Raymond Towers


Raymond Towers is an author of fantasy, horror and science fiction that strays away from the mainstream, plus a little in the way of true paranormal and other genres. He has written and independently published over forty titles, most of them full-length novels and collections, with several more on the way. The author has been a lifelong resident of warm and sunny southern California, a location that pops up frequently in his writing. At the moment, the author is looking for ways to reach new readers all over the world, in addition to pursuing his great love of writing and taking it to the next level.

Where to find Raymond Towers online


Verum Et Inventa Magazine
Verum Et Inventa is a free e-zine focusing on dark fantasy, horror and science fiction. We’re open to contributions from writers and readers who like substance and style over the blander mainstream norm. The editor will also provide controversy with articles and media reviews meant to incite the intellect of those open-minded enough to question traditional paradigms, social constructs and religious dogma. If you consider yourself Awake and enjoy a good story, why not download a copy today?
The Chaos Rift
The full description can be found on the Raymond Towers Dot Com website. The Chaos Rift is meant to shake you out of your comfort zone. It is meant to strip away those rose-tinted glasses that keep you complacent, to show you the world as it really is, and also to show you how alternate worlds might really be, based on what has been seen and done here, what has been created and imagined, in our own reality. There are moments or triumph and levity, as there are in real life, but when the pendulum swings, it will go a long way into the shadows. Many of these titles are not for the many, but for the few. Are you one of those few? You have been warned. The Chaos Rift begins here.
A Terrible Thing To Waste
Price: $0.99 USD.


Verum Et Inventa Magazine Issue 05
Series: Verum Et Inventa Magazine. Price: Free! Words: 61,260. Language: English. Published: May 29, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
In issue No. 5, for June 2019: The first three chapters of the modern fantasy novella Snatched Up! The second featured story is the fifty page novella Dead Man’s Lottery, a near-future story inspired by the writing of Philip K. Dick. Articles include the full Glossary On Speaking Forsooth for writers, and for all you Truthers out there, Israel, A Terrorist Nation. Rating: HIGH controversy.
Verum Et Inventa Magazine Issue 04
Series: Verum Et Inventa Magazine. Price: Free! Words: 74,310. Language: English. Published: January 20, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
In issue No. 4, for February 2019: The conclusion for Non-Retrieval. Following this are 6 medieval fantasy entries from Tales From The Savage Lands, Books 1 and 2. Also included is the erotic short story Attack Of The Six Foot Vagina, and this month’s Story Starter piece I Saw Their Faces. Articles include How I Started Writing Erotica and Mithras, Precursor Of Jesus. Rating: HIGH controversy.
Verum Et Inventa Magazine Issue 03
Series: Verum Et Inventa Magazine. Price: Free! Words: 63,320. Language: English. Published: December 17, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
In issue No. 3, for January 2019: Part 2 of the exciting military sci-fi novella Non-Retrieval. The main feature is followed by four entries, in prose and short stories, from the medieval fantasy collection, Tales From The Savage Lands 1. This month’s in-depth article is titled Honduran Hordes: Human Rights Or Human Trafficking? Happy New Year, everyone! Rating: HIGH controversy.
Verum Et Inventa Magazine Issue 02
Series: Verum Et Inventa Magazine. Price: Free! Words: 64,870. Language: English. Published: November 16, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
In issue No. 2, for December 2018: Part 1 of the sci-fi novella Non-Retrieval. The main feature is followed by five recently written short stories, in a range of genres, with three directly inspired by notes from the Story Starters archive. Articles include the revealing How I Became My Female Characters, and for the upcoming holiday, Have A Merry, Pagan Christmas! Rating: HIGH controversy.
Verum Et Inventa Magazine Issue 01
Series: Verum Et Inventa Magazine. Price: Free! Words: 62,680. Language: English. Published: October 16, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
