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Tag Archives: Sci-Fi

The Singularity Wheel – Michael S. Fedison

A quick mention to avoid the blurb if you haven’t read the first book The Eye-Dancers, it is best to start there, if you carry on you may pick up minor spoilers that could potentially ruin the full enjoyment of your reading experience.

Five years ago, Monica Tisdale, the “ghost girl,” invaded their dreams and led them through the void. Now she is back, more desperate and more powerful than ever.

For Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski, the intervening five years have seen them advance to the cusp of their senior year in high school. They have girlfriend troubles, job stresses, future careers to consider. They don’t have the time, or the inclination, to be whisked away to Monica’s world again.

But when Monica calls on them to leap into the abyss and bridge the gap between dimensions, she will not take no for an answer. She has tapped into the deepest pools of her mysterious powers, leading to consequences as unforeseen as they are disastrous. For Monica, the multiverse, the concept of a limitless number of parallel selves and parallel worlds, has become all too real. And all too terrifying.

Through it all, she knows that Mitchell and his friends are the only ones who can save her.

If she doesn’t kill them first.

This cover is one of the most eye-catching of the year, that I have come across to date. Everything from the font, to the space spade symbol is really classy, not that a book should be judged by its cover.  It’s been all change in the intervening five years since the children returned home, and having grown into teenagers with all the associated problems, this new story takes on a more mature aspect.  As you would expect with more grown up protagonists, the peril stakes have also risen, which is always a good thing.

After a few chapters, reminding us of the characters and bringing them up to date with their lives, the story really gets going.  This time around there is less detail focussing on the world which is to be expected to avoid repetition, although the reader still feels that nostalgic, comfortable connection. I do like those little details, and exploring the town of Colbyville was one of the highlights of The Eye-Dancers, for me. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on 31/05/2018 in Children's Literature, Fiction

 

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Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi

From the rubble-strewn streets of US-occupied Baghdad, the scavenger Hadi collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and give them a proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realises he has created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive – first from the guilty, and then from anyone who crosses its path.

To the backdrop of post Iraq war Baghdad, with all its daily acts of terrorism and political sects vying for power; life goes on as usual for the inhabitants. To this perilous way of life, is added a modern take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

With a strong start I was looking forward to following the lives of the various inhabitants of Baghdad.  Sadly, after the initial forty or so pages, the story soon started to wane and, although it kept me entertained – especially with the role superstition plays in people’s lives – it never really hit the heights which the early pages promised.

On a basic level it’s an easy read but below the surface – should you wish to delve into it – there is the strong sense of chaos of infrastructure and the political (and by extent religious) failures (and upheavels) both inept and corrupt which show through. The tone of the book is one of a sense of needing to believe things will get better without much evidence to support it happening anytime soon.

There is a diverse range of characters from all walks of life, a good mix of likeable and odious but all are well written with a decent amount of depth for such a big cast, in relation to the size of the book. The structure of the story overlaps events, keeping the story compact and allowing the reader to see a range of reactions to the same circumstances.  Although this firmly sets characters and details into the mind, the overall time frame of the book is harder to pin down and makes the story feel a bit nebulous as the relation of events to each other wasn’t too clearly defined. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 22/05/2018 in Fiction

 

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Evil Star Wars

There are few authors I actually pay attention to as people, unless the books are of extremely high quality. Thankfully Margaret Atwood is a thousand miles from being one of those authors.

