Category: Science Fiction
A collection of fifteen previously published stories plus two new ones fill Flight or Fright.
If you haven’t read Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, or seen the iconic Twilight Zone episode, join one man’s solo terror when he sees a man (or does he?) trying to destroy the wing of his plane.
One of the stories original to this collection is You are Released by Joe Hill. It is a too-close-to-true story about air travelers during a possibly nuclear incident.
Stephen King’s original story, The Turbulence Expert, is about a mysterious organization that perhaps Mr. King is a member of in real life?
The stories are varied enough for most readers’ taste. There are a few stories written when flight was still brand new and are more curiosities than entertaining. There are stories about time travel, terrorism, and even a poem about a real life incident. The majority are horror stories.
Spend an enjoyable few hours reading Flight or Fright and you won’t be sorry. Joe Hill’s story alone is worth picking up the book. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: Jun 4 2019
In Limited Wish, Mark is a busy sixteen-year-old. He is still playing Dungeons & Dragons with his high school buddies. However, now he is a freshman at Cambridge University. He is getting over a breakup and finding a new love. He is battling cancer. All while dealing with time travel, paradoxes, and, of course, saving the universe.
This book is set six months following its predecessor in the Impossible Times trilogy, One Word Kill (reviewed here). The author provides an in depth spoiler-filled synopsis of the prior book in this book’s prologue but the series is best read in order, if possible. If you read the prologue in this book, you will ruin all the surprises in the first book.
Admittedly, math is not my favorite subject despite having taken it through calculus in college. I also never took a physics class anywhere due to my previously mentioned aversion to math. I do like string theory, in theory at least, so the time traveling multiple universe plot was fine. However, the parallel universes did get a bit confusing as the plot was much more complex than One Word Kill. However, there is still some human emotion and humor on hand here too. Overall, Limited Wish is highly recommended for science, math and science fiction fans. For all of us just regular thriller readers, I give it 4 stars and again recommend reading One Word Kill first. Still, I can’t wait for the final book in this series, Dispel Illusion, out in November 2019!
Thanks to 47North and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Kindle Unlimited, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Romance, Science Fiction Tagged with: May 28 2019, time travel
Nick is just trying to survive high school in One Word Kill…literally.
Nick, Simon, John and Elton are best friends, high schoolers, and Dungeons & Dragons fanatics in 1986. Nick also has a crush on their newest player, Mia. Plus Nick has cancer.
Bullies Devis and Rust are rumored to have burned a homeless man to death. What is undeniable is that they have fun taunting the nerds in their high school. Nick’s secret weapon is the mysterious Demus, who appears exactly when he is needed and has strange forecasting powers. The plot just gets better from there.
One Word Kill is a smart, nerdy, many worlds’ hypothesis treat for anyone who loves Back to the Future, 1980s gaming, or physics class. Thirty years after the time period of this book, the nerds clearly have won. Right, Mr. Gates and Mr. Musk? But back in the 80s, the victory wasn’t so assured. That uncertainty is a large part of the charm of this book. If you’re a fan of The Goldbergs on television, I guarantee you will enjoy this book as much as I did. 4 stars!
Thanks to 47North, Amazon Publishing UK, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Kindle Unlimited, Science Fiction Tagged with: May 1 2019
Absolutely beautiful artwork and an intriguing plot enliven Lady Mechanika Vol 5.
Lady Mechanika is again trying to discover who mechanized her when she is interrupted by a new issue. Mr. Lewis, her sidekick, is pulled out of his depression by a new lady love. But is her love for him true? In the meantime, Lady Mechanika runs into a professional hit woman, Mistress Grimm.
I love the new villainess. Her metal mask is truly scary. It will be nice if Mr. Lewis pulls out of his funk and man’s up as Robin to Lady Mechanika’s Batman.
Seriously, the awesome steampunk art here will, I’m sure, inspire amateur seamstresses/metalworkers out there to create some fine clothing. I also like the overt and subtle female empowerment within the plot. Lady Mechanika is obviously an independent woman as well as a take-no prisoners kick-a$$. However, it’s not just the Lady, both young girls in the story are shown in pants and not intimidated by anyone.
Lady Mechanika Vol 5 is a fantastic merging of steampunk and fantasy with a mystery. This series just keeps getting better. 5 stars!
