George Kempland

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by George Kempland

  • If Looks Could Kill on July 27, 2010
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    If Looks Could Kill by Rob Shelsky. This is a dark, compelling piece! If you like your sci-fi dark, strangely erotic without being explicit, you'll love, If Looks Could Kill, by Rob Shelsky. This is a post-apocalyptic tale of a new type of plague, and how it is spread is the strangest of all aspects of this story. The hero is an antihero, someone you feel sorry for, and yet he comes across almost like a mouse mesmerized by a snake. You can't help but keep on reading to find out what happens to him. There is some really really superb writing here. Rob Shelsky is a consummate wordsmith, a master of dark description in my estimation. If you want nightmares, then read this chilling tale just before bedtime. If Looks Could Kill is sure to affect your dreams! And not in a good way.
  • This Narrow Isthmus on July 28, 2010
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    This Narrow Isthmus, by Rob Shelsky, is an action-packed short story. Set on a planet whose evolution seems to have run totally amok, the crew of a lost star ship liner try to find answers before it's too late. Can they ever colonize this world, make it home for their hundreds of stranded passengers? Or is the place just too savage, to terrible, to deal with? What is the dark secret of this world? Author Rob Shelsky does a great job of creating a believable setting for his story, This Narrow Isthmus. Having had some science background, I can attest to the fact that this story takes in real considerations with regard to the planet, the ecology, and the way evolution has proceeded there. You care for the crew, experience their fear, disgust, and at times, relief. All I know, is that while reading this story, I just wanted to get the heck of that planet and fast! This Narrow Isthmus is an intriguing, thought-provoking story of the first order. Mr. Shelsky seems to have a real talent for blending science, good story telling, and a certain darkness, which I love. I highly recommend it to all! Read This Narrow Isthmus and enjoy--if you dare!
  • Bug-Eyed Monsters on July 28, 2010
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    Space Opera at its very best! Move over Star Wars, because here is a novella done in the classic space opera style of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. This story has BEMS (Bug-Eyed Monsters), the bum, and the beautiful babe! Action-packed, full of adventure, non-stop danger and with the whole of Earth's future hanging in the balance (not to mention the hero and the heroine's). You'll love every chapter of this fun, exciting, and original story! I give this five stars and it really deserves them! Most fun I've had in ages. One review compared this story to Edward Hamilton, of classic sci-fi fame. That reviewer was right! This is better!
  • Shepherd Of Babylon on July 29, 2010
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    Shepherd of Babylon by Rob Shelsky is a different take on the whole Lovecraftian idea. Here, we have the evil god, Dagon, and his dark influences being more indirect, but just as powerful in their way. In this tale, an Archbishop of New York is posed with a difficult question, to accept immortality as gifted to humanity by the returning Dagon, and obey his church’s will on the matter, or defy it and the god, Dagon. His choice, reasons, and how he goes about it, forms the crux of this powerful tale of one man’s conscience, his right to choose, but what he chooses will surprise you, especially for a man of the cloth! A good read, one that keeps you engrossed to the very end. If you like dark science fiction tales that are thought provoking, as well, you’ll very much like Shepherd of Babylon by Rob Shelsky.
  • That April Sunrise on July 30, 2010
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    That April Sunrise by Rob Shelsky is an inspiring story of someone coming back to life after an interval in the dread underworld of prolonged grief. For the young, this is the normal course of events in most cases, but for older people, the outcome is seldom so certain, and this is how it is in That April Sunrise. Mr. Shelsky captures this fact, deftly handles the impact of such a major loss as that of a longtime spouse, the resulting state the widow, Jenny, finds herself in, and the consequences all this entails. It is with delight, and yes, even some reverence we watch Jenny attempt to return to the land of the living. Set in a beautiful locale in Florida, one that abounds with natural wildlife, we follow Jenny as she struggles to come to terms with her grief, and attempts to cross back over to the land of the living. This, for me, was a particularly uplifting story of someone striving, of wanting to let go and give up, but also who wants to go on living. You can’t help but feel for Jenny as she goes through all this, cry with her at her loss, but applaud, and yes, even laugh a little as she goes through her journey! That April Sunrise is an inspirational short story. It’s message is clear, that none of us survives great grief easily, but it taught me that when despair threatens, when grief is truly overwhelming, I have but to look around me to find reasons to go on living. A truly valuable lesson, a truly uplifting tale. I recommend That April Sunrise by Rob Shelsky for those who have suffered, and for those who want to delight in someone that struggles to rise again, to go on living. I give That April Sunrise five stars. This story deserves every bit of that, and more.