In issue No. 1, for November 2018: Three short stories from the recently released science fiction collection Variant Worlds 2, and an excerpt of over 30 pages from upcoming release Rothschild Apocalypse. Articles include the candid How I Became My Male Characters, and Space-Based Starships And Colonies to give budding writers a good grounding on the basics. Rating: EXTREME controversy.
Verum Et Inventa Archive
Series: Verum Et Inventa Magazine. You set the price! Words: 77,520. Language: English. Published: September 5, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Education & Study Guides » Literacy
The Verum Et Inventa Archive brings together non-fiction entries that have appeared in VEI magazine. This includes articles and tips written for Writers, and controversial reports prepared for Truth Seekers, as well as a plethora of media reviews. Currently, the archive is in its 1st Edition. It contains materials collected from VEI magazine issues 1 through 4.
The Two Sides Of Humburg
You set the price! Words: 11,200. Language: English. Published: February 15, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Fairy tales
Follow in the footsteps of the piper, as he discovers a strange new land with some very odd ideas. What will the piper choose, the bustling modern city or the quiet country town? And why, oh why, do the two mayors keep putting him in the spotlight? What is the piper to do? This is a fantasy adventure mostly for the little ones, but adults can enjoy it too. Rating: LOW controversy.
A Terrible Thing To Waste
Series: The Chaos Rift. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 97,340. Language: English. Published: December 15, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark, Fiction » Horror » General
Two black kids in the ghetto, making the hard transition from boyhood to manhood. It is bad enough that they’ve got the usual problems to deal with: poverty, crime, drugs, gangs. But there’s something else out there. Something sinister is stalking these two boys, drawing them closer and closer to its black web… something that might be trying to kill them both. Rating: MEDIUM controversy.
Demonic Murmurs
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 109,290. Language: English. Published: October 15, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » General
This is a collection of horror. These nightmares will pierce into the deepest depths of your being, while in the shadows devils will dance and laugh at your pending demise. Will you listen to the Confession Of An Old Boxer or hear the cries of The Weeping Thing? Will you cuddle with The Devil’s Daughters or spend the night in the haunted Two Bedroom Cottage For Rent? Rating: EXTREME controversy.
Two Bedroom Cottage For Rent
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 22,900. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
(4.00 from 3 reviews)
You’ve heard of the Amityville Horror and the Bell Witch Haunting. You might think that true, demonic ghost stories like those are things of the past, or things you only see in movies, but you’d be wrong. Here is the story of the worst Haunting I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life, when the house I lived in tried to murder me. This novella is based on true events. Rating: HIGH controversy.
Variant Worlds 1
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 119,980. Language: English. Published: September 14, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » General
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Welcome to Variant Worlds 1. This is a collection of fantasy and science fiction ranging from short stories to novellas. In these tales, everyday people like you and I must come to grips with the strange and perilous realities that have been presented to them. Only by relying on their inner strength, their wisdom and their humanity can they forge ahead and survive. Rating: MEDIUM controversy.
Roaches In The Attic 0 - Non-Retrieval
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 49,470. Language: English. Published: September 6, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
For rookie Spaceman Harold Douglas, the mission sounded simple enough. Take the squad of Space Marines out, discover why the outpost had gone offline, and bring them back home in one piece. That was before the transport suddenly vanished, stranding them all on an alien planet. Now, they are fighting for their lives against the greatest threat humanity has ever seen. Rating: MEDIUM controversy.