Thanks to Benitez Productions and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: May 14 2019, steampunkish
String City is where the universe’s different strings come together. Oh, mythological creatures like Zeus, monsters like cyclops and golems, and all manner of strangeness live there too. A world full of infinite possibilities makes some strange bedfellows.
An unnamed private investigator is asked by the Titans to look into an explosion in their casino. He is a stringwalker, one who can move directly along the strings. However, the strings seem unsettled. Could it be the end times?
I wanted to love this as much as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. However, the explanation of string theory and how the world worked seemed overlong and overly complicated. However, if you are okay with extensive world building, you will like String City. The plot and character interactions are clever. 4 stars!
Thanks to Rebellion Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: Mar 5 2019
Jump into nerd culture with the Long Con.
The Long Con is the longest pop culture convention ever. It appears the Convention caused the apocalypse five years previously. Since he survived the Convention’s destruction, reporter Victor is given the assignment to find out what happened.
Slipping back and forth between the post-apocalyptic present and the pre-apocalyptic past, the plot is interesting and includes many details about conventions. I wish that the characterizations were more fleshed out. However, the humor makes up for it. The Long Con is recommended to those who have either been to conventions or wished they had. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Oni Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: Feb 12 2019, Nerdy
Fans of the Hunger Games have found a new book series to love with Apocalypse 5.
Sometime in the future, the world’s scientists are trying to develop a team that can fight any type of calamity that might cause an apocalypse on Earth. Teams of five young people are placed into all kinds of virtual reality situations: fires, aliens, and advanced weaponry. The catch is if they die in the virtual war, they also die in real life. The latest team has lasted 18 months of daily virtual skirmishes.
The action doesn’t stop in Apocalypse 5. There is also a romance and an underlying mystery. There is truly something for everyone in this book. The characters are well drawn and you empathize with their stories. 4 stars!
Thanks to Black Spot Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: Feb 12 2019
Large mixed bag of comic short stories all with the theme of cheap space travel fill FTL Y’All.
There are 21 stories within this 327-page book. Most have the theme that Earth is a wasteland but outer space isn’t much better. Crowds, bureaucracy, and masses of people have ruined Earth and now are threatening to do the same for outer space. It is interesting to see so many different perspectives on the future. The artwork is also a great look at many different styles in one book.
FTL, Y’All is a good choice for sci-fi comic readers looking for something different. You may just find the next comics star! 3 stars.
Thanks to Iron Circus Comics for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Tagged with: Dec 25 2018, space travel
Fans of the Limetown podcast rejoice! Many of your lingering questions are answered within these pages. Plus there are no spoilers for future podcasts.
Lia wants to be a reporter. Her first investigation is of the missing residents of nearby Limetown. She discovers that her Uncle Emile is somehow involved, which makes it personal. Her father and uncle’s origin stories are told in flashbacks. What type of experiments were done at Limetown? Who were the people behind the experiments? What were their motivations? Why was Lia’s family so intimately involved?
I had heard of the Limetown podcast but hadn’t listened to any episodes before acquiring this book. I had only read about 20% when I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and binge listened to season 1. The podcast is formatted as interviews with survivors of the Limetown disaster. This book starts before Lia is a reporter or Emile has joined the Limetown project. By looking back, the podcast is inherently more mysterious and shocking than the book that is more linear. However, they complement each other well regardless of the order they are imbibed.
If you like mysteries with a creepy scientific setting, both the Limetown book and podcast are highly recommended. 4 stars! If you are already a podcast fan, you have to read this book!
Thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction Tagged with: Nov 13 2018, podcasting
If you are a young adult and are not adopted, you may enjoy Outpost Zero Vol 1, a space opera set in the far future.
Sometime in the future, Denis and his wife, Jann, are on the Discovery Team, who look for life on their alien planet. Their 14-year-old daughter, Alea, wants desperately to join them so she secures a spot as an intern for the Team. Alea’s boyfriend, Steven, believes the Discovery Team is too dangerous but Alea isn’t swayed.
The family lives in the Outpost, an artificially created biome that allows humans to live in a large domed city on an alien planet. When Denis and Jann are outside the biome, they see a fast approaching weather cell that may spell doom for the biome and the humans that live inside.