  • Brane Drain on July 31, 2010
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    A ghost and love story of a very different sort, one where there is a chance to make choices or amends--that’s Brane Drane, by Rob Shelsky. It's also told from the "typical" man's point of view. Done in a lighter way, this is still a dark story, as it deals with the issues of grief and loss, and oddly a very strange sort of love triangle, but in a decidedly new way, and with a slightly humorous touch! Brane Drane is the tale of one man, Freddy, who lives in a world that is suddenly populated by ghosts, or at least ghost-like specters. When one of them turns out to be his dead wife, who keep reappearing to him, Freddy must make a decision--to stay with his present wife, or choose the dead one over her. His choice, his and his living wife’s feelings about the matter, form the crux of this special story and play out against a background of wandering phantasms. I can only say that Rob Shelsky appears to have done it again, with this curiously real tale about a seemingly very unreal subject, which comes complete with a good, believable explanation for it all. Even the descriptions are done with a light, and yet at the same time, a dark touch, such as the description of Freddy’s coworker, the “Egg man.” We’ve all met "him" at one point or another. Read, Brane Drane, by Rob Shelsky. It’s a ghost story (of sorts), a bizarre love triangle, and one all about making choices and having a personal epiphany. Very clever and intriguing is how I’d describe Brane Drane. Five stars it deserves and five stars it gets from me.
  • Angels Dancing on July 31, 2010
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    Here, with Angels Dancing, by Rob Shelsky, we have another tale of good versus evil, and the outcome of which spells the fate for humanity-as-we-know-it. Two diplomats on a space station orbiting Jupiter must contend with the strange and various offspring of our own species. Called “mogs,” for short, these are transmogrified humans, those who voluntarily underwent great physical changes to adapt themselves to such worlds as Jupiter, Mars, and other planets. Some have even chosen to alter themselves to the point where they can live in the vacuum of free space. Others have decided to become entities that live in computers, and only interact with the rest through robots they call "remotes." Still others are strange creatures, tentacles, and all, some even looking like balloons ("Blimpies"), but decidedly more aggressive. One thing all these disparate progeny of standard humans seem to have in common; they want more living space, and crowded Earth looks mighty fine to them! The only problem is that standard humans occupy it, are in the way. However, most of the other races of Man have decided on a convenient way to rid themselves of this annoying problem. And there are only two people who can try to stop them, the two diplomats from Earth. Do they have a prayer of succeeding? Or, as one remote tells them, are standard humans now “obsolete?” For Dinty and Jayne Wong, those two diplomats, it is all a delicate diplomatic dance that erupts into open warfare aboard the space station. And if angels are dancing, so are demons! This is a captivating and stimulating story of the possibilities that might result from a human Diaspora, but not in the sense of them just spreading out into space to conquer new worlds, but also into dispersing into separate and distinct species, each with their own agendas, which may not bode well for us original humans. Mr. Shelsky handles this subject well. What an imagination he has! If you can think up a species, he seems to be able to do it and better! I think, for science fiction fans who like a tense story, one of high impact, and yet fun, Angels Dancing is a definite tale to read. It gets five stars.
  • Treasure Of The Guardian Templar on July 31, 2010
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    Treasure Of The Guardian Templar, by Rob Shelsky, is a borderline fantasy/adventure story. It revolves around an ex-British Marine, one who has seen enough of war and all things to do with it. Now a loner, someone who seeks solace in sea kayaking and camping, Jerrod only wishes to be left alone. But one night, while camped along the edge of an estuary in as remote a spot as he can find, Jerrod hears noises. Some quick scouting, and he realizes a young woman is being kidnapped, taken away by boat. Jerrod realizes that despite his instincts to keep his distance, he must do something. So he sets out to save the woman. In the process, he stumbles upon more than he bargained for. With lives at stake, tales of a treasure, and ruthless men who will stop at nothing, Jerrod is now in up to his neck! This story apparently first appeared in the magazine, Pulp Spirit, where it received rave reviews. An adventure story along the lines of an Indiana Jones tale, Treasure Of The Guardian Templar is an exciting, well-executed story. Again, this is one of those tales you should read on a dark and stormy night, when you are all alone, with just a glass of brandy, a box of chocolates and a roaring fire to sit by. You’ll enjoy Treasure Of The Guardian Templar, by Rob Shelsky. This is a five star story.
  • Ancient Enemies on July 31, 2010
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    Here’s a different sort of tale from Mr. Shelsky, Ancient Enemies. Here, author Rob Shelsky departs from his usual sci-fi genres to give a story that is more a horror/fantasy one. Set in current times, in Sedona, Arizona, it is the story of two young men, very different in nature and background (one is a Native American and has had a rough life, while the other is your classic middle class, suburban sort), both stumbling on a strange secret. On a drive in the expanse of desert surrounding Sedona, they chance upon a cave. In it, is a mummy. And after they discover this, things change and not for the better. I don’t wish to give away more, but suffice it to say, this is a dark tale, involves elemental demons and much else, but with a slightly light touch to it. Seen through the eyes of a young adult, it shows how he views the world, and how he interprets events that follow. You’ll enjoy Ancient Enemies. Although not as dark as some of Mr. Shelsky’s stories, it is fun and makes for a good read. Five stars for this baby!