Raymond Towers' tag cloud

adventure    aliens    apocalypse    children    collection    controversy    demons    end of the world    fantasy    haunted    horror    humor    magazine    medieval    military    modern    nonfiction    paranormal    poetry    science fiction    short stories    space    speculative    war   

Smashwords book reviews by Raymond Towers

  • AlterWorld (LitRPG: Play to Live. Book #1) on April 15, 2020

    Overview: I was looking for an ebook with a cyber-twist when I came upon this one. I only skimmed through the description, acquired the book and downloaded it, so I could read it with no idea of what I was getting into, mostly for the novelty / surprise of it. Plot: A terminally ill man decides to forego his physical body to become a permanent part of a video game. The Bad: This ebook was translated from the Russian language. The translation effort is actually very good, but every so often, I came across a phrase that read awkwardly. This is a minor quibble. Overall, the translation is excellent. After reading the description and the first five pages of this book, I felt I was getting into a mild cyberpunk story. Unfortunately, the moment the main protagonist entered Virtual Reality, the sci-fi part of this novel was over. 99% of the story takes place in a medieval, sword and sorcery fantasy world based on dungeon crawler games such as Blizzard’s Diablo. This would have been okay if I’d been ready for it. On top of that, the author placed me into an immersive video game environment. By immersive, I mean nearly every page has a repetitive, computerized message on it, telling me how the protagonist’s relationship has changed toward other players / clans, and what sort of statistics are on new items he’s acquired, along the lines of You've been attacked by another player! Self-defense doesn't affect the PK counter! Don’t get me wrong. The Diablo II video game is my all-time favorite, so I’m not knocking the idea of a game environment. Despite this, I would say that the game jargon is too specialized for a casual reader. There are too many abbreviated terms and too many instances where a reader is expected to know the intricacies of how an online VR world operates. This novel was written by a seasoned gamer for other seasoned gamers, people who know what things like leveling up, DoT, MMORPG, +1 to Spirit, etc., mean. The novel is written from a first person perspective. The problem here is that the author has a lukewarm approach to everything. Think of a gameplay video on Youtube, where you have the host saying, well, I’m going into the cave now, and I’m fighting against a really big monster, and I’m hurt, and now I’ve raised my health back up. There is very little emotion in this narration, very little detail that really hooked me into caring for the main character or others. If it weren’t for the fact that I like medieval fantasy games, this book would have been extremely boring. The protagonist gets lucky every single time. He’s a Dark Knight Necromancer, by the way. At level 5, he gets a level 30 pet and wastes his opponents. At level 30, he gets a level 120 pet and does the same thing. When the protagonist enters a player versus player competition against an entire clan, even though he is supposedly new to this game, guess what, he beats all four of his veteran opponents with only minor resistance. That clan sucks! The protagonist never gets crushed, he never has to train, he rarely has to come up with intelligent solutions. Basically, he routinely finds or other players give him godly gear so he can keep tap-dancing over his opponents. Oh, and he creates cigarettes in his VR world, because everybody wants them and nobody has been smart enough to invent them yet, and of course this upsets the world economy and our hero becomes the center of the universe, yet again. I’m not sure if this has to do with the book originally being written in Russian, where the idea of juvenile humor might be different, but we get some really odd phrases, such as: as sad as a panda without bamboo, I was a dork to end all dorks, and leaving him there felt like pulling tails off puppies. When the author describes digital sex, it’s weird stuff like ‘an untiring body,’ ‘an eternal bliss.’ You might not like the cliffhanger ending, but I had invested so little emotion in the story that it was more of a meh moment. Every character has the same personality, nobody grows in any meaningful fashion, everything, and I mean everything, goes the protagonist’s way, and the entire thing reads more like a colorful game manual than a typical fantasy novel. The Good: If you think you’d enjoy reading a first person walk-through of a fantasy game, you might like this book. The author does have a decent outline of a story, there is a progression as far as the leveling up goes, and he presents interesting viewpoints regarding the game’s economy and politics. For me, the book really shines in the cyberpunk ideas it presents, things like terminally ill people transferring their minds into video games, the horror of the game getting hacked and life-data being lost, and permanent digital characters interacting with people in the physical world to get real things done, such as taking care of loved ones, money transfers and assassination attempts. This book has a lot of imaginative concepts in it that a writer such as myself can roll around in my head and expand upon in future stories, and that gives it a big plus that negates a lot of the stuff I didn’t like. I did not love this book, but I didn’t hate it either. It was more of a middle of the road story that has a lot of potential to it, if the author figures out how to reach out and grab the reader, and pulls the reader into the scene with him.
  • Zinovy's Journey on May 03, 2020