Outpost Zero Vol 1 has a good plot for young adult readers. There is a mystery but I don’t want to give any spoilers. The artwork is fine. The color palette of dusty blues and greens fits the mood inside a biome. However, I disliked this quote by Alea regarding the head of the biome who took in her son after his parents were killed, “What I mean is, do you think the Chief would do anything for Sam? Even though he isn’t really hers?” Jann’s response is even more insensitive to adoptive families, “Well, I think—she cares about Sam, wants him to succeed. Loves him like her own son. But when a child’s yours from the start—when they come from you…there’s a bond you can’t get any other way. It’s just the way it is.” This discussion wasn’t necessary to the plot and will hurt people’s feelings. I can’t recommend this book. 2 stars.
Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: Nov 13 2018
Whether you write mysteries, fantasy or science fiction, Putting the Science in Fiction is an exceptional way to avoid factual errors. But it is also just a great way to catch up with current technology trends.
When your spaceship dramatically explodes into a fiery cataclysm, scientists everywhere are screaming (with laughter). Of course, in space, no one can hear you scream. However, you should also know that without oxygen, you know like in outer space, fiery explosions can’t occur. To avoid giggling scientists, read this book.
The range of subject matter within Putting the Science in Fiction is impressive. From simple lab protocols to poisons, genetic engineering, mental health issues, disasters, rocket science, biology, computer science and more, this book has something for everyone. Each story is written by an expert in their field. Most are less than ten pages long.
Even for non-writers, some of the misconceptions exposed are fascinating. Walt Disney probably wasted his money freezing his head. Most of the Terminator series is impossible. However, the storm trooper’s pulse (really an intermittent laser) cannon has already been tested successfully by the US Navy. Unfortunately, Luke’s lightsaber is a non-starter as are all of the rebel’s ships. I guess we know who really would have won the (star) war.
Okay, I admit it: I am a total nerd. I absolutely loved this book. I am planning to use it at parties to debunk (okay, maybe ruin) popular movies. However, even as a non-writer, Putting the Science in Fiction gave me at least five great plots for a future bestselling novel. Unfortunately, it won’t be written by me. Perhaps you will write it so I can have the pleasure of seeing my idea in print. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Writer’s Digest, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Non-fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: Oct 16 2018, science, writing guide
Melding hard-boiled noir with a post-Facebook breach world is a brilliant idea. When nothing is private, the world’s only choice is to turn to Analog Volume 1.
In 2023, Jack is a Ledger Man, a paper jockey hired to move confidential papers from place to place. He also literally broke the Internet. Now people have no privacy at all. Many welcome the all access. For those that don’t, Jack is hired.
The government wants to break up Jack’s monopoly on confidentiality. “Aunt Sam” uses Jack’s loved ones to coerce him to breach his clients’ documents. An old enemy returns forcing Jack to retreat. Jack is in hiding but not for long…
Analog Volume 1 has excellent worldbuilding. The art is suitably dark. I just wish that the characters were more fleshed out. I’m unclear about the back stories and underlying motivations of all three main characters: Jack, his father and Oona, Jack’s girlfriend. I also expected more sarcastic humor from the author of Deadpool. Hopefully, future volumes will fulfill my wishes. I will definitely pick up the next one because the setting is incredible.
Putting noir characters in a future setting has been done before. Fans of those tales like Blade Runner and Looper will enjoy this dark look into the future. 3.5 stars.
Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Tagged with: Oct 9 2018
Battlestar Suburbia is a humorous take on a common science fiction question. What if the machines took over?
How did the machines take over Earth and its solar system? Internet memes become so stupid that people stop using the Internet. Without its audience, the Internet becomes first hostile and then weaponized as it develops intelligence. Once the intelligence is passed to hardware, all machines eventually wake up to the fact that they are inherently superior to the bags of flesh called humanity. Humans are only kept around to clean. Without waterproof opposable thumbs, machines have difficulty with those types of tasks. Some humans clean machines intimately, if you know what I mean. Unproductive humans, those without a job, are imprisoned.
When Darren loses his livelihood as well as his wallet, he is forced to find another job. After striking out at the official Job Temple and as an unofficial streetwalker (see intimately comment above), he is forced to team up with Kelly. Kelly is also a streetwalker but has a family of beauticians who help them both. In the meantime, Pam, a sentient breadmaker, is sent by the state to unofficially search the Internet for Kelly.
