Lee Willard

Biography

I am a retired embedded systems engineer and sci-fi hobbyist from Hartford. Most of my stories concern Kassidor, 'The planet the hippies came from' which I have used to examine subjects like: What would it take to make the hippy lifestyle real? How would extended lifespans affect society? What could happen if we outlive our memories? How can murder be committed when violence is impossible?

I have recently discovered that someone new to science fiction should start their exploration of Kassidor with the Second Expedition trilogy. To the mainstream fiction reader the alien names of people, places and things can be confusing. This series has a little more explanation of the differences between Kassidor and Earth. In all of the Kassidor stories you will notice the people do not act like ordinary humans but like flower children from the 60's. It is not until Zhlindu that the actual modifications made to human nature to make them act that way are spelled out. To aide that understanding I've made The Second Expedition free.

I am not a fan of violence and dystopia. I believe that sci-fi does not just predict the future, but helps create the future because we sci-fi writers show our readers what the future will be and the readers go out and create it. I believe that the current fad of constant dystopia and mega-violence in sci-fi today is helping to create that world, and I mention that often in reviews and comments on the books I read. I also believe that the characters in those stories who are completely free of any affection are at least as unnatural as the modified humans of Kassidor.

In my reviews, * = couldn't finish it. ** = Don't bother with it. *** = good story worth reading. **** = great and memorable story. ***** = Worth a Hugo.

Smashwords Interview

When did you first start writing?
When I was about 6 years old. Those stories were too much like the television of the time but set on a different planet, so none of them survive. Parts of 'The Aldeb Wars' date from about 1960, when I was 12.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The latest, 'Autopsy of a Superpower' is non-fiction about how the hippies helped create the upcoming fall of the United States, either by turning the rich against the rest of America, or giving the rich a wedge to use to divide the American people. I've always admired the 'Peace' aspect of hippie culture, but recognized early on that it was impossible with human nature as it is.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Lee Willard online

Series

The Adventgures of Dorrick and TongSu
The only way for people to fly on the planet Kassidor is on a lighter than air motile plant who’s name we have translated as ‘floater’ or ‘balloon’. TongSu owns one of the largest such creatures and has used it to move cargo for nearly two centuries but loses her employment contract as this series begins. Dorrick has been a paramilitary on Centorin for most of his 151 years, first in Navorkensville, and later working on Earth for the University of Kex supporting archaeological expeditions, first to the ruins of Ellay in western North America and then to the ruins of Talstan in central Asia. The Ellay expedition had been made difficult by hostile savages with primitive long rifles, the one in Talstan by ancient and malfunctioning weapons systems. This the stories in this series are shorter and intended to be more entertaining and less intellectually challenging than ‘The Voyages of Gordon’s Lamp’ but that doesn’t mean the stories are without meaning, whether it be the treatment of women, addiction, mental illness, or mistakenly thinking Centorin cinema is all done with special effects. Enjoy and feel free to let the world know what you think by leaving a review.
The Further Adventures of Desa
Of all the people I've met in my travels on Kassidor, Desa has always been one of my favorites. Certainly not because she's the most perfect example of Kassidorian beauty or the slickest spokeswoman for their point of view. She's too cute to be really beautiful and too forthright to make a good spokesman. I've often wondered how such a smart girl got herself into such scrapes, but she's always been a person internally torn, and sometimes a little gung-ho. Maybe that is also part of what makes her interesting. As near as we can convert it to Earth dates, Desa was born around Aug. 18, of 1861. She was born relatively poor to a woman who seemed to have been working as a waterfront hooker in the earliest childhood Desa can remember. Desa had always cursed her mother for her healthy libido that was sometimes the reason for predicaments she found herself in. Usually Desa leads a rather peaceful life. However, there have been some exceptions. The most notable was meeting the first visitor from another star as told in 'The Second Expedition,' but that was not the only time she faced danger and heartbreak. In this series are three other desperate events in her life.
The Captive House
Price: Free!
The Pass
Price: Free!
The Perfect Song
Price: Free!
Dyoniss and Kessil
Dyoniss is a detective with an office on the 78th floor of the Tower of the Blue Kite in the eastern end of the Ydlonstrostl Cities in Kassidor's 123 century, which lasts from 5787 to 6017ad. During this trilogy he specializes in cases involving the antidote to the Instinct. The Instinct (with a capital I) is a modification to human nature which makes it impossible to use force or violence on another human being. The antidote makes violence possible for a short time. Kessil is an air handling engineer working for Mbeshna Power, also in the eastern end of the Ydlontrostl cities. She is originally from the VerseM'lOry a nomadic tribe from the great prairie. This trilogy (and it's prequel) covers their meeting and three cases where their careers intersect between 5880 and 6011ad., approximately coinciding in time with the 'Star Wars' movies. It examines issue like: How does romance work among people who are eternal? How does a society where violence is impossible deal with it? How does a religion work without God?
Antidote
Price: Free!
Acolyte
Price: Free!
Abomination
Price: Free!
The Vogages of Gordon's Lamp
This series collects most of the major novels from Kassidor’s ‘Starship Age’ which is the first part of the 100th century on their calendar, 2267 to approximately 2500 on ours. Three of them, the ‘Second Expedition’ trilogy, take place on both Gordon’s Lamp and Kassidor. Two of them, ‘Tangle in the Dark’ and ‘Vermin Rising’ take place on Gordon’s Lamp after it leaves Kassidor while three of them take place on Kassidor and feature one or more copies of Ava Bancour, the former system’s administrator of Gordon’s Lamp, and in some cases one or two other members of the crew. The remaining five volumes in this series are an attempt to further investigate some of the issues uncovered in the modified humans explained in the ‘Second Expedition’ trilogy such as the difference in sexuality between ephemerals and eternals, with eternals as defined by the Species Immunity Complex. Also; the possibility of a form of ‘murder’ and how such a society would cope with it, with how to organize a society without coercion, with how to tell which afterlife is real, and what qualities we need in a leader. They also have more to say on the problem of knowing what’s real in a virtual world.
Yoonbarla
Price: Free!
Lhar
Price: Free!
Zhlindu
Price: Free!
Love in Exile
Price: $2.99 USD.
Tangle in the Dark
Price: $2.99 USD.
The Tdeshi Quest
Price: $2.99 USD.
The Second Expedition
In the 1960's, a new culture burst upon the Earth, throwing society into upheavals that took generations of harsh repression to quell. Now, three hundred years later, an expedition from a civilization of silicon-simulated Angels finds the planet that culture came from. This whole series was started when someone told me that the hippie way of life was going to take over the world and the old way of life would be swept away. I was of the opinion that it could not because there were too many things in the hippie way of life that are contrary to human nature. The discussion that started that evening eventually grew into this whole trilogy. While this would have been much more current if it could have been released in the 1970’s, life (house, kids, career) intervened. It still has relevance today because the same basic concept between the old culture and the counter culture is still driving much of the division in our society. The fact that we can’t tell what’s real in the virtual world is driving a lot more of that division. Because this starting point is almost required to begin your exploration of Kassidor I have recently (10/14/2021) decided to make this whole series free.
A Dry Seed
Price: Free!
Yoonbarla
Price: Free!
Lhar
Price: Free!
Zhlindu
Price: Free!

Books

Autopsy of a Superpower
Price: Free! Words: 25,390. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2021. Categories: Essay » Political, Essay » Sociology
In the 1960's a new culture burst forth upon the Earth changing our music, literature, clothing styles, and challenging our ways of looking at race, sex, the environment, politics, religion and nearly every other aspect of our civilization. This was all done to follow what we said were our ideals, but we never knew at the time that so much change would drive nearly half of our population insane.
Mission Alpha
Series: The Adventgures of Dorrick and TongSu. Price: Free! Words: 49,880. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Dorrick and TongSu receive an invitation to an all expenses paid dinner in Kex with a couple old friends. It turns out to be a lot more than Dorrick and TongSu had in mind when a Senator is assassinated and they take the blame for it. The whole Centorin military comes out after them, and a force even more dangerous than that.
Dark Resurrection
Series: The Adventgures of Dorrick and TongSu. Price: Free! Words: 56,320. Language: English. Published: November 3, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
Dorrick and TongSu fly into the ancient land of Mordor to help a wizard from the Kassikan retrieve the data crystal where the dark lord’s mind has been imprisoned. They will encounter great monsters in the deep places, angry villagers who still preserve the legends of that time and an unsuspecting rube who endangers them all in this fan fiction of J.R.R. Tolkiens ‘Lord of the Rings.’
OKangKhone
Series: The Adventgures of Dorrick and TongSu. Price: Free! Words: 76,010. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
The Knidola basin seemed like a perfect place for TongSu to finish recuperating from the East Basin trip, since there is no dangerous wildlife, few dangerous drugs, no ancient feuds and few mad scientists, as well as happy music and a fun-loving beach scene, but when a nude girl boat band has their boat stolen they find out that there is more than one meaning to the words ‘dangerous wildlife.’
Wild World
Series: The Adventgures of Dorrick and TongSu. Price: Free! Words: 51,500. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Honshu had made a little progress against her loon addiction but was now falling back. Dorrick was sure it was because they were no longer doing their video feed. Their only chance to save it was to return video from the East Bordzvek Basin, from which no one had ever returned alive. It was stupid to do so, but Dorrick was convinced it was the only way to save Honshu from her addiction.
The Girl on the Crystal Tower
Series: The Adventgures of Dorrick and TongSu, Book 8. Price: Free! Words: 75,020. Language: English. Published: October 14, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
When Dorrick sees the city of Bordzvek, he thinks Centorin should have put the stargate here. When he meets a troubled girl from that city, he feels like he is comforting a stressed out working girl from back home. He finds that her problems are not all in her head, and that leads them to the secret behind the crystal city.
The Feuds of Zil
Series: The Adventgures of Dorrick and TongSu, Book 7. Price: Free! Words: 69,490. Language: English. Published: October 2, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » General
The Zil escarpment is a fantastic land of canyons and spires, winding rivers and remote villages. Dorrick and TongSu went out of their way to see the spectacular scenery but not to become embroiled in a conflict with roots in the Troubled Times. They also did not expect to become embroiled in a conflict between two people who’s relationship was troubled by their drifting sexual orientation.
Loonmaster
Series: The Adventgures of Dorrick and TongSu, Book 6. Price: Free! Words: 57,280. Language: English. Published: September 14, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Dorrick is determined to find the geneticist who created the drug that keeps him captive. He’s been searching for two and a half standard years now, while he’s worked his cycle down to every three weeks and is now attempting to get it down to once every local year. Now that he is able to devote more time to it he can follow up on some leads that take him deeper into the great swamp city.
The Foeth Hunter
Series: The Adventgures of Dorrick and TongSu, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 66,510. Language: English. Published: September 2, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
When TongSu sets out to get a little Variety on their first sleep in the swamp city of Trenst, she had no idea the fellow flier of the friendly and fun interlude came from a disturbing family like this. Meanwhile Dorrick stalks a dangerous man-eating predator and the hermit who hunts them thru a landscape as unfamiliar as a hallucination and littered with its victims.
The Sex Slaves of Borlunth
Series: The Adventgures of Dorrick and TongSu, Books 1, 2 & 3. Price: Free! Words: 198,720. Language: English. Published: August 25, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
On the ancient, peaceful and pastoral world of Kassidor there once rose a culture that reveled in sexual predation. Now that the stargate is open, people have come from other worlds who are interested in that culture. Have their monogamous religions sent them to destroy the artifacts of so debased a regime? Or is their alpha-male culture here to resurrect it?
The Secret of Mount Traygol
Price: Free! Words: 86,230. Language: English. Published: July 29, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
When FiveCircleUp was younger, the new god Pronna brought helpers to the Keda to help them serve the god. The humans had been everything they were promised and more, so that now a Keda hardly had to do anything but pull a load too heavy for their little two-legged bodies. But in spite of that, he was determined to have Pronna take them back.
The Aldeb Wars
Price: Free! Words: 149,940. Language: English. Published: July 19, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Mankind is engaged in a war of extermination with a species of interstellar life that is so alien that no communication with them is possible. The war will be waged over many centuries and light years. The front will be in archaeological digs, labs and courtrooms as well as the halls of power and depths of space.
The Perfect Song
Series: The Further Adventures of Desa, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 82,570. Language: English. Published: July 5, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
Desa had been singing and performing almost all of her life. For five centuries, she thought she was striving for this. As a reporter for an edgy fan magazine in a hard-partying city of over fifty million, Aldya has seen a lot, but this time he thought he had found the real thing. Would a shy hill girl ruin it for both of them?
The Pass
Series: The Further Adventures of Desa, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 67,580. Language: English. Published: July 5, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Desa would follow a beautiful guy like Rendrak anywhere, even though he was dedicated to making the trek across the Kinsheeta waste. Over most of the Kinsheeta the air is too thin to sustain human life, but there is a narrow and difficult passage thru that wasteland that a human can get thru. There are many dangerous forms of life that can live there, even the most dangerous of all, feral humans.
The Captive House
Series: The Further Adventures of Desa, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 29,290. Language: English. Published: July 5, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Cultural interest, general
Desa had been away in the Yakhan a decade and a half. She gets home to find the trusted friend she left to caretake her beloved home had sold it and disappeared, with the help of a dishonest survey clerk. Now she has to find a way to get it back when there is no law to turn to. Too bad she didn’t think about the unintended consequences of some of the people who helped.
M'Kennit Wind at Blue Kite
Series: Dyoniss and Kessil, Book 0. Price: Free! Words: 6,090. Language: English. Published: June 25, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Sci-Fi Erotica, Fiction » Erotica » Couples Erotica
In a time and place where people don’t age, can control their appearance and there is a modification to human nature called the Instinct which makes violence impossible, women can be willing participants in sexual adventure. Kessil is at the Blue Kite primarily for the show, but an encounter would be welcome. She gets one better than she hoped for but then the crush of the crowd intervenes.
A Conssitahb
Price: Free! Words: 117,860. Language: English. Published: June 3, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
Klowa is called to the mansions above Zhlindu to investigate false documents and finds he must work his way thru ancient Troll customs and a bevy of lusty women to a most uncomfortable conclusion. This story is very much a total immersion in the life of Zhlindu that completely turns the tables on sexual harassment and helps lead to his life's greatest heartbreak.
Vermin Rising
Series: The Vogages of Gordon's Lamp. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 131,910. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Gordon's Lamp is ready to sow the last of their seed among the stars, but the system they enter contains a stone giant with too much gravity for human habitation, and a microplanet only forty miles in diameter. The microplanet can only be a construct of a very advanced civilization, but it uses a communication protocol from a crewman's great hack of their first study planet.
The Aluminum Quest
Series: The Vogages of Gordon's Lamp. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 231,340. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
In this sweeping sequel to the Tdeshi Quest, Jorma and Venna's idyllic life in Sinbara is interrupted by Ava's search for some important papers she left in her house in Sinbara, papers that may be all that stands between Kassidor and extermination by a giant asteroid.
The Tdeshi Quest
Series: The Vogages of Gordon's Lamp. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 165,890. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
A lifetime ago, Jorma's best friend's daughter left his cabin, bound for the Yakhan, and was soon taken by a mind-erasing drug. Now she's back in town with an interest in her 'clone mother' and claiming to be an important sorceress at the mighty Kassikan. It is his guilt that overcomes his fear, and he sets out with her to investigate Tdeshi's death, one that may have involved foul play.
Tangle in the Dark
Series: The Vogages of Gordon's Lamp. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 144,060. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi, Fiction » Christian » Futuristic
Gordon's Lamp returns to Sol to find the system embroiled in war. They are diverted to the Kuiper belt to try and find the doomsday device that is destroying all simulated humans in the solar system, but find much more in the dark matter than a simple enemy weapon.
Love in Exile
Series: The Vogages of Gordon's Lamp. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 142,480. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
Centuries from home on a world where everyone is young and beautiful and keep lists of frequent sex partners, two refugees from distant Earth try to find an island of normalcy in a vastly alien culture. They attempt to bring electronics manufacture to their new home while dodging the media attention their alien ‘mating rituals’ bring about.
Zhlindu
Series: The Second Expedition, Book 4 · The Vogages of Gordon's Lamp. Price: Free! Words: 188,450. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
In the third volume concerning the discovery of the planet the hippies came from, all the threads that have been opened come back together. While Alan thinks he’s living happily ever after in the basin’s largest city, the expedition attempts to recapture him again, chasing him across the city, across the planet and into the nature of reality itself.
Lhar
Series: The Second Expedition, Book 3 · The Vogages of Gordon's Lamp. Price: Free! Words: 124,460. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
In this second volume of the saga of simulated humans discovering the planet the hippies came from Alan, Desa and Luray make their way to the city of Zhlindu. They face an attempt by the expedition to retrieve Alan, dangerous creatures of the wilds, Luray’s struggle with withdrawal and their struggle with Alan’s alien culture. Meanwhile the planet’s wizards begin to notice the expedition.
Yoonbarla
Series: The Second Expedition, Book 2 · The Vogages of Gordon's Lamp. Price: Free! Words: 125,490. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
Three hundred years after the ‘hippie’ culture burst upon the Earth, an expedition of simulated humans finds the planet it came from. In this ‘coming of age’ intercultural romance a 400 year old girl from that world meets a 20 year old raised by androids on that starship, much to the consternation of the crew of that ship.
A Dry Seed
Series: The Second Expedition, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 27,680. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
In the 1960's, a new culture burst upon the Earth, throwing society into upheavals that took generations of harsh repression to quell. Now, three hundred years later, an expedition of silicon-simulated ‘Angels’ finds the planet that culture came from. In this prequel to The Second Expedition we meet the crew and the essential truths that the expedition faces.
Abomination
Series: Dyoniss and Kessil, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 110,830. Language: English. Published: May 24, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Horror » Undead
It was supposed to be a book, a movie, a piece of entertainment. For such a thing to be real would be unthinkable. But laboratory analysis shows that a cinema company has used genetic science to make zombies real so they could make a documentary of it. Not only that, they intend to make Kessil the main character in their zombie apocalypse.
Pieces of Me
Price: Free! Words: 82,820. Language: English. Published: May 15, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
Taron has enhanced memory and can remember all seven times she has been with Deneb. He does not and can barely remember any of the last time. But neither can remember a secret they share that puts them in danger today, real danger because this happens just before violence became impossible on Kassidor.
The Press at Honaseka
Price: Free! Words: 183,510. Language: English. Published: April 30, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Cultural interest, general
When the wealthy stay young and the poor age and die, many will resent it, even though their preachers tell them living on is a sin. But when a plague that leaves people sterile ravages the land so the poor can no longer have children to care for them in their old age, even more trouble follows. This is the tale of six people who lived thru the tumultuous transition from ephemeral to eternal.
Acolyte
Series: Dyoniss and Kessil, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 115,290. Language: English. Published: April 26, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
Karasis is the most important institution in the Ydlontrostl Basin and corruption there would be devastating, but that seems to be the case when Dyoniss is called to investigate a murder in the ancient Karasis Yuhal. Meanwhile when Kessil is tasked with portraying the Witch of the Ancient Windwheel to secure a movie deal, she becomes a target for the partner of the man the witch killed.
Wizard Run
Price: Free! Words: 45,060. Language: English. Published: April 17, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
In an age when Wizards are hated and feared, an aged miller and his lovely daughter are accused and must flee for their lives. A peasant boy aides them, but finds he must face more than just the king's army.
Antidote
Series: Dyoniss and Kessil, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 153,570. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
The Empire's old republic is being swept away and many of the displaced are coming to the Ydlontrostl Basin of Kassidor because of a modification to human nature called the Instinct which prevents violence. Not all come to escape, some come to bring Empire ways with them, some have been waiting centuries for this day because with an antidote to the Instinct, none can stand against them.
From the Heartland
Price: Free! Words: 80,270. Language: English. Published: April 7, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi, Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Cultural interest, general
The USA in 2268 is a utopia of big family farms, small towns, the Baptist church, Fourth of July parades and socials. The borders are secure and all non-whites have been deported. Darryl has just graduated high school and has only one more thing to do before he can woo and wed his sweetheart. He must pass his Manhood tests.
Oarsman of the Princess
Price: Free! Words: 47,550. Language: English. Published: April 3, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Historical » Medieval
She was physically and politically the leading royal debutante of her generation, and three powerful princes sought her. Each of them would do anything to prevent her reaching the Bishop of the Temple to whom she was betrothed. For many reasons the lands of the Caravan Masters were a powder keg and her hymen could be the spark to set it off.
The Jumper
Price: Free! Words: 62,490. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Urban
Ninety two year old Malcomb Whitcomb was on his way to buy his wife a birthday present when a beautiful girl taps him on the shoulder, causing him to become that girl. As he gets up he watches his body dart into the street in front of an oncoming truck. He soon finds he can no longer recover anything of his previous life, or even contact his wife or children.
On the Horizon
Price: Free! Words: 25,640. Language: English. Published: March 26, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Christian » Romance
The planet Reddend was settled by Christians from both Earth and Kassidor. The Bible (of Earth) requires chastity, but the Species Immunity Complex (of Kassidor) requires a variety of sex partners to preserve youth. In this story we examine the conflict between the teachings of Jesus and the requirements of the Species Immunity Complex and one woman's soul searching on the subject.

Lee Willard's tag cloud

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Lee Willard's favorite authors on Smashwords

C. Litka
Latest book: Shadows of an Iron Kingdom.
Published July 15, 2021. (4.00 from 1 review)

Smashwords book reviews by Lee Willard

  • Bone Dust and Beginnings on March 02, 2021
    (no rating)
    This novel is a prime example of the perils of near-future sci-fi. The premise is a nuclear war in 2012, the story itself is set in 2016 (When a much greater disaster happened) so now it is in the 'Alternate History' sub-genre. It's another post-apocalyptic tale, or should I say bloodbath. It is quite violent, but not as violent as it claims. Some concepts examined are a race of descendants of Jesus with supernatural powers, many of whom were experimented on in government bunkers before the war. The main character is one. That Mother Nature (Gaia) is attempting to wipe out humans (Corona Virus is more effective than monsters at that) and that super-macho males will follow unquestioningly a female with supernatural powers. There is actually a little bit of sex in this story but nothing explicit that might educate any youths. The prose is good, as good as most professionals. Sorry about the lack of star ratings but this novel, though well-done, is, like most, too violent for me to give it an objective rating.
  • Breakers of the Dawn on March 02, 2021

    The premise is that humans have an evil empire of corporate greed and are exterminating a peaceful race of insect-like aliens when a supernatural force bent on conquering reality arrives. J.P. Beaubien's review (below) gives a lot more detail on the premise and plot so there is no need to rewrite it. He didn't mention the Divisionists, anti-war protesters who oppose the extermination of the aliens. They are important only in that they help get the action started. This is a complex tale told from many points of view. You go thru a scene from several points of view in this, much like in my own The Aluminum Quest, but it is a battle in this and not a breakfast. There are male and female characters in the story but they appear to have been genetically modified so they no longer feel any significance to that, there is no sex at all, not even a thought of it. The story is not complete in this volume.
  • Broken Episode One on March 02, 2021

    Commando hero with a criminal past meets academy wash-out trying to make it as a journalist. This is semi-romantic sci-fi but with co-incidences that are a little too unrealistic and formula applied a little too thickly, ie. the characters hate each other at first. He was a little more unrealistic about it than her, almost cringe-worthy. They don't get over it til very near the end when there isn't time to make anything of it so the sexuality is only latent. The 'greatest enemy known' doesn't really have a big part in this volume but the ending is very much a 'Deus ex Machina'. Whatever else we can say about her however, Odette sure can type! I like her stories because they aren't all war all the time.
  • Broken Soldier (Book One) on March 15, 2021
    (no rating)
    The plot is a wounded, aging vet without legs is captured by an alien to help fight other aliens. He is given his legs and eye back and his youth is restored. Most of this first book is recruiting and upgrading other veterans, including the main character's son and daughter-in-law. The 'good' aliens are too humanoid to be believeable, the 'bad' aliens are rather standard reptilian, Klingon-like beasts. It is space opera, not a science text, but not so impossible that it's a complete turn off like 'Coranite Chronicles - The Judge' for instance. My rating system is more like Hannes Birnbacher where 5 stars deserves a Hugo and this would be three, good enough to be worth reading. It wasn't too violent for me and the people do feel remorse when violence is necessary. There is no sex but the characters do know it exists. It damn near ends in the middle of a sentence however, as if the whole series is actually one long novel. I read lots of free sci-fi so the lack of professional proofreading is something I'm used to and I did not get hung up on it. This is about average for free sci-fi but not as good as the average series starter.
  • 365 Days Alone on March 16, 2021

    The premise of this story makes it fantasy in my opinion because I don't see a way that physics allows most of humanity to just vanish without a trace. At the same time all electronic and most mechanical things stop working entirely. Those are about the only breach of known science fact in the story however, so from then on the story is sci-fi. All of humanity is gone but girls 7 to 17 years old. At first there are only two girls involved in the story, one of 16, one of 15, trying to survive in this new and changed world. There is the requisite anguish over the loss of their phones and everything in them and the expected bewilderment over how to find out anything when they can't google it. There are a few flashbacks early discussing their L.A. area high school and the bitches and bullies that were there. The narrator (It's written in first person) laments the loss of the 'boyfriend' she was too shy to approach. They plunder other apartments, grocery stores and eat a lot of junk food to start. They try to find other people but most of the time they are terrified, not knowing what happened, not knowing anything more about how to feed themselves than what their phones can cause to be delivered, not knowing what kinds of animals might be around. They eventually find a little girl of 8, and then one of the bullies that had harassed them before this all happened. I was quite happy with that part of the story, though it didn't make sense that they had found no one else. Then one day they find most of the others gathered for an assembly in their high school. From then on the story isn't fun any more. The 'popular' girls in school have found guns and have set up a brutal totalitarian state than just gets nastier and nastier from then on. The rest of the book is about the horrors of that state, sort of a 'Lord of the Flies' meets to rabid right. They revel in adulation, like a certain deranged demagogue we all know and hate. They forbid any independent thought and are constantly saying that the 'current emergency' means they have to wield absolute power. They lie continually to their 'subjects' and go out of their way just to be mean. Unlike our real life today, it doesn't seem to be racially motivated. While this all might be a good lesson, it certainly wasn't fun reading. The ending is also a massive 'Deus ex Machina' There is a 'sequel' though it happens at the same time, telling what the boys were doing for that year. It is not free but there is a preview at the end of this book. It promises to be even more violent so I will certainly stay away.
  • A Guiding Light on March 16, 2021

    A confusing mash-up of zombies, werewolves, bird men and demigods in an all-out, many sided war. Unrelenting violence from beginning to end without a real point. The zombies are much more gruesome and with even less science than those of most zombie boks. There is no real science in this, just blood, guts and gore. There is no sex at all, and only one female character. There are no positive emotions. The characters are all bit players but the demigod who rules one of the factions and even he is rather shallow. Of you are looking for action, action and more action with no entangling message this is a good bet. The proofreading isn't great, but it's not bad enough to really hinder the reading. It is definitely not my cup of tea, but it may be yours.
  • A Hero on March 16, 2021
    (no rating)
    A recent engineering grad goes to work at a remote mining colony just as war with aliens breaks out. He brings his family with him in spite of half a million red flags about the job and the colony, even before the invasion. He thinks his friendship with the son of the mine owner will save him. It does not, even though his friend may well have tried. His family gets killed while trying to evacuate so our hero quits from the mines and joins the marines. The remainder of the plot is about his life as a marine and how he outperforms most of them and rises more in the ranks than he even wanted to. All he wanted was to kill aliens since they killed his family. The story is a rant against government inefficiency and corruption. He encounters faulty equipment, bad officers and a government that is ready to abandon the outer colonies in order to save the politicians themselves on Earth and the inner colonies. At some point the corporations take over the war and give themselves working equipment and better officers. The down side is they have no intention of giving up power when the war is over. He might be trying to make the point that democracies move too slowly and deliberately to tackle serious problems. The problem with authoritarian organizations, which most corporations are, is that they depend on the judgement and skill of the guy at the top and if he is wrong, there is no recourse. He tries to make the point that corporations are more efficient than democratic institutions. There are, in fact, some that are, but there are many that aren't. If you have worked for one you may have found that many positions are busy work only. They are there because the big boss' compensation is mainly dependent on how many people he supervises, thus the office is padded with mobs of empty suits who have no real purpose. What he does show, especially at the end, is the toxic workplace environment created when corporate management is obsessed with power. I've seen it myself, one's position in the company becomes much more important than the success of the company. There is a lot of violence in the story, very high body count and quite a few characters you know die in battle. There is some remorse for their loss but most of the time they can't stop the battle because of it. There is almost no sexuality, even between the hero and his wife. The only sex in the story is one of the women in corporate hierarchy comes after the hero and gets snubbed, so she tries to get him killed by assigning him to the most dangerous front lines. All that does is get him more and more fame as a hero because he wins every time. The prose is good, the story is well written. It is the corruption that is the main element in the story, not the war with the aliens. There are hints that the aliens aren't even what they seem but possibly a set-up by the corporations to take over the government. Once again, the aliens can be played by actors in costume and their technology is not even 15 minutes more advanced than ours. It is the message that makes it worth reading, even though I don't completely agree with it.
  • A Plain Jane Book One on March 16, 2021

    Plain Jane is actually a very human looking alien, but in this story there are lot of aliens, most of them too human looking to be believable. At least in her case, we know that she was deliberately modified to look human, her race always tries to modify themselves to look like those around them. She can also be taken over by an implant in her brain that can control her to perform amazing physical feats that she cannot perform under her own control. She has tried all her life to attract as little notice as possible. We know very little else about her history. The plot begins with her being attacked by an assassin robot while the human race's greatest hero happens to be walking by at the time and saves her. He then develops an interest in her, though not an explicitly sexual one. He soon finds she is much more than she seems and they begin an adventure trying to get away from the assassin, then ever escalating threats in ever more distant realms. It's a decent adventure, not excessively violent and with enough twists and turns to be interesting. It involves the galaxy's formerly greatest race, which she seems to be a member of, and the vicious killer race that destroyed them. The characters in this realize that they are sexual beings, but there is no sex at all. The prose and proofreading are fine, not perfect but nothing that detracts from the story. This is not a science based story and some of the things, like the hero's 'armor' probably aren't going to come about but again, it is nothing that detracts from the story. The story doesn't end in this volume. The volume doesn't quite end in the middle of a sentence, but in a double cliffhanger in an effort to get you to spend $3.99 for the next volume.
  • Acquisition and Preservation Part 2 The 5 Star Law on March 16, 2021

    In a way it is unfortunate that I came across this before the first book in the series, maybe it would make more sense if I did. This is not to say it didn't make sense, starting in the middle it makes a lot more sense than anything by Andrew McEwan for instance. I believe I've overcome my prejudice against yet another post apocalyptic dystopia and given it the four stars it pretty much deserves. This takes place in Missouri in 2215 after a plague that sterilizes almost everyone. Some women remain fertile, but three quarters of the children they have are male. The population has collapsed enough that civilization cannot continue (not sure that follows) and the military has taken over the country and drafted all females, the fertile as breeding slaves and the remainder as sex slaves in state run brothels. Of course in the long term this can't work as it goes against human instinct. To make it last, human nature would have to be modified. The author knows this and that brings about the plot of the story. Yes, there are some males who would rather stick with the females as sex slaves but the main characters in this want to return to the pair-bonding, family life world that agrees with human instinct. Thus they have rescued some women from a breeding lab (in the first book presumably) and attempt to rescue more in this one. They are being hunted by the military, but because there are many who oppose the sex slave way of life, there are many deserters. Unfortunately it is hard to tell who is on their side and who isn't, thus a lot of secrecy and tension. They world they live in and the place they live in is so similar to 'The Shadow of Armageddon' by Jim Lemay that I wonder if the writers worked together to build a nearly common world that seems more lived-in because of it. I kept expecting to run into one of the scavenger gangs from that story at any time. The main characters in this also make scavenger gangs in almost the same manner. This is a rather character driven story. There is a lot of character's thoughts, lots of emotion, much of it conflicted. There are lots of denial of emotions, lots of places where people refuse to talk about things. I suspect it's not because the characters are supposed to be emotionally weak but meant to show how they are devastated by a form of PTSD brought on by the collapse of civilization. I think the collapse in this story was gradual enough that it wasn't really the cause, no one alive would remember civilization as it had been in 2015. There's a fair amount of sex and affection in the story, it's not all blood and guts and it's not all a desperate struggle for survival. There's some violence but there is more guilt over having to commit violence. The proofreading is rather spotty with a lot of wrong suffixes, missing suffixes, some missing words and some wrong words, but since there are a lot of words in this story, the percentage that are wrong is quite low. The ending doesn't seem complete, but that may be intentional.
  • After the Cure on March 16, 2021

    There has been a terrible plague that turns people into cannibalistic zombies. This story is the adventures of a psychiatrist after the plague is cured and the survivors have to confront what they've done. It's a post apocalyptic world in which most people have died. We are never told where they are located, just 'The last surviving city'. It's probably in the United States but doesn't really have to be. In the story the plague was only eight years ago but things like roads and buildings have undergone more like a hundred years of decay. The plot starts out as the trial of the guy who started the plague, which was caused by an engineered bacteria. In the process they find that there was an even deadlier one produced and there are still vials of that around. Most of the plot is a detective story of trying to find those vials and make sure they are destroyed. In the process they go out passed the wall and into areas where the people have not been cured. That section is like so many post apocalyptic stories, battles with zombies, scavenging deserted homes and offices, etc. It is inevitable that anyone reading this today will compare it to covid even though it was published in 2013. There are a lot of similarities. 'The world quickly emptied of sanity' was a comment one character made. 'After the plague, the world is just too broken to put back the way it was,' is another. These comments may well be true today, but it is not covid that is the cause. The cannibal zombies in this story can be compared to those who refuse to wear a mask today, both the zombies and the mask-averse are deliberately killing people, the zombies didn't know it at the time because they were so insane from the virus. The mask-averse don't know it at the time because they have also been driven insane, but by the pace of social change and not by the virus. The author tries to make the point that human conflicts arise because of competition for resources or their allocation. That is the excuse that the powerful use, but without the presence of domineering men, scarce resources cause as much cooperation as conflict. Almost all human conflict arises from one person trying to dominate others and force the ones he has already dominated into going forth to dominate others. We were broken long before covid, see the 2016 election in the USA or the 2017 election in Brazil. The driving force is not disease but the enormous loss of status by males, white males in particular. Up until 1950 or so a female just about needed a male to survive, but in today's world the average female is better off without the average male There are a lot of philosophical musing thruout the story, most of them having to do with guilt and redemption. There is actually very little about things like the cause of human conflict or how to restore civilization once it's been destroyed, or how to keep it from dying in the first place (prevent the amassing of wealth by the few). There is a type of love affair in the story and there is some sex, though there is nothing explicit and you only once follow them to the bedroom when it is happening. There is more than enough violence, most of it against the zombies caused by the plague. The proofreading is not perfect but not bad enough to impair the reading, but there are a few places where there should have been a blank line and there isn't.
  • Alien Bride: An Alien Mates Adventure SFR (Taron Invasion Series) on March 16, 2021

    An Alien invader is on the way in 3039. They kidnap a navy seal, a gun runner and a half alien female from 2017. Right off the bat I have three problems with the premise. 1. Why would anyone invade? Once you are in space already it is far easier to get materials without a habitable planet's corrosive atmosphere and gravity well. The explanation that they don't do anything for themselves but enslave other species doesn't make much sense outside Hollywood. 2. How could a half-breed occur? That would take at least as much effort as creating the new life form from scratch unless you believe that 'In God's Image' applies all the way down to the number and layout of chromosomes. 3. How did she get to Earth if she was there over a thousand years before the alien's arrived? There are other problems. The personalities and even the spelling of the names of the characters are inconsistent. There are many missing words, wrong words, missing suffixes etc. Most are not bad enough to be confusing, but some are. The first story might be complete, but most of the file is previews of other books in the series. There are several tables of contents but they all seem to be for versions of the first story. In a couple of the stories we come across humans who WANT to feed the vampires that are one of the species on the slave ship. One does it because she is so in love with the vampire. This is alpha male worship taken to a whole new level. There are a couple very explicit sex scenes in the book complete with fairly detailed descriptions of the half-alien's female parts.
  • Alien Species Intervention Books 1-3 on March 16, 2021