  • An Imperial Death on July 31, 2010
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    Ah, here we have a novella that is so well written, so well plotted, and with excellent character development that I just didn’t want it to end. An Imperial Death, by Rob Shelsky, is a deftly drawn work of science fiction. I’d hesitate to call it space opera, since it has so much more to it, but it has that quality, as well. But Mr. Shelsky gives us such clear-cut, believable scenarios, almost exquisitely drawn, that it’s hard to know what subgenre this story should actually fall into, other than the general one of science fiction. An Imperial Death, by Rob Shelsky, opens with Cavin Dubaire, and his uncle, Melkor Shin-Jo, overhearing some rather sexually heated conversation from a neighboring balcony of the Canady Complex, an antigravity palace floating above the surface of the Earth. They also hear the two participants, Magnus Vasilov, and the Lady Canady, plotting to get him a seat in Earth’s now powerful General Assembly, of which Melkor Shin-Jo is a senior member. Earth, it seems, is now ruled by such powerful family complexes and is in a corrupt state, with bribery and violence the means to political ends. Elections are bought and sold. People are "disposed" of. Cavin, shunned by his other influential Shin-Jo relatives, leaves Earth the next day to make a go of starting a life as a farmer on the planet Tiartha. This is one of the few colonies that the all-powerful Five Races, those despotic aliens, allow Earth to have. Everyone knows the Races want Earth’s civilization to rot from within, and by keeping them limited to just a few extraterrestrial worlds, are doing just that. But Earth and its few colonies simply don’t have the power to stop them. They are literally outnumbered, five to one. But problems don’t go away for Cavin, even on the distant and lightly populated Tiartha. He discovers some unpleasant truths. He also faces a personal disaster. However, when a new and warlike Sixth Race is discovered, one which threatens the whole Status Quo that now exists between the aliens and Earth, Melkor Shin-Jo, Magnus Vasilov, and others seize the chance to further their own ends. For some, it is for the sake of a better tomorrow for humanity, to permanently escape the clutches of the dread Status Quo. For others, it is to further their own greedy ambitions, to gain even more power. Cavin Dubaire is caught up in all these machinations and despite his best efforts, his most altruistic desires, he finds himself ensnared in a web of deceit, lies, and political manipulations. Now, as a military officer, he only wishes to fight the good fight. But will all those around him let him? Read An Imperial Death, by Rob Shelsky to find out! If you like intrigue, “big reveals,” space opera, romance, well-developed story lines and characters, you’ll love An Imperial Death, by Rob Shelsky. This novella gets five full stars from me. It is just so well written!
  • Dystopia on July 31, 2010
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    In a seeming tribute to Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, Mr. Shelsky’s short story, Dystopia, is set in a dark future with a “super state” that acts as a totalitarian regime. When one man falls victim at work of coworkers’ manipulations, he’s branded a traitor. He and his family have little choice but to seek escape, but to where, and how? And who can one trust under such circumstances. I really enjoyed this tale, because it strips away all the sci-fi necessities, and dwells just on one man, his family, and their desperate attempt to escape, what they go through to try. I say this story is well worth the read, because it will keep you tense, being full of suspense. It will also keep you wondering right to the end, as to whether they make it to safety or not. Rob Shelsky deserves five stars for this tense portrayal of a dark future.
  • Shiva, Mama Doc, And The Voodoo Computer on July 31, 2010
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    Shiva, Mama Doc, And The Voodoo Computer, by Rob Shelsky, is a delightfully fun story, but with some darker connotations. When a young postgraduate student, Ian, completes the programming for the first quantum super computer at Tulane University, all hell breaks loose. It seems the very universe may cease to be as we know it if something isn’t done, and done quickly. Enter Mama Doc, an astute African-American woman who owns a voodoo ship for the tourists in the French Quarter of New Orleans. She’s been selling Ian voodoo dolls. Can she help Ian save the day, or is it too late for that? And just who is she? Rob Shelsky creates a very fun character with Mama Doc. She is a fully fleshed-out, three dimensional character of the first order! A connoisseur of opera and art, she is also very knowledgeable about sympathetic magic. Perhaps, too knowledgeable, because it seems…well, I won’t spoil the story for you. I’ll tell you this--I’d love to see more stories about her! I thoroughly enjoyed Shiva, Mama Doc, And The Voodoo Computer (must be one of the longer titles for a short story). This story by Rob Shelsky justly deserves a rating of five stars from me!