I just heard about this so sorry for being a bit late with it. I’m talking of course the Variety interview Atwood did recently, which is a fairly straightforward, marginally interesting interview until she bizarrely makes the claim that Star Wars was to blame for 9/11.  I mean we all know it was Back to the Future that predicted it, but idiocy aside, what is the world coming too?  Here is the section in question (with my italics):

You attended one of the women’s marches last year. What do you make of this latest wave of activism? 
Typically, waves are waves. They hit the shore and then they recede and then they hit the shore again. How many backlashes have we been through? We used to have a race going on, to see which would win, between “1984” and “Brave New World.” It looked as if “Brave New World” had won. That turned out not to be true. Just to give you a very creepy feeling, there was an opera of “The Handmaid’s Tale” that premiered in Denmark in 2000. It started with a film reel going across the top of the stage and showing various things blowing up. And one of the things that blew up was the Twin Towers. But it hadn’t blown up yet. They did the opera again, and they had to take it out, because it was no longer in the future. Does that give you a creepy feeling?

Yes, it does.
They didn’t get that idea from my opera, don’t worry. They got the idea from “Star Wars.”

Do you really believe that?
Remember the first one? Two guys fly a plane in the middle of something and blow that up? The only difference is, in “Star Wars,” they get away. Right after 9/11, they hired a bunch of Hollywood screenwriters to tell them how the story might go next. Sci-fi writers are very good at this stuff, anticipating future events. They don’t all come true, but there are interesting “what if” scenarios.

Where do you start with this car crash?  Most importantly her play was not a catalyst at all, it couldn’t have been. We don’t know why not, and as usual interviewers won’t do their job and ask probing questions so I guess that will remain a mystery.  Star Wars gave them the idea – presumably not the original film – not one of the many books or films where hijackings and attempts to do damage with planes are central plot points..

I’m not offended because it’s Star Wars,  I’m not one of those people. I enjoyed the original trilogy but think the new films are utter rubbish. but why would anybody who seems intelligent come up with something so downright odd?  Maybe it was an odd bit of failed sarcasm, although it doesn’t read like it.  The more cynical may suggest it is because the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale is due to air on the 25th April.  If this is the best she has, then maybe save it for the marketing team.  Whatever the reason, I’ll save my money and not encourage such people and their inane ideas with book/DVD sales.

 
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Posted by on 13/04/2018 in Fiction, Films, Interviews, Journalism

 

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The Eye-Dancers – Michael S. Fedison

Seventh-grader Mitchell Brant and three of his classmates inexplicably wake up at the back edge of a softball field to the sounds of a game, the cheering of the crowd. None of them remembers coming here. And as they soon learn, “here” is like no place they’ve ever seen. Cars resemble antiques from the 1950s. There are no cell phones, no PCs. Even the spelling of words is slightly off.

A compulsive liar, constantly telling fantastic stories to garner attention and approval, Mitchell can only wish this were just one more of his tall tales. But it isn’t. It’s all too real. Together, as they confront unexpected and life-threatening dangers, Mitchell and his friends must overcome their bickering and insecurities to learn what happened, where they are, and how to get back home.

The answers can be found only in the mysterious little girl with the blue, hypnotic eyes. The one they had each dreamed of three nights in a row before arriving here. She is their only hope. And, as they eventually discover, they are her only hope.

And time is running out.

The Eye-Dancers, is a story of friendship that has a great nostalgic vibe, bearing similarities in feeling to such coming of age stories like Stephen King’s The Body (the film being titled Stand By Me), mixed in with a classic sci-fi, à la The Twilight Zone.  Both of which infuse the prose with their respective flavours and make this story extremely enjoyable to read.

There are plenty of real world YA issues covered here, from self-doubt to broken families, all without getting too heavy.  It’s the mixture of the real life and fantastical, and the way Fedison balances it, that is a real strength for this book. The mystery itself is not as clear-cut or clichéd as adult readers long familiar with the genre may guess at when reading the blurb, which is a relief and not at all surprising, considering the author’s blog posts, the link of which you will find at the bottom of this post. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 12/03/2018 in Children's Literature, Fiction, Sci-Fi

 

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It’s Fun to Stay at the YEAG!