    This file contains three books but only one and a fraction stories. The first book of the three is a fairly independent story, the next two books are part of the same story, one that is very incomplete in this file. The plot of the first book is of a poverty stricken girl who escapes a marriage to a horrible but wealthy piece of scum. She's on the run and almost dead when she finds an alien who preforms a few miracles for her so that her life becomes much better. She even finds a nice guy who stays with her and they are doing pretty well until the miserable bastard finds them and thus ensues the conflict of the story. The plot of the next two plus books starts out rather similar but with a larger cast of characters and a greater benefit from the alien, making them extremely rich. It isn't until late that we learn that the alien's real mission is to exterminate the human race, and implying that humans are a failed 'uplift' as in the Brin series. They get involved in rescuing a bunch of animals and run into quite a few coincidences that aren't terribly credible. There are political messages in here but they are somewhat confused. The first book talks about the corruption in small counties, especially in the past, when the county sheriff and judge (or Magistrate in this case) were the law, with maybe a few of the Good Old Boys as advisors. This is the country that existed over much of the south and midwest in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the same world that many of the rabid right want to return to, mainly because it lets them pursue their racist agendas. The second book starts out with a bogus dystopian look at 2044 taken from Fox News, blaming the world's problems on socialists and Muslims. People who live in reality know our problems are caused by income inequality, racial hate, automation, and our disbelief in truth, reason and science. Civilization after civilization have been brought down by the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few and the consequent abandonment of that civilization by the people actually doing the work. It is the inequality that has caused the hate and our disbelief. Automation is really the only separate cause. The repetition of republican talking points becomes quite irritating thru a good portion of the story. Then later on there is a rant about pollution, climate change, the current human-induced mass extinction and other ecological woes of the world. The very same problems the republicans and the oil magnates are causing! The only sex in the book is boyfriend/girlfriend, mainly between teens, and some brutal rapes committed by the bad guys. There isn't much action but there is quite a bit of brutality. The proofreading is pretty good but the prose is very pedestrian.
  • All the Stars Within Our Grasp on March 16, 2021

    This is a space opera quest for the stolen doomsday weapon story. That's probably all I need to say about the plot, it's one that been used before and will be used again. It's done pretty well, the characters have some personality and the story is entertaining enough to be worth the time. The universe is full of human 'Empires' and a few aliens. The aliens are all humanoid to some extent. One of the hostile species is pretty much Klingons from the Star Trek universe with a different name and a diet of live bugs instead of live worms. The humans all left Earth when its atmosphere burned up and no longer know where it is. Of course the stolen weapon has been taken there and the last section of the book happens there. There are some battles and a big, gory one on Earth at the climax. It could have been more gruesome, but because the story is rather comic-book, it doesn't have enough impact to really turn my stomach. I look upon that as a good thing. Many of the obstacles on their path are rather contrived, sort of like the stompers on Galaxy Quest, so they didn't have the impact they could have either. The proofreading is a little lax at the beginning, but seemed to get better as it went on, or I just got used to it. There is just about no sex in the story, though one of the main characters is female. There is no science in the story, no notion of how the economy and society works, no notion of where the food comes from, etc. It ends like the beginning of a new story but I don't know of a sequel out there. He has a collection of short stories, some based on this book, but this story is much better than any of them.
  • Ambassador 1: Seeing Red on March 16, 2021

    The author calls this space opera but I have seen much worse science in stories that other authors consider 'hard' science fiction. Where it is like space opera, there is no concentration on gee-whiz gadgetry, not that there is none in here, but that is not the focus of the story. This takes place in a universe where a near future Earth has been contacted by extra-terrestrials and is in the early stages of being integrated into an interstellar organization. All of the civilizations in this organization can trace their origins to humans taken from Earth 50,000 years ago. I applaud this, it gives us a reason why the aliens are enough like us to be interesting to a human reader without stretching credulity to the breaking point. This extra-terrestrial society is complex, ancient and full of different cultures, all of which are enough like ours to be human without being western. But even with their Earth origin, the people and cultures are more different than in most sci-fi. Realistically different, as different as the cultures of Asia or Africa. This starts a series, the others of which are not free. The plot is about a new ambassador from Earth to the interstellar organization. He is meeting with the president of Earth when he is assassinated using alien technology, starting an interplanetary crisis that he becomes embroiled in. There is a lot of detective work involved in finding who did it, the threat of interplanetary war, a few dead ends and a grand conspiracy that nearly kills them all. There are a few unexpected twists but no major reversals along the way. There is enough sexuality and affection to make the characters seem normal and not the completely neutered beings of so much sci-fi today. Most of the affection is between the main character and an alien girl. There's nothing explicit. There is quite a bit of action but little gore and the body count is not excessive for this type of story, about what you'd expect from a well written spy thriller, which this resembles closely. The prose is good, only one or two proofreading errors glaring enough to notice. The biggest thing I thought was unrealistic is that the absolute dictator of the largest planet in the group decided to come with them on a mission. That's as if Xi Jinping decided to personally lead a mission into the U.S. to pick up a top secret data stick from an American research lab while a desperate team of Al-Quaida elite warriors was hot after the same device and tracking their every move. Would never happen but made for a great story.
  • AmerIndian 2192 on March 16, 2021

    In spite of the fact that this was fantasy in sci-fi clothing and didn't seem to actually have much real insight into Native American ways, the story was entertaining enough to give it three stars. I suspect the author is not really native American, or if so, is quite assimilated into American culture. I just happen to be reading 'Sacajawea' at the moment, which is very realistic in Native American ways, at least for 1804. Granted no one still lives that way but reading that and a few more would have helped this be a little more authentic. This story uses the 'Empire' as in many other stories. In this it is small, but just as evil and corrupt as in many other stories. There is even a Darth Vader like admiral who is the embodiment of evil. There is a population of 'clones' that seem to be engineered people instead of actual clones since they claim to be superior to uncloned humans. They could have had a larger part in the story, but their part sort of fizzled out. There is not much depth in the main stream culture. There is some depth to the Amerindian culture, but it is more reminiscent of special ops teams than anything else. My main gripe is the total disregard of science in this. If there is no attempt to stay within the laws of physics, the story should be labeled as fantasy. Even though there are space ships and people travel from planet to planet, enemies are defeated by magic spells and in 2192 the human race has traveled billions of light years to remote galaxy clusters and in all that space found only nine habitable planets. We probably know of more than that today. On the other hand the characters, plot and prose are good. There are plentiful proofreading errors, missing words and a few others but not enough to make it very difficult to read. Some characters have affection but there is less sex than in Victorian fiction. There are lots of battles and thousands die, but the gore level is only moderate. There does not seem to be a message to the story, maybe that Native Americans still resent loss of sovereignty over their land, but I don't think that was the intent.
  • AMP Messenger on March 16, 2021

    This is a space opera with lots of aliens, space pirates and corrupt politicians in a universe where humans are reduced to one large space station and associated ships and stations. The main character is the pilot and owner of a messenger/light cargo ship who becomes embroiled in a developing war between humans and a large empire. The plot is about that and about building ever more powerful ships to attack the enemy with. It all goes pretty well and they have a lot of fun, most of the time, cutting up their rivals and building one more powerful gizmo after another. There are females in this universe but no one seems to know why. The aliens are nothing a Hollywood makeup artist couldn't deal with and they have the exact same personalities as humans. The science is non-existent but this story isn't about science. The prose and proofreading are more than adequate. There are lots of space battles, about as realistic as in the Star Wars series. There are, of course, plenty of deaths in them but you are far enough away from them that there is no gore. There is a touch of remorse when some people on our side die, but not what there would be in real life. Also like Star Wars, the enemy builds a battle station so much like the Death Star that they could re-use the props and sets. All in all it's a fun story, not too gory, but it doesn't end in this book.
  • An Obsidian Sky on March 16, 2021

    After the destruction of Earth, a group of adventurers travel to an artificial planet where a madman has tried to create a utopia. The artificial planet was a wonderland, and is still impressive, but it has been destroyed. The inhabitants had all gone mad, turned into murderous zombies by an artifact that the madman who built this world had retrieved from an alien civilization. The plot of the story is about finding a way to destroy or disable that artifact because it is believed it and others like it will exterminate the human species. There is quite a bit of action fighting those zombies on the way thru the artificial planet. Some of the characters, not the narrator, have some depth, but this is not a character driven story. There is no pretense of scientific accuracy, it must be read as if it was fantasy. The only sexuality is a tiny bit of homosexual affection. There are a lot of proofreading and grammatical errors. There are wrong parts of speech, a few wrong tenses and some punctuation errors. A few places one needs to backtrack to figure out what was said. Some passages are very good, as good as a professional writer, but some are a bit juvenile. A couple more proofreading passes would have helped this story a lot. The point of the story seems to be that there can be no utopia as long as people compete for power and dominance. I've probably said it before, but I'll say it here too, for unmodified humans as we are today, each person's utopia is the one where they have the highest status and the most power. How they decorate it is immaterial.
  • Anti Life on March 16, 2021

    This takes a long time to get going. The first few chapters just introduce the cast and the world. They seem to start off on a large group of space stations in the outer solar system. The main character is married and has a kid, but his job gets in the way of family life. That is almost the only nod toward sexuality in the story. Once everyone is introduced, the plot is about sending people after a probe which has been sent to another star and ran into problems. There is an alien probe there and it seems to be contaminated with some kind of thing that takes control of people, makes them stronger and makes them able to infest the computer systems also. Just when you get to that part, book 1 ends. The author seems to think the moon landing was faked. He's very in favor of corporations taking over and eliminating nation states as we know them. The result of this is to push an ever larger proportion of the population out of civilization. He also thinks that on line learning can reduce the cost of elementary education to 0. As we have seen in this pandemic, on line learning has reduced the value of elementary education to 0. Yes, on line learning can teach kids which buttons to push but it cannot mold them into a society. Smashwords does advise people to make the first novel in a series free as a means of promoting the series, but sometimes, and this is an example, the first novel is not a novel but a sample of a larger story.
  • Apocalypse Origins on March 16, 2021

    A story of the Zombie apocalypse, VERY much like 'After the Cure' by Deirdre Gould in that a plague turns people into murderous zombies. In this case it is engineered from the rabies virus under the control of a billionaire who wanted to become emperor of America. The plot is a group of survivors who try to escape and run into various adventures on the way. There's a lot of violence with little remorse. Most of it against the zombies but quite often against other survivors. Some of the people wonder why they have so little remorse, but most of them don't seem to think about it, as if they are characters in a video game. They recruit many followers and defeat ever more capable enemies until, at the end, the leader of the band is declared king. The message here is pretty much worship of the alpha male. It's done well, it's not too strident, but it's definitely there. All others are portrayed as helpless, with some willing to contribute to society but only if they are lead to it, and some as detrimental to society, and therefore killed off now that there is no law. The 'good' people are those who are eager to join up as followers of the alpha while the 'bad' people are those who resist. There are a couple characters who seem to be independent but they soon see the 'error' of there ways and come running to the group and swear loyalty to the leader. Bikers are portrayed as evil and listening to heavy metal. Pretty amazing when the power is out everywhere, but the point was made. I've known many bikers in my day and few of them are evil and most listen to southern rock and blues. The zombies are a little inconsistent. Their origin is explained, but not their organization or why their actions make sense only as cinema. They don't act rabid, they act like a band of 100 local extras that are brought on when the music turns dark. There are married couples and boyfriend-girlfriend relationships in the story but you are never present at anything sexual. I'd give it a 2 on the sexometer because at least people know there are two sexes and why. The proofreading is so-so, a few places there's the wrong word, sometimes missing words but nothing that really stops you. A lot of the prose is a bit simplistic but it's easy enough to follow. In spite of these problems, it is a good story, with good pace and not too much explicit gore. Many will not consider worship of the alpha male to be a problem and might have rated this higher. Another good thing about this is that even though it is billed as the first of a series, the story in this volume is actually complete, though there's plenty of set-up for the sequel. It's probably a good thing that it's complete because there are no others released at this time.
  • ARMS War for Eden on March 16, 2021

    The main characters in this are bioengineered soldiers who are out of a job because the war has ended. They have difficulty blending into a peace time society and get caught up in running arms to the outer planets of the region, one of which is named Eden. Eden is really a hell-house, sort of a Mars in the place of Venus but it is rumored to be rich in Titanium. One of the former warring planets tries to settle it and claim it. Our heroes get involved because they know their arms trading, which made them rich, is involved in the trouble on Eden. That's the plot. The characters are a little bit interesting in some ways to some people. The most realistic science in the story is regarding what people bioengineered for war might be like, sort of like an Orc. Attractiveness wasn't a plus. They are sterile in body and soul. They are unrealistically good at what they do. Other than that the science is at the comic book level, some technobabble that does what's needed by the plot with no regard to what's possible in physics as we know it today. There is a mechanical dog that humps one of the soldier's legs. That is the extent of sexuality in the story. The prose and proofreading are fine. Unlike Hannes, I'm not going to get into the grade inflation race. Three stars means good, four means great and five means Hugo-worthy. This story is fine, but it is too violent for me.
  • Aupes on March 16, 2021
    (no rating)
    I found this too depressing to give a good review. I also did not find it AT AL believable, sorry.
  • Balanced on the Blade's Edge (Dragon Blood, Book 1) on March 20, 2021

    A really good sci-fi/fantasy yarn that takes place on Earth in an alternate time line or way in the future, or possibly on a planet terraformed thousands of years ago. It has technology approximately equivalent to World War I but also has magic. It takes place in a nation that has given up magic and where magicians are hated and feared. The magic they fear is actual magic and not advanced technology that has been lost. That country is under attack by a distant land bent on conquest that does still employ magicians The plot is about a woman sorceress who has been in suspended animation for the last three hundred years and a colonel/pilot who has been reassigned to command a prison/mine. The woman wakes up in that mine just as the colonel arrives to take over the fort and just as an enemy zeppelin arrives to try and destroy the fort. At first it looks like they will get mired in the typical romance novel, 'Oh he couldn't possibly fall for a suspected spy like me,' 'Oh she probably thinks I'm a military monster,' schtick, but thankfully that lasts only until they first get stuck in a cave together while fleeing a giant owl. All the tension in the plot is about her trying to keep secret that she's a sorceress while trying to use her powers to defeat the invaders. There is also a sword with a soul trapped inside that she must retrieve from down in the mine, and a real ass-wipe of a general who comes to take over the fort who has a lush blond daughter who falls for the colonel and looks like she's all set to mess up the budding love affair. Too bad the war intervenes. There is sex in the story but it's clean. There's violence in the story but it is also clean. The prose and proofreading are excellent, the main characters quite lifelike with strong personalities, though the general is a bit of a caricature. It touches the bases for romance in that the colonel is a typical romance novel good hearted alpha male. There doesn't seem to be any message in here, but there is good entertainment.
  • Brain Worms on March 20, 2021
    (no rating)
    A very good thriller, lots of action, heroism, a damsel in distress, black ops, terrorist plots, high tech surveillance and all the stuff you'd expect in a mainstream black ops story. The only thing that makes it sci-fi, a genetically modified parasitic worm is used as a component in the terrorist plot. Now I must admit that though this is good for what it is, it isn't really sci-fi, and it isn't the kind of story that I like best. The hero is too heroic, a neurosurgeon and former navy seal. The villain is too cultured and polite, very much like a James Bond movie. The damsel in distress is the hero's wife who is kidnapped by the villain to make the hero help them instead of the agency. For fans of that genre, this is a good pick, even though it's in the sci-fi aisle.
  • Brain Worms on March 20, 2021

    A very good thriller, lots of action, heroism, a damsel in distress, black ops, terrorist plots, high tech surveillance and all the stuff you'd expect in a mainstream black ops story. The only thing that makes it sci-fi, a genetically modified parasitic worm is used as a component in the terrorist plot. Now I must admit that though this is good for what it is, it isn't really sci-fi, and it isn't the kind of story that I like best. The hero is too heroic, a neurosurgeon and former navy seal. The villain is too cultured and polite, very much like a James Bond movie. The damsel in distress is the hero's wife who is kidnapped by the villain to make the hero help them instead of the agency. For fans of that genre, this is a good pick, even though it's in the sci-fi aisle.
  • Cactus Land on March 20, 2021

    This is a story about civilians getting ready for war and what it means to them. Their concerns, their affairs and their lives are the story, not the war or any other action. It is a war of the developed world vs. the third world, but it is not set in any country or place we would recognize. It is not really another planet or a parallel universe, it is like when mainstream fiction uses a fictitious town which could be real, just on a larger scale. Should it really be called Science Fiction? It does not have the feel of Sci-fi, but of the fictional town in mainstream fiction. The time period may be slightly in the future, or slightly in the past. The book is all about the characters and their interactions. None of them are particularly likeable, either as heroes or as average people, but they are three dimensional enough to be interesting. Enough that the story might have been worth four stars if it was complete. Right, this book is not complete. It goes along and goes along, the characters go about their lives, the war finally starts and you hope to see what happens to them all. You do not. There is one final scene which seems completely disconnected to the entire book, and then it ends.
  • Daughter of Orion on March 20, 2021

    Eight young people come from a dying planet to save the Earth from destruction by the human race. When they get here they develop super powers and start using them to right some wrongs. The story could have been fun, could have been meaningful and could have even contained the Christian message the author was aiming for, but it doesn't actually achieve any of that. I believe the message he's trying to convey is that science is evil and will eventually destroy the Earth, as it destroyed the other planets in the story. That message is not borne out in the story because the wrongs they right are mainly destroying drug dealers, muggers, dog fighters, etc. There are some 'missions' about destroying military targets but there is no look at what the military projects were and how they might affect the planet. The notion that science is evil or anti Christian is spawned by the same religious evil that brought us the inquisition and ISIS. This notion is brought about by evil people using your well-intentioned beliefs to further their own power and status. We are in the midst of one of those tides of evil in our churches right now where well meaning but shallow thinking people are being brainwashed by the radical right into hate and division and dehumanization. Did Jesus say any of that? Would Jesus say people are non human if they believe in the right to health care? Did Jesus say skin color was the key to salvation? READ YOUR GOSPELS PEOPLE! I also disagree, very strongly, with the notion that science destroys civilizations or planets. While it is true that if we never invented the oil well or the coal mine or the atomic bomb, or for that matter, the gun, we would be safer, it is the denial of science that will kill us. Without science the Earth can support maybe a billion humans if you don't call farming, plumbing and central heat the results of science. If you do, maybe one hundred million can be supported. It is greed and dominance that has already destroyed civilization after civilization on this planet, and is destroying this one today. We need science to edit that greed and dominance out of our psyche before we can be the people Jesus asked us to be. So if the story is not fun, meaningful, or Christian, what is it? For the most part it is depressing, dying civilizations always are.
  • Defective on March 20, 2021

    This is a post apocalyptic story but better in that it is not all violence and savagery. The premise is a series of mutations after the geological event and plague that destroyed our current civilization. These mutations give people certain powers such as speed, weather forecasting and in some cases telepathy. People with these mutations have to keep themselves secret from normal people, but that is not the plot of the story. Much of the story is day-to-day life of a family of children after their parents die. In the last half of the story there is some action as they try to protect themselves from those who want to swindle them. The world this takes place in is very small, just a single county, and there seems to be no contact with the outside world. The characters are pretty lifelike except for the villains. There is no sex but the oldest child has a romantic interest and prostitution occurs in the periphery. The proofreading is excellent, the prose is professional.
  • DoriaN A on March 20, 2021

    This 'Young Adult' novel is more mature than a large fraction of the free Sci-fi out there. The main character is a teen, but the story is not the endless waste of ammunition that so many in that segment are. The plot is actually a take off on 'A Picture of Dorian Grey' except that instead of a picture that absorbs Dorian's punishment, it is his clone, a clone raised to provide spare body parts. The main characters are among the super rich in the world portrayed in 'Soylent Green,' with the male lead deep into a debauchery of domination based on his clones and animal hybrids. The story is about the treatment of the poor by the rich and the attitudes of the rich toward the poor. It's accurate, I've seen it, you probably have too. Dorian may seem over the top, but I've known two people personally who are as ignorant of the lives of the poor and as callous about it as Dorian. It is his sixteen year old fiance who questions the attitude of the rich toward the poor, and the rebellion she tries to assist is the plot of the story. You are not present at any sex scenes. The action is violent but not unnecessarily gory. The ending is rather abrupt and not as believable as it could be. If not for that, this would have earned four stars. The proofreading is excellent, the prose is professional quality. I commend Jon for the message he's trying to deliver.
  • Driftmetal on March 20, 2021

    This is actually fantasy, not sci-fi because no effort was made to stay within the laws of physics at any point. It's not sword and sorcerer but more along the lines of 'Coronite Chronicles,' a fantasy tale that looks like space opera. It is MUCH better than Coronite Chronicles in that there is a lot less invention of new fantastic powers any time someone gets into difficulty and it is not so ridiculously stupid. The premise is a planet that has disintegrated with much of its surface now floating in the air, floating on a negative gravity substance a lot like the Lodestone of the series by the same name by Mark Whiteway. This is not as serious as the Lodestone series, but more complete in the first book. The characters are rather shallow except for the main character, who is not very likeable, being a criminal and all. He gets a little better toward the end. The 'cops' who chase him are not fleshed out at all, you never meet any of them, you don't learn anything about the society other than it is faintly medieval. His parents pursue him also but you don't see much of the backstory about that. The book is fairly short, so there isn't time to get into that. The story is full of completely over-the-top violence but because it is such a fantasy it is not as disturbing as it should be. It is so over-the-top that it is actually funny, and humor is probably the strongest feature of the story, for me anyway. With that said it is not really a comedy either. There is no sex at all in the story, though the main character almost has feelings for one of the ship captains. This is billed as steampunk and cyberpunk, but that is only because most of the characters have mechanical enhancements to their bodies. All in all it was amusing, go ahead and pick it up.
  • Exiles on March 20, 2021

    The second in this series, after 'Rebels'. This has a better plot but even worse proofreading, but still a little better than the average text message. All the errors of the first in greater quantity and some new ones besides. The dystopian corporation theme is not as front and center until the very end where we learn how a corporation can be so cold and inhuman. In this one a brutal religious order begins to become more important. But this story is really all about the plot, not as much the action, but the machinations of politicians as they try to cover up their dirty deeds. There is still a lot of action and a lot of it is still space battles, which are done better than average. For the most part they allow for the laws of physics and do not look like worldwar era aerial dogfights. This one is more obviously an episode in a series, it's ending is not as much of a completion as 'Rebels'. More threads get opened in this than were in the first book. As of Oct. 2017, the third is not out, so I don't know for sure if it will be free also, but I suspect it will. If you can puzzle out what is happening among the grammatical errors, it is pretty entertaining. It's longer than 'Rebels' but I think it was worth the time.
  • Expressions of Freedom on March 20, 2021

    This is a short story about artificial intelligence becoming self-aware. In the near future we have direct democracy where people are allowed to vote directly on issues and not just for representatives. A reporter thinks he has uncovered irregularities among the systems that record those votes. He finds a cover-up of powerful people and they send killers to eliminate him. The message here is that in a virtual world you can never be sure of the truth. Because it is a short story there are very few characters, but those there are are well done. The world is only sketched, but sketched well. It is in the 'Soylent Green'/'Blade Runner' era but I applaud the fact that it is not overly dark and depressing. There is some action and suspense but no excessive violence.
  • Faster Than Light: The Fallen Goddess on March 20, 2021

    A short story about a galactic empire that finds their faster than light drive is destroying the universe so they outlaw it. The main character steals the last starship and tries to get interstellar commerce going again. In the process he finds the woman who invented the drive who was supposed to be dead for two thousand years but it still alive due to relativistic time dilation. Harmless fun, not too gory, no message, nothing of any depth just a quick read with some entertainment value.
  • Fatal Boarding on March 20, 2021

    This is good old Space Opera and I mean that in a good way. A derelict alien spacecraft, quirky, hard-boiled space veterans, plenty of atmosphere, and plenty of action. The writing and proofreading are professional quality. The plot and action are engaging and believable. There is a good deal of mystery and suspense. There is one sexual encounter but no real romance, a fair amount of human versus alien violence but no rivers of gore. This is set in a human-space universe that should be familiar to most sci-fi readers, and like the 'good old days' of space opera, travel is by spacecraft and not thru wormholes or teleportation. This makes it easy to read as pure entertainment and it is pure entertainment with no cultural message, but done well.
  • Forbidden Outpost on March 20, 2021

    This is a long-delayed sequel to the story and movie 'Forbidden Planet.' Because of that one might expect it to be geared toward a 50's audience with no cell phones, no place for female characters but cooking the food and minding the children and such things. In reality the only nod this makes toward the fifties is that a couple of the characters smoke cigarettes. The technology is far more up to date than the movie was and the science is more realistic. That is just because science has come a long way since the fifties. The only caveat, if it was a choice of changing something that was in the movie or changing science, I think he stayed true to what was in the movie. Since I last saw the movie over thirty years ago, I don't remember it well. The story begins right where the movie left off, with the destruction of Altair IV. All the characters from the movie are there but they don't mouth lines as corny as in the movie. They also have more modern attitudes. Alta now has a meaningful role, intelligence and a personality. They find her aunt and she has a meaningful role also, showing that this was not written in the '50's. While there is no explicit sex in the story, there is affection and two marriages happen during it. To me it is the love interest rather than sex that is appealing. The plot is about finding an outpost of the Krell. It is not manned by their people but by robots. The other main part of the plot is corruption within the United Planets division of science. Our crew has to overcome them both. Once again, in the 50's we couldn't have had corruption in the government of the 'good guys' but that turns out to be more of a problem than the Krell robots. There is some body count in this, but about what you find in a murder mystery or spy thriller. A dozen or so, not hundreds of thousands. The prose is very good. There are some proofreading errors, occasional missing words but only once did I have to backtrack to figure out what the sentence meant. To be honest, many of the stories I've read lately have been so confusing that I was wondering if I might just be getting so senile I can't follow them any more. This one proved that is not the case.
  • Forge of Stones on March 20, 2021

    For the first half of this book you will think it is classic epic fantasy, but little by little it's true nature will become apparent until you see that it is relatively mainstream sci-fi. The language is somewhat flowery and poetic like epic fantasy, but the proofreading errors and the fact that is sometimes a bit overdone kept me from awarding the prose a 10. This story has some of the atmosphere of Gene Wolf's 'Book of the New Sun' series and some echos of 'Map of the Known World' in the runaway theocracy that rules the world where this takes place. By the middle of the book you are pretty sure it is going to follow the path of 'Book of the New Sun' but it does not. I won't give the ending away by revealing the plot twist that makes this story unique, other than to say it has one and is definitely not a knock-off of that classic, but just set in a similar universe and time. I debated whether this was a three or a four star, I gave it three for the following reasons: Sometimes it takes awhile before you know who the narrator is for a chapter. The characters deliver a lot of soliloquies and some of them are a bit too long and looping. There is a lot of action and dialog that seems to go on too long. The book could have dropped fifty pages without detracting from the story. The science seems almost like fantasy, but it is so far in the future that nearly anything COULD be possible by then, even things that seem to break the laws of physics as we know them today. When one proposes technology as advanced as in this book it is really impossible to determine just how realistic it is. It is realistic enough that it did not detract from the story for me. The only mention of anything sexual is that one of the characters is pregnant. The story seems to be more for entertainment than to make a point. He does mention that the people are being bred to follow like sheep, sort of like the sheeple of America who are blindly giving up their free will to parrot a certain radio personality. The twist at the end shows how absolutely meaningless and worthless small lives (yours and mine) are to the dominant ones in society. These points are tenuous at best, read it for entertainment.
  • Free-Wrench on March 20, 2021

    A 'Free-Wrench' is a jack-of-all-trades in the geothermal steam plants on a chain of isolated islands on the planet where this takes place. I can't really call this space opera because no one thinks about space. I can't really call it science fiction because science is completely ignored. I can call it entertaining however because it is a breathless adventure almost from the get-go. I can even call it slightly meaningful because in here we see protests about how corporations make products that are impossible to service and protests at the way big pharma refuses to do research on antibiotics because they actually cure a disease instead of just treating it in a way that makes you dependent on the drug for life. I once knew a guy who worked at a Pfizer research lab. He said if anyone there was to ever discover a cure for cancer, their lab would be leveled and their body would have been found floating in the Thames the next day. The plot is about a girl who was a free-wrench, a girl who's mother was dying of a disease for which there was no cure on the island. She meets some smugglers who tell her there may be a cure for that disease on the mainland so she makes a hasty decision to go off with them on their blimp in search of it. Their society is quite lawless and that decision leads to quite a series of adventures. The mainland's industry and science is under control of a mutated race of people who live under a toxic fog that has covered most of the continent. the people of the 'fug' as that toxic fog is called, don't allow anyone else to do any technical work and that makes her run afoul of them. In the steam age, turning a wrench is considered technical work. The only sex in the story is one crewman's liking for 'girlie' pictures. The main character comes off as quite the prude about it. The violence is high but not gory and the action is almost cartoon-like in it's unreality. Everything happens at the very last split second, people fall off one blimp to land on another, that kind of thing. It's fun, but not very realistic.
  • E on March 24, 2021

    This book is well written, well proofread, well plotted but so miserably dark and depressing that I just can't give it the rating it deserves. I do not think the dystopia is very believable because there is so much unexplained. Where does the food come from? Why can't they grow some? Why is the countryside off limits? Who's making all the trash they live in? What's happening in the remainder of the world? The entire world of the story does not seem to be as big as a single township. Maybe some of these things are explained in later books of the series. Not only is the environment so mean, but the people are too. They can't show affection, can't be nice, and that's with their friends and family. There is no real explanation for the side taken by the second and third characters in the story. The plot is a pretty girl who's mind has been erased waking up in a metal coffin in an environment that reminds me of the Mexico City dump but is called an 'outpost'. It is ruled by a warlord and during the story it is attacked by another warlord from a different outpost. There are big robot policemen around, but they are quite stupid and do more harm than good. The story is more character driven than plot driven however. There is a lot of time spent with the main character's thoughts, which are actually pretty realistic for someone her age (18). Her biggest concern was for a young boy which seemed a little more intense than normal, almost to the point of obsession. If he was her own child, I could see it. While I don't understand why someone would write something so depressing, I do understand why people read it. Our society seems to have a deathwish. It seems like we are all convinced the future is this bleak and there is nothing we can do about it, but there is. All we need to do is raise the top income tax bracket back to 91% as it was when the country was 'great' so we can rebuild our infrastructure. We need to inhibit the free flow of capital so our corporations can no longer export our jobs to countries where workers are the most exploited. We need to regulate the internet so it doesn't spread lies as fact, convince white males to get over their relative loss of status and begin to prepare for the billion climate refugees who will be migrating toward the poles this century. It is the division between rich and poor, not right and left or black and white that is ruining our way of life.
  • Galaxy of Heroes on April 01, 2021

    The human race is caught between two warring non-human empires, each bent on ruling the galaxy. Both of them are more advanced than humans, but only a tiny bit more so that we can comprehend and label their weapon systems. As the name suggests, the plot of the story concerns several heroes (who do not have super powers) and their efforts to combat the empires. One of the empires is populated by giant mechanical insects, the other by large humanoids who also converse with acoustic waves and have psyches that are totally, one hundred percent human without the least hint of alien thought processes. The story is good space opera, written and read mainly for entertainment. If there is any message it is in the third section which shows that many politicians will put their own greed above the future of the human species. There is a token love interest in the story but it is totally incidental. There is quite a bit of violence but it is not as graphic and gruesome as some. I found the notion that an alien species will communicate with audio, walk on two legs and have the same alpha male macho shtick as humans a little unrealistic. I also find it unrealistic that the aliens are fifteen minutes more advanced than humans even though they are millions or billions of years older. Still, making them a little more like a billion year old species makes them a lot harder to relate to. Having them push humans aside like they were ants under a bulldozer, not even noticing them as a technological species, would be much more realistic, but a lot less interesting reading. As it is, it's a fun read except for the violence. There is a sequel but it is not listed on smashwords and may not be free.
  • Gamers Gate on April 01, 2021

    In this story we have some inter-dimensional portals or wormholes that connect Earth to a world that has been used as the setting for a role playing game very much like Dungeons and Dragons. You've all seen this world before, medieval technology and lifestyle, kings and knights, rogues and jesters, magic, quests, named swords, the whole high fantasy thing. It's a world with rules of magic instead of science, but magic that also works on Earth when their sorcerers are brought here. The plot is about the people who first pass thru the portal, what adventures they have in the world of magic and the people who come to Earth and the adventures they have in the world of technology. There is violence but it is not unremitting. The characters are adequate and one is physically unique but with an exactly human personality. The world is substantial, but mainly because it is one we've all seen before. The reaction of Earth's governments to the events described is very restrained. There is a pseudo-governmental raid soon after the people from Thrycion reach Earth, and some of them are captured, but then the reaction fizzles out and corporations begin to make plans to exploit the new markets. The story ends rather abruptly but there are hints that the relationship between the worlds continues and a lot of commercial exploitation occurs. That could probably happen because Thrycion has nothing like the Kassikan to protect it. It would be very likely that Earth and its nations and corporations would soon overwhelm such a society in spite of their use of magic. There are both male and female characters but there is no sex, no romance and no interest in it. The proofreading is generally acceptable but there are some missing and wrong words here and there that will make you stop and puzzle out what he's trying to say. I found no message in here that I could pick up on. All in all, it's pretty good, entertaining enough to pick up.
  • Godspeed Inc: A Naomi Kinder Adventure on April 01, 2021

    This is a novelette in which the main character, Naomi Kinder, rescues the solar system from an advancing black hole. In just a few pages we have a corporation putting short term profits above human life and even above the fate of the whole solar system. The time frame is late 21st century, the corporation in question has invented a faster than light system which disrupts the fabric of space but is using any and all means to cover up that defect. That defect is what brings the black hole into the solar system and leads to the action of the story. The science is reasonable space opera, not so unlikely as to detract from the story. I think it is doubtful there will actually be colonies on the moon and Mars by the time period in the story, but this time frame was the common assumption in mid 20th century Sci-fi, and this story has the feel of a magazine story from that era. The characters are as well done as possible in such a short piece. This story serves as an introduction to a longer work which will probably flesh out the world a lot more. The longer work is not free.
  • His Robot Girlfriend on April 01, 2021

    This is a cute little piece of fluff that is actually quite a bit of fun. The title pretty much tells the story. In the near future a lonely widowed schoolteacher buys himself a late model personal companion robot. Even though she looks human enough, everyone knows she's a robot because no twenty-something girl that hot would be in the company of a dowdy, paunchy, fiftyish schoolteacher. There's some comedy and a bit of mayhem, including one knock-down fight between robots. There is plenty of sex but only the most puritanical would call it porn. The setting is the opposite of the dystopia of most near future sci-fi. The United States and its government still function, corporations have been put in their place, public education still functions, mag-lev trains cross the country and the Green Party is a major political force. Some may call it Pollyanna, but if you believe as I do that Sci-fi doesn't just predict the future, but is a factor in shaping the future, maybe that will do some good. For some, such as me, the idea of a robot girlfriend without a mind of her own is quite unsettling, but Mike, the main character, has no misgivings. If there is a message here it is that robot marriage may be the next step after gay marriage. The author does not seem to have an opinion one way or the other, but tosses it out as something to consider.
  • Imagiscape on April 01, 2021