  • Implosion on July 31, 2010
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    This is a dark piece of a world falling apart, economies crumbling, civilization in an obvious decline, but most of all, of the deteriorating relationship of two people. The Implosion is supposed to change all this, but nobody seems to really know what the Implosion is, what it will mean, what the consequences will be. All they know is that it’s coming, and soon. But everyone is sure it’s something good… Implosion, for me, was a short but powerful piece. It underscores the nature of human relationships, regardless of the times we live in, the circumstances under which we struggle for existence. I’m not so sure the Implosion is the cause of the problems for the two lead characters in this story, or the very nature of humanity itself is causing the Implosion. All I can suggest is that you read the story and get the answers for yourself. This story is thought provoking. I give it five stars for this reason, because it left me thinking about a lot of things, and some not in a good way. And if a tale can do that to you, it’s a powerful one!
  • Soap Bubbles on July 31, 2010
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    Now here is a story that I’ll tell you right off is worth the full rating of five stars, if not more! A young monk, an acolyte of the Quarantine Protectorate, constantly gets into trouble. Because of this, he is summoned to the headquarters of the Martian Abbot to explain himself. What the abbot doesn’t know is that this young monk has serious doubts about the Quarantine Protectorate, and its strict ban on any contact with alien races through the transceivers. These are massive communication devices in the asteroid belt. Plots are hatched, schemes are developed, but there is a problem, a young Sister of the Quarantine, Phillida, who comes again into Tyler’s life. Now love complicates matters, and his objectives. To tell more would be to spoil this dark story of fear, love, and mystery. I will say this; Mr. Shelsky has an incredible talent for painting in scenes and creating atmospheres. You will think you are on a terraformed Mars, one that is slipping back to what it was before humans arrived. The whole mood, atmosphere of this tale, is skillfully created by the author with a dark and brooding brush. He does more than set the stage. He sets the entire feeling for the story. For me, it was almost an Edgar Allen Poe sort of atmosphere. And since I’ve always delighted in that author’s works, what can I say? I loved Mr. Shelsky’s Soap Bubbles. This story is a five-star one if ever there was one. It has some darned good writing in it.
  • Cry Of A Distant Child on July 31, 2010
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    Rob Shelsky’s Cry Of A Distant Child is a chilling piece. In a disintegrating world, one made that way by the “God Gates” suddenly appearing, we are introduced to Ken and Gwyneth, a young yuppie-style couple who want only the American Dream; the house with a picket fence, a couple of children, good jobs--it’s what they want. However, when the Ultimate Mind gives man the “Message” saying that anyone can be converted to a creature of pure energy, and become virtually immortal as a result, well, things change for humanity’s civilization, and in many ways, not for the better. With their dream in jeopardy, their chance to have children fast fading, Ken and Gwyneth must make a fateful decision. It is one Gwyneth steadfastly refuses to make. Can Ken persuade her? Can he do it before civilization collapses completely and the God Gates close? You’ll have to read Cry Of A Distant Child, by Rob Shelsky, to find out. This story gets a five-star rating. I find Mr. Shelsky’s work consistently above average, always intriguing, and often leaving me wondering about either the nature of reality, or the nature of humankind. Either way, his dark works disturbs, and I think in a good way. They make me think.
  • Without Omens on July 31, 2010
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    Here we have a story that appeared in Aberrant Dreams Magazine, as well as in a Podcast, from what I’ve been able to find out. And with good reason. This is a dark tale, one with a mystery to it. Mankind’s first star ship is exploring the depths of interstellar space, hoping to find alien life and civilizations. Well, they do. But, as the story opening says, “They were all dead when we found them.” And herein lies the mystery; what happened to all these civilizations? Exactly how did they die? And what does antimatter have to do with it, and why? For the three intrepid explorers, the answers may well answer the question of Enrico Fermi’s paradox, his Great Silence of the universe. Why aren’t other races contacting humans? Without Omens might well have the answers, and they aren’t good ones! I thoroughly recommend you read Without Omens. If this tale doesn’t shake you up, disturb your world view, then nothing will! Without Omens, by Rob Shelsky, gets a five-star rating from me.
  • Red Flag on July 31, 2010
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    Red Flag is a conspiracy story with a twist, which I can’t give away. But suffice it to say, that this is a unique tale in that the characters stumble onto something quite by accident, while simply playing a practical joke on one another. The consequences of this turn out to be deadly, with one of the them having to resort to extreme measure just to survive. In the process, she uncovers an even more startling mystery. Although a complete story in and of itself, this tale begs for a sequel, because I want to read the further adventures of the heroine, and find out where all this might lead. A convincing portrayal of a harmless joke gone horrible wrong, well written, and even devious, Rob Shelsky has a winner with Red Flag. Five Stars for this one!