I wanted Battlestar Suburbia to be another Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which it was not. However, I’m not sure it was fair of me to have such high expectations. So I would recommend that readers go into this book with no expectations other than spending a few hours in a possible future world where the narrator quite frequently says funny things. Puns rain supreme. From the motto of the Job Temple, “You Betta Werk” to planets named “Municipal Parking” to the great goddess of the Internet, “Alexa”, the jokes are frequently groaners based on pop culture. Overall, I liked this quick read. It was like the Simpson’s episodes on Halloween—light and humorous. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Farrago, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Humor, Science Fiction Tagged with: Sentient machines, Sep 20 2018
Oblivion Song Vol 1 is a great sci-fi horror comic by the creator of The Walking Dead.
Oblivion was created ten years prior when Philadelphia was overrun by huge alien beasts from an alternate dimension. Unfortunately, the beasts like the taste of human flesh. 20,000 are missing and presumed dead.
Nathan works in a poorly funded facility that goes to Oblivion to rescue any remaining humans. When he catches two humans and teleports them back to Earth’s dimension, they tell him of 100 humans surviving in the countryside in Oblivion. Nathan is determined to help them despite government apathy, religious zealotry and aging equipment opposing him at every turn.
The plot, setting and world-building are terrific in Oblivion Songs Vol 1. Because this is only the first volume, the characters are rather thin but I’m sure they will be fleshed out in subsequent volumes. The highly saturated colors and use of stark shadows in some scenes contributes much to the atmosphere.
Is this the next Walking Dead? It’s too early to tell. However, it is good in its own right and definitely worth a read. 4 stars!
Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Tagged with: near future, Sep 12 2018
Rett and Bryn continually awaken in the apocalyptic future in the Echo Room.
Step 1: Rett wakes up in a locked metal room with no memory of how he got there. He has blood on his clothes and hands. Soon he sees Bryn, who is also locked in the room with no memory of how she got there. As they talk, they discover they are both from the government-run shelter for abandoned youth, Walling House. Rett tries to discover a way out of the room. He finds a broken lock on one door. He finds hidden doors to two other rooms. However, there is no food or water immediately available—just a bin filled with empty water bottles and another with strangely glowing green tubes. The only clue is the phrase “SCATTER 3” on one of the walls.
Step 2: Explore. Get scared. Repeat Step 1. Rett and Bryn learn a bit more with each repetition.
The mystery is intriguing. The setting in a wrecked near future world is eerily unsettling. Even though it’s marketed as young adult science fiction, the Echo Room works well as an adult thriller too. While the pacing slowed a bit in the middle, the plot kept the reader engaged. The book will make a great movie someday. It is perfect for fans of puzzles and intriguing situations like in the Maze Runner.
A sequel is hinted at toward the end. I’m looking forward to that book. This one deserves 4 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Tor Teen, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: apocalypse, locked room mystery, Sep 11 2018
A literary take on a post-apocalyptic novel sure to be nominated for a literary award or two. Severance is the story of Candace, a Chinese immigrant and millennial, who is trying to just live her dull life when a real apocalypse hits.
At first, Candace is in denial and continues to live in an eerily empty NYC. Eventually, she leaves in an old NYC taxi and collapses by the side of the road. A group of other NYC survivors take her on a trip to the Facility, where the nerdy leader, Bob, says he has a crash pad perfectly suited to the apocalypse he knew was coming thanks to gaming and Internet conspiracy sites.
I enjoyed the beautiful evocative prose of this novel the most. The plot works but some of its satirical aspects seem forced. I get that Candace’s life is an endless repetition of the same tasks with no knowledge gained from them. Why does the epidemic have the same symptom? It is like getting hit over the head with her point. Also, I would have liked characters other than Candace to be more fully fleshed out. Most seem like stereotypes like Bob the nerd. It is hard to care if something bad happens to a stereotype.
While I don’t think this will appeal to most Walking Dead or World War Z fans because it is too slow as literary fiction often is, it will be a fine change in setting for literary fiction fans. Since I am more the first choice, I give Severance 3 stars. I wanted more horror or more satire. However, your star rating may vary depending on your genre preference.
Thanks to the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Humor, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: apocalypse, Aug 14 2018, satire