    This ebook has seven short stories and a short novel all in one file. All suffer from the same form of confusion, there are no blank lines. We can change point of view, time, place and there is nothing at all to mark it. In many of the stories it would be profitable to write down the names of the characters. That's a little difficult when you're on the stationary bike in a gym or straphanging on a bus or subway, but if you're in a place where you can do so, it often helps. It helps to go back when you find you're in a different point of view and find out where the change occurred and pretend there is a blank line there. There is more mention of sexuality in her work than in most free sci-fi but in no way is this erotica. About half the sexuality is homosexuality and none is explicit. She may be trying to make a point about repression in a few places. The most common 'problem' in this, and another story of hers (L'Gem) which I did not finish is that people in many of these stories get so much done in so little time it is fantasy. Anyone who has been an engineer knows that everything always takes twice as long as the worse case estimate, no part 'guaranteed to fit' ever does, the software is not compatible with the hardware and the critical 'hero' who is the only one who knows how the [fill in the blank] works was laid off two weeks ago. Anyway, things never go as smoothly as planned, much less get done in half the time. This was a common theme in '30's and '40's propeller-head sci-fi however, and a common theme in my earliest stories written when I was in elementary school. They are fun to write, kind of like stories where the protagonist has superpowers of some type, either psychic or technical, that allows him/her/them to do whatever they like to change the world and and opposition is powerless to stop them (Tales of the Triad by R.J. Murray, also L'Gem again).
  • Johnny Winger and the Serengeti Factor on April 01, 2021

    The Serengeti factor is a virus, created to battle another virus. This book is all about nanotechnology, artificial viruses and the heroes who lead them into battle. There's a few evil corporations and/or criminal gangs bent on world domination or extermination, a lot of nanotechnology military gear and lots of nanotech battles, many deep in people's brains, several in the main character's brain. The action happens in 2062. The U.N. is a much bigger player than today but the USA survives more or less intact. The phone is there but not the be-all, end-all it is today. Other than that the world is very little changed from today's except for the advances in nanotechnology. A lot could be said about the technology in the story. It seems to violate the laws of conservation of mass and energy, I don't see how such progress could be made in so little time, and a few little things like that, but this is a military adventure and not a science text or social treatise. As a military adventure I would have given it four stars but so many of the battles are repetitious and the troop's reactions to them are just a bit shallow. This is a full-length novel, unlike so many listed here. Perhaps it should have had more world building and character building because of that. The social fabric of our country and the world is in flux and current conditions are unsustainable. Whether this leads to the collapse and dissolution of the United States like 'Blade Runner' or 'Mad Max', or a brutal totalitarian theocracy as in 'Dominion' is yet to be seen, but it will not remain as it is or go back to what it was in the 50's. However, detailing that was not the author's mission. His world is consistent with a gung-ho, straight-laced, crew-cut adventure like the one in this story. Had he modified the world to be more probable, the story wouldn't make sense. There is no sex in the story and only the tiniest hints of a love interest on the parts of a few characters. The main character resolutely avoids it. There is little human on human violence, most battles happen on the molecular scale. A few people die and a few macro-scale weapons are discharged, but this is not a story for those looking for maximum body count. There are the usual number of proofreading errors for a self-published work, not enough to hinder reading. The dialog is fairly mature and not all cliches. There are six books in this series altogether and they are all free and accessible on Smashwords. I have not read them yet but the synopsis confirms a suspicion I had about the original virus, it is not natural and not of Earth origin, but leads to a swarm of nanobots in outer space.
  • Kindred Spirits on April 01, 2021

    Once of the best stories I've come across in the free market, one of the top 5% of all time. An agent comes back from the near future (2026) to the recent past (1991) to try and change the course of history. In the time he came from America was under the control of a brutal theocracy (Shades of 'Dominion' again) and his mission is to save the life of the girl who has to kill the leader of that church. It takes a while into the story before you know what his mission is, other than saving her life. It is not totally obvious at first that he comes from the future, except that his car has many devices that were only available to the military at the time. There is not a lot of info about the church either, other than its leaders are cynical, hypocritical and bent on total domination and brainwashing of their members. It seem like a pretty typical cult and the its specific character is not an important part of the story. I was absolutely thrilled to see a story with intelligent and thoughgful black characters who are not stereotypes. The polar opposite of say 'Black Girl Lost' by Peter Goins, a book that would set race relations back 100 years if it had a wider circulation. This is more like the blacks I know, my best English teacher, my mentor for tech writing, etc. All the characters in the book are good and believable. It is quite a ways into the story before you find out that the female lead is Asian. Most of the action is in the second half of the book. There are some car chases and fights. Some of it is a little unrealistic in that they should have died or at least become unconscious from the wounds, but it is still very realistic compared to comic books. The characters feel remorse for the violence and the violence is there because of the story, not the other way around. There is one love scene which is as steamy as anything from Harlequin, but more romantic than pornographic.
  • Knight Progenitor on April 01, 2021

    This is a collection of fan fiction stories mashing Star Trek II and Dr. Who, especially Commander Data of Star Trek fame. There is some fun here, but stories like this are a lot more fun to write than read. Stories like this means those in which the protagonists are all-powerful, push the enemies out of the way effortlessly, get mobbed by flocks of swooning beauties and have reputations that precede them wherever they go. Now there are some scenes where the doctor gets captured (but never killed) and often seriously wounded. Those scenes are confusing when he is so all-powerful at other times. There are other things in the book that are confusing, like changing time, location and point of view without even a blank line to give you any warning. This author does that a lot, this book not as often as in some of her others. The 'science' in this fiction is all comic book, no research into the actual laws of physics was done. There is technology as needed by the plot, but only a couple times does it pop up to save the day when nothing else could save them. The sex in the story is all implied, but there was probably quite a bit of it. There is the normal amount of violence but you don't see it. Much of it is euphemized around. Some people feel some remorse for the killings, and the doctor tries hard not to kill. The proofreading is better in this than in some of her others, but there are still some errors. Only a few of them are bad enough to make you have to go back and try to figure out what was actually meant. The missing blank lines are a pet peeve, but at least there are SOME in here, unlike some of her others where there are none at all.
  • Living History on April 01, 2021

    This has artificial recreations of historical characters, a sexy lady assassin, a runaway train and dinosaurs, how could it go wrong? What went wrong is it is all set up to be a rip-roaring comedy, but it isn't very funny. The story is medium length but has the setting and character development of a short story. It takes place in a mildly dystopian world where Little America (the northeast) is under control of a mob-run corporation and Big America (Everything south and west of D.C.) is in a time warp worshiping the past. There's a fair amount of violence that should have been slapstick, but doesn't quite make it. I would choose 'Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede' as a much better example of this sub-genre.
  • Lodestone Book One: The Sea of Storms on April 01, 2021

    An excellent novel by an established pro. This has distinctive, lifelike characters, great world building and an interesting story with enough action but no rivers of gore. The plot is a rebellion against a terrible tyrant in a theocratic regime, formed as a quest with a limited number of main characters. There is nothing new about the plot or premise, but this is done better than most similar stories. The characters are deeper than most and two of them go on spiritual journeys as important as the quest itself. The world is interesting, a small planet orbiting a brown dwarf that orbits a spectroscopic binary of yellow and white suns. Even though the planet is small enough that the gravity is light, it is far 'bigger' than most sci-fi worlds in that there are differences in culture and climate between regions. For me it fun because the language has the sound of Kassidorian if not the same meaning ('Keltar' is 'City of Truth' in Kassidorian). I'm sure Mark Whiteway has never heard of Kassidor and derived the language from a common root (Tolkien) independently. The life is not the same old Earth biosphere (meaning we'll never see the movie). The science behind this world might not stand up to rigorous analysis by an astrophysicist in some areas, but it is interesting and different none the less. The natives of the planet are humans with tails and white blood. They have the same hair and eye colors as we do and I'd like to think that they were genetically engineered from humans at some point in the distant past, because parallel evolution this close is hard to believe. There are hints of that in the story. Their personalities and motivations are much more like those of today's (normal) humans than Kassidor's modified humans. They never make any use of their tails and for most of the story you forget they have them. Even if they do not turn out to be engineered from humans, they must be human-like so that they are interesting to the human reader. There is another intelligent species on the planet with six legs that is different enough to be believable. Their intelligence is about that of an ape or a Kassidorian keda. Their personalities and motivations are not human-like, so that if the story were told from their perspective it would be uninteresting to human readers. The unique property of this planet is that is is rich in 'lodestone,' the substance the series is named for, a substance with negative gravity. I would have thought this was obvious fantasy until recently when some scientists began taking the possibility seriously. They think it may take antimatter to make it happen, but if they are right getting from there to the substance in the story is just engineering details. Much use is made of the substance in the book, as a means of flight and as an energy source. There are hints that it will have even more uses later in the series. The biggest drawback; you can't complete the tale in the free market. As the title says, it is the first of a series and is not complete in the first book, in fact the first book seems to just get you to the site where the real action will begin. There are more in the series at 3.99 each. From reading the first, I'd say they're probably worth it but I haven't read them (yet).
  • Lunara: Seth and Chloe on April 01, 2021

    This had quite a bit to overcome to wind up with three stars. The science is pretty shaky, the space battles are worldwar era aerial dogfights, the solar system is very small and Earth has been obliterated by a stream of meteors with no explanation or purpose other than getting Earth out of the way so colonies on the Moon and a partially terraformed Mars can be on their own. What is great about the story is the plot, the detective work, the suspense and the action scenes late in the book. The characters are pretty good, they have emotions and thoughts. The male lead has an intense mental hangup about Mars, which turns out to be correct because there is an evil plot at work. The book is full length and it takes two thirds of it for the truth to come to light. Once it does, the detective work is over and the action begins. Getting the Earth out of the way in a common theme in Sci-fi. It is difficult to realistically extrapolate to what conditions will be like here in two or three hundred years. It is easier to imagine a new setting where conditions can be as you like them. In this case the Moon and Mars are tiny, a few settlements, a few million people, no history, only one culture. Settlements in other parts of the solar system are mentioned, but never actually enter into the action. But this story is about detective work, corruption, the lust for power and action, not about world building or social policy. Even though social policy is the driving force behind the conspiracy, it is not front and center. There are more books in the series but they are not quite free, 99 cents. I hope they will explain the source of the meteors that destroyed Earth, the purpose of the element with supernatural powers that is in them, and what happens to the daughter of the chief conspirator who remains behind on Mars. There are unanswered questions, but the story is complete in itself, not just a teaser.
  • Mindforger on April 01, 2021

    This is an ambitious project trying to take on the nature of reality, the nature of the mind and the nature of the soul. Part of his argument seems to be that reality isn't real, but is a construction of the mind, or a series of vibrations that can be controlled by the mind. He asserts that the mind is a connection to a higher dimension, a common theme in stories of this type. He also seems to be reaching for the concept of the soul as an independent entity. I personally believe the universe is real and that the mental control he seems to think we can have over it is only available in simulation (where we are God and determine the 'laws of physics' in our simulated universe). He tries to use string theory as a basis for what he's postulating, but I don't think the math really works out. There's no math in the book and I'm not enough of a mathematician to be able to seriously critique it anyway, but my guess is the theory doesn't support the events in this story. The plot is about a man who's family was killed by a dictator or demigod who then promised he could bring them back if the main character would complete a mission. His best friend goes with him and is another important character in the story. They soon turn the mission into a quest for the demigod himself. The plot wasn't front and center enough, often getting lost in soliloquies about the meaning of the universe, mind and soul to the point where I forgot where we were, who was present and what we were about. Maybe if I had read it with more purpose and kept notes I would have kept up with it, but leave it at this, you must expend some effort to follow it, you won't be swept along. There is a twist in his quest near the end. The novel is fairly well structured, building to a climax and getting deeper as it goes. There is a lot of violence, whole planets are destroyed, but you never know if it's real life, a flashback, a dream sequence or an alternate reality. There are some scenes where the action is almost grabbing, but for the most part it is distant and out of focus. To one who abhors violence, that can be a good thing. There are some hints at attraction and some of the characters love, desire and/or need one another, but nothing comes of it. This is just about completely devoid of science, but is an example of what could be called psy-fantasy or something like that. A pretty common sub-genre between fantasy and paranormal but with a grander scope. The big problem is the proofreading and grammar. Spell check was run but that was about all. There are lots of missing words and they are often critical ones. There are also plenty of wrong words and sometimes they are also critical ones. I had to back up over sentences that didn't make any sense dozens if not hundreds of times, trying to figure out what it was supposed to say. I don't think there is an occurrence of the word 'off' in the book, he always uses 'of'.
  • Mind Games on April 01, 2021

    A book about over the top corporate evil. A viciously evil corporation that kills people who don't perform and kills people they don't like or trust wants to invent mind control. In it there are two hideously evil female characters, a satanic CEO and dozens of spineless flunkys, much like Mitch McConnel's senate. The plot involves reviving a brain-dead girl using an implant and computers. They attempt to replace her personality with that of one of the evil assassin girl's personalities, but the original girl's personality survives and has all the evil girl's memories. Those memories show her that the corporation killed her parents, simply because they asked for her body back after the experiments. So the revived girl and the scientist who did the actual work of reviving her decide to take on the corporation and there starts the action of the story, well into the pages. The action takes place in London and results in many fires, explosions, dozens of murders, all with very tepid response from the authorities. It doesn't make clear whether this is just because he thinks they are not up to the challenge or because the corporation has power over the government. The story ends in a way that is ripe for a sequel or even series, but the other books in the series are not free and do not appear to be a continuation of this story. I don't think this was meant to be a warning of the evils of the corporate take over, so I don't have to repeat that no one takes sci-fi warnings as warnings, but as guides to where we are going. I think it was meant as pure entertainment and as such it works good enough.
  • One World on April 03, 2021

    This is called a novella but it is really an essay, since there is no dialog or action. It is about a planet that is an attempted utopia based on coercing everyone to become part of a collective mind. One treatment they use to make that happen is putting them into a machine that makes them dream they have lived a full life on Earth. How THAT would make anyone believe they should all become one is beyond me, but that was what was written. The fact that a lot of the narration sounds like rap lyrics is the only other thing that stood out in this story.
  • Our Extraterrestrial Neighbors on April 03, 2021

    This is called a novel but it is really a mocumentary in print. Be warned, the premise is pretty cringe worthy, that there is a very extensive cave system on the moon in which a copy of Earth's biosphere resides, including people. They have an ancient and very traditional world-wide civilization and so on. There is some data on the moon to support this, some of it is real. There is a lot of impossibility, perpetual motion and other junk science in it. Be patient, this is all a means to have an object for a first-contact story. The bulk of the book is a report on how SETI and NASA deal with a first contact. It is not a general first contact story, as if SETI had picked up a real interstellar transmission. That is going to be hard to write an action thriller about when each step takes 152 years or something like that. When the first contact is on the moon it moves along much faster. This is not a story of the first contact with an alien species, it is a story of first contact with an isolated human tribe. The Moon People's civilization is different from ours, not quite as different as that of the plains Indians, but as different as an isolated human tribe would be. There is not even any real dialog, no hint of sexuality, not even a cold clinical mention of any difference in the Moon People and humans. There are lots of missing words, not as many wrong words as some, but quite a few grammatical errors that cause some confusion. There is no action or violence, it reads like a history text for the most part.
  • Paranormal Activities Unit on April 03, 2021

    This is fantasy, not sci-fi, but it's a fun little story that's just a bit too light and fluffy for four stars but worth the time it takes. The plot is about a government effort to attract extraterrestrials that had instead attracted paranormals, ie. vampires, werewolves, ghosts and banshees and a few more. A young man is attacked by a vampire, survives, and he and his wife are recruited to join a secret organization dedicated to stopping them and erasing the memories of anyone who saw any of the paranormals. The bulk of the story is one night of their adventures stopping the ghosts and demons. What makes the story fun are the characters, they are affectionate more than sexual. You can tell how full of fun their bedroom is just from the way they act. The only violence in the story is a couple vampire attacks. The other demons don't do any actual damage. One of the paranormal activities was a herd of unicorns in fact. The proofreading was good enough that there were no noticeable problems. If there was something, it was not grating enough to notice. Normally I don't care for the paranormal but this was cute enough to put that credulity aside for a couple hours.
  • Phantom Universe on April 03, 2021

    This starts out as a look at human trafficking and slavery in modern times. The main character of the book is captured by slavers and sold into slavery on a modern day pirate ship. During that part of the book there is nothing at all 'science fiction' about the story. It details the girl's horrific treatment. The treatment is horrifying, but a real slave in modern times would consider herself lucky if she made it to twelve without being raped, much less sixteen. I was ready to have a good read about the subject, even if it wasn't sci-fi. Alas it was not to be. A secret society finds her on the cargo ship and in trying to take her, she winds up going two hundred years into to future. The adventure and romance of the story begins there, as well as a few things that don't add up. The biggest problem is that two hundred million people are blinked into the future at the same time. They are found within days, but there are already camps set up for them and popular sentiment is against them, as if they had been there for at least a year. The universe is another look at life after the demise of the USA, this time after a conquest by Canada. Now I admit I've never spent a lot of time in Canada and have only met a dozen or so people from there, but to me a militaristic and bigoted Canada seems a little far fetched. The action is also a little unbelievable, especially an eighteen year old boy having the authority shown by the male lead. The romance is probably the most believable part of the story, at least from her side. It is necessary for the story that the male fall for her, but in real life he would feel a lot more pity than lust. The story is quite chaste with nothing more than kisses exchanged and no erogenous zones named. All in all the story is entertaining. I may be shortchanging it a little because I was really expecting an expose on human trafficking and slavery and disappointed that it wasn't followed up on.
  • Prey World - Counterrevolution on April 03, 2021

    In 2036 the world is ruled by a group of oligarchs called the 'Lodge Brothers.' They had been ruling for some time but only came out of secrecy in 2018. Only Japan, Belarus and one other small country are independent of that cabal. Belarus takes the Baltic states and the club starts a new pseudo communism to oppose them. The world has the feel of the early cold war. The ruling cabal thinks they have poisoned the nations of western Europe and America because they are non-white. I'm not sure if the author feels they are villains for thinking that way, or villains because they have caused it. The plot is all about spreading propaganda and conquering territory. A lot of it is told as a history text, not a lot is action and dialog. There is absolutely no feeling for loss of life. The troops are just numbers as they die by the tens of thousands. The narration of battles and riots is often shallow and juvenile. The translation from German is not perfect. There are a few words used incorrectly, especially 'since' but the meaning is almost always easy to follow in that regard. What makes it hard to follow in places is that it can change point of view and time enough that it wouldn't hurt to be a new chapter, but might not even have a blank line. There is a minute love interest, and one other character has a girlfriend.
  • Project Tickle on April 03, 2021

    This is set in a world where most people have retained their bodies but live connected to the net in virtual reality. It's a short novel describing this world, with a premise that should have been done with a little more humor, which I won't go into. It's a virtual world along the lines of Tad Williams 'Otherworld' in that any form of magic may pop up at any time. The magic is accessed in the from of various files, viruses and apps but the software engineering is not a major part of the story. The action just doesn't have the impact when you know there is a body still safe in a sensory deprivation tank somewhere. The characters seem to forget that, but this reader didn't. There is a lot to like about this story and I could have given it four stars if the humor came across a little better.
  • Qualify on April 03, 2021

    I wasn't the only one to see echoes of 'Hunger Games' in this. The plot is about the Earth about to be destroyed by a giant asteroid. A couple years before impact Earth is approached by people from Atlantis who have colonized another planet twelve thousand years ago and have now come back to same SOME of the people of Earth from extinction. They will choose one out of four hundred teens on Earth by subjecting them to a series of tests and competitions. Only those who qualify will be saved. The whole story is the training and competition for qualification. The story is quite well done, the author is a pro after all, and an immigrant who learned English as probably a third language. In spite of that her prose is better than just about all that in free sci-fi. The proofreading is excellent. The characters are quite realistic for teens any time from the 60's to the 90's, but this is supposed to happen in 2047, a generation after it was published. Maybe by then teen life will have come back out of the phone, but the characters are way too 'off-line' for today. They've gone back to real world bullying instead of cyber bullying. The main character also seems to be a bit unrealistically overwhelmed by the sight of a large bicep, to the point of being unable to speak. They are perhaps a bit less interested in sex than my cohort or my children's cohort was, but maybe a bit more than they are today. The story works pretty well as a 'Coming of Age'. It's much more about social position and competition and less about sexual maturity. There is a fair amount of violence, some rather gruesome. The author is not afraid to inflict pain on her characters, unlike me, I feel every wound they receive so I'm quite reluctant to hurt them. I also think it's a bit unrealistic that these kids would carry on thru some of their torments, but then it often happens that we do what we have to do when the time comes. My main criticism of the story is really with the premise itself. The most minor is my own belief that Atlantis of legend was actually the Minoan civilization that flourished in the Aegean during the Bronze Age. It is true they left when their island exploded and sank beneath the sea because just about no human remains have been found in the excavations. The most sensible thing I've seen about that says they probably escaped to the eastern Mediterranean and founded Phoenicia. That's minor, what I think is pretty nonsensical is that they would set up this elaborate qualification process for teens all over the world. It is unlikely that they would come back here in Earth's time of need and set up a scenario that could really have no other purpose than building an exciting story for young adults. They are unlikely to do anything like that at all, and if they did, they would do it for humanitarian purposes, or to provide some value to themselves. There are also some problems with the technology of Atlantis. They run everything off the energy of sound waves, but there is very little energy in sound. Even if all the energy put into your speakers was converted to sound, we are talking about a hundred watts or so. In truth most of the energy put into your speakers is transformed to heat in the coils that move the cones back and forth and only a small fraction is actually in the sound. That a person singing can produce enough energy to keep a flying saucer in the air is just not happening. Nor is a material that can convert the energy in sound to a force that can keep it up in the presence of Earth's gravity. The other thing I find rather unlikely is a civilization that can travel between the stars but cannot deflect an asteroid. If there was on out there that could wipe out all life on Earth by 2047, we would almost for sure know about it today, and we, without any help from Atlantis, could probably figure out a way to deflect it in time. Or let me say we could do the engineering. Whether we have the political will to do so is problematic. This book is the start of a four part series, the others are not free. This book does bring the qualification part of the story to a conclusion, but does not solve the problem of what to do with the remaining doomed people of Earth. One thing I'm quite sure of, there is no conceivable way to evacuate a whole planet.
  • Races of Armis - Midnight Oasis on April 03, 2021

    This is a fantasy, mainly about vampires. A race of vampires have been living in South America for a long time, making arrangements with village elders to mate with an occasional woman to create a child of their species. There is apparently no genetic contribution from the mother. The mother always dies in childbirth, so obviously this arrangement is not popular with the humans involved. It is also not popular with some of the vampires involved because they are good enough to see the evil in this arrangement. The main character is even bothered by the fact that he has to drink blood to survive. We then add a race of shapeshifters from the planet Armis. The main character falls in love with one and the plot goes on from there. You are not present at any actual sex scenes, but you know they happen. There is very little violence, but there are a few disturbing scenes of vampires feeding that were cringe-worthy. The prose is fine, the proofreading pretty good, but the whole story is narration, there is no dialog at all. It's not very long, so you don't have to invest a lot. With the caveat this this is fantasy with no science at all, it's worth the three stars.
  • Rebels on April 03, 2021

    Another in a very common theme, corporate dystopia. This one in the distant future when humans have spread to many planets and corporations each have many planets of slaves. There is a revolt against an insanely evil corporation, one which is hiding a research project into ancient alien tech, another very common theme. The story is loaded with action, firefights in buildings, space battles that are realistic enough that they don't look like worldwar era aerial dogfights, super weapons that can destroy planets. All pretty common stuff, but done quite well for the most part. The characters in the evil corporation are stereotypes and too over-the-top to be believable, but the main characters are likable enough and realistic enough. I found the bloodshed too cold hearted, even from the good guys. The bad guys relish it and kill for pleasure. Granted there have been real bad guys that cold, and it's a good way to make sure we know who's the bad guy and who isn't, but it does turn the stomach at times. It is much more disconcerting in a story that is relatively well done and realistic than in a piece of crap like 'Chasing the Jeweled Throne' for instance. The other thing I found problematic was the proofreading. Most of it is fine, but the errors there are can be glaring. Missing words, there, their, they're often wrong, quite a bit of missing commas that make you go back thru the sentence and try to figure out what it's really saying. All in all however its a good short novel with lots of action and realistic dialog. There is a sequel and it's also free. This was good enough that I picked up the sequel and will give it a try soon.
  • Reclaimed on April 03, 2021

    A short novel of alien invasion. The aliens are very humanoid, in fact they are human, descendants of a pre-ice-age civilization. In this they are much more than fifteen minutes more advanced than we are. Earth is helpless before them and most of America is captured in a matter of weeks. If there is a message in the story it is that we are destroying the environment and a superior civilization had to take over to save the planet. The story has a lot of flashbacks, some of them are a bit confusing. They are made more confusing by the fact that some of the proofreading is pretty bad. There are a lot of words out of order, a lot of words missing. Also, be warned that the ending is very unresolved and I saw no evidence of a sequel.
  • The Replica on April 03, 2021

    In the not too distant future a man orders a personal companion robot to take the place of a girl who broke up with him and has some trouble with it. This story has a lot in common with 'His Robot Girlfriend' by Wesley Allison. It's not quite as much fun as Wesley's story and quite a bit shorter, but may be a little more serious. Neither of these stories really examines in depth the issue of fooling your biology with a hyperstimulant robot. On the surface one would think that just the knowledge that the the thing was a device would be enough to make it uninteresting in this role. It is really no different than a dildo or a blow-up doll, just somewhat better crafted. For ephemerals there is no reproduction, for eternals there is no conjugation so no actual biological function is performed by the robot. If we humans had instincts smart enough to know that, what I just said might be true. However we already know our instincts can be fooled by refined sugar, fat and salt so that our instincts serve to earn us diabetes, obesity and heart disease instead of real nutrition. It is likely the same will happen with these personal companion robots. This could very well be the way the machines replace us without directly causing a single death. All they have to do is stop us from reproducing. We are currently using similar techniques to control pests on organic farms, giving them sterile mates that are more desirable than the natural ones.
  • Revolution on April 03, 2021

    Spoiler Alert, there is no revolution in this story. Instead it is about a group of genetically modified humans and their technology. It all came from Roswell and area 51. The government kept the secret, reverse engineered the technology and bred a small band of top secret warriors augmented and controlled by that technology. One of them finds a way out of the government's control and decides it's his duty to destroy all life on Earth. His mind becomes deranged due to merging with the semi-biological alien exoskeleton that he kept on for too long. For me the premise doesn't work because I don't believe in the Roswell/area 51 conspiracy theories. There are too many conscientious people in government jobs and too many high powered intelligence operations aimed at the Amercian military. Even if we were able to keep it secret from the American public and press, we could not keep it secret from the Russians, Chinese and North Koreans. The fact that the alien science discovered in the saucer violates the conservation of mass and energy and a few other basic facts of science also reduces the believeability of the story. It's entertainment value overrides that in a way if you consider impossible battles between impossible superheroes entertaining. If you do, this is a good story. While the story itself is good, the prose is often juvenile and the proofreading is fine in some spots and impenetrable at others. There are some points where the science is good and some others where it is so wrong that you want to laugh or cry. There is too much violence and it is pretty brutal but unrealistic so it is not as disgusting as it would be if it was more real. There is a love interest in the story but nothing explicit.
  • Rocket Fuel on April 03, 2021

    A confusing and disjointed story made up of live action, flashbacks, dream sequences, delirium and probably some hallucinations and/or simulations. The plot might be about getting fuel for a starship engine, but more time is spent in psychological soliloquies than anything else. In this the starship 'engine' seems to be the whole ship. Maybe this is a technology where it is like a train 'engine' and is used to tow or push cargoes? It never was real clear to me what was really going on, who was attacking and why, what the mad scientist had really discovered and who actually knew about it. Who was actually dead and who was only said to be dead and who was where and how they got there. There is some hints that the whole crew was used in some kind of experiment and that a research organization from Earth is responsible. I don't know if that was really it. The ending of the story explains even less and does it in a way that is partly unrelated to the story. There is some sex in the story, some consensual, some not, some obsession but no affection as we know it. You are present at some of if, but it is not covered in detail. There is a fair amount of violence in the story, but in some places I'm not sure it was real. The proofreading is rather lax, spell check was run but there are missing words and wrong words. It's not as bad as some, the story is not confusing because of the proofreading but because so much explanation is left out. The story is short, short enough I went thru it twice to see if I could make more sense of it. I think it would takes notes and diagrams to try and follow it and even with that, I'm not sure it actually makes sense at all. I'm not sure it was intended to. Others may find something they can understand better. It strives to be 'deep' and may be trying for the confusion to help it seem deeper. Don't get me wrong, a good sci-fi story can be very confusing in the beginning when you don't know who's who and what's what, but by the time you are a quarter of the way into it, what's happening should be clear.
  • Sacred Water, Book 2, The Time Before on April 03, 2021

    Like many trilogies, the middle book is a bit less interesting than the first. In this a bit of fantasy is introduced in a form of telepathy. Telepathy (communication via radio waves) could be possible, but seems unlikely to evolve spontaneously in humans. In the second book there is little new ground covered. It claims to be about the time before, which I expected would be the era when the planet was settled, but there is in fact very little mention of history, but mainly a succession of battles against the red army which is that of a third nation a little farther away on the planet. In this the language becomes a bit less professional than the first with the phrase 'Morning ritual' being abused to the point of blood loss. It tries even harder to sound like a fantasy, to the point where the language seems stilted at times. But even though it is a little less a work of art than the first, it's still a pretty good book, still better than many in the paid market, and I will go on to the third in the series.
  • The Scarlet King on April 03, 2021

    This final book in the trilogy is very much like the second. In 'The Scarlet King' it's a different enemy some different details in the battles and a few new characters introduced. It has the same good points and the same bad, but has an African character and hits the stupidity of prejudice once again. The telepathy becomes a little more explicit in this one but this is still not really a fantasy although it continues to read like one, actually a little too much like one because the language becomes a little difficult at times. It's still a good story however and I'm glad I came across this series.
  • The Bright Black Sea on April 03, 2021

    A gigantic novel, the setting is very detailed, very complex and well thought out, although not very realistic in places. The story is also very vast, well thought out and complex. It constantly builds in complexity and wonder thruout, starting with a very lived-in look at a merchant space ship in a society not very far removed from our own, but in a very different environment, and progressing thru terraformed moons with novel societies, thick asteroid swarms full of pirates and other villains and to the most unique environment yet in sci-fi. The author is also strong on character development with the ship's captain, owner and pilot/first mate being especially well drawn, though none of them are terribly unique. The plot is multi-parted, as it must be in a novel this size. In each part you think you have reached the 'real' plot of the story, the trials of running a cargo ship in an economic downturn, or avoiding assassins sent because of what the former captain and owner of the ship did, or avoiding criminals in the thick asteroid swarms and so on thru one iteration after another. In many transitions to the next level (sort of like a video game) the captain and narrator is rendered unconscious and taken to an unknown location. The scene that usually occurs at the end of an adventure where the villain tells all before killing the protagonist happens several times in this story, and in none of those cases does the villain actually tell all. However, it is not the length and complexity of this story that has kept it from that very difficult to obtain fifth star, but the setting itself. The setting is absolutely wonderful for the story. There is a nebula with eight healthy stars, one black hole, 121 inhabited planets, many hundreds of moons, many more moons and planets among the asteroids plus the most unique and vast environment of all. All of it is reachable by fairly conventional spaceships in convenient amounts of time. It has been inhabited by humans for 40,000 years at the time of the story, hundreds of billions of them. Many thousands of years ago the humans and intelligent machines they built went their separate ways but both are still present and the intelligent machines have several roles in the story. But what's the problem? It just isn't possible according to the laws of gravity, and that nagging impossibility eats at the whole thing. It's realism and lived-in aspects make it impossible to treat this as fantasy, but in real life a K or G type star just does not have room for a dozen or two habitable planets unless some heavy duty cosmic engineering is going on. I don't think it is possible for more than three concentric, stable orbits to contain naturally habitable planets and I know it is not possible for more than six planets to reside in the same orbit and that cannot occur naturally. In the asteroid belts it is not possible for them to remain in more-or-less fixed positions for thousands of years. They will all be in an orbit around some star or planet and all in more-or-less the same plane. If they are as closely packed as described their mutual gravity will draw them together. In our asteroid belt, if you are standing on one, you will never see another with the naked eye. But all that pales to insignificance compared to the most unique environment and its impossibility. Many have tried to create a zero-gravity environment with a breathable atmosphere. There was Larry Niven's Smoke Ring as one example of a possible naturally occuring zero gravity atmosphere. Now Niven is a respected scientist as well as author and surely has some math to back him up, but I still don't think the smoke ring could naturally occur. Freeman Dyson first envisioned the possibility of a sphere completely surrounding a star and capturing all its energy, but had no specific plans on how to construct one. It may be that in the sequel (which is even longer) we will discover what engineering was required to construct the 'Pela' as he calls this environment, but as of the end of this story, the environment was treated as natural. Even were such a sphere constructed, the star at its core is still producing gravity and the sphere around it must resist that gravity somehow so the sphere's interior would not be a zero g environment. In addition, the proofreading is not up to professional level. There are quite a few missing words, words with the wrong tense and errors of that nature. None of it makes it difficult to read, but it is noticeable. There is one sexual episode in the story, and a normal amount of talk about it, it's not totally neutered like most free sci-fi. There is some violence but no gore. There are space battles that are more realistic than average. In spite of the fact that I couldn't quite call it perfect, it is one of the best free sci-fi stories I've ever read and quite a bit better than most of the pros turn out.
  • The Lost Star's Sea on April 03, 2021

    This is the sequel to 'The Bright Black Sea' and together they make one of the most monumental works in the free sci-fi universe and one of the best. It's a very long story, more of a series like the 'Seeds of a Lost Empire' series by Anne Spackman, the Hyperion series by Dan simmons or the Gordon's Lamp series soon coming to this site. A story you're going to live in awhile and one you may be sorry to see end. There is not really one plot, but a series of related episodes. All are narrated in the first person by the same character. There is one other character that persists thru them all, one who had a large part in 'The Bright Black Sea', the woman he's come to love. This character has a lot in common with the love interests in his other stories, 'A Summer in Amber' and 'Sailing to Redoubt' but in this one her dangerousness is more extreme as is the effort he expends to win her. There are many other important and interesting characters, many of the women also in the same vein. In the last few chapters almost all the important characters from both books run into each other again in a heart-warming reunion. The heart-stopping action of the earlier episodes gives way to some milder adventures and a grand expose of human history thruout the Pela and the Nine Star Nebula, explaining all the major unknowns of history and culture (but not the science). But the characters and the plot are not the main attraction. The main attraction is the setting. In this case the setting is a form of Dyson sphere filled with air, with more-or-less zero gravity thruout and filled with 'islands' of solid ground ranging in size from large boulders to the size of small moons. They may be separated by thousands of miles of empty air or they may be close enough that vines and jungle may tie them together. They may be inhabited by primitive savages, medieval kingdoms, advanced nations or what appear to be different intelligent species with super powers. It is hard to describe the size of this environment, a Dyson sphere the size of Earth's orbit around the sun would have an area a hundred billion times the area of Earth. In this story the islands are sparse, but the land area of ten million Earths is easily present. It could be a lot of fun to live in such and environment, and there would be plenty of room for growth. The big problem with it, the science just isn't there. That such an object could occur naturally is outside the laws of physics. To create it would take complete control of gravity and nearly unlimited energy to maintain. When Dyson spheres are constructed they are probably swarms of independent bodies orbiting the central star, and even that will require enormous energy expenditures to keep the orbits stable and avoid collisions. A sphere could be constructed of solid material, the strength requirements are not beyond real materials, but might require a significant fraction of the solid material in a galaxy. Such an object would have gravity in the interior equal to the gravity of the enclosed star, pulling down toward that star, and gravity on the outside equal to that of the star plus the sphere. It would be low, because of the vast radius. The gravity inside a hollow sphere is near zero, only the gravity of the mass inside the sphere. If the sphere were filled with gas dense enough to breath, it would collapse into a blue supergiant under its own weight in short order. If it were mainly nitrogen and oxygen it would go supernova in short order, because it would have no time on the main sequence. I hate to be a spoilsport because the environment makes such a great story and would be so much fun to live in. In order to read this we must accept it as fantasy and not science fiction. There is one other glaring problem with this environment, the lack of foot fins or foot feathers. Other stories featuring zero gravity worlds with breathable air, such as Niven's 'Smoke Ring' and 'Inetgral Trees' have them. They are like scuba flippers only larger and allow people to swim thru the air with very little effort and faster than walking. That no one in the Pela invented them is just impossible. There is no explanation of why no one uses them. Their lack might be so he could use the plot device of tossing someone off the boat so they are helpless hanging in the air. In spite of the problems with science, treat it as a fantasy and it is a great epic, one of the best in free sci-fi.
  • Sailing to Redoubt on April 03, 2021