    Overview: I acquired this book, along with a few others, without reading its description. I wanted the content to be a complete surprise. I didn’t realize this was a religious-themed book until I read the reviews at the start. That’s not a put-off, by the way. I was planning on reading this book to the end regardless as a way to see how this author crafted her story. First Sentence: Zinovy Efimovich Kozlov ducked his head as an icy wind, howling off the canal, whipped the scarf from his face and poured its bitter mid-winter chill down his neck. Maybe the guy’s name is too long, but it’s a good sentence. I like it. 4 stars Plot: A stubborn scientist comes to terms with God in a post-apocalyptic world. The Bad: The first 40 pages of this book were horrendous, as in the worst eighties A-Team or Space 1999 episode you can imagine. You start off with an assassin who works a 9 to 5 desk job in an assassin’s bureau. That would be Zinovy in St. Petersburg. Every so often, Zinovy gets a message in his inbox or something, informing him he has to go out and kill someone, and when he’s done he comes back to his desk to, apparently, do paperwork. One of Zinovy’s rivals is promoted to supervisor, and he immediately orders Zinovy to go kill his pregnant ex-girlfriend, who used to work in that same office with both of those men. Zinovy can’t do the job, and he cares so much about his ex and his unborn child that he escorts them to a train station and abandons them. Naturally, they are soon murdered. Zinovy needs to flee St. Petersburg. He makes one phone call, and later meets with the one guy from the phone call, and suddenly Zinovy ends up on the International Space Station as an astronaut. Because, you know, assassins with cushy desk jobs are reasonable candidates for the Russian space program, where their skills are surely in high demand. Once Zinovy is on the ISS, the Russians want him, and only him, to go on a space walk and fix a specific camera. Those Russians are so good at predicting defectors that they somehow planted a bomb there. The bomb isn’t a time bomb, so there is no real need to mess with it, but Zinovy does this anyway. The bomb blows up, but nobody is really hurt and there isn’t a whole lot of damage. Zinovy decides that after all that, after leaving the entire planet, he wants to return to St. Petersburg to confront his boss and get revenge for his murdered baby mama and unborn baby. Right. Wait, I thought this was like a sci-fi novel? Does this book get any better? You know, that’s debatable. There are some good moments, especially early on when Zinovy and crew return to Earth and see all the bizarre changes that have taken place. Exploring the Christianized Earth could have had a lot of potential if the author had stuck to that with the intent of producing an entertaining speculative novel. Instead, what we get is people walking, and walking, and making minor discoveries, and walking some more. The author stretches this journey out way too long, but why? So that she can pepper the story with Christian dogma. This is especially irritating in Part 2 of this book, where Zinovy and Co. discuss topics such as: abortion, rape, murder, blood sacrifices, original sin, Passover, etc. We get very vague references to this mysterious new king and his kingdom, but nothing clear even from characters that have already been there, because the author felt the necessity to cloud the identity of God for whatever reason. Also, we get characters that were supposed to come in and advance the plot, but all they do is show up, annoyingly say very little and then disappear. They say, go this way but I’m not telling you why, or eat this but I’m not telling you why, or do this but I’m not telling you why. Also, several times these characters deliberately withhold information that could have saved the astronaut travelers a huge amount of time and headache. All of this was done so the reader could say, oh, God is really a nice person, if you get past the coercion, omissions, and deliberate obfuscation by his representatives. If your traveling companion gets killed by vandals, don’t do anything because God will take care of it. If you see a girl about to be raped, don’t do anything because God will take care of it. I actually had to stop reading this book for 2 days, after around 300 pages. The journey was too long after such a crappy start. I could have skipped all of Part 2, basically, since very little happened during that time, and gone directly from Part 1 to 3. After the break I thought, maybe this author can salvage some of this by giving me a good ending, and lift this book up to a 3 star rating. Nope, Jaques didn’t do it. We’ve got a small army of allegedly savage Bedouin warriors that wimp out repeatedly. Their ‘vicious’ leader doesn’t do anything when he is inadvertently insulted. The entire gang is a hundred strong, armed with scimitars and riding horses, but they can’t raid a camp of a dozen unarmed civilians and steal away one child. But you know that they can do? They can kill a lion, a lioness and three cubs and cut their hearts out, no problem. And what’s this deal near the end, where two supposedly male characters suddenly become females? What did I miss? Oh, it wasn’t really explained, so... Moving on. The Good: If you are a Christian, and you can ignore the inconsistencies to focus more on the goal of spreading dogma, you might enjoy reading this book. That’s all this book really is; an attempt to convert the masses disguised as science fiction. The author keeps the preaching subtle, which is good, but she also keeps it frequent, which slows down the story considerably, so patience will be good for the reader. Stubborn, analytical Zinovy eventually succumbs to peer pressure, the bad guys are sometimes vanquished, but sometimes they’re just moved to the far side of the world and left alive with no punishment, and in general lots of happy endings are found in the conclusion. Spelling and formatting for this book were excellent. The story concept and outline are fine. The characters were a little bland, but then again, many sci-fi writers tend to create the same sort of 2D people. The author did show good experience and wisdom on a number of occasions, and I feel has good potential to improve her writing skills in the future.
  • Amaranth: A Short Story on May 21, 2020