  • Blue Flickers on July 31, 2010
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    Ever wonder if an author can describe something in science fiction that comes across as truly alien--I mean truly alien? Well, Rob Shelsky manages this with his short story, Blue Flickers. If anything seems unaccountably alien, it is everyday humans who have suddenly become Blue Flickers. These are people who cease to function in a normal fashion, or just repeat some mindless action over and over, but beware of approaching them too closely. You could just disappear forever. When Myra, one man’s girlfriend becomes one, we see this all unfold from a personal level. How do you deal with the fact that a loved one is suddenly something alien, so strange, that you can’t conceive of what it is, or what its purpose could possibly be, or even if it has one? If you read Blue Flickers, by Rob Shelsky, you’ll see one man’s answer to those questions, what he does, and what the consequences of his actions are. Blue Flickers is a very well written story, with Rob Shelsky’s wordsmith talents on full display in it. My advice? If you want to be transported out of this world without ever leaving it, then read Blue Flickers. It’s a five-star story. But beware; Mr. Shelsky’s Blue Flickers is a frightening take on things. A world gone mad, and we don't even know the reason why.
  • Blue Murder on July 31, 2010
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    This is another cozy, sci-fi, murder mystery by Rob Shelsky. I’m getting addicted to these. This one is set on a luxury star liner, so there are many possible suspects, and a great sarcastic little sidekick A.I., Spidey. Our heroine is Liner Detective Kiran Bedi, a woman of Indian descent. She brings a peculiarly Eastern philosophy to crime solving. For instance, the title, Blue Murder, comes from this great opening line: “Death comes in many guises. This time, it masqueraded as the many-limbed Hindu goddess, the dusk-blue Kali. There was the indelible mark of her visitation, the victim stamped in an irredeemable currency of ghastly shades of blue.” That first line hooked me right there! On this interstellar flight, Kiran must try to find out the murderer, of course. Is it the competing shipping magnate? He would be forced into bankruptcy if the deceased, Andromedae, had carried through her mission of taking plans for a mass teleportation device to their destination. Is the ship’s steward, the one she personally selected to “service” her, the guilty one? He had access, but what would be his motive for murder? Then there is the personal assistant, a strange woman, but one who seems genuinely grieved at the death of her employer, but perhaps overly so. There seems to be some history there. Then, last but not least, there is the captain of the star liner. Even he had a possible motive. And could the dead woman’s father somehow have been the real target? But how could he be? He’s a legal corpsicle, frozen back on earth for years to come, and not for committing crimes, but at his own request. It all gets complex, and Kiran could be missing something. But you’ll just have to read Blue Murder, by Rob Shelsky, to find out if Kiran is off track, because I’m not saying any more. But rest assured, both Kiran Bedi, and her sidekick, Spidey, the A.I., have their work cut out for them in this baffling case of Blue Murder, by Rob Shelsky. This is another great sci-fi “whodunit” by Mr. Shelsky. I love these types of stories, where the reader goes along for the ride and tries to figure out who the murderer is before the story detective does. Also, again, Mr. Shelsky creates some very believable characters. I love the stereotype-breaking Kiran. I also enjoyed the little A.I., Spidey, and his innate sarcasm. Most of all, I enjoyed trying to figure out who did it. And even when I had, I overlooked something. I’m betting you will, too. This gets five stars, partly because it’s a great and fun story, and partly because I got the wrong answer! But, at least I was half right…
  • Lost Beacon Of The Vanished on July 31, 2010
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    Murder in space. Murder most foul, and for Dame Naje Elpram, her holiday trip aboard a trillionaire’s space yacht becomes the setting for trying to figure out just who did what and how. In this seemingly impossible murder that is still a murder, Dame Elpram alone among the passengers is able to find the answer to this space age “whodunit!” If you loved Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, you will love Dame Elpram (“Marple” spelled backwards). This story, although definitely science fiction, and hinging upon just that fact in order for the plot to work, is still a true tribute to Agatha Christie. If you like cozy murder mysteries, and this time set in space, you’ll love Lost Beacon Of The Vanished, by Rob Shelsky. Five stars!
  • Worm Sign on July 31, 2010
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    Worm Sign, by Rob Shelsky, brings us a world tottering on the brink of nuclear war, and where a small group of scientists are struggling to create wormholes to parallel universes. These just might be the key to salvation--at least, for some, if not all of Earth’s billions. There is a problem, however. Every wormhole that opens up does so to an alternate reality in the middle of, or just after, the throes of its own violent nuclear holocaust. No one could possibly want to go there! But there is no getting away from this problem, it seems. For Roddy, head of the team of researchers trying to beat the clock, and who is racing to try to resolve this issue, to try to find a way to a safe parallel universe, there is another problem. This is Doctor Wexler, an egotistical scientist who resents Roddy’s being in charge. Then, when the scientists hit upon the idea of worm sign, that is, evidence of other universes simultaneously also opening their wormholes to different realities, there just might be a solution. But the clock is ticking. Nuclear war is looming. Wexler is plotting something, and somehow, someway, the scientists have to find a wormhole without worm sign. And Roddy, along with his coworker, Lacey, must find the answers and soon! This is a different take on the whole idea of wormholes. Mr. Shelsky weaves a very plausible story, one that uses the idea of “worm sign” to advantage. This term, of course, is no doubt a direct tribute to Frank Herbert and his Dune books, but here it is used somewhat differently, but not as much as you might think. Worm Sign, by Rob Shelsky, is a masterful piece of storytelling. Even when you think the heroes have won the day, it still manages to throw in one last twist. A dark story, but also one of adventure and heroics, Worm Sign is a tale worth reading. I enjoyed it immensely. As seems to be the case with me of late, with reference to the author, Rob Shelsky, I must give him another five-star rating. His stories just deserve it!