    I wish I had reviewed this less than two years after finishing it so I could say something more specific, but in spite of that gap in time, I remember this as one of the best free sci-fi stories I've ever read. It has beautiful but dangerous female characters like the Lost Stars series, beautiful settings, realistic characters and not too much violence. If you want to read something besides the constant depression, drudgery and dystopia of most free sci-fi, Litka is one of the best authors to look for.
  • Beneath the Lanterns on April 03, 2021

    This is another I wish I reviewed soon after reading so I remembered more of the details. What I do remember is figuring out that this takes place on a tide-locked world that orbits a blue planet every sixty something days, that's the blue lantern. The yellow lantern is a normal star. Like all Litka's stories, the world building is phenomenal, the characters are realistic, the plot is exciting. This was a little more violent than most of his others but still nothing like most free sci-fi where the violence is all there is.
  • A Summer in Amber on April 03, 2021

    Another interesting and enjoyable story. Its setting is not as interesting as most of his others because it is simply a Scotland moved back into the Victorian era by the collapse of most of modern technology, but this is more of a romance than an adventure. I will say this however: When he decides to spend a little more time proofreading, (or finds someone to do it) we probably will not be seeing him in free space any more, his storytelling is head and shoulders above almost all authors in free space, even the pros with free series starters.
  • Saligia on April 03, 2021

    This is advertised as being about the seven deadly sins but it just seems to be about a war between demons and the church. It is unremitting war and horror. Death, dismemberment, despair, plenty of quotes from Dante's 'Inferno' which it seems to be trying to emulate. There are some familiar names, Lucifer, Mammon, Beelzebub. There are angels, supposedly on the side of the church, but they are just as violent as the demons. There is a pale imitation of God in a couple parts of this but nothing that I could get much meaning from. Maybe his church is trying to say something about the evil in many of the right-wing churches of our current day. One of the characters, Leviathan, makes the claim that envy and jealousy are the cause of war. The real cause of war is the alpha male drive to dominate and 'win' at all costs. There is no light in this at all. Many words are hyphenated in the wrong places and the turgid prose often gets annoying. I started another story in this series or a similar one, 'The Gift' and found, on the first page, that it is just more horror and gore so I did not read it and won't write a separate review.
  • Scourge: Book Two of the Starcrown Chronicles on April 03, 2021

    The second book in this series puts Cordass Pell back in action in a redesigned and updated ship chasing the space pirates that are threatening the economy of his empire. This makes for a good story but I don't think it is realistic that any but the most recent colonies would rely on interstellar trade for even the tiniest fraction of their economies unless stargates as mentioned in the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons were cheap and higher capacity. The cargoes being hijacked are usually simple manufactured products that we can produce easily and cheaply today with no interstellar trade at all. Nevertheless it is a good device to get them out there following a trail to the pirate leader and engaging in a few space battles that are done pretty well. He even makes a point of informing us that space battles are not like worldwar era aerial dogfights. There are a few times he uses the plot device of making plans that we readers are not privy to. He uses a few other plot devices to keep the readers from knowing what some of the characters know. I've seen others where these machinations are much more blatant and annoying than this. The proofreading is generally pretty good, but there are a few missing words that will cause a brief stumble now and then. There is affection between some of the characters but no explicit sex. The level of violence is relatively low for this kind of story and most characters have feelings for the fallen. All in all it's a very engaging story. When thry finally reach the pirate base and find out who their leader is, it does turn out to be who you expected all along. However, we find out at the very end that he is not the actual boss after all, but there is some other figure who we haven't met before. They plan to find and eliminate him, but that will be in the next book, which wasn't out as of Mar. 2018.
  • The Last Immortal : Book One of Seeds of a Fallen Empire on April 03, 2021

    This is the beginning of a huge tale about the far future. Humans of various kinds inhabit not just millions of planets in this galaxy, but many galaxies beyond. There is a belief that these humanoids have a common ancestor sometime in the remote past. Less remotely in the past an empire did unite the nearer galaxies, and there is still a remnant of that empire remaining which some people believe intends to re-conquer the planets where the story takes place. The story takes place on a double planet, one fertile, one not. The people from the one that's not want to be allowed to settle the other, leading to a war that has lasted centuries already. The Last Immortal is a woman who is in possession of an enormous starship created by the most recent Empire, which others want to get possession of to either fight the war, or flee to another planet. Meanwhile the ship has a mind of its own and a mission to get to a planet in a distant galaxy where there is a special singularity that allows time travel. They need to keep it out of the hands of the most recent Empire or they will get the power to enslave the universe again. It's a pretty ambitious plot, and that's just the first book of the series. There is a lot more to it than I've just outlined, a couple quick love affairs, human personalities transferred to silicon, people getting superpowers, dream sequences, planets exploding, a few battles (not dwelled on and not done in detail) flashbacks to past lives, a baby that might have superpowers and so on. There's really a lot happening, but as you read it, it actually seems to move rather slowly. Somehow all that is compressed into here without seeming too busy. Immortality in this is different than on Kassidor. The immortals are all but unkillable, not just eternal. There is no examination of what society would be like for eternals because there is only one in the story, only a few in history, and very few who even believe in it. It was done by a serum, sort of like the dust of youth in Kassidor's Energy Age. The science is pretty good, but I found a few things I'm not so sure of, such as volcanic eruptions on one planet changing the orbit of another. If the planet was to explode so violently that much of it's mass was lost, yes, but that wasn't what I read. The proofreading is pretty good, just some problems with quotes, periods, commas and capitals that don't really slow the reading. The good news is, the entire series is free, not just this first book. This is an ambitious project, Anne is to be commended for that. The execution may not be quite as grand as the premise but it's better than many, and not very violent so kudo's for that also.
  • The Osiris Invasion: Book Two of Seeds of a Fallen Empire on April 03, 2021

    In the second in the series is a very different story from the first. It takes place mainly on Earth in 3062 -> 3086 or so, because it turns out Earth is that distant planet where a special singularity resides. The great ship of the last immortal flees with her daughter to Earth and the villain from volume one takes his own great ship and chases them there. The story spans some years, long enough for the last Immortal's daughter to grow to maturity and become a fighter pilot. The villain's ship and forces terrorize Earth the whole time but do not actually conquer the planet and the people of Earth wonder why. So did this reader. All we are told is that the great leader (ie the arch villain) wanted it that way. So this isn't in the very distant future after all, but does continue the assumption that all the humanoids in every galaxy have a common ancestor. At this point the science stops making sense. Humans did evolve on Earth, science is pretty damn sure of that. Humans have existed in their present form only about 50,000 years, and in a form close enough to call human for about 200,000. Since other galaxies are millions of light years away, there is no time for humans to have spread there unless some other civilization with wormholes already in place spread them. We humans were not modified into our present form by some alien species, the fossil record, while not completely clear, is clear enough to show that didn't happen. Chimpanzees are more like us than anything evolved on a different planet is likely to be. Out of the quadrillions of civilizations likely in the universe today there are probably a few others that look as much like us as a chimp. There is a hint in the story that ancient Egyption heiroglyphics are similar to the writing of the alien humans, but the last immortal is four times as old as the birth of Egyptian civilization. There are also hints that the last Immortal was there in the time of ancient Egypt. Of course there is the chance that what she's going to say is that God himself has directed evolution on a parallel course over the whole universe and that when the Bible says he created mankind 'in his own image' it was literal. When we find the first truly alien race, we will know the answer to that question. If they are humanoid, and have clear evidence of evolving on that planet, then we know we have to take the Bible literally on this. If they are present on a planet where there is very clear evidence they did not evolve, then we know they were transported at some time in the past. After two books in this series, it's not clear where this is going. As this ends it's looking like the aliens have intervened to make us more alike, but since the remaining science in the books is generally pretty good, I'm thinking Anne may have a surprise in store that is something I have never thought of. I hope so, but I don't know if I have enough time left to find out.
  • Across the Stars: Book Three of Seeds of a Fallen Empire on April 03, 2021

    In the third book in the series, Earth forces try to take over the giant spaceship Selesta and use it to overcome the invaders. Instead it takes them, against their will, on a multi-generation trip around the entire galactic cluster looking up old planets in the most recent empire. The arch villain pursues them and there are some battles with him and his own giant ship, but they are not the main thrust of the story. The main point of the story seems to be to show the length and complexity of the history of this section of the universe. It is nearly as deep and complex as the history of Kassidor. It is also the claim that almost all intelligent life in the universe is humanoid and that some ancient race modified many different species to be more humanoid. It has some echoes of Brin's 'Uplift' series in this regard. In this the explorers even encounter a few of this seventeen billion year old race, but they have no memories of what they were. The claim is that they come from beyond this universe from one that was collapsing back on itself. So we still don't know if we are being told that God made man in his image or if there was an ancient technological species directing our evolution. At the end of this volume the personality that was put into the Selesta's computer comes forth and then dies. That should end the ship's acting on it's own accord, but nothing of that is mentioned in this volume. Also at the end of this book the arch villain has caught up with the last immortal and her daughter, who is also immortal, but it ends before they actually meet, that action is presumably in the fourth volume, Star Gods.
  • Star Gods: Book Four of Seeds of a Fallen Empire on April 03, 2021

    The fourth episode is again, a completely different story than the other three. In this we go tens of thousands of years back in time to when the last immortal (Alessia) was a child and follow her entire ~100,000 year life. We see the ship being rebuilt from the wreck of an even older and more advanced ship. We see it sent on three exploration voyages that open up the universe for conquest. We see how the empire was built and how it fell. We find that the explorers spent thousands of years on Earth attempting to bring civilization to our branch of the human family tree. At the very end we go back in time to find the people who claimed to have seeded and modified intelligent life everywhere to be humanoid. We are not sure it's the truth. We find a truth about the great ship Selesta also. Most of the way thru we get back to the point where volume three left off, but it doesn't quite continue that story line. The conflict between them and the former arch villain just sort of dissipates and I'm not sure the time-lines are compatible. I didn't see where volumes two and three fit in. That kind of multiple time line is difficult to get right. When I do it I have to draw out the parallel time-lines to make sure they mesh. One thing I like about this series is that each volume is a complete story in itself, and of course, that they are all free. I understand that people trying to make a living at this have a reason to make a multi-volume story that leaves you hanging at the end of the free volume. It is assumed you will be hooked and buy the next volume. That hasn't worked on me yet, but probably works on others. There is no actual sex in the story, but there are a few love affairs and one marriage. Alessia's love affair probably has the longest time span of the 'Oh I'm not right for him,' 'Oh she could never have feelings for me,' schtick used in romance novels ever written, tens of thousands of years. There is not a lot of up-front violence, most that there is is from their time on Earth. You do hear about lots of destruction at a distance and are present at a supernova that wipes out a planet. The prose and proofreading are the same as the other volumes, a few missing words, some punctuation errors around quotes, ("See you soon." He said.) and such happens a few times. All in all pretty good, only a few times did I have to stop and figure out what the missing word must have been. Proofreading your own stuff is difficult because you know what it says. You have to determine if it actually says what you think it does.
  • The Comet Riders: Book Five of Seeds of a Fallen Empire on April 03, 2021

    The fifth installment of the series takes us thru the ancestry and life of Fynals Hynev, the inventor of the immortality serum and the ancestry and part of the lives of Emperor Marankiel and his only friend, Ornenkai. In this there are more soliloquies about philosophy but almost no violence. There is a lot of argument over the question of common ancestor of all humanoids versus parallel evolution. It is a little strange that in all the discussion of this question in all these books there is no mention of the fossil record on any of the planets. A little paleontology on two or three separate planets would put the matter to rest in a few years. Instead the question persists for thousands of years. What I thought was an important scene was when Alessia's daughter tries to kill the future emperor and finds that the universe will not allow it because it would create a time paradox. This is the only place I've seen where the universe attempts to solve that problem. In most stories involving time travel the 'Went back and killed my grandfather' paradox is solved by allowing two separate time lines to occur. The problem with this version of the solution is that the daughter finds herself prevented from action but there is no explanation of the mechanism by which it is accomplished. It seems like a supernatural event, as if God had intervened and paralyzed her, as if by the Instinct of Kassidor. Instead the future emperor falls in love with her, she spurns him and causes him to turn into the monster she was supposed to kill. There is a message against racism in this, and maybe the fact that the rejection causes the future emperor to become evil is a message about the consequences of such action. Unlike the other books, this one really wouldn't mean much on its own, it would seem like a couple partial biographies of people you have never heard of. It didn't feel like the time line quite agrees with the other volumes, but I can't find any definite disconnect because I can't remember the others actually saying MaranKiel was on the council before he became a robot. This was written well before 2016 but it lays out the same scenario for the death of democracy that Donald Trump tried. Too bad not enough people read this to heed the warning, but we should have been warned already because Hitler did the same thing 75 years ago. The prose and proofreading in this are the same as the others, good enough to cause only an occasional back up to puzzle out the missing or wrong word. The sexuality is the same, some affection, you're not present in the bedroom. By the way, you never meet any actual 'Comet Riders' (Enorians) in this.
  • The Empire: Book Six of Seeds of a Fallen Empire on April 03, 2021
    (no rating)
    This gets four stars because of the entire series and not because of this volume alone. By itself this volume is on a level with the others. This final episode fills in lots of blanks. You have been thru the time in which it takes place before, but this volume stays on Seynorynael the whole time. You see many events you have seen before but from another point of view, among them Malankiel's affair with Selereal. You see are the childhoods of many of the major characters, Alessia, Fielikor Kiel, Fynals Hinev, Ornenkai and emperor Malankiel. This volume has more depth of emotion than the others, though the others were not lacking. Ornrnkai longs for Alessia while he is in his mechanized unit. His feelings on the situation are those of any old man conversing with a beautiful young woman and wishing to be physically able to make more of it than a chaste conversation. His crush on her is probably the longest in any fiction, fifteen thousand years or so. The overarching emotion is melancholy, owing to the dying civilization they live in. It takes over ten thousand years but their civilization is in decline all that time. It is most acute in the death of a single minor character, Calendra, who seems to represent the death of innocence as their civilization slides deeper into brutality and poverty. I see many parallels of mood with today as our own civilization goes down the same path. Taken as a whole, this series is a major feat of storytelling on the level of Asimov's Foundation series or Simmon's Hyperion series. The execution (prose, proofreading etc.) is a bit flawed in places and the science is sometimes shaky, the time scales might be a bit too vast and I'm still not sure all the events timing is quite right, but the vision and scope is monumental, the differences between the volumes and the way they fit together is mind boggling. Anne deserves some kind of major award for that alone. This, more than anything else but the Kassidor stories shows real thought being given to the issue of greatly extended life spans. Our vision of what it would be like may differ, I don't think memory can be preserved over all those years and I believe we elderly lose interest in life over time because of our deteriorating abilities and not boredom with having done it all before. However, the thought is there. Her eternals are not just ephemerals who have been around longer. The flaws are minor compared to the scope and vision and I give four stars to the series as a whole. The characters are memorable, unique and meaningful. Their emotions are realistic (most of the time) and complex. There is affection, lust for power, the call of duty and many more. If you have the time and are looking for a complex and visionary piece of storytelling, I highly recommend this work. There is a note at the end with some astrophysical and biologial data on the planet Seynorynael which orbits a blue-white star. This is somewhat in error, and this misunderstanding pervades the story in subtle ways. Even if the star was Sirius and not Deneb in size it would not work, it might work for a recent white dwarf, but they cannot explode without adding another stellar mass of material. Taking Rigel as a typical blue giant at 40,000 solar outputs, the habitable zone (if there could be one) would be about 200AU or about twenty billion miles out, about the separation of the 61 Cygni binary. The orbital period would be centuries. It is doubtful however that the x-ray and ultraviolet radiation would allow any life to exist in its habitable zone, and its life span is too short (a few million years) for any native life to evolve. She does know that the there would be excess radiation and that it would be harmful to life, but that is appropriate for an F-type star like Altair. Under that radiation evolution would proceed more quickly, not slower, if life could survive at all. Under a thick atmosphere, life might be possible. The year of a planet at an F type star would be measured in decades. Of course it does not take a supernova to destroy all life on a planet in a star's habitable zone. A regular old nova such as an F type star will undergo would remove all air and water. Even one an astronomer might call 'A little ffft' that emits a planetary nebula would render eveyrthing in the system dead. But no kind of nova occurs on a star that is on the main sequence. It goes thru a red giant phase and a supernova goes thru a much more exotic phase that would have already eliminated all life in the system a million years before the blast. Most of this data is readily available on line along with the relatively simple astrophysical formulae which allow you to calculate the orbital periods of planets at stars of any given mass or energy output. It is now the consensus that most habitable planets will be tide locked at red dwarf stars, simply because those stars are the bulk of the universe. The ideal human habitat will probably be at K type (orange) stars since they are long-lived, emit less harmful radiation, are relatively common and may allow planets in the habitable zone to avoid being tide locked and thus have a day and night, allowing much of the surface to be habitable. The jury is still out on whether or not it is possible that a planet can exist that will allow humans to live on it without terraforming. If some theorists are correct, any planet that develops life with photosynthesis will develop an oxygen concentration we can breathe so that only the presence of pathogens need be of concern. Note that for the purpose of storytelling I use the fantasy that a planet can be terraformed in a thousand years or less. No serious scientist would agree, a million years is a more likely time line.
  • SOG1- Science Fiction Action Adventure Mystery Series on April 03, 2021

    This has to be called a fantasy because the science is so unlikely that I cannot see that any effort was made to keep this within the laws of physics. The basic premise is that there are 'dry clouds' that cover the entire western hemisphere, blocking all light, never dissipating or moving and releasing poisonous rain. There are trees and other plants that are able to live in these conditions because they produce their own light to enable their photosynthesis. Robots can communicate with wireless but also talk to each other out loud in an obvious ploy to inform the reader of what they are thinking. Five hundred years from now, fluorescent lights are still in use. I found these things quite disturbing in a story that was written as if it was meant to be sci-fi, not fantasy. This is set in a familiar dystopia with corporate military, excessive, senseless violence, dystopian rules that don't make any sense other than to pound home the point that the society is in its death throes where all wealth and power goes to the few and they make the lives of everyone else miserable just because they can. On the bright side, most of the violence is against robots and not living beings. The main action of the story is the interaction between a 'project' who is a girl genetically engineered to be a killer, and a legal assassin called a 'closer' who is actually the daughter of the chairman of a corporation. Never mind how unlikely that is, their interaction appears less natural than the interactions of the modified people of Kassidor. There are more books in the series. A book with half the second episode is available free. I found a paperback copy of the third for sale at Amazon for $87. That price is ridiculous. There are reviews of it there but they may be biased.
  • Shadowplay: Book One of the Starcrown Chronicles on April 03, 2021

    A excellent space opera with some unexpected twists, realistic action and no glaring errors in science. It is like 'A Thousand Words for Stranger' by Julie Czerneda in that the main character wakes up with no memory of who he is or why he's here, and he later turns out to be someone he never expected. It is very different in detail. He wakes up on a prison ship, not a spaceport and soon gains control of his fate. The prose and characterization is every bit as good and the plot is every bit as good, but different. There is a love interest in the story, which also has an unexpected twist. There is nothing explicit in it so the story is suitable for all ages, but is probably too mature to interest pre teens. That translates to, it's not just a senseless waste of as much ammunition as possible. There are fights, including a sword fight. There are space battles of decent realism, but the violence is not excessive and we don't dwell in the gore. Thank you Jon for that. The prose is as good as any professional. There is a political message about bad leaders ruining their country with brutal repression and collusion with criminals. Rather timely for today, though it was written before Nov. 2016. The truth of that message is timeless, but it doesn't go into the alternate realities people are living in. This book is much more entertainment than message however.
  • Slave Empire - Prophecy on April 03, 2021

    The first book of a trilogy, the other two of which are not free. It claims to be set soon after 2020 when the Earth has been destroyed by environmental disaster. It is in a universe full of humanoid aliens, the most different of whom have scales. Most are indistinguishable from everyday humans, and we all know how I feel about that. In all other respects the universe more or less follows the laws of physics. There are numerous empires, lots of pirates, a form of warp drive and lots of slave traders. The plot is about a girl who is supposed to save one of the largest empires from some unknown danger. We don't know til near the end of the book what that danger is. We don't know til then that she has to enlist the help of one of the pirates to save the empire that is hunting him. She finds out some truths about him, such as, his species was exterminated by the same menace that threatens the empire in the prophecy. He says he's giving her one of his most advanced ships because of his desire for revenge. That's the end of book one. The story is not complete, you have to buy the other two to finish it. TC has to make a living at this after all. There have been worse stories with higher prices. There doesn't seem to be any message in this except maybe stop polluting the Earth, but the devastation is so overdone that it loses its ability to persuade. As I write this we are days from entering 2020 (It was posted on my own site some time before this) and we do not have billions dying as of yet. We do not have all our cities in ruins, all life dead and no means but cannabalism to survive. As entertainment it's decent space opera. The girl in the prophesy has a crush on the pirate leader, that's about the only thing sexual in the story. There is a moderate amount of violence, but much more seen in recent history and a lot more threatened in the future. The prose is good, the proofreading is pretty good. If it was a little more engaging I could have given it four stars. You might find it engaging enough.
  • Sleeping Giant on April 03, 2021

    A longer short story about a homicidal maniac. He starts off deciding it is his duty to clear the world of a neighbor with rather extreme Asperger's and then goes on to decide he needs to cleanse the world of just about everyone. There is no rhyme or reason to his victims, just blind, psychotic lashing out at anyone who strikes his fancy at the time with utterly nonsensical rationalizations for his unfettered insanity. It's not really a science fiction story at all except that the time and place is undefined. If the author is actually a psychiatrist and this is really a look into the actual ravings of a homicidal maniac, maybe it is informative. There are some prophets in the old testament who's logic seems to be almost as random as this, but they probably did not act it out by taking the lives of random friends and neighbors. My guess is it doesn't give us any real insight into these monsters.
  • Spikebreaker on April 03, 2021

    A short story about telepaths in which they attempt to take over society. It's only 21 pages but crams quite a bit into them. Some examination of the issue of telepaths and normal humans trying to co-exist. Gareth has many other titles on smashwords but few of them are free and most of them are fantasy, not sci-fi.
  • Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins on April 03, 2021

    A well written space opera about a mission to find technology and allies for a big space station which is isolated far from any stars. It takes place in the post-empire era when corporations each own many slave planets and very few 'free' planets remain. This begins with a very long space battle which almost made me give up on it, but only about ten percent of the story is actual fighting. I found this to be a little like the 'World's Apart' series, but with less humor and a bit more realism. Since there is quiet a bit of conflict in this, others will find it more fun to read than I did. The world this is in is well done and consistent, if not really unique. The characters are good. there are a couple love affairs but nothing that is in the least erotic and the affairs have very little to do with the plot. This is the first of a series. The others are not free but the author says he makes just enough from them that he doesn't have to have a day job. Congratulations. Fans of military based Sci-fi will certainly find them worth it. I have only one complaint with the writing, there are no blank lines separating sections of a chapter. There are many places where there should be one, but they aren't there. This is a VERY common problem with writing today, in Sci-fi and in other genres, among amateurs and pros.
  • Starfire Angels on April 03, 2021

    This is the first and only free book in a rather extensive fantasy series about a race of humanoids who are human in almost every way except that they can grow angel wings and fly, among a few other supernatural powers. It is aimed toward younger readers for it happens in high school and few adults have pivotal rolls in the story. It is a pretty good story, once you accept the premise. Tween girls will probably have no problem with this when they outgrow 'My Little Pony' and stories of that nature. This borrows a little language from sci-fi in spots, but is nearly as detached from the laws of physics as Harry Potter so I'll skip pointing out the rather obvious violations of the laws of conservation of mass and energy, evolution, action at a distance, etc. The story has quite a bit about teenage relationships, maybe a little over-the-top and cliched in trying to capture the OMG!ishness of some teenage girls. It seemed a little more like middle school than seniors in high school, but maybe kids do grow up faster in the working class cities and towns of New England than in rural North Dakota, but I suspect it is because the target audience is in middle school. In spite of most of the story being about puppy love, there is not much actual sex in the story, but it's not quite as dry as most free sci-fi (or fantasy). For those who are interested in this genre, I can recommend it.
  • Strange Future: A 23rd Century Guide for the 21st Century Cynic on April 03, 2021

    I'm giving this three stars because of the subject matter and not the execution of the story. It is a story about three people frozen in 2008 and revived in 2208 and their impressions of the future. Thruout the story they continually have a hard time with all the changes, though there are actually very few. There is a world government, just as dysfunctional as today, and some new technology, not as dysfunctional as today. The main point of the story is that nothing will really change and life will not really get better until human nature changes. There is a token love interest in the story, and the idea that only love can make the world better. The affair is as chaste as any puritan could want. There is no violence at all, except for some wild animals. The proofreading and grammar is very good, but the narration is pretty amateur and the characters could use more depth. Perhaps the biggest change in the technology is the PODS, which is very much a Star Trek style transporter, but not advanced enough to transmit anything to a location where there is no receiver device. It is a device that reads a person or thing's matter, converts it to data, and re-creates that person or thing at the receiving end. Besides the main issue with this device, handling of the soul, he has some other silly things going on with it. There is no explanation of what happens to the matter at the transmission end. There is no explanation of how new matter gets to the restoration machine at the receiving end. There is no mention of the fact that once the person or thing is reduced to data, any number of copies could be made. In the case of things being deleted from the data (in this case to remove weapons from luggage) the deleted objects are restored anyway, but in a different place. Now these problems are not unique to this story, the device as used on Star Trek is absolute fantasy, violating the laws of conservation of matter and energy right left and center, as well as having no way to capture and transmit the soul. With that said, primitive forms of this technology are not far off, we already have three-d printers which are a primitive version of the receiving device in this story. The real problems begin when we try that with living things. We need the equivalent of a three-d printer that can produce living things. If one could even print a single bacterium, the remaining problem is one of scaling up until you get to life forms that have a soul. I applaud the fact that Josh realizes that there can be no improvement in human life as long as human nature does not change. That idea is the central theme of almost every story of mine. It is true that my version of the changes required are those necessary to make the world imagined by the hippies of the 1960's a reality and not necessarily those that would make human life best. We have little to no agreement on what would be best, but quite a bit of agreement that reducing violence and dominance would be a good thing.
  • Descent into Mayhem on April 04, 2021

    This space opera takes place on a large planet that was settled some time in the past and is invaded by Earth in an effort to start or extend a galactic empire. The main character is a farm boy who joins the army in hopes of driving a 'suit' which is a large mechanical warrior. These 'suits' are also used by the forces from Earth. There is a lot of detail on their technology and use, making them almost the main characters in the story. Whether they are practical or not as a fighting platform is immaterial, the author obviously thinks they would be very fun to drive. They are driven more like an exoskeleton than the cockpit used in the bipedal 'walkers' of Star Wars. There is more time spent in training and preparing for battle than in the actual battle itself. The battle scenes are in the last third of the book. Since I'm not into war, that was good for me but probably not for many who crave more action. Thruout the story the main character is hounded by the bratty scion of a powerful family. It wasn't clear to me why the brat had it in for him, probably because he though the main character was more appealing to the girls. This undercurrent caused the main character to murder two MP's on the way to attempting to kill the brat, but he never succeeds, in this volume anyway. This volume does not contain a totally complete story, the main character's situation ends unresolved and the last chapter is presumably the introduction to the next volume. This takes place on a tide-locked planet. Some thought was given to life on a tide-locked planet that was seeded with Earth life. It's a little different than in 'On the Horizon' in that he thinks most life will stay in sync with 'natures night' and 'natures day' while I think that people and animals will be not only out of sync but will soon develop different lengths of sleep and waking. This tide locked planet seems to be an 'eyeball' planet with the habitable area near the solar pole while Reddend is a terminator world.
  • Tails and Fixers on April 04, 2021

    As a story, this is good. If that was all it was, it's worth reading (three stars). There's a lot of astronomical and astrophysical science in this that might be a little shaky but that isn't the point. The plot is a bit similar to Les Broad's 'Aupes' but this is MUCH more believable, much better plotted, uplifting instead of desperately depressing and fun to read in most spots. A man from Earth reaches an alien planet that is all but destroyed by an asteroid impact and helps them recover and start a new community. It is not the events that make this so completely the opposite of Aupes, but the way the story is told. It is not that the prose is better, it is because the heartwarming moments are in the story as well as the heartbreaking. I think this book is supposed to be about the autistic and the normals. He's got a type of humanoids with tails that use them to communicate something about their emotional state, and other humanoids who have excellent engineering skills but are unable to speak or reproduce. Being a medical professional I'm sure Charles knows that autism is a failure of the 'mirror neurons' which are used to generate an internal copy of the thoughts and emotions of those we communicate with. He is using the fact that such people usually become 'things' people who work with their hands, write code, or other endeavors that involve working with objects and not with people. Unfortunately people on the autism spectrum are too varied and the symptoms too diverse to capture in a story where so few of the 'fixers' personalities are examined in any detail. The disorder comes in different levels of severity from 'a bit shy' to some who can babble on for hours when no one is interested. Many are unable to hold a job, date, or manage their affairs. Some live a semi-normal life but alone. Some are happier alone, some wish they had the social skills to have friends, spouses and families. Most are hidden in plain sight. They appear fine from a distance and only by knowing them can you tell something is off. Deep Autism is a crippling disorder, but milder forms have been survivable until now. The reason for the difficulty today is that one must have MUCH MUCH MUCH more social skill to get a decent job today than in the past. Once the job is won, it takes much more social skill today to perform most good jobs than it did in the past. A position where one can just sit at their desk and write code is much rarer today, because the actual code writing is done by machine. The same can be said for assembly line jobs, machinist jobs and many others that allowed people who were unwilling or unable to play politics to make a living. Today just about anyone with even a toe on the autism ladder will have enormous difficulty getting any job at all, and find it nearly impossible to get a job sufficient to support a home and family. Thus the multinationals exporting our jobs to countries where the workers and environment can be more easily exploited puts another burden on our social safety net.
  • The Alpha Centauri Project (Thinking Worlds) on April 04, 2021

    This has a novel in it, but is primarily a future history of the 'singularity,' of human simulation and the exploration of space by simulated humans. There is enough of a story in with it to illustrate the points but not much more. The story is actually a little hard to follow, at least for me, but maybe that is because I was pretty caught up in the future history aspect of the book and not paying enough attention to the action. He has the 'digitization' of the human mind occur a century earlier than I think it can, but it is accomplished by the exact same technology I think it will take. As of now we (humans) have no other other theory on how the mind might be transferred to the virtual world. He thought we would have to wait an additional century for the requisite compute power, I think that will be available before the atom slicer. This story is similar to Accelerando by Charles Stross. This has more background and is not quite so confusing. The characters are a bit less developed but I didn't find them quite as off-putting as in Accelerando. In this the 'singularity' is not quite as pronounced as in Accelerando, but it is my opinion that it will be slower still, slow to the point where it won't really happen. I feel that people writing about the singularity are missing a couple important points. 1. We are already beyond society's limit at accepting change. Our legal, social and economic systems have not and cannot keep up with the current pace of technological progress, much less anything faster. 2. The technology is already beyond the power of the human mind to 'hold it all' and that will make it more and more difficult for humans to direct that progress, so it is likely to drop back to something more akin to natural selection. It will still move faster than evolution in mammals but not as fast as when it could be logically directed. A large part of the book is devoted to overcoming issue #1. There are lots of details about the government actions that were taken. The plans are very logical, and the laws of physics might allow them to work, but I feel they are overly optimistic. Maybe in Italy the legislatures might be able to understand enough science to actually take them up. In this country we are fighting to allow the continued teaching of evolution in school and allow modern contraceptives to be purchased by the people who really need them. I also don't think entrenched interests worth billions and their multi-billionaire masters are going to simply step out of the way. The other issue brought up in this book is the prospect of replacing ourselves with computers. For those who believe we are nothing more than a running program, this may be acceptable. For those of us with religious beliefs or even some scientific beliefs, the running program in the computer may have no soul, or it may be a new soul, but that soul who lay down in the atom-slicer to have his or her mind read out, that soul experiences death and is gone for good (unless re-incarnation is true). Add to these religious doubts that fact that biological life is amazingly stubborn and I think we will see plenty of human beings who balk at being read out of their bodies and becoming machines. At the end of life, yes, but not during life. I think the only fault with the prose is due to the fact that Marco is probably not a native speaker. If that is the case, he's done very, very well to make this book as literate as it is. The book contains an extensive bibliograhy of references on this topic.
  • The Ascension Collection on April 04, 2021

    This is a collection of four related short stories. The first is about a research team trying to get energy from the 'Prometian Plane' and how they have to sacrifice the souls of research volunteers to do it, giving one of the team leaders a lot of guilt. The second is about love at first sight on a passenger starship bound for Earth when Earth is destroyed. This is the only thing at all sexual in this book. The third is in the same location as the first. My take on what happens is that the main character was forced into a virtual world without her knowledge. The fourth story is a random collection of words that would have got no stars if by itself. It was thankfully very short. All the stories are too short to really develop characters or even a plot. The second would be three stars (in my personal opinion) if it was by itself. You don't have to invest much time in this so it's no great loss if it does nothing for you.
  • The Aurora City on April 04, 2021

    This fourth story in the Cassiopia and Scott Markman series is all about the Men In Black. It is almost the same premise as the movie but much more serious, quite a bit better written with one consistent plot, a strong love interest and organized opposition. Unlike MIB the movie, there are strong religious overtones. The Men in Black are lead by beings who consider themselves Angels, the heavenly Angels and not simulates as in the Gordon's Lamp series. The arch villains are fallen angels. As well as all that, there is a simulated environment in a computer game, inter-dimensional portals, aliens that are actually alien, as well as aliens that are simply humans in costume. The story is positive, the universe it is in is actually in better shape than the real world. This universe is Earth as it was at the dawn of the smart phone era, before the collapse (Great Recession), before ISIS and before most of the school shootings. DEFINITELY before Trump. There is a love story in it and sex happens but you are never present. The affair is light hearted and fun and ends well. There is violence, but it is a reasonable amount. Important characters die and there is feeling for them. For the most part the prose is very good. There are a few passages that are a little juvenile but the proofreading is excellent. It is a full-length novel with pretty good pace. The science is hard to evaluate because some of the players are claimed to be what we think of as divinities, though it is not clear if they are supposed to be actual divine spirits or very advanced aliens. There is a time paradox and hints of the multiverse. Some parts are pure paranormal fantasy. Some of the aspects of math and computer programming in the story are a bit of a stretch. Some of the gadgetry is a little corny. I am not a fan of the multiverse. I feel it is a desperate ploy to deny the existence of God, done because the laws of physics are too exactly 'designed' to allow our universe to exist by pure chance. One must either remove the quotes from the word designed, or say there is an infinite number of universes, each with different natural laws, to arrive at one with the laws of physics that we see. The far simpler explanation is that some thinking being adjusted the laws of physics to allow a universe in which life could develop and become complex enough to contemplate the existence of the creator. This is on the border between three and four stars. It was entertaining, well written and well plotted. There doesn't seem to be a message, that would have made it four stars, or if the science was a little better, or if there weren't the places with slightly juvenile dialog and narration. These quibbles are minor, it's a good book and I recommend it. It was actually the first one of the series that I read, I wish it was noted in some way so I could have read them in order.
  • The Autumn Engagement on April 04, 2021

    A novelette about a future when baseball is used to settle international disputes instead of war. The main character is a pitcher who threw a bad pitch and lost an important game. The plot is about him trying to clear his name. The bulk of the action takes place at a formal ball where everyone has to bring a robot date. All kinds of things are revealed there, shades of 'His Robot Girlfriend' again. They do find it wasn't his pitching that was off, but I won't spoil it any more than that. It was an entertaining story in a universe that will really never exist, but it does have something to say about robots and consciousness. It doesn't take much time to read it and it is fun.
  • The Awakening - Ordo Tribus XI by Ethan Santiago on April 04, 2021