    Rating: 2 stars Overview: I came across this short story in my search for recent cyberpunk writing. First Sentence: Liam died six months ago. This one was a little too short to convey much impact. Who cares who Liam is? Maybe ‘my fiancee Liam’ or ‘the love of my life’ could have set a better tone. 2 stars for the opener. Plot: A woman comes to understand that her murdered fiancee’s consciousness has been wrongfully uploaded into a computer box. The Bad: This story is very short at just over seven pages on my PDF copy. There is a lot of empty space on the remaining 5 or so pages. This was a minor peeve at first because I saw 13 pages on my PDF reader, then I got to page 10 and it was over, with 3 pages of nothing relevant still left. I’ll tell you why this became a major peeve shortly. Okay, so this chick’s fiancee gets killed accidentally, or so it seems. She starts getting clues leading her to a black box holding her fiancee’s consciousness. The bad guys are coming, she has to make a quick escape, and then... the story is over. I’m on page 9, right, and the build-up has so far been fairly slow, fairly expository so I’m getting to know this chick and potentially starting to care about the situation. This is the first time this chick is getting in trouble. Now I’m going to see how she can handle herself in a moment of crisis. That’s the moment when the axe comes down and cuts this story off at the neck. After lumbering along in first gear, the story goes to second and third, and then the author shut off the engine on me. I thought, what, is this like an excerpt of a longer story? No. That’s it. That’s all I get and I have to come up with the rest in my head, just when I was starting to like it! That’s when the minor peeve of 5 nothing pages became an irritation. On page 11, we read: If you enjoyed this short story, I’d bet you’d like blah, blah, blah. So, I’m supposed to read this story, get hooked on the writer’s style, and then go take a look at this other book he wrote. No, sorry. I’ve written cliffhangers before in my novels, but a short story is different. A short story gives the author a chance to throw a bunch of curveballs without the exposition needed in a longer project. I was not wowed by the truncated ending. I didn’t get to really care about the main protagonist. What if I get a similar cut-off in the novel? I’m not willing to take that chance based on this short piece that was written to impress me, not when there are other authors I can check out that do complete their stories. You can go on Youtube, for example, and watch short films based on cyberpunk stories. They go from five to ten minutes long, and most if not all of them have endings. Even bad endings are endings. If I were this author, I would add another 3 to 4 pages to this story, getting the heroine out of harm’s way, and give the reader some incentive at the end to make the story sizzle and pop. Something that will make me want to go look at this other novel he wrote. Also, at times it didn’t seem clear that the protagonist was a woman. You can write that she was the fiancee of a dead guy, but I didn’t really feel that. Maybe if she had to tie her long hair back, or maybe the guard stared at her butt a little too much. There was no description of the heroine at the start, and the bits that I got as the story went on were so bland and generic that it could have just as easily been a male instead of a female. Oh, but we have a ‘misogynistic bugger’ making aggressive advances. Wait, a man who hates women is hitting on our heroine? Either the wrong word was used here, or we need more informational details to justify why the heroine set him up later. Also, another guy named Rodrick works across from the heroine and is ‘weird but harmless.’ So, our heroine has psychological issues about men except for the one she was about to marry. Anyway, the protagonist could have been a 14 year-old hacker or a 40 year-old programmer by changing only a handful of minor cues. If you want your characters to stick out, you have to make them stick out. The Good: The author showed a good grasp of the situation and detailed that very well. The cyberpunk aspects were fine for the genre, about middle of the road from what I’ve read so far. Formatting and grammar were above average, except for one error that jarred my pace because the writing before and after was smooth. I know errors happen, so for an independent writer these aspects of the short story overall were good.
  • YuFu's Firesnake on June 13, 2020