  • Where Worlds Collide on Aug. 03, 2010
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    Where Worlds Collide, by Rob Shelsky, is a fascinating and wonderful series of short, science-fiction stories. Most are on a dark theme, just perfect for a rainy evening. They span a wide variety of science fiction subjects and sub-genres. Mr. Shelsky has an excellent capacity for creating believable universes and peopling them with very believable characters. His descriptions are so real! His included space opera, Bug-Eyed Monsters, a novella, is a great example of this. You would swear you were back in 1947 and being abducted by space monsters from the top of a New York skyscraper. Even the way the heroine and hero behave toward each other, the dialogue, the very way they talk is perfectly period, with Danny using words like “swell” instead of “awesome” or “cool.” For a fast-action novella, Bug-Eyed Monsters is right up there with the great authors of the Golden Age period. This story first appeared at Planetary Stories. Lt. Luna’s website referred to Bug-Eyed Monsters as “wonderful.” It certainly is. Mr. Shelsky also included stories of a darker and more thought-provoking nature. One of my favorites, a reprint from an Aberrant Dreams issue, was Without Omens. I’ve always wondered about why we haven’t heard transmissions or signals from aliens over the years. In this anthology, Where Worlds Collide, Mr. Shelsky gives us a truly frightening answer in Without Omens. It left me thinking about it for hours afterward. Rob Shelsky seems to have a real talent for dredging up our darkest issues, for handling our deepest psychological fears with regard to the future. From worlds too horrible to want to live on, even our own future Earth in a couple of cases, to societies that demand too much from the individual, Where Worlds Collide takes us on a trip to the extremes of human nature and that of the universe itself. For instance, what would you do, personally, if you found that the universe only existed in reality for a few short centuries,or even just decades, and then simply ceased to be? Mr. Shelsky answers this question for us. Or, if you are trapped on a luxury liner lost in space, where do you go with your passengers? How do you keep them safe? What future can you hope for? Again, Mr. Shelsky gives us a very convincing portrayal of just such a scenario, frighteningly so. My favorite stories? Well, personally, I loved them all, but Without Omens, Bug-Eyed Monsters, and the cozy, sci-fi, murder mystery, Blue Murder, along with another strangely moving story, Blue Flickers, were my very best favorites. I also have to admit that I loved Shiva, Mama Doc, and The Voodoo computer, a delightfully light piece, and one which made a great counterpoint to some of the darker tales. Another intriguing pieces was one of the best descriptive pieces I’ve ever read in science fiction, on a par with Robert Silverberg for such in my opinion, was Soap Bubbles. Heck, there isn’t a mediocre story in this anthology! They’re all excellent. Do I recommend Where Worlds Collide, by Rob Shelsky? You betcha, I do! I give it the full rating of five stars, and let me tell you, it deserves it! It will leave you wondering about everything.
  • Where Worlds Collide II, A Dark Anthology of Science Fiction on Aug. 05, 2010
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    Where Worlds Collide II is an anthology and it constitutes the second such volume of author, Rob Shelsky. In this book we have more of his darker science fiction stories. Mr. Shelsky includes a good-sized novella, An Imperial Death. This, although a form of space opera, I suppose, is also an in-depth look at a future Earth, one strangled by the controlling influence of the Five Races. These aliens have basically surrounded Earth, allowing her just a few colonies. This is referred to as the “Status Quo.” The aliens claim this is in order to keep interstellar stability among the races, but the mere fact that humans aren’t even included in the term “Five Races,” shows what a lie this is. The Status Quo is to contain Earth and its people. The result and just as the aliens seem to want, is that Earth is turning inward. Its civilization is beginning to rot from the inside out, with corruption becoming rife. A young man, Cavin Dubaire, tries to make a new life for himself on one of the few colonies Earth is permitted to have, the Planet Tiartha. However, it seems one can’t run away from one’s troubles, as he soon finds out. Filled with political manipulations, strong friendships, a love interest, an evil guy you will love to hate, and set amidst the sweep of an interstellar war, this is one heck of a novella! Mr. Shelsky’s other short stories in this volume run the gamut from an H.P. Lovecraftian piece of a different type, evil spirit elementals, a cozy murder mystery set aboard a space yacht and asteroid, dark conspiracies, a ghost-like invasion of Manhattan to--well, you name it--Rob Shelsky has it in this volume of Where Worlds Collide II. The author seems to be able to tell diverse sorts of tales and tell them really well. He injects a great deal of pathos into his pieces and atmosphere. One always feels for the hero or heroine. His evildoers are very three-dimensional, real people, who are driven by their own needs. Mr. Shelsky can create some interesting sidekicks, such as “Danni” in his novella, An Imperial Death. I’m amazed at the author’s scope of imagination, and his ability to create such incredible scenarios. From a murder on an asteroid, to an Archbishop making a terrible, but necessary decision, Mr. Shelsky is adept at creating stories that won’t just hold your attention, they’ll grab and grasp at it! What’s more, they make you think. His Cry of A Distant Child is a powerful piece of storytelling in my estimation. I’m still thinking about that one. And for good adventure fun, Treasure Of The Guardian Templar is a must. You just have to sympathize with the hero, Jerrod. Where Worlds Collide II, by Rob Shelsky, did not disappoint! These stories are all on a par with the first volume, and every bit as intriguing! Read it, is my advice. You'll love it! Where Worlds Collide II gets an enthusiastic five full stars from me! And, I’d love to see some sequels to some of these stories, too. For instance, Treasure Of The Guardian Templar makes me want more of the same! Just what is hidden on the Isle of Lundy?