    This is a story about a vast worldwide conspiracy of the super rich trying to bring back Nazism in the early 21st century. One problem with near future fiction is that it usually doesn't take long to prove itself false. In this case the fictitious terrorist attack and the fictitious names of a few corporations are probably to make this look enough like fiction to keep the plain sedans and trenchcoated men with silenced pistols out of the author's driveway. We do not need the fiction. After the 2001 attacks the USA Patriot act was ready in less time than it would have taken to print it out, proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that the bill was drafted and ready for action BEFORE the 9/11 attacks were carried out. This is shown in the story 'Dominion' by J.L. Bryant. All that remains to be done is find the means the Cheney/Bush administration used to convince Al-Qaida to pull off the attacks. The book shows many ways he could have been manipulated into doing so with no direct contact with anyone in the administration or Haliburton. It has already come to light that the inability to thwart the attacks goes beyond pure negligence and incompetence to being down right deliberate. An official in one of the intelligence agencies testified before congress that they knew about it but couldn't say anything because the law didn't allow his agency to operate within the country. That man should be convicted of 3000 counts of first degree murder (Wish my memory was good enough to name names). The point is we already have an example of one of our so-called public servants willing to sacrifice thousands of American lives just to get a law passed giving him more power over your life. Almost all the future history in the story is today's facts. Our food is contaminated and often downright poisonous in the name of profits for the few. News is spun every which way, business cycles and markets are manipulated to destroy the nest-eggs of millions of working people. Privacy has been eliminated. Unlike Dominion, this story does not go into fantastic hyperbole, and that makes it all the more frightening. Most of the story takes place only a few years from now and most of it seems almost inevitable, with good reason. What I think is unrealistic is the idea that there is a great and designed Nazi conspiracy. There is absolutely no need for one. Neither is it necessary to assume all the super-rich are intrinsically evil. But there are plenty (I know one) who are so sure they are a superior species that the rest of us are no more than beasts of burden to be used up and thrown away. They also know each other, and may make some of these plans, but a high-tech nest buried under a field in Paraguay makes a better story than random market manipulation schemes hatched on a golf course in Bermuda or a club in Moscow. No doubt many of today's multinationals maintain cyber warfare rooms where the scenes in the story could have been played out. The story clearly points toward one of them, but you will never get to read this if I mention a name. The pure fantasy in the story is that there is an organization of little people who are going to fight back. We little people do not have the organization, the unity of purpose and especially the courage to fight back. History tells us that the common man will not rise against oppression until their babies are dying. Instead of rising up we believe the rhetoric, just as Ethan points out in the story. The story is full of typos, grammatical errors, etc. There is an ePub error that caused a whole chapter of the story to disappear. That is of little consequence, the story is nothing, it is the catalog of government and corporate sins that this book is about. If the book were about the story, I probably would not have finished or reviewed it. If you are looking for pure entertainment, skip ahead. Freedom and democracy is work, you must devote hours per week to it, both being informed and participating. There are thousands of people with billions of dollars each who devote every second of their lives and every thought in their minds to the acquisition of power and wealth. They are energetic, intelligent and determined and they want to take away yours and your children's freedom and prosperity more than they want life itself.
  • The Book of Adam: Autobiography of the First Human Clone on April 04, 2021

    This is an autobiography of the first clone. With such a structure it doesn't need to have a standard plot line with a conflict, a climax and a resolution. In spite of that, it does. The conflict is between two clone-lines in the family and their fight for the future of immortality. There is also a lot about the remainder of society, the conflict cloning causes and how cloning is just the first step in a process to give us greatly increased life spans. The villain(s) in this (for he is also cloned) is one of the scariest I've ever encountered in fiction. That is not because he is an over-the-top maniac, but because he's a realistic power-mad autocrat a-la Trump, but created before 2010. He kills, he cheats, he abuses children. He rapes his daughter, his employee's wife and uses his economic and political power to blatantly get away with it. His clone is just as bad if not worse. He gets worse as the story goes on. What gets better and better as the story goes on is the book itself. It's fairly long and many will get bored along the way. I'm glad I stayed with it. The world this is in spans from 2032 to 2077. The story is not a good predictor of future history and shows the perils of near future sci-fi. There is hardly any space given to the smart phone, but it really wasn't clear at that time that there would be a schism in history so profound that future generations may change year 0 to the release of the first i-phone. He thought a little girl's plea for peace in the middle east would have an effect. When a significant part of the population believes that the only route to salvation is to die in battle fighting for your God, peace can NEVER be achieved. In the story the USA is ahead of Europe in medicine in 2040, I got a real good laugh out of that. There is a lot in here. He shows how child abuse damages generation after generation as it is passed on. It was the main reason the villain was the way he was. It shows the great damage cowardice can do, allowing the villain to go on unchecked for four generations. It does say something about our republican senators, they are not afraid of Trump, they WANT democracy to fail. What they are afraid of a democracy where whites are a minority. The main character's cowardice is the main reason for most of the agony in the story, and there is quite a bit. There is a part in here for string theory and the multiverse, cryofreeze and a cameo by Jesus, but that was probably a dream. There are places where you repeat part of the same time line from a different point of view. There is a lot about the desperate struggle for increased life span and a little speculation about how it would effect our society. The proofreading and prose is actually very good but there is a problem in the epub that converts every chapter name to 'Table of Contents'. Since the main purpose to chapter names is to give someone an idea of the story by looking at the table of contents, that does not really cause a problem. There is a normal amount of sex in the story, normal as in as much as there is in real life, not like most free sci-fi where there is less than in a Baptist hymnal. You are not present at it. There is some violence, the villain murders several people, rapes and abuses others and murders them slowly thru artificial diseases. The climax has a fairly violent scene, not as violent as the average crime drama, but significant. While I disagree with some of the postulates, I think the book was well written and thoughtful and I recommend it if you have the time.
  • The Cyber Chronicles - Book I: Queen of Arlin on April 04, 2021

    This is the start of a series and the remainder of the series is not free. This book is not a standalone story. The whole series is about a Cyber, which is a warrior cloned from a former great warrior, augmented both biologically and surgically and controlled by a supercomputer welded to his forehead. The original personality (soul) of the clone is still resident but has no control of the body. It can still see what's happening, feel all the pain, but of course the computer can't. In the story the supercomputer is damaged and the human soul regains control of the body. The plot is about a young (17 Earth years) queen of a medieval country who's father dies before she is married off. In their society women have no rights and whoever can get to her first can claim her and therefore the nation she is the queen of. All the local kings are unacceptable to her so she sacrifices her entire military trying to drive them off and when that fails, tries to escape. To help her escape she is assigned the cyber as her protector, and they go off on a series of violent adventures trying to keep away from the most brutal of the kings vying for her kingdom. The queen, though beautiful (of course) is an absolute monster, arrogant, stubborn, unable to listen to advice. She does not have any idea what the cyber is, what he is capable of and what torture she puts him thru to carry out her orders. She seems to think he is some kind of machine, but we see that she treats all commoners as if they have no feelings or humanity, a lot like many of our billionaires treat the common people today. When the human soul finally gains control of the body, he tries to explain his reality to her, and the reality beyond this backward planet but she doesn't even know the words and thinks he's speaking a foreign language, and she doesn't seem to make any effort to understand. The soul in the cyber does not have total control of his body back and the computer will not let him just leave the queen, and she will never listen to reason, thus earning them continued action. There are a few places when one or the other of them notice the physical attractiveness of each other but nothing ever comes of it. It probably does, in a later volume, but not in this one. As mentioned earlier, this ends in the middle of the story, at a sort of cliff hanger, very much designed to get you to buy later installments. If you want this kind of action, this seems to be the series for you. I haven't read any later installments, but the blubs say it continues pretty seamlessly, one adventure after another thruout the series and the queen stays with him the whole time and of course they fall in love. It's well written and proofread and probably fun if you don't mind the violence.
  • The Devil's Concubine (The Devil of Ponong series #1) on April 04, 2021

    Not sure whether to call this sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal or what. It's an interesting world where there are many races of humans, all derived from a common ancestor it seems, but many of the races can transform into other creatures like wereworlves and sea dragons. Some have venomous fangs but otherwise look normal. They appear to be able to interbreed, or at least they can mate with each other because the 'Devil' is a werewolf and his concubine is one with venomous fangs. The setting is lavishly well done with thick and consistent atmosphere. It's an impoverished pastoral island reminiscent of the far east in the early 20th century. The highest technology is a teletype; firearms and engines are barely known. There is both Earth native and alien life. If it was truly sci-fi, this would be a planet long after the collapse of the empire that had recovered from a long dark age, but it really doesn't seem to have the history for that. The devil is a drug lord holding the island's underclass in an iron grip. The island is ruled by a colonial power, and another race is trying to infiltrate. The plot is the devil's concubine trying to figure out what the infiltrators are up to while trying to prevent the colonial power and the drug lord from doing more damage to her people. It's relatively convoluted and moves fast enough to keep the average person's interest. There are quite a few murders and a battle scene near the end so the violence level is moderate and some of it is gruesome but if this was a movie it would not be violent enough to be shown in multiplex theaters. There is also too much feeling for the victims for Hollywood. There was an incident in the concubine's past where she killed many werewolves that were massacring her people and she finds out later that she may not have killed the right ones but may have been manipulated by the drug lord to kill his enemies which causes her great regret. The proofreading is excellent, I was on pg 119 before I noticed a missing word. I wasn't conscious of any other errors. That's better than most professionally published works today. There is some sex in the story but it's not explicit enough to make it unsuitable for young people. The book could have been a four star except that at one point she used a plot device that I consider cheating. With no prior notice, one of the people turns to a sea dragon to save the day. If we knew in advance he could do that it wouldn't look like she just made it up on the spot to get out of a jam. There are two others in the series (so far) and a preview of the second which seems like a continuation of the first. Since they are not free, I won't review them, but if you like this one they will probably be worth it.
  • The Emperor's Edge on April 04, 2021

    This is the first in a series, the others of which aren't free but if they are as entertaining as this they are probably worth the price. This is the second by this author I've come across and I'm convinced that she's as good as all but the very top of the paid sci-fi market, especially today. This is similar to the other I read, 'Balanced on the Blade's Edge' in that it takes place on a planet in the steam age where there is magic but in a society that does not use magic and where it is a capital offense to do so. This is not the same location as the other, but could very well be on the same planet, which could be Earth because it's all Earth based life, or could be one which was colonized and terraformed by Earth folk in the past. Also like the other, this story takes place in the cold and snow. The plot is about a plan to subdue and/or assassinate the Emperor of the nation where this takes place and put a more compliant person on the throne, one who will not be trying to give the common people a fair deal and even bring about democracy. The plotters all know that democracy is impossible as long as there is greed, alpha males and testosterone in the world. Our own problems in 2020 may be proving them right, we'll see how it plays out but democracies are failing the world over at this time. The main characters are a policewoman who uncovers the plot, a deadly assassin who has worked for one of the conspirators and the young and idealistic emperor himself. There are several others that she recruits to help her defeat the conspiracy that are also quite realistic. In this story, as in the other, the 'bad guys' are a little stereotypical and unremittingly evil, like the satan-spawn who attempted to destroy our democracy recently. The other characters in the story are often just cannon fodder. If there was less violence I would have given this four stars but there are hundreds dead both from interpersonal violence and attacks by a magical monster. Some of the scenes are pretty gory, not as bad as some others I've come across but more than I personally like to read. Also the story isn't violence for the sake of violence like in 'Chasing the Jeweled Throne' or 'The Psychian Chronicles' for instance. Unlike those, the violence here is used to heighten the tension in the suspense. There is one major twist in the story but unfortunately there were too many clues that it was coming so the reaction when it happens is more like 'finally!' instead of 'WHAT!?' Unlike 'Balanced on the Blade's Edge,' there isn't much sex in this story. The main character notices some feelings and one of the guys she recruits thinks he's God's gift to women but nothing actually happens. The prose and proofreading are excellent, professional grade thruout. I noticed only one case of two words being repeated. This story had a couple passages that might be construed as a message, the line about democracy being impossible, and the observation that extreme wealth is never enough and in fact only seems to breed more greed. Neither of these is really developed and I'm recommending this only for its entertainment value.
  • The Empty Door on April 04, 2021

    This is the first in a series and introduces the Cassell's, professor, Cassiopia and the TEL 100D robot, along with Scott Markman, a detective working for the same university the Professor does. The plot of this first novel in the series concerns a door to 'Dreamland' that the professor has created. Scott is called in to investigate his disappearance, he has gone into Dreamland and never come out. The premise is that the universe on the far side of the door is created by the subconscious of the person going thru the door. Of course it turns out that the only way to get the professor back is to chase him into Dreamland and have a series of adventures therein. There are some inconsistencies in the premise. Some worlds created require knowledge that the player doesn't have. People may enter each other's dreams. People who are in Dreamland may have doubles who come back out and get the real person into trouble. Electronic devices, even film cameras will not work there, but the robot does. At one point he attempts to equate Dreamland with heaven. Oh if only my dreams were heavenly. The dreams of these players are not very heavenly either. These problems are minor, it is an entertaining story and quite well written. There are a few missing words, some missing or extra suffixes and a conversation where you are not told who's speaking. You can figure it out, but it is not stated. Cassiopia and Scott come to care for each other, though they follow the romance formula and try to deny it. They do get it on in Dreamland however but he doesn't think it is really her at the time. The characters are all pretty well done. The professor is a bit of a stereotype and some of the villains are also but the main characters are quite real and realistic.
  • The Virtual Dead on April 04, 2021

    This is the second in the Cassiopia, Scott Markman series. In this the sensesuit and the tip of the organization behind it is discovered by the feds. Scott is brought in to try and infiltrate that organization. This story introduces the Ann Rogers character, an FBI agent. The sensesuit is a device that puts one in a super realistic virtual reality, covering the senses of smell, taste and touch as well as sight and sound. It contains devices that can cause one to actually be injured and killed in the game. Of course Scott gets into great difficulty in the game, and in real life too when investigating the real world people involved. There is a lot more violence in this than in the first episode, enough so that one wonders why he would ever be stupid enough to put that suit back on. Again some of the villains are very stereotyped, mostly the minor ones. This story uses the Romance formula of excessive worry if the other feels the same and they fall victim to pride and try to pretend they aren't falling for each other. Thankfully it's only a few pages and not the hundred or more in most formula Romance. This story is as well written and proofread as the first (The Empty Door). I don't like violence so I didn't like it as much as the first but many will probably think it is better. In this Scott discovers what is really going on but the feds make him keep it under wraps. I'm not giving in to grade inflation. Three stars is a good book worth reading. Four stars needs to leave the reader changed, five stars needs to leave the world changed.
  • The Fabulist on April 04, 2021

    This is another story of a post apocalyptic world, laced with the story of how it got that way. It's about a pair of brothers, the older is the main character before the destruction, the younger is the main character after. The end was caused by an alternate form of nuclear energy, but there is no real science involved. Other than the alternate chapters that occur before the catastrophe, plot is similar to many others of this sub-genre, survival in the brutal savage world that exists once civilization is ended. In the chapters that happen after the apolcolyse I couldn't tell that I wasn't reading one of a dozen other stories like it who's names and authors I've already forgotten. The chapters that happen before it don't break much new ground either. There's the evil scientist, the evil corporate boss and the helpless waif who tries to stop it all. The good thing about the story is that it does, at times, try to convey a message, and that message is that human greed is destroying the world. He doesn't link it to climate change but to other ecological problems. What he doesn't do is link this greed to the need to dominate. Billionaires are destroying the world out of greed, but it is not really greed for more possessions, but for power. Any billionaire can purchase all the luxury our civilization can produce, and he makes the point that it is never enough. It's just a tiny little step beyond to see that at the levels the wealthiest are at today, wealth is nothing but a score, and these people are so hyper-competitive that they must run up their 'score' to beat everyone else so that they have power over others and dominate them. There are a couple female characters with speaking parts and one kiss is the total of sexuality in the story. There's a good bit of violence but at least it serves the plot instead of the other way around. In much of the story it seems like the apocalypse was a thousand years ago instead of less than thirty. There is much mention of many people not knowing what the world was like before the event. I think most of us can remember 1990. The proofreading is good for long stretches and then you hit an occasional rough patch, but nothing that will hold you up. The ending is rather open, like there should be one more chapter, but it doesn't lead to another book that I know of.
  • The First Human War on April 04, 2021

    This is the first in a series and the others are not free. It is a 'young adult' novel and presumably series and I think for that reason the relationships are platonic. All the action is in the first part of the book which includes some realistic space battles and some realistic time delays, not as realistic as in 'Revelation Space' by Allistair Reynolds, but better than most. All this ends when the real story begins. The plot is about a group of teens who were touring a prototype advanced sentient warship when the enemy attacked. The only adult aboard is killed and the kids are whisked away to an unknown destination with no one aboard who knows how the ship works, the intelligence of the ship comatose with memories erased, the data banks, engines and weapons of the ship inaccessible and food running low. And that's the good news. The bad news, and the main reason this is a two star not a three is that one of them is the most obnoxious, evil, slime-crawling, disgusting character I've ever seen in print. The notion that a group of adolescents could let such a piece of shit exist in their midst just boggles the mind. Where and when I was fourteen that piece of scum would have been beaten to a pulp the first day. Still, somehow, the only person I can think of who's as evil and repellent to the core (Donald Trump) somehow managed to survive to adulthood. (This was written prior to 2016.) Like America, the kids let him become captain and then their real troubles begin when he tries to murder the boy he perceives as his only rival for command. And only rival for the lone girl on the mission, but the readers aren't old enough for that yet. I know this character is there just to push these buttons and he does it well, pushing mine to the point where I don't think it is a good idea to expose young people to that kind of festering evil, even in a villain. I think it is a very bad idea to expose young people to characters who cannot see the evil in him and take no action to stop him. They are almost as bad enablers as Mitch McConnell. The A.H. acts a tiny bit better once they make him captain, but that is all a smoke screen, he does his worst while making them think he's improving. But you won't really know how that works out without paying $2.99. The pretty good science in the beginning of the book does not hold thru the whole book. The FTL speeds that they have earlier are not matched as it gets later, their ship takes five hundred years to go six hundred and something light years while earlier in the story they are able to do better than twice the speed of light. Why even bother with FTL if all you're going to get is 1.3c?
  • The First Indigan on April 04, 2021

    This is an 'Uplift' story, a-la Brin in some ways. After a nuclear war, aliens intervene and require a human crew to man a starship they build in Earth orbit and send on a mission to modify a nearby pre-sentient species into an intelligent species. The story never actually gets you to the planet they live on and you never actually meet the aliens in this story. The species that humans are asked to help along are too similar to humans to be believable. The whole story is actually the engineering and medical challenges of building the ship and journeying a little more than half way there. The initial construction of the starship is rather propellor-head. Construction is ahead of schedule and under budget. Most of the eventual crew is introduced at this time. The characters and their interaction is the strong point of the book. They are believable, with personalities, though some are not very unique, like the project engineer. In one of Kaluza's books the main character was too superhero but this time all are within the realm of possibility, though many are heroic when called upon. There are a few lapses of science that are a bit hard to swallow. They swing around Jupiter to use a gravitiational slingshot, but the g-forces inside the ship are up to 15. In real life a ship doing this experiences no force but what its engines supply because the gravity of the planet acts on every molecule in the ship almost identically, differing only by the minute fraction that the planet's gravity differs from the closet point of the ship to the farthest. The same amount that your head feels lighter than your feet. (You can't feel that can you?) He also believes that humans would be subject to bone loss at 90% Earth normal gravity. He's a doctor, but I think he's wrong on that. I also think he's wrong in thinking that a normal healthy person (Who's half Sherpa by the way) would have trouble adapting to an oxygen concentration equivalent to 15,000 feet altitude on Earth. She might tire more easily for a time, but I doubt there would be any serious health consequences, even long term, because many Sherpa's and many Bolivians never descend to an altitude that low. There is a glancing mention of entanglement and particle pair messaging that isn't as accurate as one can learn in Wikipwedia. There is some affection and sex in the story, but you are not there on the scene and it is probably the least examined aspect of the social situation on the mission. Because he's a doctor, the medical aspects of having a half-alien baby are front and center. This baby was created genetically and NOT by mating with an alien. This hybrid is called an Indigan and thus the name of the story. The successful birth of this baby would have been the end of the story if they were not attacked by another group of aliens to provide some action. Fans of old-time space opera with a strong medical component will be entertained and maybe even enlightened by this book.
  • The Frontier Archives: Series 1 on April 04, 2021

    A collection of four short stories that take place on some frontier worlds outside the Empire's control. It is billed as a dystopian place, but it's not as bad as most. The first story is about a smuggler who falls in love with a cargo merchant who wasn't what she seemed. The second story is about a gambler trying to get revenge on another gambler who drove his father to suicide. The third is about a gang of pickpockets and con artists trying to bring down a provincial governor. This has a similar plot structure to the first. The fourth is about space EMT's. Not bad for a short story collection, good twists, good world building and character building in such a short space.
  • The Ghosts of Earth on April 04, 2021

    This was put up on smashwords in 2009 and is said to be the first of a six part series but I found no trace of any others, either free or pay. The book ends in a way that makes it seem like this is the end of everything, so you won't miss the other five. It gets started with a recap of the formation of the universe, some of it correct, some not. There are then a few short stories that don't seem to be related to the main story. The main plot is about a civilization living underground that is prey to an insatiable hunger. They are also in the midst of a prophecy coming true that they believe is going to transform them completely. The story itself is not bad, if a little tedious at times. I won't give away the plot in case someone wants to read it. The book tries to be profound. Many of the characters have powerful dreams, especially later in the book. I believe the 'great hunger' is a symbol for the greed and wastefulness that is destroying our civilization today. This is supposed to take place long after our civilization has passed away and been forgotten. The civilization at the time is at about the technology level of the mid to late 1800's. It is only sketched and not drawn in much detail. That of the underground dwellers is not detailed much more either. They appear to be ghosts, they also appear to be reincarnations of former surface dwellers. They differ from humans about as much as the average sci-fi alien, in other words, something that could be achieved by a Hollywood makeup artist. I found two major problems with the book. The first is, there are no paragraphs. All conversations are run on, it's often hard to tell who's speaking. There are blank lines at least, and he doesn't change point of view in the middle of a paragraph but he does change point of view without telling you who the new narrator is, which is sometimes pretty confusing. The other main problem, he goes to great lengths to sound both erudite and archaic, to the point where it gets down right annoying. You've seen people like this before, ones who use a big word when a small one would be closer to the meaning. There is relatively little violence. The characters do come in male and female though there is only one significant female character. One of the males is attracted to her but does nothing about it and really doesn't even think about her all that much. I think the attraction was a plot device which you will understand if you actually read the story. There are some who will probably get a lot more out of this than I did.
  • The Glass Hummingbird on April 04, 2021

    The third in the Cassiopia and Scott Markman series opens with them involved in a plane crash that seems to be in the mountains of Alaska at first, you don't find out til much later it is actually in West Virginia. That can be considered realistic because even in the heavily populated south of New England people have been lost in the woods for days. What is not so realistic is the heroic effort, no let's face it, impossible effort, that Cassiopia makes to drag Scott off the mountain and out of the woods. The remaining plot of the story is mainly about trying to get Scott out of the coma he is in because of the injuries he sustained in the plane crash. That involves going back thru the dreamland gate, a terrorist plot to blow up Washington D.C. with an atomic bomb that Ann Rogers is in the middle of, and Tibetan monks on the astral plane. The story is not as violent as 'The Virtual Dead' or The Aurora City, except for the zombie attacks. Ann Roger's encounter with her father's killer is also quite violent but emotional. Besides the superhuman climb off the mountain, there is fantasy in the issue of Scott's ring and some of the scenes with the Tibetan monks. It as not as far from reality as the average paranormal romance however. Also unlike other romance, in this one they've gotten past their self doubts and doubts of each other. It seems they have been together with some regularity now and even use the word 'love' but you are never present in the bedroom so this book is actually less sexy than the others. The prose is the same as the others, a few missing words, a few extra words but generally no problem. Three stars is 'good,' not great, but I feel it was more than worth the time. The lifelike 3D characters are probably it's strongest point. By this time you feel like you know them well.
  • The Lost Legend on April 04, 2021

    This is a very short and surface version of 'The Silmarillion' in that it lays out the legends of a fantasy world. The fantasy tale is not in here. This seems to have no relation to his 'Arcworlds' series.
  • The Phoenix Conspiracy on April 04, 2021

    This is a grand space opera in the days of the Empire sometime between 'Star Wars' and 'Dune'. It is a tale of intrigue, plots within plots and shifting alliances with tense and relatively realistic space battles, everything one could want in a space opera. But there's more, contagious werewolves and vampires, a secret meeting with a princess, collapsing stars and a resurgent terrorist organization that seems to know everyone's secrets. This is a mystery as much as a military adventure and one must pay attention to small clues as they come by. Some are meaningful in this volume, but some don't come to fruition until later volumes of the series. The plot begins with a young captain of an Intelligence (not 'intelligent' but 'intelligence', as in spycraft) starship is tasked with finding and capturing the Empire's most powerful warship which has been commandeered by a rogue captain who has destroyed three freighters from a neighboring, non-human civilization. The main character is a rather rowdy, undisciplined guy who runs a loose but effective ship. He is given a straight-laced but beautiful woman from a different branch of the service as his second in command, one who just happens to a be a former lover of the rogue captain. As they begin to track the rogue ship down, the captain comes to believe there is more to this than simply a rogue captain. Meetings with a crime boss, a werewolf and a band of terrorists convince him that there is more to it than that and he begins to try to get at the truth rather than single-mindedly pursue the missing ship. This puts him at odds with his straight-laced XO and in the conflict, she seduces him, leading to the only sexual episode in the story. From then on there is a struggle for control of the ship, as well as the struggle against the conspiracy which imperils the Empire. The story seems to be all pure entertainment except for one small part where the XO ponders the idea that all the charming, good looking men are jerks and she wonders why. The answer is trivial, because they can be. Plain-looking men can't get away with it. The proofreading is professional grade, as is the prose. The only down side, the story is not at all complete in this volume and the remaining books in the series are unreasonably priced at $8.99. That is a print-on-demand paperback price.
  • The Offices of M. Coopersmith on April 04, 2021

    Short story about an alien living among us and a teenage couple who are picking up a yearbook donation from him when aliens attack. It's cute and heartwarming.
  • The Price Of Ascendance on April 04, 2021

    This is a pretty good story, a bit childish at times with a female lead who's too flighty, emotional and nearly always in a panic. The proofreading is good enough but not faultless but the language is often rather simplistic. The plot is full of action, tension and drama but sometimes a bit overstated. The setting is a rather punkish, semi-dystopian city at some indefinite time in the future between 'Blade Runner' and 'Adventures in the Forbidden Zone'. It's all sets, there is no real economy or sociology behind it, but it works well enough to tell the story. Tech and hacking are part of the story and done fairly realistically but this is to be expected because the author says he is a code jockey himself. The plot is central to the story. A city is under the shadow of a more advanced city suspended in the air a few miles above it. The upper city, Arc City, is a utopia where the best and the brightest go on the 21st birthday to be enhanced and live the good life, bringing mankind forward into a brighter future, or so the propaganda goes. A boy and a girl go to their tests for admission to the upper city (ascendance) on the same day, neither expecting to be accepted. The girl is, but balks at going so the medic administering the test decides to drug her with a sedative, just as the boy comes in. He sees it and intervenes, starting a great chase that takes up the whole book. They find, of course, that the city of the ascended is not what they'd been told, that there is a nefarious plot going on and that there is a secret organization trying to combat the ascended. It's pretty much non-stop action once they get started, with a fair amount of violence but little spatter and gore. Of course they develop feelings for each other but do nothing more than kiss so this won't educate the youngsters in anything their parents are afraid of. The story does have an ending in this volume, but leaves room for a sequel. There seems to be some meaning behind this also. The sides in the conflict represent two views of how humanity can progress in the future with the ascendant representing the side of biological enhancement and the main characters and the secret organization representing the side of electro-mechanical enhancement. In this story the biological side performs the greater atrocities and is lead by a freaking madman almost as evil as Donald Trump. The secret organization is not without it own over-zealous leader however so that neither side comes off as all right or all wrong, as it should be. What is important in either side being right is not whether they pick biological or electro-mechanical enhancements to move humanity forward, but what their motivations are. There can be no doubt that on Earth either method will be used to further the power of the group in power. In real life it is the demagogues and dictators who will modify the human species to serve their own ends.
  • The Psychian Chronicles Book 1 Kimoshiran Form on April 04, 2021

    If this really was a sixth grade writing project it should have good grades for length, but it should fail on punctuation, grammar, proofreading etc. If it really was a sixth grade writing project the author should be watched, if there are any weapons in the house they should be removed. I have never seen such enthusiastic glorification of violence. Fighting is not fun kid, but you'll probably find that out soon enough. I'm not going to bother with the plot, characters, etc. The book should not be read, especially by the junior high students who seem to be the audience.
  • the Runner on April 04, 2021

    I was really hoping this would be a good story, but alas, it's got a lot of problems. The plot is a series of episodes in the life of a little black boy found on a planet where mining of magic crystals is taking place. One of the episodes actually happens before he is found, a conflict with an evil, power-mad administrator who wants to take over the colony. Thruout all of it there is a menace approaching that eats stars, a menace which everyone manages to ignore thru about nine tenths of the book. Some of the episodes involve the last Africans on Earth and some involve an African colony on another planet. Eventually the characters do notice the star eater and do take action. It's about as much of a struggle as making sourdough bread. The main problem with the story is the complete lack of understanding of elementary astrophysics. If you are going to write believable stories about flying around in starships you should spend a few hours at least learning the difference between stars and galaxies and planets. You should know that most stars are within galaxies, other galaxies are many orders of magnitude farther away than stars, and a little bit about how big planets are. Both the planets with large parts in this story seem to be about three to four square miles in extent. There is one settlement on each. Instrument scans from orbit can pick up a single human anywhere on the planet in seconds. Watch some of the video from the space station on you-tube and see if that still makes sense. I'm thinking, from the sound of the dialog, that the author is about fourteen, if so, this is a good start. Keep at it, keep learning. If you want to know how big a planet is, understand that everything ever written that is not sci-fi or fantasy takes place on this one blue dot of a planet orbiting a single star two thirds of the way out in a rather undistinguished galaxy. Not just all the fiction, but all the non-fiction besides. If you want to write fantasy in sci-fi clothing, like 'The Runner' is, Litka's 'The Lost Star's Sea' is a good example. In there is a universe large enough to live in without banging your elbows on the walls at every turn. If you want to write real sci-fi, read Niven, Bear, Benford, etc. If you want to write great spiritual Sci-fi with an African perspective, I know of no better example than Octavia E. Butler. The works of these professionals can be found at the library.
  • The Shadow of Armageddon on April 04, 2021

    The story is post-apocolyptic and violent, though not as violent as some. In this the apocalypse was caused by a pandemic but it was written before the corona virus or Trump, but it predicted his reaction, divide the country further and make it worse. The first part of the story is full of flashbacks because it would have been too long to start it at the first events in the plot. The plot is not about the pandemic and how to survive it, but about life twelve years later. Civilization has all but collapsed and a big industry among the survivors is finding objects of value in the ruins and bringing them to various flea markets to sell. There are many gangs doing that, some more honest than others. The main character's gang and another have entered a feud to the death and the main character's gang is on the run. The leader of the other gang, meanwhile, has established himself as the warlord of the ruins of Columbia Missouri and is oppressing the townspeople and the surrounding farms. The setting is good, the dialog is mostly in the dialect of presumably central Missouri rednecks. I've not come across accents that thick in the couple months I once spent in the state, but that was back in 1968, things may be different now, but they sound more like Arkansas to me. Besides the dialect, there are a few genuine proofreading errors, but all in all the dialect, whatever it is, is done very well and consistently. The guy who was supposed to be from New York, not so well, sounding like a guy from New Jersey trying to fake a Boston accent. The plot and the setting are not the heart of the story, the heart of the story is the characters, especially the young boy the gang takes on. There are many colorful people and not all of them are stereotypes. Most of them were adults before the plague and the main character delivers a few meaningful muses on the end of civilization and the savagery that has resulted. He is troubled by having to kill people who are trying to kill him. Only late in the story does he step up and realize that letting some of the evil doers live is actually the greater evil, though it still bothers him. The people in the story have retained their sexuality, though you are present at nothing more than talk and a few kisses. Teenage boys still talk about it and teenage girls still try to sneak away from their parents to find it, pretty much consistent with the Missouri I saw fifty some years ago. All in all I think this ranks with 'Hawk's Legend' by Robert A.J. Turnbull Jr. as one of the best post-apocalypic tales.
  • The Soul Reader on April 04, 2021

    This begins with a girl who can read minds hiding from an evil emperor in a time and place more like Hunger Games or Dominion than Star Wars. There is no space travel and the technology in use was about 1980's or so. There were some primitive hand-held computers. The plot is about trying to overthrow the emperor, but as much about the affair between the girl and the guy she helps rescue from the emperor's torture chamber. There is the typical romance novel denying of feelings, and that denial causes military problems for the revolution. There seems to be an anti-fascist message in here, even though it was written before 2016, the evil emperor is like Trump in that he will hurt his own regime just to be mean, and will lie even when the truth would help him. That is all typical fascist stuff however, Trump has not added one play to Hitler's/Putin's/Stalin's playbook. There is no sex beyond kissing, there's quite a bit of violence but not just violence for the sake of violence. There was one place where I noticed there was no blank line even though she could have started a new chapter at that point, but other than that I noticed no glaring proofreading errors.
  • The Telstar on April 04, 2021

    One could say this is a story about the paradoxes of time travel, or one could say it is a spoof on a story of the paradoxes of time travel. It is probably meant to be humorous and might be to some, sorry I missed it. You might say it's also a spoof of absurdist philosophy because one character does get completely lost in it, to the point where his head literally explodes. Yeah, it's not a scientifically accurate story, not even as scientifically accurate as 'Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy'. Then again, it might be an ode to the joy of infinite loops, or I may have missed the point entirely. The plot is rather hard to describe. Most of it takes place in an isolated time capsule housing a robot, a Commadore 64 computer running a very primitive artificial intelligence program and a succession of people snagged from various times as the capsule oscillates back and forth thru time. The denizens include at various times the inventor of the robot, the programmer of the very primitive artificial intelligence program and a ridiculously dumb and ignorant Appalachian kid. That's about all I can say about the plot. Several people die in the story, one is shot and one is bludgeoned to death with a can of beans. No female characters actually appear in the story and only a couple are mentioned. A kid I know once sent in a review of a better story in this sub-genre that I have since read, 'Buddy Holly is Alive on and Well on Ganymede' by Bradley Denton.
  • The Trilisk Ruins on April 04, 2021

    A story about an illegal interstellar archeology team that makes its living finding alien artifacts and selling them on the black market. The Trilisks were an advanced but now extinct interstellar civilization. This is in a universe where humans know of three other technological species, all extinct. This is also a universe in which the Space Force is a very authoritarian organization, what would be called 'The Empire' in 'Star Wars'. They find a Trilisk installation, one that is still operational. It continually changes on them and they get lost and lose a couple team members. They also find a live alien, one from a civilization humans have not discovered yet. I was glad to find that the alien as truly alien, not just an actor in a baggy suit. It didn't even communicate with sound, but with motions like sign language. Most of the story is them trying to find a way out of the Trilisk site. The later part of the is about the star base the alien brings them to and the battle with the Space Force that occurs once the Space Force finds them. There are passages from the alien's point of view and they are pretty well done. The main characters do have sex but you are not present when it happens. You see some thoughts of the characters about their attraction to each other with the briefest nod to the romance novel formula but it is not a major part of the story. There is some violence and some is a bit gross. The battles are realistic enough but there are not a lot of space battles, most of the fighting is on the alien base with hand weapons. There is no special message.
  • The Wandering Island Factory on April 04, 2021

