend of divisiveness, but it’s definitely there contained within a science fiction mystery. Rich versus poor. Immigrant versus native. Synthetic versus flesh and bone. Like today’s society, people have drawn a line in the sand, based on seemingly arbitrary characteristics and fear. And that’s one of the greatest things about Science Fiction: We can tackle complex social issues and we can leave our preconceived notions away since we don’t specifically identify with the characters. No preaching. No politicking. Just good sci-fi. The Judas Cypher is easily a five-star read.

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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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Coalescence, by Zen DiPietro

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Fallon’s back, and ready to settle things with Blackout once and for all. If she and her team can’t take control, the PAC will splinter and galactic war will decimate the populace. Can one little rebellion save an empire? Avian Unit–and their friends–are sure as hell going to try.

 

 

The Good: I knew that I’d like Coalescence since I enjoyed Fragments and Translucid. Fallon’s pansexual relationships with Raptor and Wren are an interesting look into fluid sexuality. The chapters in Coalescence were a bit on the longer side, but not nearly as bad as Translucid.

The Bad: Some of the villainous acts committed by Blackout against the PAC seemed rather counter-intuitive. Parts left me scratching my head. It seemed as if the villains were the villains just to push the story along. The fall of the PAC that would incite galactic war wasn’t fully explained, and I didn’t feel as if I cared about the completion of Avian Unit’s mission other than to stop the bad guys from doing bad things. I guess I just wasn’t invested in the galaxy.

The Beautiful: Like Fragments and Translucid, there was a lot of action with enough going on that I just had to keep reading. I found some of the ancillary characters rapidly becoming my favorites, including a certain lizard doctor.

The Final Word: If you’ve read books one and two, then you will not be disappointed with this third book. If you’d a fan of Firefly, Deep Space Nine or The Expanse, you’ll totally grok this series. With the short story, The Cost of Business being free, and all three parts of the trilogy free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers, you simply cannot go wrong reading this series. Even the nine bucks is an easy sale. Get the series and read it. I look forward to more from Zen DiPietro in the future. Like the previous two stories, Coalescence is 4.5 stars.

zen-dipietro

Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, writer, and a mom of two. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. A recovering gamer, but we won’t talk about that. Particular loves include badass heroines, British accents, and the smell of Band-Aids. Being an introvert gets in her way sometimes, as she finds it hard to make idle chitchat or stay up past 9 p.m. On the other hand, it makes it easy for her to dive down the rabbit hole of her love for books, stories, movies and games.

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Time Siege, by Wes Chu

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Having been haunted by the past and enslaved by the present, James Griffin-Mars is taking control of the future. Earth is a toxic, sparsely inhabited wasteland–the perfect hiding place for a fugitive ex-chronman to hide from the authorities. James has allies, scientists he rescued from previous centuries: Elise Kim, who believes she can renew Earth, given time; Grace Priestly, the venerated inventor of time travel herself; Levin, James’s mentor and former pursuer, now disgraced; and the Elfreth, a population of downtrodden humans who want desperately to believe that James and his friends will heal their ailing home world. James also has enemies. They include the full military might of benighted solar system ruled by corporate greed and a desperate fear of what James will do next. At the forefront of their efforts to stop him is Kuo, the ruthless security head, who wants James’s head on a pike and will stop at nothing to obtain it.

It was nice to see how addiction and isolation affects one of the main characters. In the book, as with life, James’ relationship with those around him morphs to his new reality. Behaviors that were acceptable when he was a revered salvager and chronman now put his friends and family at risk.

The corrupt Kuo is still the maniacal villain she was in the first book, but in Time Siege, her motives are more rooted in what I’d expect from someone in her position instead of the moustache-twirling villain she was in the first book. The intricacies of the corporations and the governments are fleshed out, and we see how hope for the denizens of the solar system appears lost. The divide between the wealthy and the lowest class is further exemplified with themes of subjugation and genocide.

Both books in the series are excellent sci-fi, and I’m looking forward to reading the third book this summer.

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Unfortunately, Chu’s goals of using Hanes underwear commercials to launch a lucrative career following in Marky Mark’s footsteps came to naught. Despite phenomenal hair and manicured eyebrows, his inability to turn left led his destiny down another road. Instead of creating new realities with his skills as a thespian, Chu would dazzle audiences with his pen. Well, it’s a computer really, but the whole technology thing really sucks for metaphors. He had spirit fingers maybe? In 2015, Wesley Chu won the John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award. Chu’s debut novel from Angry Robot Books, The Lives of Tao, earned him a Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award and a Science Fiction Goodreads Choice Award Finalist slot. His new series, Time Salvager, published by Tor Books, was released on July 7th, featuring an energy stealing time traveler with addiction issues.

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Moonrise CH36 – Awake

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[1010 words – Inspiration Monday, #3WW, Sunday Scribblings 2] Anne blinked away her scowl like she was on a long road trip, and sleep threatened to stop her for the night. On the way to the address provided by Major Globe, Anne sat in macabre silence her brain trying to figure out how to warn Massey of the impending danger. Their world was slowly crumbling beneath them.

“The report on this Andy Kitz guy that Sindi sent is fascinating. He’s the typical ‘obsessed over supers’ nerd it seems. Nothing unusual in his resume, minor jobs, part-time journalist, lame blogger. But the cherry on top is that he is weirdly enough creator of this SuperHub thingy. Do you think Joaquin was Superhubbing himself to see where’s he on the freak-o-meter of powers?”

Silas’s chuckle was dry. He apparently thought of himself as a kindred spirit. Anne held her tongue as Silas amused himself with talk that Anne didn’t register but kept her red leather gloved hands firm on the steering wheel. She refused to show weakness in front of Globe’s lackey.

When they arrived, there was no sign of Massey. She hoped he came, saw and left. The old dog was smart enough to steer clear of FBI agents, all of them Globe’s men. She was glad the presence of the taskforce cut out any sidewalk viewers. For once, they would be free of the conspiracy hounds jockeying for attention that for some reason Globe refused to keep at bay. The crime scene was all theirs to investigate.

* * *

Kristoph opened his eyes and sighed. He breathed in the smell of the Canadian forest. A low-hanging fog blanketed the serene winter landscape. Pain radiated from his wrist. He looked down but could find nothing wrong with the troublesome joint. He tried to push away from the tree, but he was unable to move. A flush rose on his cheeks. The wooded scene before him was oddly familiar. A little girl in a pink dress skipped through the woods, singing a silly song.

“Too cold,” he croaked, and a shiver ran down his spine.

The little girl in the distance stopped singing and skipping and stared at him. Kristoph blinked, and then the girl was kneeling in front of him. There was something about her eyes that made Kristoph shiver again.

“No chance of reign,” the girl declared.

Kristoph blinked. Her words were eerily familiar.

“Mister Puss doesn’t like the fog,” she declared. “Too many clouds against his fur.”

Kristoph cringed as the fog slowly dissipated. He knew what he’d see would still his soul.

The little girl smiled a lopsided grin and tilted her head to the side.

He saw in his mind’s eye the devastation of Seattle burned to the ground. Broken skyscrapers like missing teeth rotted from the inside out. Bodies were everywhere. He tried to lift his arm to block the torrent of sticky red rain, but like the rest of his body, his arms refused his commands. He knew the sight should scare him, but the corner of his mouth quirked up. He was disappointed when the fog lifted, and all he saw was the Canadian wilderness.
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