  • The Sprite And I on Oct. 24, 2010
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    Anyone for a great new angle on Santa? Does he have a love life (besides Mrs. Claus), and if so, what are the repercussions? Well, you'll find out in this hilarious little romp, The Sprite And I. Check out what happens when a man finds a sprite in his kitchen sink, one who asks for help to save a kidnapped Santa. This is a different kind of Christmas fantasy, and it will definitely make you laugh. My advice; read The Sprite And I by Rob Shelsky. It will brighten your life.
  • Light On The Moor, A Paranormal Romance on Oct. 27, 2010
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    Wow! What a story. A romance that had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. This tale of a young woman lost upon the moors, striving to find her way home, in more ways than one, is terrific. Light On The Moor is a real spellbinder. I love a mystery, suspense, and romance, and this story is all three, from beginning to end. My recommendation? Read it! You'll be on the edge of your seat throughout it, too. Author Rob Shelsky sure knows how to spin a tale of love and mystery. His descriptions are so powerful, you'll think you are lost on the moors!
  • Verity on Oct. 29, 2010
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    Verity by author R. Shelsky is a heck of a book. If you like good, period, historical romances, this one being of the Regency Romance variety, you'll really love Verity. It has everything, handsome lords, fun sidekick of a maid, supsense, ship wreckers, smugglers, and thieves, not to mention a very bad penny in the village who shall be nameless here. (Find out for yourself). The sexual tension between Verity and Draken is marvelous, but also her relationships with her uncle and maid are great, too. What's more, her interactions with some very "Mrs. Danvers" type housekeepers and a nasty field hand named "Job," are marvelous, too. Set for the most part in Devon, England, this is a well-crafted, well-designed Regency Romance tale. And although there is some sex (after the wedding), it is tastefully done, and uses no explicit terms, but still creates some great imagery. I think Verity by R. Shelsky is a winner. Grab a box of chocolates, a glass of brandy, and sit by a fire on a rainy evening and read Verity. You definitely won't be disappointed.
  • Fallibility, A Regency Romance on Oct. 30, 2010
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    Fallibility--now this is a great Regency Romance with suspense thrown in, and just some sensuality. And whether you think of this as a Regency Romance (the time period it is set in), or an Historical Romance makes no difference. Fallibility, by R.R. Shelsky, works just great either way. When Faith, along with her severe dowager aunt, the Lady Penelope, arrive in Devon to help Faith's cousin, Lord Draken Hazelmere tend to his ill wife, they accidentally meet up with the handsome Giles, a commoner, by all accounts. But unfortunately for Giles, he's digging a ditch when they meet, and the Lady Penelope is not impressed! Faith is. She finds him very handsome and well spoken. When later, Lady Penelope realizes that the "friend" Verity and Draken are trying to match make with Faith is this same Giles, she goes ballistic. In a fury, she insists they leave, and head for Brighton. Along the way, the are robbed and kidnapped, and from there, events steadily go down hill. It is up to the strong-willed and independent-minded Faith to try and save the day, but this isn't easy, not for herself, and certainly not with an aging aunt in tow. I found Fallibility to be a darn good book! It kept me intrigued, and I felt the characters were very real--all of them. The dialogue, as with all things R.R. Shelsky, is superb, and the story progresses at a fine rate. When Faith gets in trouble, you feel for her, and think you are there, in the moonlight, running across the moors with her, trying to save your life and that of Lady Penelope. Great Read! This book justly deserves the full five stars!