    This story is a well disguised rant about global warming. The plot is a young man working at a factory making ships and islands out of artificial pumice using lava from a Hawaiian volcano. I don't know if it is possible to find materials that can work with molten lava, but I can accept that part of the premise. He has a girlfriend who was sexually abused by a coach and thus will not do anything physical with him beyond a kiss on the lips. When civilization collapses they take a barge that factory has made and try to sail from Hawaii to California. Quite early in the story he begins ecology bashing by making a pitch for ocean thermal energy and claiming it is not used because of political protests, not that I've heard of any. All I've heard is that ocean thermal energy doesn't make any economic sense, but I haven't looked into it. If it works, fine. What doesn't work is the notion that solar output is the reason for climate change. Solar output has changed recently, this is something I have looked into. Solar output is down. We have passed the 400 year warm cycle and are now early in a 400 year cool cycle. Were it not for the increased carbon dioxide caused by burning fossil fuels we would be going into another Little Ice Age. Instead he has solar output increase -After the climate has already changed by the way- and that causes sea levels to rise at a rate that is just not possible without heating the Earth enough to boil the oceans. It will take the ice caps a few thousand years to melt. The total sea level rise if all the ice on Earth melts is three hundred and something feet, but none of this elementary science is taken into account. I don't think that was because it was needed by the plot, the plot is too thin to be the excuse for any lapse of science. But of course, climate change deniers don't believe in science. The further rants about the only goal of the ecologists is to destroy the economy and reduce living standards is total B.S., they want a habitable planet for their grandchildren, something climate change deniers don't care about. His notion that sea level rise will destroy civilization is untenable. The man he probably voted for was destroying civilization a lot more than sea level rise. Famines and migrations brought on by climate change will do a lot more damage to civilization than sea level rise. The pandemic we are in as I write this, coupled with Trump and Bolsanaro, is doing more harm to civilization than climate change. There is a more evil side to climate change deniers. The suffering brought on by climate change will mainly be borne by people of color in the tropical parts of the planet. Even though other areas will warm more, the most vulnerable are being plagued with more droughts, storms and pestilence. Since climate change deniers are usually from the rabid right, who are also often violent racists, it is quite likely that a great many climate change deniers are also racists and glad to see the people of Africa and Latin America suffer. Anyone aware of what is going on in society knows that living standards are declining because of rising inequality.
  • The War of Civlar on April 04, 2021

    In 2250 the world seems to be divided into two entities. Civlar is a dystopia of sex and drugs, The Realm is a dystopia of brutal fundamentalism. Neither is rendered in any detail or realism. There is no real overall plot to the story, it is just a few episodes in the war between them. The prose is spotty.
  • The Warden Threat on April 04, 2021

    This takes place on a world where the Empire is long gone and forgotten. There are some artifacts remaining but no one recognizes them. The 'Warden' in the title of the story is a giant stone statue that some claim has supernatural powers. There are some androids and a robot dog remaining, but you don't see the dog in this story. The planet is in other ways at a level of technology about equivalent to the 1400's. The plot is about the third prince of the largest nation on the continent trying to go out and meet and understand the common folk of the country. In doing so he comes across the threat of a neighboring country bringing the Warden to life and attacking them. He goes to investigate and finds no basis for the rumor. In trying to warn his father, the king, that the rumor is false, he comes across a racist plot to cause a war. The races in this are more like the Dwarves and the Elves than black and white, but the racism is the same. It's just as mindless and disgusting in this story as it is in real life. The story has some humorous spots, to me it is much funnier than 'The Telstar,' which was probably intended to be comedy. This succeeds much better. The prince starts out as a very naive teenager hungry for adventure and glory but halfway thru the story he is starting to mature. I don't know how he does by the end because only half the story is in this volume. The second half, 'The Warden War,' is technically not free, but you set the price. There is no sex in the story but one incident of a girl trying to seduce him. The proofreading is okay but there are occasional missing words that are pretty noticeable. It is likely this could have been a four star if it was all in one volume and if he gets together with the messenger at the end.
  • The Yeomen of England on April 04, 2021

    One must remember all thru this that it is a story derived from a video game and that explains why so much doesn't make any sense from a scientific viewpoint. It is an invasion of Earth story, once again by a species 15 minutes more advanced than we are. They are more than that over us in space and in the air, and we can't fight them there, but they prefer to fight on the ground where they have very little advantage. At least they are not humans in baggy suits, they are carnivorous centaurs, most of which are dumb, with a few leaders who are as intelligent as humans, though you never get to know any of them. Their purpose on Earth is to eat humans. So remember, it's all a game. Don't try to figure out how a species can evolve that is so intent on eating other intelligent life that they will travel light years and die by the millions just to consume them. In real life, this would not make any sense at all. Just as it would make no sense to fight a ground war when all your advantages are in space and in the air. There is another race of aliens involved, ones who look too much like humans to be believeable, a species that is basically Elves with piranha teeth. They arrive four or five years before the carnivores and warn humanity of their approach. Humans eventually find out that they are really acting at cross purposes, for they rule this part of the galaxy and are using the carnivorous centaurs to 'soften up' humans so they can dominate us. It is rumored that they may have even created the carnivores for that purpose. They can't conquer us themselves because a property of their psyche makes them insane if they try to use violence themselves. The execution of the story is much more engaging and realistic than the premise. The characters are pretty lifelike, the prose is good, the proofreading is good enough to stay out of the way and the action is exciting. There are many points of view in the story, some are main characters but you see many scenes from the point of view of minor characters. Unfortunately many of those scenes end in the death of the narrator. The characters have normal sexuality, they are not neutered fighting machines as in so much free sci-fi. There are some decent looks into Islamic society, probably not as accurate as someone born to it might express it, but as well as someone on the outside could describe it. It is probably not possible to write a realistic invasion of Earth story. The first thing we would have to consider is what would be the motivation of a species to come light years to invade a planet that is already inhabited by a technological species? If it is to consume the flesh of the inhabitants it could only be for sport. It is far too expensive to be profitable as a part of the economy. Since technological species seem to be rare, and planets seem to be common, it would make no sense for a species to try and claim a planet that already houses a technological species when there are likely to be hundreds or thousands of closer planets without a species that can offer any resistance. It is more likely that the invading species would not notice that humans possess technology and we would simply be considered part of the mess to be removed in their equivalent of a terraformming process. It is also possible that the invading species is not really technological, but come to Earth by chance.
  • They Call the Wind Muryah on April 04, 2021

    Fairly short story of an exploration party on an Earth-like planet that meets a woman from a previous expedition that was presumed lost. The planet is very perfect but seems to have a very strong Gaia-like presence that can support life or combat it. The story is mainly about the conflict between a very strict by-the-book engineer and the remainder of the crew. He sees them as having too much fun and not concentrating on their mission, so much so that he comes off sounding like a Calvinist. He manages to turn the planet's spirit against them and that turns them all to conflict. The story is not very scientific, of course. It even has this newly discovered planet infested with sharks! There are liaisons between some members of the crew but nothing a child couldn't see. The prose and proofreading are good enough that they don't get in the way. Most of the file is actually the first sixteen chapters of a non-free book he has written about vampire hunters.
  • Throwing Snowballs at Xanadu on April 04, 2021

    Fairly short story of a couple who have found the first habitable planet, only to find it is going to be impacted by a couple comets. The action of the story is them trying to divert the comets and the danger that puts them in. It's light-hearted, not very scientific and entertaining enough.
  • THUMP vol. 1 on April 04, 2021

    It's hard to say what this story is really about. It's hard to follow, jumps around in time and place, sometimes without even a blank line to let you know. It's hard to say whether it is sci-fi or fantasy, whether the worlds are real or simulated. It is not clear which characters are real, which are simulated, which are hallucinations or which are robots. It's not clear who's on what side, what their actual agenda is, whether you are in a dream sequence, a flashback or live action. With all that said, this is the most concise, logical and straightforward story by this author I've come across to date. Some of his others appear to have been created by picking words at random from the dictionary and copying them onto the page. I think the plot starts with a crewmember of a starship who wants to have his own ship some day. At one point, in the future, in a dream, in a flashback or something, he steals a collapsed star from a space station that he can use as the heart of an engine for his own ship. At another time they stop to mine an asteroid for water when the captain disappears, leaving his crew to be captured by a religious order who's purpose is to destroy the universe so they can start over. They run afoul of a space pirate with what seem to be supernatural powers, a dictator of a cluster of worlds, various armed groups, a few fell beasts and a series of natural cataclysms. At first the main character is transported from one continuum to another via a giant spiral horn, later on via bodies of water, and eventually, at random. He may have used some mechanism because time and time again he wakes up in a new scene with no memory of how he got there. Thru it all one of his crew members first saves him a few times and then tries to kill or capture him a few times. And quite often he's lead around by a succession of cats. You are privy to a lot of his thoughts, most of them confused. You see him think and act rationally a few times, irrationally at others. He comes to the conclusion, eventually, that he can't tell what is real and what is not. If that is really the point of the story, I'm not sure. To me it looks like the point of the story is to try and say that the universe is not real There is a fair amount of mention of sex in the story, some prostitution, some rape, but nothing very explicit. The proofreading is not the greatest, there are missing words, wrong words and problems of that nature. It reminds me of hearing a story from someone very strung out on acid or coke and not making much sense. Even so, it could have been entertaining, but it's not. It's episode after episode of mainly the same old stuff so that after a while it really starts to drag.
  • To The Stars on April 04, 2021

    A well written and entertaining but fairly cliched space opera. Not very scientific but realistic in most other ways with good characters, good action and emotional realism. The premise that humans in the 2060's find a naturally occurring wormhole and use it to explore and colonize many planets is a bit of a stretch. No theory I know of allows for naturally occurring wormholes that are just lying around ready for use, and the notion that there will be humans from this civilization out there to use them seems ludicrous at this time. There are a few other 'I don't think so's in it like an M class star going nova a few light years away exterminating all life on a planet, it would take a supernova to do that and the universe is not old enough for red dwarfs to leave the main sequence. The plot is an interstellar expedition, a captain with secret motives and a greedy corporation that sent them. There's a beautiful rich girl on the crew who for some unstated reason falls for the main character. There's two races of aliens, one humanoid and primitive, one slightly less humanoid but very advanced and instinctively hostile. There's a planet they find was terraformed with life that could have only originated on Earth a few million years ago. At least they know that, they don't just accept nearly Earth normal life as parallel evolution. The plot does come to a conclusion in this volume, but leads to a continuing saga that is not free and is not complete as of now. The second book is the only one out so far. There is a normal, as in what you would find in real life, amount of sex in the story, but nothing explicit. There is some gruesome violence but not an excessive amount and the story is about more than body count even though only half the crew makes it back alive. The proofreading and grammar is not perfect but not an issue.
  • Transplant on April 04, 2021

    I'm pretty sure I read a version of this story, or a part of this story, ages ago. If not, then someone copied this story under a different name. It's a story of a generation ship, as in the well-known tale 'Rite of Passage'. Part of the story channels 'Rite of Passage' to some extent but in the guise of exploring the ship rather than exploring one's soul. The ship is largely automated and the gist of the story is that the ship is breaking down and the crew has no idea how to deal with it because they have been served by the machines for so long they don't know how to do much of anything for themselves. The second half of the story details what happens after their arrival at their destination, an unexpected one which I won't spoil. They have quite a few adventures there but do get a colony established, but because they were able to do so little for themselves, find themselves slipping down the evolutionary ladder, physically as well as culturally. The execution of the story is not up to the premise. A really powerful tale, on the order of 'Rite of Passage' could be told on this premise. It could have had a lot to say about regression, as in 'Lord of the Flies' and it could have had a lot more to say about the demise of our current civilization. Instead, everything is rather superficial, there no depth of emotion, even among married couples having children. There's quite a few proofreading errors, the prose is rather juvenile and most of the members of the small party never get names or speaking parts. At least there are no problems with the science because there is no science, it's exactly what it was in 1998 when the book was written. Computers but no smart phones. Unfortunately, if you think about it, that gives away the big twist in the story.
  • Unhaunting The Hours on April 04, 2021

    A short story about a former addict, son of a single mother who was also an addict. He became a 'wire' addict in getting off the drug, that is, an addict to virtual reality and a member of a cult of wire addicts. He's recently gotten off that also, but the cult still pursues him. As he's trying to start a new life, and not doing very well at it, he finds himself in trouble because he has a clone that is a serial killer. The cops try and use him to get to the serial killer but a rogue cop complicates matters. The story is rather confusing, the world it's in rather claustrophobic. The only sex is his wishes for a girl he stalks. There is some crime drama violence and no particular message.
  • Keiree on April 18, 2021

    A long short story about a guy who's revived from suspended animation 700 years after a plague. He should have been on an interstellar expedition and his wife should have been with him. He sets off to find her and that search is the plot of the story. They are still on a terraformed Mars, a much different environment from all his other stories that I've read so far. While not as amazing as his others, it's still better than most free sci-fi. It's low on violence, has some positive emotions and people can have feelings for each other.
  • The Prisoner of Cimlye on April 19, 2021

    Beautiful. Heartwarming. I never enjoyed a book more. What I wish had happened in the first, (Sailing to Redoubt) came true in the second. Thanks so much for the relief from the constant misery of most free sci-fi. Thanks for showing that there can be some light and love somewhere in the future. If more of us did stories like this, maybe we could change the course of the world. If only it was I who handed out the Hugo's...
  • The Secret of the Tzaritsa Moon on April 23, 2021

    A good sci-fi mystery well worth reading. The blurb tells as much about the plot as one could say without spoiling it, it's pretty much a plot and character driven story. The male lead is the same as his others, the female is a little less dangerous than some but along the same vein. The nine star nebula is bigger than the galaxy in Asimov's Foundation series and we see a new part of it here, not as unique as the Pella but still interesting. The science in this is fine, no credibility stretches involved.
  • The Secrets of Valsummer House on April 27, 2021

    A good sci-fi mystery, sequel to The Secret of the Tzaritsa Moon. It's about rounding up the remainder of the criminal organization discovered in Tzaritsa Moon. It has the same characters plus a new woman, the heir to the family that was peripherally involved in the previous book. I would have liked it better if the relationship between the male and female leads would have progressed, but it stays the same as it ended in 'Tzaritsa Moon' unlike 'Prisoner of Cimlye' where it did progress. This book, the previous, some of my own and many more show the need for another classification, Fiction >> Science Fiction>> mystery and detective.
  • Fallen Star on May 03, 2021

    Military men in a UFO story. They are involved in a project billed as a follow-on to project Blue Book. It starts with a raid in Iraq but most of the action takes place in a small town in Alaska. Government cover-ups, an international cartel and prehistoric monsters all join in the fun. It is violent but not absurdly so. There's not much science but plenty of fiction. There are male and female characters but only one teen age couple, the others are all singles and seem to be glad to stay that way. It's a good exciting read however.
  • Faster Than Light: Dobhriathar on May 05, 2021

    This takes place on a platform orbiting very close to a star and trying to mine a fantasy element from it. The science is also way off in how long it would take to orbit, it would be days, not years. The story is still decently entertaining, can't say much more without being a spoiler since there isn't much to it but the plot. I didn't notice anything that really tells us what the order of these stories is so I've also been doing them out of order.
  • Faster Than Light: Babel Among the Stars on May 07, 2021

    This is said to be the third episode but it should be the first because this is the one where he steals the ship and all the other starships are destroyed. In this a shadowy corporation that's mentioned in one of the other stories gets involved, both with the main character and his father. I've wondered, in this series, if the Heilmann drive destroying the universe is a symbol for fossil fuels destroying our planet? If so, the government of the time is much more enlightened than our own. Actually, if any one government controlled the whole Earth we would probably be able to deal with the problem so maybe it's not so unrealistic after all. The main character in this series is not that likeable and he's even less so in this one. This story ends inconclusively, more so than the others. It's almost like there's an episode missing.
  • First Contact (In Her Name, Book 1) on May 18, 2021

    This is the second book in this series that I've read, 'Empire' being the first. All the good things I said about 'Empire' are true of this also, great writing, real characters, real emotion, prodigious talent, etc, etc, etc. All the bad things I said about 'Empire' are true of this book too, too much violence, glorification of war, driving us toward dystopia, etc, etc, etc. In 'Empire' the war itself is mainly distant and most of the book is one-on-one. In this the body count is huge and in your face. I've wondered, in both books I've read of this series, are the Kreelans strictly for entertainment, or is there a message behind them? As entertainment, for many people, they are just perfect, but for me they are a horror. A society living for war and war alone reminds me of ISIS or something like that. The fact that they are female grosses me out completely. The fact that they are humans in all things but skin color and fingernails makes it even worse. Is this a symbol for race war? Is it about feminism? If there is a message in this, other than the glorification of war, I've probably missed it. I'll be as objective as I can and rate this on the quality of the writing, plotting, characters and give it four stars, but if I hadn't read 'Empire' first, I might not have made it thru this in spite of how well done it is. I've put down others written as well because I'm just not into the violence.
  • Time Enough To Die on May 20, 2021

    This is a very good sci-fi mystery, much heavier on the mystery than the sci-fi, but sci-fi in that for one person, time travel, teleportation and eternal youth are possible. It's pretty gory in spots with a grossly psychotic serial killer on the loose, rather like a J.T. Ellison book. The characters are lifelike, as is the dialog. There are a few places where he forces clues into the stream like 'I didn't notice at the time that he'd taken the pool cue with him.' There is also the scene at the end where the bad guy thinks he's won it all and confesses everything and ties up all the loose ends. In some ways that's nice for us readers that everything is explained, but I don't think that happens in real life. The proofreading is at today's professional grade but there is a missing or extra word here and there and a couple wrong suffixes. There is just enough sex to earn the 'adult' designation. The epilogue is an explanation by the unaging one of how old he really is (barely older than me) and how he's had to watch all his friends and lovers age out and how depressing that is, sort of like Luray's lament in my own 'Wizard Run.' Both he and Luray will keep going anyway, Luray for nearly 4000 more Earth years, I don't know how long for Matt. This won't be such a mixed blessing when we are all eternal.
  • Archaea on May 26, 2021

    This is a story mainly about a starship. There are characters in it, well done but types we've all seen many times before, in the 'World's Apart' series in particular. A bit of humor, a bit of arrogance, the female mechanic trying to fit in. The main character is a newly created self aware A.I. that runs everything in the ship far better than the laws of physics allows, but all in good fun. It's max propeller-head all the way but interesting enough in other ways also. The plot is about making a run to a secret base to deliver a secret package. We never know what it is. We never REALLY know that the package is the reason the station-master where they leave from tries to stop them, but if it isn't that, the effort to stop them doesn't make any sense. They have a big long space battle at the climax of the book. It's done pretty well, not a world war era dogfight any way but not very realistic in what the A.I. does with their ship, but once again, all in good fun. There is almost no sex in the story, but at least some of the characters know what it is. The violence is pretty bad in spots but not the worst I've seen by far. The proofreading is quite good, I noticed only a couple errors. There is a set up for a sequel at the very end, and what he's done with that is troubling. It is available only on Amazon, it is doubtful it is free. This is pretty insulting to Mark Coker and all he's doing for us, and against the user agreement, I might add. We all understand why, because Amazon is so close to a monopoly, he will make more there by giving Amazon exclusive rights to his books. Smashwords makes nothing off this, bares the cost of hosting it, and Dain uses it to advertise a relatively evil competitor, one who is employing every kind of shady tactic to get a monopoly on books, if not all on-line sales world wide. A man who raked in over thirty billion dollars last year (2020) while the country was nearly destroyed by Trump and Covid. So although the book was good enough, I can't recommend it.
  • Ferromancer on June 06, 2021

    A very interesting and well written fantasy set in Ohio in the mid 1800's when canal boats were giving way to railroads. Feromancers are magicians with complete magical control of iron. The main character is a girl, 21 and never been kissed, very much in the sensibilities of the age, or of slightly later age all the way up to Victorian times. Because she's also good at the fiddle, I couldn't help seeing Lindsey Sterling in this role. It would make a great movie. Some of the characters seem a little unrealistic at times but I found no other faults. The main characters should have had more affection for each other but I think that's setting up for later episodes. There's no sex at all in this volume.
  • Guardian Awakening on June 07, 2021

    There are very human like beings all over the galaxy, but at least this time there seems to be a way they got there from Olduvai gorge. It isn't really stated in this first volume but the people of Earth are the only ones with the exact genetics of the founders, who's name was 'Lantians'. Any guesses what that was from? The time line doesn't fit with my own theory of Atlantis but at least we don't have aliens we can mate with arising from parallel evolution. I would warn Thomas Macy not to read any of my stories but maybe 'Mission Alpha' if he thought the sex scenes in this were graphic. I'm not even sure this requires the 'adult' label. Oh, and there's quite a good story in here also. A little violent and callous at times but nothing like the megagore monstrosities like 'Chasing the Jeweled Throne' for instance. There's even a bit of confusion over what is real at the end. It's not as much as issue as in 'Zhlindu' or 'Vermin Rising' but it is there but not left as open.
  • High Strangeness on June 09, 2021

    It's about UFO's over Cape Cod, but really a send-up of UFO nuts and conspiracy theorists in general. One of the most humorous free sci-fi stories I've come across so far, though it's not all funny. There is a UFO sex cult involved but there is no actual sex in the story. There is no violence either. There are a few proofreading errors, 'of' instead of 'or' and a few typo's of that kind. Very entertaining however and recommended.
  • Ice Cracker II on June 09, 2021

    The blurb and other reviews really sum up this short story well. It's a little too violent for me but as well done as all her stories. All the ones I've read so far seem to be on the same planet, or could be on the same planet. I like that, remember that all mainstream (non sci-fi/fantasy) stories ever done fit on one small planet.
  • IceFlight on June 13, 2021

    I liked the book, not perfect, a bit too much violence and some of the characters actions don't make sense. I don't mean that in the sense that we just don't know the background, I mean people don't react that way and unlike 'Zhlindu', there is no explanation of how human nature has been changed to make them that way, at least in this volume. But other than that it's a monumental work reminiscent of Dune in some ways, like the generations long breeding program and the intrigue among the nobles of the Empire(s). It's a well-done and somewhat familiar universe using mostly familiar technology and forms of government with the usual Empires, space pirates, slavers, etc. There are several species of humanoid aliens that were supposedly created by genetic manipulation, but even that doesn't seem like it would be enough to let them interbreed. I really need a common ancestor to make that happen and I suspect there is one and I suspect they came from Earth in the distant past. But my main complaint, this FREE book is put here, so Smashwords makes nothing, while advertising for the other books which someone said are only on Amazon (kindle). I don't go on Amazon even though I have eight older versions of my own in paperback there so I don't know. Because of that I cannot bring myself to give this the four stars it deserves.
  • The Jacq of Spades: A Future Noir Novel on June 16, 2021

    No sense re-hashing the other reviews. I will say that I wasn't put off by the detailed descriptions of the world, but I'm glad I don't live there. It's 1899 years after the Catastrophe. Judging by the dark, depressing, claustrophobic world that results, I would say the Catastrophe began in 2016. We could well be headed for such a dystopia of inequality, crime and denial of reality. It's a good story if you don't mind the darkness. The characters are realistic for the environment they're in. I'm just sorry they had to live there. There's too much heartless violence and unspeakable cruelty for me to really embrace this. There is some sex, mentioned in passing. The proofreading is somewhat better than most 'professionals' today.
  • The Reckoning on June 19, 2021

    This is as well written as the first two in the trilogy, with a much bigger plot but more gruesome violence. In this they take on a terrorist who turns out to be much more than he seems, in fact he seems to have nearly supernatural powers until we find out who is behind him. It wasn't realistic that he could set up and coordinate as much as he did if he was working alone. This was published in 2016 and could be considered by the casual observer to be very prescient, but it really didn't take a time traveler to know that the Evil One we elected that year would stop at nothing to hold onto power. This may be too much of a spoiler to say this, but I don't think that was ever a secret in this book. In all the stories in this series it is a little strange that they can use the watch (time machine) to get out of some scrapes but not others. In this story they no longer need the watch but can time travel and teleport using their minds alone. Why they would only use that ability occasionally and allow themselves to be wounded and nearly killed at other times didn't make a lot of sense to me. Other than that, and the violence, this is a good book. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the other two but think it is still worth reading.
  • Season Of The Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 1) on June 24, 2021

    All other reviews are correct about plot, characters, etc. No need to repeat. Additional thoughts: -Is this book the source of the conspiracy theory that there are lizard people directing things in Washington lately? -Reading about one of the conspirators getting sworn in was almost as scary as the 2017 inauguration. The politics in here made me rather uncomfortable, but then all politics does today. -This book did a better job than most alien invasion stories at trying to find a motive for any alien to invade Earth. In the present climate I'm afraid to write about anything that may make things worse in either direction. Micheal has taken a very sensitive issue and treated it as fairly as possible. His goal was obviously an exciting story, and this is that, but I think he did his best to keep politics and the culture wars out of it. GMO as it is practiced by agribusiness today is not really about helping us raise more crops but about helping them sell more agricultural chemicals, that is misuse of this science. They should be developing crops that do not need chemicals.
  • TANGANAKI Book One of PRIVATEERS FOR THE CROWN Space Adventures For Mature Readers on June 27, 2021

    The plot in this seems to be primarily a container for the ideas expressed. It is a new academy grad on her first assignment. She doesn't want to be just a faceless crewman on a giant ship but part of a smaller team. She gets her wish and on their first mission they stop at a paradise planet for some beach time, but get found by a pirate ship and get into some trouble with them. The characters and universe is nothing new, two different 'empires', various races of humans and one genuine alien. There's a lot of talk about sex, but not an abnormal amount of actual sex. The 'Jenketty' have a little in common with Kassidor in that sex preserves youthfulness but does not extend lifespan. There is even less explanation of the science behind it, but that is understandable since we know so little about the workings of biology at this time. There's a couple ideas expressed that I disagree with. I do not agree that hand-to-hand combat is what makes us human, it makes us brute beasts. Cooperation and planning ahead is what makes us human in my opinion. I also don't agree that sex and violence go together. I understand people who think so, but that's because casual sex can lead to jealousy. The story was actually fun however, even if it doesn't quite fulfill all it's promises.
  • Eye of Truth on July 01, 2021

    A war with the Elves has just ended and the main character has come home to face arrest after being accused of stealing a valuable magical artifact. The story is a fantasy, no hint of science anywhere, and mainly a mystery but with a few violent episodes. There are plenty of twists but when the villain is identified, it's not totally unexpected. The only small imperfection, some of the characters sometimes seem deliberately obtuse when that will lead to a more exciting event later on. This seems to be on the same planet as her other stories that I've read so far, but in a different region with a slightly different culture, feudal but with steam age technology. If so, I think that's a good thing, too many authors have planets that are about as big as a small town in the midwest. The Elves in this have much in common with those of most authors, more warlike than my own in modern times, but with much in common. There is attraction in the story, but no actual sex. All in all, another as good as all the others of hers that I've read, one of the best pros in this space.
  • Fighting Destiny on July 08, 2021

    Before this my naive view of the word 'fae' was that it pertained to fairies and leprechauns. The word gave me visions of woodland glades with rings of mushrooms, maybe even a rainbow or unicorn. This book destroyed that and overwhelmed it with darkness and satanic imagery. This book seemed to me to be way more about a point of view on sexuality than the murder mystery that's hidden inside. There are a lot of murder mysteries involving serial killers and some of them even involve the paranormal. As a murder mystery it's okay but too dark and depressing. But the real intent here seems to be to make sexuality into something dark and dangerous, all about dominance and not about love and tenderness, or even a fun athletic feat. Instead we have here one of the darkest visions of sexuality I've ever come across. It seems to be dedicated to the notion that a female is not and should not be in control of her own sexuality, but is a mindless machine controlled by pheromones put off by an alpha male. None of the characters seem to be able to reconcile their cultural conditioning with their biology. This is, of course, because American culture is completely unrealistic about sexuality, leading us to think of it as dark and evil. Over and over and over again, to cringe point, the message of dominance, control, ownership, slavery is pounded home. The lack of free will, the woman's inability to say 'no' is the main theme. The author does warn us, and she has delivered exactly as advertised. I will admit, the sex scenes there are (I think only two actually) are drawn in more detail, using more pages than I've ever seen before. They are not scenes I would have personally wanted to participate in because most of my pleasure came from providing pleasure to my partner, not dominating, controlling and owning my partner. Someone owned and controlled, to me, is just an elaborate masturbation device. But there are probably some who like it like this and to them I will say that the story is well written, pretty well plotted and with characters with actual personalities, if somewhat unrealistic at times. I found all of them absolutely impossible to warm up to with the possible exception of the last victim, but I'll be objective and give this a rating appropriate for dark paranormal erotic fiction.
  • Junkyard (a Fractured Stars adventure) on July 09, 2021

    Main character is a mildly autistic detective who nearly missed the thief because he is also mildly autistic. This takes place in an empire that should be familiar to all, I have a version of it also. It's heavily biased toward the rich and powerful. The setting is not really very important to the story, just noted that it is a different setting than most of her stories. This one is fine for what it is, a light-hearted short story.
  • The Seduction of Lord Stone on July 11, 2021

    This genre is well outside my realm of expertise so I won't comment on the fine points of regency romance in this series starter. What I will say is this period allows one to make a point about one of the foibles of our own time that presumably was much stronger in the past. I don't know how accurate that history is and if I was to study the period I would be much more interested in the lives of the people in the mills than the aristocracy so the premise is credible as far as I'm concerned. In this we have to people who are attracted to each other but silly pride, made worse by their status and position, makes it impossible for them to admit it. Because of that her quest to find a lover and his quest to be that lover leads to a silly comedy that makes a good part of this short novel as much slapstick as regency. I don't know if this was intended as a comedy but I thought it was fun and laughed out loud a couple times, cringed a couple other times and was glad when they moved on. It is the exact opposite of what a romance novel set in Zhlindu would be like: "Ya wanna?" "Sure." There's a good sex scene in here, too hot for what harlequin calls their 'Heartwarming' sub genre but still caring and affectionate rather than the brutal and dominating scenes in some so-called 'Romance' (which I find about as romantic as the Syrian war). Kudos for that! The book has a fairly long preview of the next in the series. That seems like it would have less humor but still the same society with the same outlandish idea of what women are.
  • Star Nomad (Fallen Empire, Book 1) on July 16, 2021

    A fast paced space opera, pure entertainment, not too predictable, not TOO violent. No sex at all, well proofread, good characters. Well done.
  • Warrior Mage (Chains of Honor, Book 1) on July 20, 2021

    This is the same world (universe) as many of her other stories but with a decidedly young adult twist. It's fun enough for an old-timer to read but doesn't have the emotional depth and realism of some of her other books. Also, the main character is rather rude and stupid to scorn the girl who helps him the most on his quest. Hopefully that will end in later episodes, but it's very junior high of him to act that way. Some of the setting lacks a little realism also. I'm baffled that something as big as a continent can be hidden from a civilization with airplanes and submarines, even using magic. I noticed one other thing about this planet before and will comment here, it has a single moon large enough and close enough to give light in the darkness. Moons like the Earth's are probably quite rare, but not impossible. I think I've now finished all her free series starters. I still like 'Balanced on the Blade's Edge' the best, but all of them are good.
  • Al Clark (Book One) on July 23, 2021

    This is what I always wanted Sci-fi to be about, discovering and exploring new worlds. The science in this is not perfect, but it is certainly good enough for space opera. It would be better if we find out how the natives of the planet they discover got there from Olduvai gorge, but the 'dinosaurs' aren't so detailed that they couldn't be parallel evolution. The only violence in the book is between humans and dinosaurs, the only hint of sex is a young couple who get married and are expecting a child by the end. Especial kudos for the fact that the people from Earth meet primitive natives and they treat them fairly!!! I'm not sure I ever saw that happen before. It has never happened in real life that I know of, at least western civilization has never encountered a primitive society that it treated fairly. I loved that so much it brought tears to my eyes. The ending is very uplifting and positive, the total opposite of so much violence and dystopia. Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! There are a few plot twists I didn't see coming and a few hints of twists that never occurred. When the main character believes something because 'Robots can't lie' I thought for sure all the problems on the expedition were going to be traced to a mutiny by the robots. Didn't happen. A robot did malfunction, but it was a minor incident. There were a couple other spots like that, I won't spoil them. The down side? There's a couple noticeable proofreading errors and the prose is occasionally a bit pedestrian. This may not push back the frontiers of literature but it is more than worth picking up.
  • A Letter from Iran on July 27, 2021

    Almost everything in this essay is true, the U.S. knocked over a freely elected government in Iran because the oil companies would have made less profit under that than under a puppet dictatorship. It is true that Saudi Arabia is by far the worst dictatorship in the region and that Israel is the one with nuclear weapons. He forgot to mention that the Irgun was the first terrorist organization in the middle east. A lot has happened since 2012 when this was written and almost all of what has happened has made the USA worse and the middle east situation worse. The US has not been the only bad actor in the last nine years. Russia and Israel have caused enormous harm. Iran has also done harm with its militias, but probably less harm than the other three. We have seen his contention about Christian extremists being on the same path as ISIS and Al Qaida come to pass. We've seen that a large segment of our population not only wants to end democracy in other countries, but wants to end democracy here also. The main thing missing in this is he doesn't put the blame squarely where it belongs, on the greed of the super rich. The people who not only end democracy in other nations, but want to end it in our own because they fear they will have to pay their fair share of taxes again if democracy succeeds. Not only that, but they are willing, and able, to sacrifice the entire planet, their own children and grand children, to satisfy their own immediate greed in the name of 'winning' the sick,sick mega-greed richest man contest that our economy has become.
  • The Betwixt Book One on July 29, 2021

    The blurb and the other reviews outline the plot so I don't have to say more about that. So here's a couple things I noticed: The main character seems unreasonably terrified of the law, as if she was a spy or something. Maybe it is because she is half breed, a racial minority, and is channeling the fate of racial minorities in this country. Other than that, there doesn't seem to be a reason for her fear of the male lead. In a key scene near the climax of this first half of the total story, everyone is yelling passed each other and no one is listening, like they are all panicked that they will never be heard. Is this channeling our country's political discourse today. In parts of the story I thought it might be on it's way to being a slapstick comedy, but in other parts it was too tense for that. Odette is a good writer, but her special talent seems to be the most prolific writer on this site, almost like Dianna Palmer on Harlequin in volume of output, but her stories are more varied. Not to say they aren't similar, but they are different stories, she is not just changing the names of towns, characters, etc. and then regenerating the text.
  • Callisto 2.0 - A Novel of the Future on Aug. 01, 2021

    This was one of the most thought provoking stories I have read since 'The I of the Storm' by James E. Bond, but for entirely different reasons. This is a story about a lesbian utopia. Maybe some would call it a treatise or a long essay, but there is a story in it and the message is delivered by the story, not by long soliloquies by various characters. The writing is quite good, most of the dialog (but not all, some is too saccharin) is fairly natural and the events all part of an actual plot and not the disconnected rambling rant trying to disguise itself as a story that many works of this nature devolve into. The future history seems possible, though possibly a hundred years too soon. There is some lesbian affection and attraction but you are never present at an encounter. However if all you are looking for an action-packed page turner that will keep you up til dawn, you should move on. All the action and conflict in this is described from a distance in the last ten pages but you won't have any idea what it is about without the remainder of the story. The main idea seems to be that if we could just eliminate males we could have a world of peace and love with universal sisterhood, equality and justice. The author does acknowledge that some males are okay and I don't doubt for a second that eliminating all males would move us in that direction, but it is my contention that it will take more than that. Some of my own writing looks into what that would take, but to save you wading thru a few thousand pages of that I'll say that my main assertion is that human nature must be modified and that removing the ALPHA males is the one of the main requirements and it takes a modification to the FEMALES to accomplish that, what is known as the 'Peace Plague' on the planet Kassidor. That won't do it by itself, and it won't lead to a world as sweet as the one depicted here, but I believe it would help. To actually achieve peace and stability we also need to remove the quest for status and dominance and females also participate in that. The conflict that climaxes in the last few pages is, to me, the most important message in the story. The powers that be are not going to allow an all-female group of scientists, no matter how well funded, to develop anything significant, much less get credit for it, or use it for any purpose, military or not. Alpha males will not give up their position of power. Witness the alpha males known as oil barons who would rather exterminate our entire species than give up their power. With all that, it would be interesting to see the sequel to this book. Do they even get away? What is their society like at their destination? How much will they regret publishing their work and how will they defend themselves against the inevitable military expedition that will come to destroy them? This whole story could be the set-up for that thriller.
  • Center Worlds - Spark on Aug. 05, 2021