    Overview: I came across the book while searching for recent cyberpunk fiction. It’s 111 pages long on my epub reader, so it was a quick read. First Sentence: Yufu’s egg-shaped spacecraft trembled as it settled into a geostationary orbit above Tushing’s outer ring. This reads like a good starting point. It can jump off into any of a number of directions in the following sentences to set a mood. By itself, it feels a little bland with minimal impact. 3 stars Plot: A man illegally mining diamonds goes on a whirlwind adventure in a cyberpunk / sci-fi scenario on multiple worlds. The Bad: I don’t have a lot of gripes for this book. The penultimate issue is minor, in that would have liked a little more in the way of exposition. The author goes through the action scenes quickly, and there is some development when the characters are stationary, but I would have liked to see more time taken to really bring some of these people to life emotionally, and also to flesh out the situations and transitions between action scenes. At times, I felt like I could be reading a book describing an action show on TV. The worst gripe I have relates to my personal reading / writing style. The author didn’t do anything ‘wrong,’ per se. I’m talking about the use of soft magic in the book. I know this is a sci-fi / cyberpunk deal, so let me give two examples to explain what I mean. We have people that can meditate out of their bodies and possess other people or cameras or tech. That part is explained in an adequate way. We also have shapeshifters that can turn into things like giant spiders, and in one case a spider-shifter drops into a dangerous situation to rescue our protagonist. I want to know HOW this happened at least in a superficial technical way, so I can see how the author explains it away in the rules of his universe. In another occasion, the protagonist triggers a second persona when he is caught mining diamonds. He becomes someone else as his back-up personality takes over, and this second person doesn’t know the trade secrets and they can’t be tortured out of him. Later, for no reason at all, the second, criminal persona’s forearms have holes that open up and poison gas that can kill dozens or even hundreds of people comes spewing out. This is never explained. It becomes ‘soft magic’ like the magic Gandalf used in LOTR stories, where the rules of how the magic works are never fully known. In this case, how in the crap does a guy not know that his forearms can emit poison gas, and when he does know, why doesn’t he try to figure out how it works, or how it can be stopped so he doesn’t murder dozens of innocents a second time? If I had written that concept into a story, I would have at least given a general idea of the mechanism. The Good: Now, on to what I enjoyed about this book. The author did a lot of things I liked. The main protagonist has his smuggler background, and then he turns into a noticeably different person when he gets caught. This was done well. I was reading one story, and after the change I was reading a whole other story because of the change in perspectives. That’s one reason why I would have liked a little more exposition to set things up, since this change happened so fast. The concept of meditation for the purposes of remote possession was also intriguing. A person on one world can tap into a security monitor on another world, or they can take over another person’s body and cause chaos within a crime network. The rescue spider and the poison gas forearm trick were also novel and interesting for me. There are many little things that pop up for me: the way the protagonist meditates himself into a fly so he can see what’s happening back home, where everybody thinks he’s dead, the relationship he has with the old master and his friends who teach him how to meditate, the whole deal with him being a captive for another criminal gang, and so on. Overall, this was a fun action read with an Asian perspective to set it apart from the rest of the cyberpunk titles I’ve read so far, and also from the repetitive patterns I keep seeing in most sci-fi TV shows and movies. This is the best title I’ve read yet from the dozen or so books I’ve acquired in this genre.
  • Android Chronicles: Origins on June 21, 2020
    (no rating)
    Overview: I chose this book at random from several that I recently acquired in the cyberpunk genre. First Sentence: Synthia Cross sat in front of a computer screen with no memory of how she’d gotten there, yet her mind contained vast amounts of impersonal data from the internet. - I really like the first half of this sentence. I think the author should have stopped right there and it would have been a good eye-opener. It pops the right way. It tells me ‘get ready because something big is coming next.’ By adding a whole other chunk to it and sending the reader off in a new direction right away, the power of the first half is diminished. As it is, I give this first line 3 stars, but it was only a period away from rating a 5. Plot: An android with advanced AI awareness is caught in a moral dilemma centering around her corrupt designer. The Bad: I have no real complaints about this short story. It has the right mechanics, good characterization, a fast-paced plot, plausible science, etc. The issue I had was that I got used to reading the longer sentences, and when the action heated up I’d get a couple of short, choppy sentences in a row that disrupted the flow for me. Here’s an example, where Machten starts off by saying: (“I’m giving you a direct order. Shoot him in the head.” The gun fired. The bullet grazed the man’s hairline.) It doesn’t happen often, but it jarred me a little because I was used to reading sentences that were twice as long. Also, I was speed reading, and I got mixed up with the two names Mack and Machten, when the android disguised herself as Mack and the fight started up. That was my bad, but really? Of all the possible names in the universe, you have to pick Machten for the scientist and Mack for the hired gun following him around? One last quibble that, in my opinion, would have elevated this from 4 stars to 5 is that the storytelling was more action-descriptive. A little more finesse in the wording, a little more artistic expression, some coloring with a larger palette, and it would have been there. The Good: This short story was written well enough that I would have liked to read more. I liked Synthia’s character, and I could empathize with her dilemma of following orders while knowing in the back of her mind that those orders are bad, even if the concept is a little overused in this genre. The rest of the characters, and there are only two of them worth mentioning (the main scientist and the rival scientist), are far less developed, but that was okay for me. It reminded me of action-based detective stories from the 30s and 40s. All of the important thinking takes place in the android’s head, making her more human in her depth than the stock figures she’s interacting with. Most things are done too easily, such as the hacking of advanced computer security systems, but overall, for the scope of a short story, this one was a fun read.