  • Lost Echoes on Nov. 01, 2010
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    Rob Shelsky has done it again with Lost Echoes. The author seems to have excellent skills at creating believable scenarios. I personally think this is partly due, at least, to his being able to vividly describe scenes and people. This draws the reader in, makes them feel as if they are really there, seeing, touching, smelling, feeling, and tasting what the characters do. For me, I felt as if I was in Elizabethan England, right there at Hampton Court Palace. And Mr. Shelsky subtly weaves in little details, like where the term "tawdry" came from (apparently from a very cheap form of lace from "Saint Awdrey's" Convent, which became known as poor quality and cheap--hence "t'awdry" or just "tawdry." To me, this sort of thing was fascinating to learn, and turned what would have been a good fast-paced historical/time travel romance into a great book to read. It is this attention to detail; for instance, how much seed pearls for dresses cost at the time, that lends such realism to this book. It is well researched. Lost Echoes is, again, a fast-paced, well thought out time travel novel, with Peter Vincent trying to save a young woman, Aurea Pentrose from dying under mysterious circumstances. It's a real race against time, folks, but along the way, the young couple does fall in love. And if you love a sweet romance, court intrigue, two young people battling against fate and the odds, and all the pomp and circumstance of Elizabethan England, you'll certain go for Lost Echoes by Rob Shelsky. This one gets five stars from me. Buy it and enjoy it. I certainly did.
  • A Confederate Yankee In Miss Annabelle's Court on Nov. 04, 2010
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    Now here is something different, a well done time travel romance short story that accurately portrays the problems of a local region of North Carolina during the Civil War. When a contemporary young woman, Annabelle, spies a light in an abandoned house, she has to see what it is. Entering the house, something strange happens. Then...well, you'll have to read the story to find out. But let's just say it includes time travel (and they use a wonderful explanation for it), a handsome union soldier who is local in that region, and Annabelle, who must fight in her own way for her man. Well written, descriptive, great characters you feel for--A Confederate Yankee In Annabelle's Court by author Rob Shelsky is a darn good read. Even the title, of course, is a take on another famous time travel story by Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court. Again, the author is right on top in all that he writes, and nothing, no matter how small, in this case, even the title referencing, is left out. Rob Shelsky knows how to write a heck of a good yarn! I give this the full five stars.
  • Out of the Dark on Nov. 22, 2010
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    Shelby Vick, author of Out Of The Dark, has really created a cross-genre story here, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Out Of The Dark is a tale of a world that has virtually destroyed itself, of people struggling to start over, especially a father and son. If that isn't enough, toss in a new type of humanity that is also struggling to survive, werewolf children, or "wereteens," as the tale calls them. Can any of them survive? Well, if you read Out Of The Dark, you'll find out, just as I did. I will say this--there is a lot in here, so whether you like action and suspense, or something more thought provoking, you'll find both here. Read Out Of The Dark by author Shelby Vick. You'll enjoy it.
  • Green Waters, A Paranormal Story on Feb. 01, 2011
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    Green Waters, by Rob Shelsky, is an exquisite story. I have to say that up front. Rarely have I seen such a finely tooled piece of writing. Mr. Shelsky is a master at description and character building. His plots are straightforward, and yet, at the same time, involved. How he does this, I have no idea, but it works beautifully. With Green Waters, we have a young woman who has nightmares all the time. She dreams of a drowning old woman, one who is trapped in a room filled with icy green water (hence the title, “Green Waters). So frightened by this constant dream, and not knowing whether it is just a dream or an omen, she reorders her whole life. The result? She saves herself from a horrible fate…or does she? You’ll have to read Rob Shelsky’s Green Waters to find out. I love the ending. It had such symmetry to it! If you want a paranormal story of the very first order, one that takes historical facts, keeps them accurate, and weaves a marvelous tale around them all, then you’ll love Green Waters by Rob Shelsky. The ending really got me! This gets a five full stars from me!
  • Engine Of The Gods, A Crown And Empire Worlds War Story on March 27, 2011
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    A rollicking good adventure tale, a perfect Steampunk novella! I loved it. In a Victorian setting, this tale has it all, airship battles, bat men, parallel universes, love interest with the beautiful but mysterious Lady Permellia, motor pirates, the "dreaded Hun"--you name it, this tale has it. There is even a touch of witchcraft and something called a "super soul." (Read the tale to find out what this is. I won't give it away.) A fast-paced action tale, one woven with convincing details along with great care and attention taken to the period settings, Engine Of the Gods, A Crown And Empire Worlds War story is not to be missed. Steampunk at it's best, in my opinion. I can't wait for the next one! At 99 cents for a full novella, what's not to like! This gets the full five stars from me!
  • Flowers In February on Aug. 29, 2011
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    The description of this story is that it is a different sort of love story. Well, it is. Finally, something that speaks to the Gay community that isn't just about twinks falling in love and their sex antics. This is a story of real love, the kind forged over years, love found, and love lost. That, to me, makes for a much meatier, more significant piece of work. It left me wondering about just exactly what does life does mean, the nature of love, and the grief of it's loss, and yet the wonderful ability to find some solace in life, even so, and even under harsh conditions. This was a great tale. This is one "literary" short story.