    This is a pretty good story that has a lot of things that I like. There are some decent sex scenes in it and most are caring and consentual. The battles and other violence are mainly seen from a distance, but relatively early in it quite a few important characters die and you are present for some of them. We eventually find out that was necessary to the plot, but it was somewhat disturbing at the time. It is not violent enough for Hollywood so if you're looking for body count, not much gore here. For me, that's one of the biggest pluses. The sexuality has some aspects of Kassidor and some aspects of Mars in Percy Greg's 'Across the Zodiac' published in 1890. There is a class, society or caste known as Lari'Sota that may be bred and/or trained as sex workers or sex slaves, since many of them are without the right to refuse. The statement, "I am here for your pleasure," would insure I have none since confidence that it was mutual was necessary for me to derive pleasure from it. They are very far from the mainstream in modern Kassidor where sexual immorality is defined as using coercion or deception to gain a partner. But like modern Kassidor, when a child first achieves sexual maturity it is a joyous occasion that makes their parents proud. That is so extremely distressing to modern America that I have not put it in any of the stories and could not because most are 14 to 16 Earth years of age when it happens and under the 18 year cutoff for sexual activity on this site. Most of a plot is a space war between clans, but the plot is not very important to the story, the characters and their relationships are. The story has a few loose ends. The author claims there will be more in the series but I don't see them here. There is one in the same universe but it's a different story line. The main problems with this are some proofreading errors, it seems every 'its' is 'it's' for instance. There are a few more. These aren't bad enough to inhibit the reading, but they are noticeable. More noticeable is the prose, especially early in the book. Maybe I just got used to it later, but it seemed to improve. If the prose flowed a little better this would gain another star in my opinion.
  • Forgotten Stars Book One on Aug. 09, 2021

    In the last book by Odette c. Bell that I reviewed I said that in spite of the huge number of books she has produced, the stories are each different. That was Betwixt. This story just happens to be the same in several ways: -Ditzy heroine meets superhero via a klutzy move. -They deny their attraction to each other, but that's in almost all literature but those with modified or autistic characters. -Heroine has secret powers she never knew she had. -They are battling creatures from another dimension. -The demands on the heroine become more and more ridiculous as the story progresses, leading into the realm of pure fantasy where new superpowers can be called on as needed when the situation is too difficult for the powers used in the previous chapter. The first three similarities are not limited to just these two stories, they are common to a lot of her work. I'll admit, I've run into some of the same difficulties. I had two characters who were so similar in their basic personalities, but differing only in one having more athletic abilities, that I had to make them one in a later book (Vermin Rising) and explain that the time was so long that one had completely forgotten that she was the other. So just because it's really not that much different from previous novels she's done, doesn't mean that it's bad. It's fairly fast paced, exciting, well written, well proofread, not too gory, and all the other qualities of all her other books that I've read. This one does end a little more 'in the middle' than some of the others, but not at an actual cliffhanger so it is more than just a sample.
  • From the Dark on Aug. 16, 2021

    The 'Whisper' technology, a means of direct computer interface to the mind is indeed a significant part of the plot of this story. I was also impressed with the depth of the world building, the complex political situation and the tangled relationships and pasts of the characters. This story has more realistic space battles than many in spite of a couple lapses of science. But then maybe he means something completely different by the term 'afterburner' than it means on an air-breathing jet engine. There is quite a bit of violence in the story, but little of it is in-your-face, most of it is destroyed spacecraft and bombed cities. There is no sex at all, not one character even mentions it. There are some proofreading errors, noticeable but not bad enough to stop you. There are some places where there are dreams, flashbacks, simulated scenes and trips into other people's memories that I found a bit hard to follow. At other times these things are quite clear. I also found the characters rather difficult to warm up to. They are well crafted, but just not people I wanted to hang out with. If they were a little more likable and/or the message against corporate greed was a little more clear, I think I would have given this four stars. It's very close and probably will be at least that for many of you.
  • Future Comes from Behind (Paradigm Shift, #1) on Aug. 19, 2021

    I think this story valiantly strives to make a statement about peace and justice and against violence, greed and domination. Whether it succeeds or not is probably up to the reader. I was able to see it, many might not. It is a pretty good story regardless, violent in spots but not too gory, sexual only in that the main character has a boyfriend that she might have shared a room with one night. It is well written without too many proofreading errors or stilted dialog. In this there is a 'real world' in the near future which includes a functioning America and a 'magical' realm which is vaguely connected to it. The blurb here connects it more solidly than anything in the story. In the magical realm (exo) the people from the real world who enter it have fairly standard fantasy super warrior powers so they can slay many enemies, shrug off major wounds and such. At one point our heroine causes violence to be impossible in the magical realm, as in the 'Instinct' of my own writing. That could not persist however, and it went back to permanent war. It ends in a way that is pure fantasy but does not seem like the setup for the next book, which it actually is. Without the message, this is a good, readable story and somewhat unique, but I'm giving it an extra star because I appreciate the message I think he was trying to send.
  • Galactic Empires on Aug. 27, 2021

    Patty Jansen is listed as the author of this book but wrote only one of the seven stories in here. In many ways hers is the best, or at least tied for the best in my opinion. I have already read and reviewed her story, A'mbassador 1 - Seeing Red' and it's rating helps bring this whole book up. There are two others I've read and reviewed already, 'The Back Worlds' and 'Bypass Gemini'. There is one other, 'Hard Duty' that is not my style. Of the others: Alien Hunters - Daniel Arenson - * * * I think this was meant as a comedy and I have rated it as such. There is too much text to fit in the comic book format but the plot, characters, science and especially prose should be on newsprint with brightly colored drawings. It's all over-the-top action, survival of impossible wounds, action for action's sake. If it was meant to be taken seriously I misunderstood, but wouldn't have been entertained. As a comedy it's along the lines of 'Telstar' and 'Buddy Holley is alive on Ganymede' Sky Hunter - Chris Reher - *** This story is meant to be taken seriously and is quite well done, but too depressing to be very entertaining. The plot is a female officer and pilot on a poorly run and corrupt military base who is trying to do the right thing and pays a heavy price for it. The are supposed to be fighting against a rebellion but it isn't clear that her side is the good guys and she learns more and more about it as time goes on. The war is evil (as almost all are) with innocent civilians caught in the middle. There is a lot about the evil of the military and their corporate masters. The main character wonders how her mighty and supposedly idealistic Union became this way. Like almost all civilizations, it undoubtedly started with the ideal of cooperation and specialization to make a better life for all. It went bad when the alpha male 'win at any cost' need to dominate puts all the gains of that civilization into the hands of the few and the masses suffer like we've seen in one civilization after another and are watching right now in our own. The war she's fighting is not a WWII but more like Viet Nam and Afghanistan, mean, miserable, unwinnable with no real goal other than domination and arms sales. I applaud the message but would rather write from the other side, about a world without the alpha male need for domination, without war and without the misery of war. First Conquest - David Van Dyke - **** Normally this is the type of story I'd be hard pressed to give three stars, much less four. In spite of being about war, it is so well done that I have to rate it highly. Like in my own 'Aldeb Wars' there is an alien that is actually alien, with no ability or desire to communicate with humans. Like in the "Ring of Charon', 'Shattered Sphere' books by Roger McBride Allen, they use living ships of enormous size. This reads a lot like those two excellent hard, military sci-fi stories in many ways. Like in all of those, the alien is more like a force of nature and it is the issues involving the humans that are the meat of the story. This has the most realistic space battles yet, something that most space opera gets wrong. There is no faster than light travel in this, so the invasion force is completely on their own. This story is probably the most scientifically realistic of anything of this type, exactly the opposite of 'Alien Hunters' from earlier in the book. The characters, battles and strategy are great and seem realistic. There are a few too many times luck wins the day, but not to the extent that the average story uses it. This story starts a series but is complete in this volume. For fans of hard, military sci-fi this is the best I've seen since 'Ring of Charon,' 'Shattered Sphere.'
  • Gunship on Aug. 30, 2021

    The author says he does 20's - 50's style pulp fiction. It's more a western than a space opera including quick draw, fist fights and gun fights in a saloon. It's done okay, but the hokey-ness of earth 20th century westerns and sci-fi is somewhat turned up. The racism and misogyny of that era is missing (thanks). If you're a fan of early 20th century westerns this is fun.
  • The Last Praetorian on Sep. 14, 2021

    This is a highly readable and interesting space opera in spite of some major and glaring lapses of science. The ones about the space battles being like WWI aerial dogfights has already been mentioned. Neutron stars are not on the main sequence is another. A few kilometers distance is nearly touching in space. They aren't confined to physical science either, some of the actions of the main characters in the later part of the book are quite contrary to human nature and in this there is no mention of human nature being modified. The good part of the story is that there is some actual affection between the characters. It attempts to follow some of the romance formula of denial and self doubt and sometimes gets into a caricature of medieval chivalry, but at least the people are human. There is more than just battles, and there is some thought given to having a reason for the battles. This isn't one of those space operas where every encounter with another ship is automatically a battle just to use up as much ammo as possible. There are a few proofreading problems, noticeable but not bad enough to stop the flow. The last paragraph seemed to have been put on later, after he thought he'd really like to do a sequel. I think the story itself would have been more powerful and fit the character better without it.
  • On Distant Shores (Earth Exiles, Book 1) on Sep. 18, 2021

    The book doesn't begin as good as it reads once it gets off the ground, when they get to the 'blink'. It's slow at first and very standard special ops and very standard special ops characters with plenty of objectification of women and bragging of their sexual prowess. The secret project is a military exoskeleton, the same in almost every detail as those in many other stories.The only non-standard character is the lead scientist on the project and he's a caricature of an autistic egotist (a very bad combo). There doesn't seem to be a need for the nuclear war, at least in the first book, and the device that caused their excursion to a new reality is not really explained, but once they are there, the pace picks up and the action starts. I am okay with violence against monsters, I've used it in several stories myself. The main character's assumption of command is predictable and realistic, given the personality deficits of the people above him. Most of the other characters are lifelike and believable. The ending is relatively good. It wraps up the first story, while leaving plenty of room for a sequel. The only drawbacks, there are some noticeable proofreading errors and some right wing messaging. I can forgive that in 2014 when this was released, but not so much now. If this was released after 2016 I'd subtract a star for failure to support democracy.
  • The Wedding Trap on Sep. 26, 2021

    Yes there are some proofreading errors, but they don't obscure the story. I think the name's okay because the CIA is attempting to trap the mole in their ranks at a wedding. This story has taken on a rather difficult task, blend a comedy with a thriller all within the romance formula. To get the comedy and stay within the formula seems to hurt the characters somewhat and sometimes makes the dialog and narration seem somewhat juvenile. The romance formula requires that the male lead be an incredible hulk, know more about the lady's desires than she does and in the case of a romantic thriller, be overprotective beyond the point of being stifling. To fit this particular branch of the formula, the female lead must be of lower status and more socially inept than the reader. Other romantic thrillers take a little more liberty with the romance formula, nowhere near as much as I do, but more than this. In my opinion the formula leading male is a fantasy. Guys who have women fawning al over them do not tend to pick mousy women with serious personality disorders. Very few people of either sex are able to tell more about another person's wants and needs than the person themselves. Very few women are so low in self esteem that they can't tell their mother and ex boyfriend 'no' in some manner. I knows this fits the Manhattan comedy 'lies as a house of cards' formula. Fiction aimed at males often has its own unrealistic female characters. These days they aren't the ones with 40 inch busts, but super ninja warrior babes expert in a dozen lethal weapons. With all that said, I understand the need to follow the formula in order to keep the romance audience, the largest reading audience out there. The sex scenes are good, in my opinion, because they are consensual and non-violent. They are much more loving than shocking. Kudo's. The proofreading has been mentioned, not perfect but not unreadable. If we gave out letter grades I'd give it a 'B'. This story is complete in this volume and there is a preview of the second. The female lead seems to be the same personality as this one with a name and address change. The male lead you meet in this book. He's a little darker and quieter in this book, don't know how he does in the second. I'll give this four stars because Adrienne does a pretty good job within the constraints of the formulas, but to get five she would have to break out of them to really pull off a comedy/thriller.
  • When The Gods Fail: Journey on Oct. 02, 2021

    This story goes thru several different phases. First phase is about a billion year old artifact uncovered on Mars. The second is about a project to colonize Mars and the training required. This happens against a backdrop of a war with the US and Russia against China. The third is about an alien intervention in the colonizing expedition to Mars. The first and third take up very little of the book, almost all the book is the middle part. This is written like hard sci-fi but there are a few glaring lapses of science. There are no missing elements in the periodic table. All stable elements and their properties are known. The chance of bringing hibernation to humans by 2053 seems remote. But the biggest disconnect is not really to hard science but to economics. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that our population is too divided to pursue ANY policy, I also doubt Russia would ever side with us against China. But mostly I don't think it is possible to restore so much of our industrial base by 2030 or even 2050. It took over a hundred years for the US to build up its industrial base and we have devoted another forty years to tearing it down as completely as we can, either tearing down and burning down the buildings entirely or converting them to apartments or warehouses. Not only that, but the people who we need to run these industries have retired or died. We don't have enough teachers to teach the people we would need. We need this because you can pursue a war against an advanced industrial power with sales, marketing and finance. You need machinists, engineers, technicians, soldiers and all those kinds of people. We have some soldiers and some weapons that might delay China for a time while they swing their industrial might from consumer products to military materiel, but within a very few years we would be soundly defeated and would probably lose our sovereignty. There are a few proofreading errors, mainly an occasional missing word. Nothing that makes reading difficult. There is a love affair and they do get physical but not explicit. There is a chapter of the next book appended to the end of this one. There is no trace of the first book in that chapter. It presumably takes place on the planet to which the aliens diverted them, but involves completely different characters.
  • The Currency Paradox on Oct. 04, 2021

    This is a two part essay. The first part discusses the problems with the present currency and economic system. They boil down to the fact that there is such oppressive inequality in today's economy. I would award him five stars for that, I think he's right on in just about everything he says in there except that I don't think it's really the currency that causes it, but human nature itself. He mentions problems with bitcoin but left off what I think is it's biggest drawback, it is ideally suited for criminal activity. It was for a time the medium used by hackers to get payments. The second part of the essay is an attempt to cure the inequality problem via a new form of currency, currency that is 'created' by work, at a fixed rate per hour. It is a variant of a guaranteed minimum income system. I don't really think this is much worse than any guaranteed minimum income system, it's just that I don't see any way it can actually be implemented. Yeah, it can be done technologically, I mean I don't see a way to move the world to it. He expounds on the real problem with implementing it in the first part of the essay. Money or currency has no intrinsic value, it's value is only what we, the human race, all agree it is. While we all agree that money is microscopic magnetic domains on disk drives, it is so. Even gold has very little intrinsic value. It is good for electrical contacts and for decorative jewelry, etc. There is no mechanism for getting the vast majority of the world's financiers and/or population to switch over to it. We would have to build up a whole new economy based on it. Like him I'm not an economist or financier and can't critique his plan in their language, I just don't see how we get the world to adopt it. The problem of inequality is more basic than our currency, even more basic than our economic system, and in human nature itself. As long as some of us have an unfettered need to dominate, and 'win' the cycles of civilizations building up and collapsing will continue. In every civilization some will rise to the top. There is always competition, it's part of evolution but we have come a little way beyond brutal survival of the fittest and those who must 'win' at any cost eventually destroy every human civilization, Ours was okay til about 1970. With Ronald Regan the rich began a war against the poor and decided they would no longer pay taxes, no longer invest in this country, and do everything their enormous wealth could do to turn one group of poor against the others. (Fox news).
  • Aeon on Oct. 06, 2021

    Another post-apocalyptic scavenger book but on a different planet with slightly higher tech. This is in a world where the contrast between haves and have-nots is just what the republicans ordered, the rich take all, the people don't survive. In this the inequality and inhumanity is so over-the-top that such a society could not survive. The level of violence is such is such that there would be no survivors. There's no economy but theft. No one is growing food, they scavenge 80 year old energy bars for their diet. As I've said before, this steady diet of dystopia is helping us get there. Everyone who reads this 'knows' that this is our future so they act accordingly. I would guess this is called 'adult' for the violence. There is no sex in it, no emotions but anger and hate and in some places the call of duty. The main character has a little affection for the people of her town, but most of them don't return it. It's a world where most people just shoot on sight. I wonder how far we are from that here? Just today there was a schoolyard fight in Texas, where anyone can carry. Instead of a bloody nose, a kid lost his life. I hope his parents are so glad they voted republican.
  • Project ELE on Oct. 18, 2021
    (no rating)
    Teenage girl in a world with a plague gets put into a survival center and has some adventures. She and her friends and enemies get some superpowers and run afoul of the evil administrators of the center. Even for young adults I wouldn't say it's the best book ever, but it's not horrible. I personally don't like the post apocalyptic dystopian vibe but this doesn't have it as bad as some. It does have a lot of the middle school angst of popular kids vs. not-so-cool kids and makes more out of it than they should, just like middle school kids do. I'm not going to give it a star rating because I'm now so far from that age group I don't feel qualified. I remember in that time my favorite sci-fi was 'The Memory Bank' by Wallace West. That was closer to 'Dune' than this.
  • The Aria of Galvanize on Oct. 18, 2021

    If it wasn't for the possible message that inequality brought down the civilization who's ruins this takes place in, I wouldn't have been able to finish this. I think he also tries to say that every civilization, even the most well intentioned, eventually devolves into an aristocracy as our own is doing today. While I applaud the sentiment, reading this book is like rubbernecking at a multi-car multi-fatality crash. The world it is in is absolutely impossible. After 200 years of this there could not possibly be any survivors. Everyone shoots anything that moves. There is no agriculture or economy. There are only a very few people safe enough to have children. There are masses of zombies and they are killed by the thousands and still there are more. Most of the animal life has been turned into zombies, A real, unzombified horse is just about a tourist attraction but of course there can be no tourists because every stranger is either shot on sight or captured into slavery. The proofreading is pretty bad. There are lots of missing words, quite a few extra words and a fair amount of wrong words. But spell check was run. The secondary category says this is gay and lesbian fiction-> lesbian fiction but there is NO sexuality of any kind at any point in the story. There is a bit of friendship and some comrade-in-arms loyalty, but other than that the only emotions are anger, hate, disgust and contempt. I've rated this higher because I think (hope) the author was trying to give us some warning about the human condition with this story. I applaud the effort but I've found out from experience that readers never take these warnings as warnings but as predictions of what the future will bring. The only way sci-fi writers can help the future is to show readers a positive image of the future and I know that's difficult, especially if one tries to make the story exciting and action packed. This is indeed action packed. If you enjoy looking at multi-car, high speed pileups, this is the story you want to read.
  • Beneath the Fallen City (The Omni Towers, Book 1) on Oct. 23, 2021

    This story is called post-apocalyptic by the author and in a way it is. They are on a planet (presumably not earth) where there once was a civilization, most of which has collapsed. There are still two towers remaining and lots of underground ruins. It is very different from most of the post-apocalyptic stories on this site fro the following reasons: 1) A form of civilization holds. 2) people don't automatically shoot each other on sight. Murder is still a crime and not a way of life. 3) The dialog is more realistic. 4) People still understand why there are male and female humans and continue to have love and lust. Unless you read the blurbs for later books in the series, you continually learn more about the main character as you go thru the story. While there are scavenger gangs like most post-apocalyptic stories, they are not the main focus of the story although the first half of the book it seems like they are. It isn't til the 'great revelation' about the main character that the focus shifts to the power grab by someone in the tower. He has been holding illegal power over the remains of civilization via a form of mind control and attempts to control the main character also. This was published at a time where it may be possible that the parallels with our own situation are intentional. We have a situation where a would-be tyrant is attempting to take over our country and abolish democracy via mind control. In our case the mind control is via lying news organizations, social media trolls (many of them in the employ of foreign dictators) and misinformation rather than psionic devices, but the parallels are interesting. The story is fairly realistic, other than the psychic powers. I didn't understand why the ruins are underground while the surface seems to be a barren gravel desert but that's a physically possible. I once started a story (never completed or published) with the same sort of setting but went to some lengths to explain how it got that way. There are clean and consensual sex scenes in the story, the proofreading is good. Not a shot is fired but there is a big psionic battle in which two people die. There were murders in the past and an attempted one in here in which the perpetrator dies. Most of the romance conventions are followed, especially over-protective males but some are not such as a consummation long before the last page and a triangle that is not resolved. There is a preview of the next book in the series and it is enough to show that it is not going to be only more of the same. All in all this was a great relief from the usual post-apocalyptic bloodbath.
  • The Eighth Excalibur (Book One of the Excalibur Knights Saga) on Oct. 28, 2021

    I'm surprised to be the first review here since the author touted all his rave reviews, they must be on other sites. This is the story of a socially challenged Penn St. student who is given super powers. The super powers occur almost halfway thru the book so the first half of the book is very different from the second. The social difficulties of the main character seem to be mainly high functioning autism (Asperger's) amplified by a horrible upbringing that made his difficulties much worse. In some ways it is similar to my own case but he had a lot harder time coping with it. A lot of his problems made me cringe because I went thru so many of them myself. The inability to tell when a girl was interested for instance. Asperger's is such that I can plainly see that she is interested as an observer but the sufferer is unable to tell when in it. The story makes a big show of the assumption that if the Alpha male wants the girl but she doesn't want him, she really has no choice but to go to the alpha. It may seem that way to someone without the social skills to understand, but in real life, by the time we reach college, the woman does have some say in the matter, providing the actual object of her affection has the courage to admit that he wants her. Our guy didn't. I don't know about Penn St. in this era, but at least at Uconn in the 60's and 70's one did not win women's affection via fist fights. Of course that was the heart of the hippie era, things may have reverted to cave-man times by now. Once the super powers were granted, our 'hero' had a very hard time assimilating them. They came with a personality that lodged in his head, a very sarcastic and unsympathetic personality. Of course our hero didn't make the best of it at all, tried to hide it, tried to deny it and tried to get out of his mission to save the world from an alien invasion. He spent most of the first few weeks in panic. This plot device, a package of super powers or super weapon or super armor with a sarcastic personality has become quite common of late, and this one is the most sarcastic and least helpful of all, as bad as the one in 'The Aria of Galvanize' by Wilder Page. The alien invaders are quite over-the-top, super klingons, super big, strong and ruthless. Also one more in a very common stable of nemeses. At least they weren't giant insects. Once he and his friends are abducted the story degenerates into extreme, nonsensical violence. Once again super healing powers are required. When a difficult situation is encountered, a new super-power materializes just barely in the nick of time. Thru it all the hero complains that he doesn't know what to do. The word 'sniveling' is used to the point of blood loss. There is a sexual incident in the story, our hero is a witness, not participant. There is normal college-age sexuality but our hero and his friends enjoy first person shooter gaming and beer instead so any lust they generate goes unrequited. The King Arthur stuff is name only, Excalibur is the name of the super-power package, Merlin is the name of the wizard and Camelot is the name of their spaceship and Gwen is the name of the girl he wishes he could speak of his affection for. Otherwise there is no real connection. The two different stories may serve different audiences. I had some uncomfortable, frustrated interest in the first half and will rate it on that. I was pretty disgusted by the second half but will let that go. Most people today will probably like the second half better for the action, have at it.
  • Future Adventures on Nov. 28, 2021

    This is eight completely separate stories so I'll do them separately and give stars for each one that I read. Watcher's Web - Patty Jansen - **** A strange looking girl on a small plane that gets transported to an alien planet. Aliens are, of course, too humanoid to be believable. Otherwise this is my kind of story with new cultures and sexuality but is not too violent. Best one in the book. Europa - Aurora Springer - *** Scientist on Europa finds aliens from a different solar system. The story is not very believable because the life on Europa is too similar to Earth life. Spores drifting thru space does not explain the similarity because none of the life that is too similar (such as sharks) reproduce via spores. There doesn't seem to be enough of an energy source on Europa to support the amount of life envisioned in this story. And once again, the aliens, who are not even native to Europa, much less Earth, are still so humanoid that the main character falls in love with one and mates with him. This also has a noticeable amount of proofreading errors. Few Are Chosen - M.T. McGuire Not read The Truth Beyond the Sky - Andrew M. Crusoe - *** The science in this is pretty good except for the wormholes. Most sci-fi gets those wrong. There is no tunnel that you go thru, the worm hole joins here and there with 0.00 electron diameters between them. You can see thru to the other side. Wormholes cannot be 'switched' to a different destination. Other than that, it's a pretty good space opera. It has lots of excess train-of-thought narrations in the middle of action scenes to extend them. People don't usually contemplate the philosophy of the situation when they are fighting for their lives. The story does drag a little in some places. It seems to be intended for the prepubescent, a lot of the prose is a bit juvenile. Generations - J.J. Green *** This happens on a planet with abandoned structures that absorb people and create zombie replicas.The ship's security officer and a couple others know the replicants are fake and fight them. It's too violent but otherwise a pretty good space opera. There is even a character who notices that people come in male and female. The proofreading is good. The story does end in the middle however. The Girl Who Twisted Fate's Arm - George Saoulidis - ** Girl superhero biker gang and corporate celebrities thrown together in some near future Greece. Sometimes the proofreading makes it hard to understand, but I think English is a second language for the author. There are also a lot of missing spaces making words stick together. The story is full of ridiculous violence. Important characters die. The Ares Weapon - D.M. Pruden - **** This is a mid-range future space opera about a mysterious and nonsensically evil corporation on a 'salvage' mission to Mercury to recover a virulent nanotech plague. Almost no one is who they seem and there are very convoluted plots within plots. With many characters you're not sure what side they're on. There is a space battle that is reasonably realistic, not a WWII aerial dogfight. Ends well. Exodus - Drew Avera Not read - Blurb sounded too violent
  • The Hand of the Gods Book One on Nov. 30, 2021

    This time the female lead is the competent one, the male lead is not. Actually he is fairly competent, just insolent and doesn't respect authority. The female lead, however, is blind to the faults of her mentor, but that may be the point of the story, and is what the plot turns on, at least in this volume. Power staring is somewhat overused in this book. It ends on a 'big' revelation about the main character and damn near in the middle of a sentence. This is not a complete story but a 25% sample of a longer story, one that would be about as long as 'Aluminum Quest' if all in one file. Her others are a little like that, but this is more extreme. It does not work any better at making one want to go on to the pay books however. All in all, no better, no worse than al the rest of her series starters.
  • Rogue Stars: 7 Novels of Space Exploration and Adventure on Dec. 26, 2021
    (no rating)
    Archangel Down by C. Gockel **** This takes place on a planet taken over by fascists EXACTLY like the republicans are doing today with lies. There are lot more ways the Luddite planet is SO much like Trumps plan for America even down to the racism and plans for genocide. The story generates very high tension over a long period of time, many chapters. Some may like that but I found it a little exhausting. The facists are even saying the outside world has been taken over by aliens sort of like the rabid right's 'Lizard People from Outer Space' sicko conspiracy. There actually ARE aliens in the story however, but hey exist only in people's heads. I wonder if that's a symbol of the insanity that the pace of social change has generated in the rabid right. This story pretty much ends in the middle however, it's really not a complete story. Betrayal - Pippa DeCosta - Not read, sounded too violent. Quantum Tangle - Chris Reher **** Another alien-in-my-Head story. This time they come from 'subspace' and completely take over the host in some ways but leave the host functional. Takes place in a typical empire with pirates and rebels. The main character falls in love with the alien in his brain. She is able to create a human looking simulation that only he can see so there is a reason for the alien to look human in this. This alien also has perfect hacking ability. This is a common technique in sci-fi today. It's not very realistic unless the hacker has all the source code to all the systems and a back-door to get into the embedded systems. It's very realistic for a national intelligence operation with spies who can gather the source code and schematics and bribe engineers, but not for one person with only the electromagnetic signals to go by. Starshine - G.S. Jennsen *** This takes place when human have settled a third of the galaxy. There are two multi-planet governments, some independent planets and LOTS of criminal organizations. It is said to be only 300 years in the future. It's unrealistic that we could settle that much in that little time even if we had the transportation, which is doubtful. There is some unique science in here that you don't see in other stories. The story is complex with a large cast, many are important even though their parts are small. You have to pay attention to keep track of it all. There is a war between the two major powers but it is a set-up by people conspiring behind the scenes. There's a hideously evil female villain involved. As the war begins, the main characters find an alien invasion. It gets into a flurry of technobabble in one battle scene. They are in a very dark place at the 'end' but it is not really the end, this story is quite long but incomplete. There is also a love affair which follows lots of the romance conventions but the pheromone power is very much enhanced over our lives today, making them pretty irrational at times. It also makes a mistake of science I see fairly often, there are no undiscovered elements, the periodic chart is all filled in, including plenty of artificial unstable elements. There is no evidence that any heavier element would ever be stable. Hard Duty - Mark E. Cooper - All war, not read. Ambassador 1 (Seeing Red) - Patty Jansen - Already read and reviewed as a separate book. **** Lunar Discovery - Salvador Mercer *** This is a rather realistic story of what would happen if an alien base were discovered on the far side of the moon in the near future. It seems to have been written before 2016 because it has the USA as a major player, along with the Russians and Chinese. That is probably the most unrealistic part as we are scheduled to lose our democracy in the next election (2022). The Chinese are portrayed as somewhat more bumbling than they appear to me but I only see them from afar and from conversations with a few expat's I've worked with. They painted a picture of them being mean but competent. There are some adventures on the way and many setbacks. One science error I've seen before. When you do a slingshot maneuver, getting a gravitational boost, you do not feel any gee force in the capsule or spaceship that is being slung, it is actually orbiting. You COULD feel tidal forces if your ship is large in comparison to the radius of the planet, say 1000 miles long.
  • Shadows of an Iron Kingdom on Dec. 29, 2021

    This sequel to 'The Secret of the Tzaritsa Moon' once again has the male lead pining for a women who does not return the feeling. This is common in Litka's stories. The fact that the 'Sailing to Redoubt' - 'The Prisoner of Cimlye' story is different is why I liked those so much better. He has another unique environment, a planet with a 'day' about 12 hours long. It's not as unique as the 'Pella' of 'The Lost Star's Sea' or the habitable moon of a warm gas giant in 'Beneath the Lanterns' but not trapped in the notion that every planet humans settle will will have a day between 23 and 25 hours long. (Kassidor's is 84 hours BTW.) This is a pretty good mystery story with a couple unexpected twists, but there is that rather formula scene when the bad guys have the good guys trapped at gunpoint and the bad guy confesses all before he kills the good guys. It's a fairly quick read for it's length, moves right along.
  • Ultraxenopia on Dec. 29, 2021

    Takes place in a country under a crushing surveillance state like China or maybe like we will become under the coming republican dictatorship. Everyone must be EXACTLY like everyone else, absurd conformity worse than the 1950's America, 1990's Japan or the current China. You cant even talk to anyone else except as required for business. That was bad enough, but when the main character is arrested and then tortured for months, I couldn't take any more. I skipped ahead to see how it ends and found she turns into a monster. What else would you expect?
  • Animal Theater on Jan. 04, 2022

    As short stories go these are okay, but I fear he has given the American fascists a bit of a how-to. Most of these take place in a world so dystopian it could not possibly function except that technology now enables the surveillance used in these stories, surveillance that China is already using. He gets quite a lot right about what we are heading for and that's quite a feat seeing as this was put up in 2014. In one story, 'Full employment in America' he talks about something the for-profit-prison industry was quite hot for about that time, using prisoners as slave labor. The only reason it's not being done is that there is generally no useful skills in the prison population, if they had any, they probably wouldn't be in prison, and it is more expensive to keep a slave in the USA than it is to fund a middle class life in China. What he doesn't bring up is that this whole second civil war thing is just about completely about race. Race is hardly mentioned, there was hardly a black character in the book. He didn't explain how the oppression is going to work because almost all the victims of that oppression will be people of color and those whites who stand up for them. As for the stories themselves, they are two or three stars for me, but I'm not a great fan of short stories, those who are will probably find many of them deserve better. Too bad he is so prescient, our country deserves better than what is coming.
  • Trouble and Treasure on Jan. 04, 2022

    This is one of hers where the female lead is the bumbler and the male is the Alpha. What's different is this takes place on Earth in the near future. The only Sci-fi in it is the globes which are a treasure map. The main character's interaction is sometimes a little hokey. Odette tries to follow the romance formula most of the time but sometimes seems to force it. It's also a bit unrealistic in the way they go guns blazing thru the English countryside without attracting any notice, you couldn't even do that here (In New England anyway) without hearing sirens within minutes. But lijke the others said, it was a fun read.
  • The Cassidy Chronicles Volume 1 on Jan. 08, 2022

    The most interesting thing about this book is probably what has happened to the USA by 2113, but very little is really said about that, just enough to allow the story to function. The USA has broken into ten pieces, you see only one in any detail. There are three states in 'no man's land' that aren't in any of them. A huge hurricane has wiped New Orleans off the map completely. The New Confederacy does not include Texas but is just as racist anyway. The People's Republic of Massachusetts has a lot of paper work going in and out and probably for other things, but you don't spend much time there. Some of the countries have no appreciable law enforcement. The plot is based on a possible invention by one of the characters, a Star Trek style transporter. I'll only briefly mention that I don't feel they preserve the soul. This doesn't enter into the story at all, it just provides an excuse for her company trying to kill her. They chase around the country after that, lot's of action, quite a bit of violence and all of it by women who have trained in various special ops and martial arts skills. I've used the female action hero a bit myself (Antidote, Acolyte, Abomination) but not as extreme as this. There's a pretty massive twist near the end that I didn't see coming until the hints. If it wasn't for the hints it would have been really shocking. It was fun though, in spite of being a bit contrived. There's a bit of lesbian sex, nothing explicit, you aren't in the room for more than a few kisses. There's too much violence but what else is new in sci-fi today. There's some typos only occasionally bad enough to make you stop and try to figure out what word is missing or extra.
  • Helena on Jan. 10, 2022

    Danielle is right about a cute kids tale, but it's a little more than that, it's also a look at humans as we might be seen by another intelligent species. It's not as in depth a look as 'The Secret of Mount Traygol,' or even 'Abomination' but still gives some insight on how we might look to others. He portrays Yeti's as being about as intelligent as they were. Too bad Gigantopithicus seems to be extinct, they seem to have been just what the Yeti, Sasquatch, etc. are supposed to be. I doubt they had a magic language or could speed up their brains appreciably, but there once were creatures that could have given rise to the legend.
  • High Water Mark on Jan. 13, 2022

    Hard to say whether this is intended to be sci-fi or fantasy. I'll call it a fantasy wrapped in sci-fi clothing. It takes place in the future when an unexplained form of air pollution has driven humanity into the sea. They've been genetically modified with gills and some have grown tails for swimming. The land is now populated with werewolves, ghouls, vampires and/or some form of aliens. The quest of the story is to find the main character's friend who was captured by something. She meets up with a vampire who had been friends with her great great grandmother two hundred years ago and they go on an adventure. There not TOO much violence, but what there is, is gruesome. There are a few lesbian thoughts that are not acted on, no other hints of sexuality. The proofreading is very good. It might be trying to say something about the environment and something about friendship, but mostly it's just about a fun read.
  • Insurgents on Jan. 18, 2022

    A security guard gets involved in a murder case that turns out to be a lot more than that. I would call it more of a mystery than a thriller, but there is some violence at the end, More like 'Antidote' than 'Oarsman of the Princess'. It's got a bit of humor and a lot of drugs. There's enough sex so the people don't seem like robots but it's not explicit erotica. It takes place in the 'here and now', actually about 2007 I think. It's amazing how something written before the smart phone and the alt right now feels like a historical novel. I also want to point out that four stars is generally the highest rating I ever give a story that is pure entertainment without a deeper meaning, and this story is pure entertainment, as least as far as I could see.
  • Married to the Trillionaires on Jan. 18, 2022