This blog post should have gone out yesterday but the internet was inexplicably down for a while so belatedly this is coming out today:

Not content with just one avenue of helping children, I am now helping promote an annual book – familiar to some of you – that encourages children to read, get into Sci-Fi, use their imaginations, and to be more literate which makes for a better society in general.

it has been good to get back in touch with Dreaming Robot Press who have been kind enough to send me an advanced copy of the upcoming anthology, The Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide 2018.  For those of you that don’t know, the YEAG is a book that aims to be inclusive of all, sometimes drop in subtle morals and most of all give children the passion for books and exploring their minds.

With such an unlimited scope for stories, each adventure promises to be a joy and my review of last year’s 2017 YEAG will give you a taster of the sort of thing you can expect, as I delve into the new one.  For now though the Kickstarter campaign, although having reached its target and soon to close is still worth checking out if you feeling like sharing the love and helping to support this project, head on over to their Kickstarter page.  Your contribution is appreciated.

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Posted by on 12/07/2017 in Children's Literature, Sci-Fi

 

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Revolt – Jess Harpley

revoltThis is book two in the Verge of Desolation series so if you are new to the series, skip the blurb  and I will do my best to keep out any story spoiling information as you will want to start with book one, The Mill reviewed here.

Jen has departed, leaving mechanically augmented Hopper at the top of a dimensionally phasing building wondering what’s next. Riding home, she encounters the strange but intriguing Ravin, a man so desperate to make a change in their cruel world, Hopper’s never fully sure she can trust him. Her thirst for revenge against the doctors of The Mill shapes the revolt of their century as she adopts Ravin’s quest for freedom and unravels a secret which cuts deeply into her heart. Return to The Mill with Hopper and Ravin on their bloody adventure to destroy the source of the depraved experiments and save the world from the true evil that plagues it.

Revolt picks up straight from where The Mill left off and as with its predecessor is an action packed story that flies along and keeps the body count high, It has a lively, cyberpunk feeling, keeping it fresh with unexpected events and quirky characters..

As usual Jess presents a strong female lead – a theme running through all her work – and one that appeals to both sexes.  This time our heroine is plunged into an uneasy alliance which radiates tension and vulnerability adding another layer to a story already rich with dark imagery. It is that uncertainty which drives the book and keeps an air of mystery to the proceedings as the reader can never quite tell what sort of twists will occur and where that will take the adventure.

Goodbye, you elegant weirdo

The uncertainty drives the character arcs and reveals that there is always something more to each player than was first imagined.  This metamorphosis of character is something that is a constant through the Verge of Desolation series, which really adds, not only to the scope of the characters but also the unpredictability of the story.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 03/03/2017 in Sci-Fi

 

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2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide

itsfuntostayattheyeagNature gets to eat its mistakes, but we have to live with ours

Having forgotten about this review after the upheaval of last year’s end, I belatedly bring you this review, after a badly needed editing session.

This latest anthology (and my first foray into the YEAG series) is packed with 24 multifarious stories.  In a universe where anything can happen, the scope will really appeal to children who no doubt already love their science fiction with so much good stuff about in plenty of mediums.

Getting children reading is always rewarding both for themselves and in the wider view a more literate society.  Having heroes their own age, who they can relate to and imagine themselves in such situations will definitely fuel their passion for books and adventure.

The Dreaming Robot Press page states that, Our characters are white, black, asian, latino. Human and robot. Everyone belongs here. Add in people with handicaps as well and this is a truly inclusive mix. I did find the book heavily weighted to female protagonists which makes sense as there is an under representation of both female authors and female protagonists in the genre.  The boy in me would have perhaps wished for a bit more balance but there is enough choice for me out there already and it was refreshing to read about female characters and their escapades for a change.

The variation is pleasing and has plenty of depth with the different styles of writing and setting, there is something to suit all tastes and also a lot of scope here to feed a child’s imagination and to encourage them to write and read more.  The stories also have a social aspect, exploring what it is like to be seen as different, coping with illness as well as displaying determination, loyalty, and all that good stuff too. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 20/01/2017 in Children's Literature, Sci-Fi

 

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