    In real life I, of course, agree with LauraLu, but this is not real life, after all there was a high rise condo in Dallas! The premise is entirely unrealistic and so is the story. That a quivering virgin from a throwback religious sect could be turned into more of a nymphomaniac than Zhanene of 'The Press at Honaseka' is not realistic in the least. That four trillionaires, the equivalent of today's billionaires, would share a woman shows no insight at all into the way the minds of dominant men work. This is not meant to be realistic, it's just an excuse for the most sex possible to fit on the page. It's not especially good sex, not at all arousing because it is so unrealistic and over the top. It starts out as so much good fun but continues to get more and more degrading as it goes on the the poor woman continues to like it. That is quite a bit of fiddling with human nature. Yes, in my stories I've fiddled with human nature also. The Peace Plague modified human nature to give women the same sexual attitudes as men, and some people on Kassidor have been modified or take drugs for unending sexual endurance, but that is stated. This girl was supposed to be a shy 21 year old virgin, not a two hundred year old professional like Zhanene. If you want to read the most sex possible to put on the page, so much even I got bored with it, read this, not 'The Press at Honesaka'.
  • Onslaught: An Exile War Novel on Jan. 20, 2022

    Well, first of all, the 'telepaths' are actually sorcerers in the tradition of Gandalf, Saurumon and the like. They battle with magic to which the laws of conservation of energy and matter do not apply. There is some noise about the entanglement fields but it is technobabble that is not connected to ACTUAL quantum entanglement. So what we have here is fantasy in sci-fi clothing. The mechanism of wormholes is not correct either, but that is such as small part of the story it doesn't matter. Quantum entanglement is a heady topic, it took me months of study to learn enough to make something at least realistic for what was known of it at the time ( 2013) for 'Tangle in the Dark'. Another thing I found a little unrealistic was the power of pheromones in the main characters, but that is very common in romance novels if not in real life. That's probably required to make the main character go against the rules of his order. I liked the early part of the story, where the main issues were political and emotional, where they were trying to fight their attraction for political ends. In some ways it reminded me of 'A Vessel For Offering', one of the three five-stars I've ever found in free sci-fi. But then the genetically modified pig-human hybrids arrive and it become just another alien war movie over the second half of the book. If you like those, it's a good one, nowhere near the 'Ring of Charon - Shattered Sphere' level but better than many. Unfortunately, after the promising beginning it was something of a let-down for me. Please remember that I don't live by grade inflation, three stars for me is a good story worth reading.
  • Quantum on Jan. 24, 2022

    The blurb pretty much sums up the plot. This is a pretty good story that suffers from a few missing words (proofreading errors, not lack of thought) and a few lapses of science. I read this a long time after downloading it so I didn't remember that 'The Cave' was a book the main characters were reading, that is not mentioned in the story til after seeing a few pieces of it and wondering what they had to do with the story. I was wondering what the issue was going to be in the story at one point, the company was being portrayed as so benevolent that I was wondering if this would be a utopia story, or a straight toils of science story but right at that point the corporation turned and it did so without a lot of explanation or lead in. We just have to go along with it. There was no chapters of growing suspicions and mounting evidence. There is sex and affection but no porn in the story, and only a moderate amount of violence. To complain about my major gripe with the science of the story would completely give away the MAJOR plot twist at the very end so I won't do it. I've railed against it in many other places. I will also say that the sequel, should it ever be written, could be an even better story than this one.
  • Queens are Wild on Jan. 27, 2022

    This is not a 'friends and family' review even though Jack and I live only about 25 miles apart. I give him a lot of credit for seeing something of the future in 2012. His evil villain from Australia (Rupert Murdock?) was to take over America in 2035 but it looks like he won't get the chance because authoritarian government is set to happen sooner. I won't re-do all the earlier reviews about pace and twists, I have no real quibble with any of them except I do support the guy who wanted more explanation of the ending. We get an unexplained Deus Ex Machina that totally has to be fantasy. He also has all saved in the end. I'll admit that in 2012 it did seem like America could be saved. Since then pundit after pundit has sounded the drum for civil war. I'm afraid all will not end well in real life. Race was never mentioned in this story by the way.
  • The Reverse Birth Trilogy on Feb. 07, 2022

    This book sits between profound and satire, between 'Stand on Zanzibar'/'The Sheep Look Up' and parts of 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.' I'm not sure just how it was intended, as a near comedy with some truths included like a Steven Cobert monologue or as David Brooks essay that didn't quite make sense. I think it was the former, but I'm not quite sure. Sometimes, in countries like this is likely to become soon, (or like the one shown in this story) it is best to coat uncomfortable truths in comedy to try and keep the unmarked sedans with dark suited men and their silenced pistols out of one's driveway. The name of the story perhaps leads to the most utter nonsense in the story, but the remainder is fairly free of science errors, mainly because it's almost science fiction free, other than that. He's put the premise and plot front and center in the blurb, no need to go over that. He pulls it off in chilling detail, how every phone, security camera, television, every net connected device can be monitored by the 'Industry' at any time. How every fad is engineered across all media platforms by the great conspiracy that actually runs our economy. It's not obvious which tech giant he's pointing at, he diverts us from the intended target by keeping it focused on the entertainment industry for the most part. He uses the simulated world hypothesis, mainly in the middle volume, where they are in a world where the Tianamen Square uprising lead to a democratized China and Donald Trump lost in 2016. The third book may be in that same simulation because the organization that was destroyed in 1992 is still around in 2047. The 2047 in this has almost no chance of coming to pass. Oh if only this was the simulated world and that was the real one. I don't subscribe to the simulated world theory myself, or any of the conspiracy theories that are skewered in here. The main lesson in this, that any network connected device can be monitored at any time is why I'm giving this four stars. His writing has improved from his earliest works, but still has spots with quite a few typos and still has parts that are hard to follow and don't quite make sense. That may be intentional in this case, but I personally would rather not be so confused. As pure entertainment, I would give it three stars, a good story worth reading. There are scenes in extreme sex clubs performing acts that I wouldn't enjoy. There is some lesbian affection. There is some violence but the story is a lot more than a senseless waste of ammo. I've read a few of Benjamin's books now, and I think this is the best he's done so far.
  • Shadow on Feb. 11, 2022

    This is called Romantic Suspense and I agree with that. Be warned that in many ways it is not very close to the romance formula, the female lead falls for her stalker. In some ways it is formula in that the male lead is an alpha in body but in some ways not an alpha mentally, he wastes little time trying to dominate others and does not radiate dominance like the traditional alpha. As suspense it's very good, but takes a while to get going on the actual mystery and not just her trying to avoid the stalker. The author doesn't make an air-tight case for why the male lead approached her by stalking instead of just asking her about her boss's whereabouts but once we get passed that and into the case itself it's a good mystery. There's some action at the end, not as much as 'Antidote' but in that the male lead is even less of an alpha. Please remember that I don't use grade inflation, three stars is a good story worth reading.
  • Bawdy Double on Feb. 23, 2022

    There are a few flaws in this like having planets named after cities on Earth like we'd taken a map of the Earth and spread it among the stars and expected each planet to have the climate of the city or country it was named for. Also thinking a red dwarf star could have a planet that isn't tide locked but with a 35 hour day. Kassidor's 84 hour day at 61 Cygni is actually a stretch. So this is set mainly in the interstellar Ukraine. All nations are reproduced in space and Ukraine's enemy is, of course, Russia. China is also involved. Doubtful this can happen but it gives him the ability to speak about recent politics with the technology of the 2800's. The technology in question, the ability to make enhanced and programmable 'clones'. These are actually slaves controlled by implants in the brain. I personally think that technology will be available in China before 2100 but FTL of any sort, not in this civilization. I'm no authority on this however and breakthrus can happen at any time. Objectively it seems stupid to replace people with slaves, who are your customers? However we are seeing the beginnings of this now, businesses are already destroying their markets by giving everything to investors and putting their customer base into such poverty that they can't buy whatever it is business wants to sell. This happens because at the hind-brain level business isn't about profits, really, it's about dominance and who is more dominated than a slave? I wonder if the author had a premonition of what is happening in Ukraine today, or if he had a premonition of Russia installing a mind-controlled clone in the American presidency as a plan to destroy the country and democracy? As for the plot, very good. Not too violent, suspenseful and with a twist I didn't see coming. There is sex in the story but not really explicit, in no way is this erotica, but a couple body parts are mentioned in a couple places to earn the (adult) designation. This story details a much more probable use of biological modifications to human nature than those detailed in 'Zhlindu' and that's pretty scary. (Although those in 'Zhlindu' are much scarier to the rabid right.)
  • Blue Crystal Oracle on March 03, 2022

    This was a little confusing at first because I came across the fourth book in the series first. It wasn't as bad as it would be with some series because each story seems pretty independent in this one, as independent as the later stories in my Gordon's Lamp series ('The Second Expedition' is really all one story). This isn't really part of a longer novel, it's a full length novel in itself. The novel is not very fast paced at the beginning, and is even more confusing because you switch between two different time lines with no notice, Many authors, including me, put the date as part of the chapter title when we do this, I think it helps. The pace picks up in the last third of the book and there is a fair amount of action near the end. The violence is not excessive, hardly more than in 'Antidote'. The story concerns both the benefits and the dangers of genetic modification to humans, which is more realistic than what I've done on Kassidor where we see only the benefits. In this case they are accomplished by a rogue scientist, which is not as realistic as being done by large team of scientists working for a totalitarian government, which is how they will be (are being?) done in real life. Toward the end, the brainless baby has grown a brain and more, plus been implanted with loads of tech and become omniscient, or nearly so. This is fun, but in sci-fi as opposed to fantasy we expect her powers to remain within the laws of physics, such as the conservation of mass and energy. In paranormal fiction the psychic control of the birds and the bees is admissible, in sci-fi the birds and the bees may be genetically programmed or they can be fitted with nanotechnology that can control them, but her powers at the end are paranormal or fantasy, not sci-fi. The remainder of the book is closer to today's science fact than fantasy and up until that part it's mostly believable. The other part that isn't is the 'magic' hacking. The hacking that occurs IS actually possible, but it takes a team of engineers that would take at least North Korea or Google to wield. I know many stories use this, and it's fun, so I shouldn't complain. Some do it a little more realistically, some even less. The characters in this story are believable but not too deep, this is not an examination of the human soul. They are conscious of sexuality but there is none visible. The most sexual part of the story is the fantasies of one hacker. There are a few proofreading errors but they don't make the story hard to follow. The rating means 'good story worth reading'
  • Edifice Abandoned on March 07, 2022

    In some ways the most interesting part of this book is the Foreword, where the author talks about 'Great Zimbabwe' the ruins in the modern country of the same name. He mentions how little we whites know of the history of Black Africa. Even a casual examination of the story of this ruin shows that the government of Rhodesia (The white supremacist country that preceded Zimbabwe) tried to deny that Blacks built the place. That is absurd, it was never seen by non-Blacks until it was already abandoned, but it does show that most of our ignorance is deliberate. Scott has apparently moved those ruins and others from pre-colonial Africa to a remote planet and colonized the planet with Shona people, the ethnic group that probably built the structures and several later towns and kingdoms in the area. I don't think he was attempting to be scientifically accurate by doing so, but give us a look into the customs of the region and time. I don't know how accurate his interpretation of Shona culture is. Accurate or not, that culture plays a MAJOR part in the plot. Only the religious part of the culture is detailed. There is no mention of the economy (Other than one black market), no mention of how people raise food in an mostly barren land, or even much about governance, etc. What is mentioned is well done and consistent. The plot is a pretty good mystery/thriller/historical-futuristic novel. Interesting to read and only too violent in one gruesome spot (no spoiler). The proofreading and prose is eight of ten, occasional missing word is all I noticed. There is some lesbian sex, nothing explicit. Other people engage in it but you aren't actually present, they are in a nearby tent. The ending changes from sci-fi to fantasy and is also the weakest part of the book. That doesn't mean it's bad, it's still better than most. I haven't read the other book in the series but from the blurb it doesn't look like a continuation of this story. The story ends in this volume, it is not a partial book like quite a few series starters are on this site. The Foreword is what put this over the boundary between 3 and 4 stars.
  • The Gentile Witness, Enoch Book I on March 14, 2022

    The pluses, no right wing extremist rants. The minuses, lots of dragging thru the preparations for everything. I imagined the purpose of the book would be to show us our sins. Actually there is very little of that, and none of it til the very end. He makes the case that the government has gone overboard, using the separation of church and state to such an extreme that they are, in many cases, establishing atheism as a state religion. I totally agree with him on this count. He states in one place that the church has too much structure, which I also mainly agree with. Many churches are now about the rules of culture and not the teachings of Jesus. The other sin he preaches about is sex in movies, commercials, etc. In my belief system, sexual immorality is the use of force or deception to win a partner, many movies do show that but very few commercials. In my opinion or media is quite prudish. We allow our children to witness an average of 20,000 killings in their TV careers but they aren't allowed to catch sight of a nipple. THAT is what is sick about our entertainment. I was glad to see he did not spend a lot of time on LBGTQ-bashing. Knowing he's now living in Texas had me worried about that, thanks for not condemning them. The bulk of the story is the 'adventure' of the first witness of the tribulation getting chosen and how he got started with his prophesies. The story takes an enormously long time to get that done and you bump back and forth between different character's points of view taking many little steps in that direction. The demonstrations of the power of God are the fun parts, but there aren't very many of those. He answers the question, 'Can God break his own laws?' with a 'yes' which I'm not convinced of. The resurrection of Christ and maybe the healings He performed are the only concrete examples we have of Him doing so. The conspiracy in this is an organization of billionaire capitalists based in Brussels that secretly rules the world. I agree that billionaire capitalists and their outrageous wealth and power is the whole world's number one problem today. That is one of the main roots (racism being the other) of most of our problems in America today. I don't think there is a formal conspiracy with a head man and the remainder are his minions but there probably is a lot of cooperation among them with the object of controlling our government and others. What he gets wrong is what side media outlets are on. Fox news is really the media outlet that the billionaires control and they are the ones spreading the most disinformation. They have used the argument in court that no reasonable person would think their entertainment programs are news. What our government has done wrong is neglect to force them to broadcast a disclaimer, visible on the screen at all times that this is not news but entertainment. They SHOULD be forced to put the disclaimer that this broadcast is propaganda for the super rich designed to destroy democracy and turn America into an autocracy. The other television news outlets do slant and sensationalize and selectively report what they want to report, but they don't back as many outright lies and don't seem to deliberately try to spread disinformation. To his credit, this was written prior to 2016 before the most egregious of FOX's disinformation came out. The author knows his Bible pretty well, I noticed only one error. I could find no scripture saying the Noah was blond and blue eyed. There are a few other errors, At 6:00 AM on June 1st in NYC the sun has been up about an hour. A cat 4 hurricane would leave the port of New York or any other seaport out of action for a couple days at the most. The deaths in NYC from a direct hit MIGHT POSSIBLY reach 4 figures. The Sahara was a sea millions of years ago, not 10,000, but was green during the ice age. Many of the predictions of the old testament prophets did not come true. Article 1 section 9 clause 2 of the constitution allows the suspension of Habeas Corpus in the event of rebellion or invasion, not natural disaster. There are still some proofreading errors, not enough to annoy but enough to notice. Occasional lines are displayed in a smaller font. This appears to be intentional, there is a different paragraph class for it, but it is scattered about in places that don't seem to need it like lines in a conversation. This could be an artifact of Word confusing Calibre, which he used to do the epub conversion. There is, of course, no sex in the story, in fact few females have speaking parts. Mentioning that one was attractive is the closest he comes. The main character is married but the wife and family have no part at all. This is based on Revelation 11, but no more closely than 'Tangle in the Dark' is based on Revelation 21. Three stars means 'good story worth reading'.
  • The Lamplighter's Love on March 18, 2022

    This is set in a steampunk London. The plot hinges on shame and status and how ridiculously silly the English were about it at the time. This was in an organization that pretended sexual equality when there was really no such thing. It's nicely erotic, meaning clean and consensual, not degrading to either male or female. The story is short but entertaining.
  • Life of Secrets on March 18, 2022

    This is a thriller about a girl in a political dirty tricks career. She's been trained by her father (without him knowing about it), a man who says there are two kinds of politicians, those with a conscience and those in office. She learned to win at any cost from him. The blurb sums up the plot pretty well. It's a relatively fast moving adventure where she learns that she not anywhere near as secret as she thinks. She tries valiantly to clear her name and digs deeper and deeper into the muck and slime on the way, uncovering many who aren't what they seem until she comes to the most shocking villain of all. The view of politics here is completely as cynical as her father's view. Thruout most of the story the main character is impossible to warm up to. She does repent her ways late in the book and does realize her father's advice was not the best. Maybe if she was more likeable thruout the book I would have liked it better, but her miserable personality was part of the story. Still, it wasn't fun being with her. This book came out before 2016 so political neutrality was MUCH easier.
  • Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble on March 22, 2022

    In this story a jJournalism intern gets involved with a sketchy company that plans to colonize Mars. It is never made clear just why this company wants her but as it goes on you see they are more and more determined that she will work for them. It takes at least two thirds of this book before she is completely sure the company is evil, but by then it is too late, as it says in the blurb. It is an engaging and interesting story without excessive violence (one prison fight) and with a love affair and some good clean sex. The main character is very well done, but with the caveat that she is someone from before the smart phone takeover. Not that it's a bad thing. A 21 year old who can't look away from the phone is uninteresting no matter how young and pretty. Many are miserable from loneliness but still unable to put the phone down and interact with people in the real world. I don't think I could write a story about one who is typical of today and I'm sure the story would be a lot less interesting. I REALLY pity all Mark Zuckerburg's victims, he's taken the souls and futures of a huge swath of our youth. This book is not the whole story but the other two are also free.
  • Nikki White: Polar Extremes on March 24, 2022

    This story is much darker than the last, 'Nikki Blue'. In this the corporation or whatever the organization is Takes ownership of her as a slave for life. Also in this story we never learn why they wanted her, in a way it seems just so there could be a story. She's a good kid, smart, pretty and brave but hardly unusual, (except maybe for being able to come up out of her phone at 21 years of age in 2021). They make her and the guy who shot her work together. Is this to show people they can adapt to anything? Is this about Stockholm Syndrome? Is this to show that everyday people are now completely powerless and can be taken as slaves by anyone with money any time they want? I've said much the same in 'Aldeb Wars - Goodbye My Queen' but not quite so brutally, and in 'Mission Alpha' almost as brutally except that the main characters are not subjected to it. They do become friends by the end of the book, I'm not sure I could have forgiven him but a good Christian should, I might not be that good a Christian. They do break free by the end of the book, that was a relief. I just wish they'd done it sooner and this book was about the overthrow and breakup of that company instead of training for Mars. Because the main character undergoes so much hardship and misery, I didn't enjoy this as much as the other.
  • Mars Colony Agatha: Nikki Red on March 25, 2022

    The Last book of the series is as heartwarming as the previous one (Nikki White - Polar extremes) was heart rending. I can't say very much more about the story itself without being a spoiler and this is one you don't want spoiled. I actually started this book before the others and noticed that it was better to read them first, but if you read only one of the series, pick this one. One thing I will mention, it is now almost the predicted launch time and we still have no Mars mission anywhere close. There are some in NASA who think a Mars mission is imminent. The technology is ALMOST ready for a tag-it-and-come-home mission like the 1969 moon landing but we are still a long way from a practical Mars mission or even a practical moon base. Personally, looking at the news, I don't think this civilization is going to make it. I also wonder if it is legal to use a real living person as a character in a story. I would never dare do it.
  • Sexbot on March 27, 2022

    This story is actually better than the name would lead you to believe. It also has a lot less sex in it than the name would imply. It's more of a thriller than erotica. It starts out in a pretty amateur voice but gets better as it goes along. The only likeable character is the one who downloads herself into the sexbot and even she isn't very likeable, too greedy and status conscious. Most of the others you wouldn't even want to pass on the street. There is a lot of violence, only three people you meet make it out alive and one has a very small part. The proofreading is good, I noticed no errors. As mentioned above, there is no explicit sex in here, just a few attractive robots and a couple ugly guys in various states of undress. The science that allows her to download herself is not compatible with the current best guess at what forms a personality (memory). The best scientific knowledge concerns the pattern of dendrite connections between neurons, the weighting of those connections, and information storage molecules. The faint electrical aura that surrounds the body is not thought to have a part. However, science is not sure of any of this at this time.
  • Co-Ed on March 28, 2022

    I wasn't quite as taken with this as the other reviewers, but I found some good things in here. The prose is good, the proofreading is almost perfect, as good as traditional publishers are these days. There's little violence, plenty of sex and it's not the completely degrading sex of most erotica which is really about dominance and not affection. The biggest sore point with me is the main character's complete helplessness when confronted with attractive guys. It was so unrealistic it put me off. This is a common problem in romance or erotica, the notion that attraction can be so powerful that one can't resist it. Yes, everyone does silly things for lust but we all maintain some control, our legs don't make us walk without consulting the brain for instance. I didn't see the conflict in her mind as being between love and hate as much as between reason and pheromones. There was a little mystery here regarding what happened to one of the guy's sisters, very little was made of that.
  • Dark Web on March 28, 2022

    A very short story showing how dirty politics has become. I hope he wasn't writing about politics in Australia, but it's probably true that democracy can't survive anywhere with inequality as bad as it is.
  • The Edge on April 02, 2022

    In this space opera the forces from Earth go off to fight one group of aliens and discover another, much more powerful group of aliens from subspace. They are able to take over people's minds and make zombies of them, zombies under their control. They have also controlled some of the officers and soldiers on the ship. The so-called war devolves into a fight for the control of one ship. That fight is very much like another story I read recently who's title and author I forgot. Thruout the author piles on one problem after another to add to the tension. At first the main character has no idea what is going on, then suddenly everyone 'knows' and starts to fight for control of the ship. This is space opera, not hard sci-fi. Little attention was given to the science of any of this and the 'other dimension' stuff is still fantasy until we have some theory or evidence that such a thing could occur. There are no chapters in this book but there is an occasional blank line to separate groups of paragraphs. The proofreading and prose are fine. There is one sexual episode in the book and one more occurrence of affection but for the most part there is little need for the characters to be of both sexes. There's lots of violence and hopelessness. The one good thing at the end doesn't make up for all the losses.
  • First Flyght on April 05, 2022

    This was trying to create a matriarchal society with women keeping harems, owning property and businesses and males playing a lesser role. This was due to many more males than females settling the planets in question, and then a mutation that makes some males only able to father other males, thus females are in short supply. Whether that would lead to this society or not is hard to say. The society isn't really much different, more like our society in 2000 than our society in 2022. In spite of that difference, we still have some of the romance formula strictures getting in the main character's way. The main char is a pretty typical romance heroine, everybody leans on her for help and support, she has no one. She's typically driven, sleepless, frazzled and out of touch with herself. Having a female centric society has not helped there. This book is not quite a complete story. It ends at a decent breaking point between volumes, more like 'Yoonbarla' than 'Tangle in the Dark' but you won't know how it all turns out in this volume. I don't know if it all wraps up in the last volume. All in all, a good story worth reading, which is my definition of three stars. Sorry but five stars for me is reserved for books that change the world like '1984,' 'Dune,' etc.
  • Just Visiting on April 07, 2022

    I loved the first half of this book, when it was just adventure and great sex, a little like 'OKangKhone'. Once she began to suspect the guy she was traveling with was a serial killer, it became darker and less believable. Another reviewer mentioned that she was being unrealistic still having feelings for him once she was sure he was going to kill her. I also wondered why he would have kept those passports? This could have been a four star look into the human soul without those problems. Others have already mentioned the love affair with the Northern Territory, it is excellent writing. There are some proofreading errors however, mostly the occasional missing word. It's almost always easy enough to figure what should have gone there.
  • The Lead Cloak on April 12, 2022

    I'm thinking that The Lattice is really a symbol for the internet and the absolute lack of privacy it generates. Glad to see that, we need that warning, but as I've said a million times, no one takes anything we sci-fi writers do as a warning, they take it as a prediction, often of something so inevitable they sleep walk right into it. This was written before or during 2013, before the REAL danger of the internet was anywhere near as apparent as it is today. That danger is, of course, misinformation and disinformation. He correctly points out that America cannot survive with the internet, social media, etc., as it is now. We are right in the middle of observing how only nations that control the information available to their citizens will survive, nations that allow lies and fantasy to be passed off as fact will watch their democracy pass out of existence in the next few years. As far as the story itself, not bad at all. Not too much violence, a fair helping of suspense, a few twists and turns, a few narrow escapes. The main character is married and and another couple are boyfriend/girlfriend so it's not as neutered as the average free sci-fi, but you aren't present for any actual sex. Now the science behind the invention that this whole story was about isn't really the point, in my opinion. Of course there is absolutely no theory how such a thing might work other than a vague 'entanglement' claim. I don't think it matters, I think the message about privacy is the point and not how to actually invent such a monstrous thing. I've giving this four stars because of the thought regarding what total lack of privacy would do to society. I don't agree with his conclusions completely, in my opinion what lack of privacy he talks of is the lack of privacy we get from our phones and the internet. Phones are already addicting our young people to the point where they have difficulty functioning in real-world social situations. I think something like the lattice would either cause mass suicides or world wide riots, but I've been wrong in the past about things like that.
  • Diary of Lost Girls on April 15, 2022

    Graham has apparently put new covers and republished the books I picked up since I picked them up. I have no idea how many changes he's made and I don't understand why this book is now listed as published in 2017 when the version I have was published in 2015 but I downloaded it earlier this year (Mar.24, 2022) This story is a lot like 'Just Visiting', which now seems to be called 'An English Visitor' except that there are five girls stories in this instead of one. Two were apparently not murdered by Mark, one was a mercy killing and two were murdered by him. Most of it is pretty depressing except for one incident. There's a fair amount of sex in it, some of it good, lots of it not, entrapment, prostitution, rape are common in these girl's lives. One thing I notice about the sex, all his female characters are much more willing than the average American I see or hear today. I don't know if things are different in Australia, but in America today, from all I can see, the sexual revolution is absolutely and completely over. It's now all but forbidden for a woman to look good (A white woman anyway) much less act provocative and go out on a one-night-stand. Of course our whole country is so saturated with hate today that this isn't surprising. If more of the sex in here was positive, affectionate and fun, I would advise my young friends to head to Australia, it sounds more like the '70's, or even Kassidor.
  • Raping the Gods: A Tale of Sex and Madness on April 17, 2022

    The cover picture has nothing to do with the story. You never see a beach on Samoa, or anywhere else for that matter. There is plenty of madness in the story but very little sex. What there is loads and loads and loads of is degradation of women, making slaves of women, punishing women, belittling women and everything possible of that nature. I don't know how seriously this was intended but even as humor I find it very off-putting. No one would get away with this type of humor directed at dogs or even sheep. I would much rather read the story the cover goes to, something more like 'Sailing to Redoubt' 'The Prisoner of Cymlye' or even 'OKangKhone'
  • Man, True Man on April 19, 2022

    The only thing wrong with this story is the premise doesn't make any scientific sense. That is, about a planet that's half in one dimension and half in another. What it is, is a planet with an oxygen atmosphere on one part and some other atmosphere on another part. Gasses mix, the atmosphere wouldn't stay that way, multiple dimensions or not. That's a minor point, that fact has little part in the story. The place where this takes place is under the control of a fundamentalist religion. The main character crashes there and loses a great deal of his memory. More than half the book is him trying to keep the fundamentalists from imprisoning him or worse, then starting a cattle ranch and raising a family. It is only late in the book that aliens land and the real conflict of the story begins. The story is well written, good prose, good proofreading, good characters and a decent but hardly unique plot. The first half might be a typical old-time western romance except it's completely missing the romance formula. The characters decide to get married just about on the spur of the moment and stay together about twenty years before they start having trouble. The last third is a typical aliens at primitive planet story where they're telling the primitives what great things they're going to do for them when they really intend to make slaves of them, something that never makes any sense by the way. If you have the technology to travel to a different star you certainly have the technology to make any labor saving device that could do more than a primitive humanoid slave. To say more would give away too many details of the plot. Seeing as the story is free, it's well worth it.
  • Mixed Signals on April 20, 2022

    A fairly humorous story of two career girls trying to find boyfriends. There is some talk of sex, an attempted rape, but most of it is social tension and misunderstanding brought on by hiding their feelings and trying to pretend they were something they aren't (bi). This is romance in which the formula does not intrude too much, even though the formula is actually there. It was light, fun and well written and short enough to read in one sitting.
  • 2156 on April 24, 2022

    There are some good things about this story, the world it's in is interesting, there are some love affairs and affection and the prose and proofreading are decent. The plot is good, more of a suspense than an action story, but this book ends at a cliffhanger, the plot is not complete in this volume. As an aside, at one place the author says one of his characters has much more intelligence than that needed to be a successful farmer. The author has obviously never tried to farm. The world in which this takes place is under a world dictatorship, there is complete surveillance of everyone via a chip implanted in a kidney. I don't understand this, in 2017, when he published this, everyone was already carrying around a smart phone, a much more potent surveillance device than a chip in a kidney that can't see what you're doing and can't hear what you're saying. No one among the lower classes is allowed to earn anything more or less than any other. This is not true for the professional classes as they have wildly different salaries, bonuses, etc. This is the most complete communism as expressed in ACTS 2:44 & 45, "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to everyone as they had need." (NIV) This is very much what the bleeding hearts want, they believe the only reason God made some people whole, healthy, sane and employable is so they can serve those with special needs. Unfortunately he makes the mistake of equating this government with socialism. Socialism is any system in which the government provides any services in common to the people, such as Social Security and Medicare. Socialism is a continuum, the government may provide very little, or nearly everything. In America we are near as limited as you can get in government services before you can no longer run a modern society. At the other end of the spectrum is somewhere like Sweden where some aspects of industry are wholly or partially owned by government. Under socialism pay is determined by the market most of the time, prices are determined by the market most of the time. Some services, such as health care can't be priced by the market or such a small percent of the population would receive health care that very few would go into medicine. It is VERY unfortunate that the rich in America, and to some extent in some other countries, have managed a decades-long disinformation campaign that has convinced some people that any check on the total domination of our world by the wealthy is 'socialist' or even 'commie'. This had lead to the enormous inequality that is actually the root cause of most discontent in the western world today. Without government checks on the powers of the rich, most of us would soon live in African-style poverty. Without democracy's check on the power of government we would all live in the dictatorship of this story (and many others) or in a nation like Russia or China today. Be careful not to fall into this trap if you read this. There are some aspects of this story that are actually closer to fantasy than sci-fi; telepathy and divine intervention. They are small but important parts. All in all I think it is worth reading if you don't get sucked into the political errors.
  • She Jhasmin & I Kixi on April 29, 2022

    Lesbian race car driver in 3010ad befriends a 14 year old who then gets a giant crush on her. The book does a really good job, I think, of detailing a lesbian love affair, one complicated by waiting for the 14 year old to become 16, but other than that it seems normal enough. Since the main characters are the authors and they are married in real life, it's not surprising that they were able to write well about their love. The book is very much a testimonial to their love. The world of 3010, not so much. They spend all their time with songs from a thousand years ago, video games from a thousand years ago and sensibilities from a thousand years ago, in other words now. Case in point, in 3010 a computer from 3000 was obsolete and slow. If we are able to continue Moore's Law til 3000ad one of today's pc's would have to fit inside an atom. The world of the time is ruled by a corporate dictator. All in all it seems like 2100 at the latest. except that many parts of the solar system are settled. I'm not sure why it was set in 3010, the story would work just as well today. The politics of the time were not front and center. There was an attempt made to make that more relevant but it never went anywhere. The prose is okay most of the time. There are a few typos, some missing words, wrong suffixes, things of that nature, but not enough to make it difficult to follow. The format is relatively novel-like but there are parts with singing and dancing like they were thinking of making it a musical at one point. The pace is relatively slow, not quite as slow as some of mine but you can put it down til tomorrow and get some sleep when it gets late.
  • Streaks of Blue: How the Angels of Newtown Inspired One Girl to Save Her School on May 01, 2022

    This prequel to Nikki's sci-fi adventures is mentioned in the other stories and well it should be. The others are entertainment without as much message as this one. This is a very good effort to try and say something about school shootings with well rendered characters and strong emotions. It's rendered about as well as could be. This takes place at the very beginning of the time when young people disappeared into their phones and social media. He doesn't show a lot of that. His main point is that we, the normal people, need to befriend those who are left out instead of piling on with the hatred and the hazing. Of course that would help. It's probably not even too hard to figure out what changes we need to make in human nature to make that happen. If anyone's read any of my books you've seen me trying to work out what changes they would be, in this case a lessening of our devotion to status. It's a little harder to figure out what genes we need to modify and even harder to figure a implementation strategy. Unfortunately we lived in the age of Aquarius in 2013 compared to what's happened to us since 2016. School shootings have only increased in frequency and will continue to do so. Until we can actually modify human nature til adolescents are supportive of each other instead of judgemental and mean, the only hope to slow this down until then is to get guns out of civilian hands. The republican party will never support that as long as more blacks than whites are victims of gun violence. I totally commend Jack for his effort and thoughtfulness in writing this and recommend it to all. It works on so many levels, I just wish it had worked in real life.
  • Sunlit Shadow Dance on May 06, 2022

    I don't think I'm giving anything away to say that the girl from the first book is the one who has appeared in Queensland. I mostly agree with everything Dean said, though I didn't cry at any part of it. There were a lot of typos, more as you got later in the book. There is a lot of strong emotion, and also a lot of mysticism. I'm not much of a believer in that but if you are, it's well done and powerful. There are some sections that seemed a little unrealistically goody-goody. What I did find is that it took some effort to get thru. I shouldn't talk however because so much of my writing is also just day-to-day life on another planet. What I applaud however is the clean, loving sexuality. I'm giving four stars for it's emotional power and literacy and not it's proofreading or pace.
  • Symbiosis on May 10, 2022

    I found a lot to like about this story, the characters, the setting, the action, the prose (for the most part). The Symbiont itself is a new wrinkle on a means to give a character superpowers, a little more realistic than mind possession, a little less than an exoskeleton or armor suit, but done well and consistent. There is some conflict and violence but not excessive and not violence just for the sake of violence. The premise that an alien race has scattered humans thruout the galaxy is one I've used myself. I feel it is the most realistic way to get humans on other planets so that stories can have extraterrestrials we can relate to rather than the Hollywood baggie suit 'parallel evolution' method that I find totally unbelievable. It's much more relatable than a real alien, such as in 'The Aldeb Wars' or 'Tangle in the Dark' where the whole story has to be among the humans and the alien has to be treated more like a force of nature. I couldn't really tell what the time frame was for this story. It takes place in Ottawa, an Ottawa that has lots of skyscrapers on both sides of the river. Not that Ottawa is devoid of high-rise buildings today, it's a mid-sized city about the size of Hartford, Salt Lake City or Adelaide. The descriptions of the city in the story lead me to believe 2075 or so. The technology makes me think 2010 and the society 2035, once young people have begun to peek out from behind their phones once again. There is little mention of the United States, probably because it's so impossible to predict what will be going on by them. My guess is it will still be gripped by a low-grade civil war. This is probably before China will be forced to intervene in our collapse to protect their markets. The alien makes the point that a democracy needs a population educated enough to tell the difference between information and disinformation. I hope Canada is doing better than we are at that but that trucker's protest shows that they have their problems too. The enhanced super-heroine is a little more realistic in this story than in some. Since they are actually human, I guess it makes some sense that they should go into a romance formula suppression of their feelings when training with each other instead of taking the Kassidorian approach and one of them saying, 'I think we need a sex break'. Fortunately they don't extend that nonsense for a hundred or two hundred pages and can admit it to each other soon after. The way the Canadian government treats the alien makes me wish I'd moved there in the 1980's when the work environment here began to become toxic. Anyone writing this in America would have her captured, imprisoned and dissected, exactly as she would be treated in Russia. If this book had been one chapter shorter, ended on 29 instead of 30 it would have been the fourth five star rating I had ever given. Unfortunately that last chapter dashed all the good vibes of the chapter before and sets up for a series that looks to be all the usual violence, betrayals, warfare, doomsday devices and such that wash by the thousands thru the servers of this bookstore. Why couldn't this have stayed a heartwarming, uplifting message of hope!