Notice...

The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.


***SPOILER ALERT***
Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Autograph Collecting

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Dreaming of Hope: A Star Marked Novella By Justin Doyle - Marvelous Introduction Into The Star Marked Series!

Dreaming of Hope: A Star Marked Novella by Justin Doyle

No matter how much I read, and I read a lot, while I am enjoying a story, I come up with questions about the backstory. I want to know things like, what is it in the background of a character that makes them behave the way they do? Or, what happened in the past of a place to create a particular situation?

I'm sure I am not alone in my curiosity about such matters.

Dreaming of Hope is a new novella in the Star Marked universe by Justin Doyle. It is a prequel story of the three-book series focusing on a character appearing in the first of the three books in the series. Dreaming also shows the plight of the oppressed people of the world through the eyes of the principal character.

In Embargo of Hope, the first novel, we follow the exploits of Darynn Mark, a heroic tough warrior who lives by the sword. Dreaming follows the events before Embargo, following Darynn's best friend, Pavlar Solia. 

I enjoyed this look into the history before Embargo and especially appreciated the look through Pavlar's eyes. I've read all three installments of the Star Marked series, and Dreaming fits in very well to fill in some of the blanks that one might encounter when entering this universe created by the author.

The world of the Star Marked series works under a class structure that has various levels. Dreaming of Hope focuses on the plight of the Olan-Har, the lowest class on the world of Vastire. As such, the people are forced to find food wherever they can, and those who cannot fend for themselves go without basic needs, and eventually perish. One young man, Pavlar Solia, has made it his personal mission to help those who cannot help themselves, often putting himself in great danger. Fortunately, his best friend, Darynn Mark, is there to assist, and to watch his back as Pavlar works in his humanitarian efforts.

It is a constant effort to try to make the lives of the Olan-Har a little better. It is often a thankless effort, but the rewards for success are great if one doesn't lose his own life in the work.

Pavlar is a sort of futuristic Robin Hood. He has taken on the unenviable task of making sure that people in the slums can have it better than he does. This young man has a selfless spirit that seems to have no bounds. The story opens with him and his companion, Darynn, securing food from a place that has so much, and is needed by so many. While they encounter obstacles along the way, they experience successes and defeats, but always seem to at least escape with their skins intact.

Pavlar and Darynn are very different people, but they work together very well and make Dreaming of Hope a fast and fun read. A hero's work is never done, so there are several adventures for these two, and as the stakes get higher, so do the risks.

My favorite point of plot in this prequel is how the world is exposed through the eyes of the principal character, Pavlar. I enjoyed the adventure while the world building unfolds through Pavlar's eyes. Many owe their existence to the efforts of this exceptional young man.

My takeaway from Dreaming of Hope is to remember that worthwhile efforts require an ability to see a problem, have a desire to do something about it, and finally to take action. Pavlar is an example of persistence and deep compassion for his fellow citizens of the slums the Olan-Har are forced to endure.

Justin Doyle is relatively new on the scene, but he has already proven himself to be an amazing spinner of great Sci-Fi/Fantasy tales. Dreaming of Hope is the prequel to his trilogy of hero's journey tales in the Star Marked series. The First full-length novel, Embargo on Hope, and the story continues in the next two novels, Assassination of Hope, and Betrayal of Hope. This series is full of adventure, suspense, danger, and action. Lots and lots of action, and well worth a look.

Dreaming sets the stage in a way that will have the reader cheering for Pavlar and Darynn and rooting for them and their success.

I recommend Dreaming of Hope as an excellent prequel to an amazing series.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I was born in Galveston, TX and raised in the Houston area. In middle school, I fell in love with two lifelong pursuits: space and writing. I knew I wanted to work at NASA and write on the side, and lo-and-behold, that’s exactly what I’ve ended up doing.

The book that really turned me on to sci-fi/fiction was The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper. After that, the Lost Years of Merlin series, by T.A. Barron, cemented my love for the genre.

I worked on Embargo on Hope for fifteen-plus years, very much off and on. It changed a lot in that time, starting with an author who was just barely 18 and struggling in college to a happily married adult with two kids. I recommitted to the “craft” when the COVID-19 Quarantine hit, devouring everything I could to learn more about writing.

Now I live in the Houston area with my wife, two daughters, and two giant dogs.

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Deus Ex Effing Machina By Rick Jurmain - The Wild Ride Continues In This Second Book Of The Gravtech Series!

Deus Ex Effing Machina: The Gravtech Series - Book 2

After reading the first book in the Gravtech series, Apocalypse Du Jour, there was no way I would miss the sequel, Deus Ex Effing Machina! I was mesmerized by the first book, and again, I became absorbed in this volume. It is an edge of your seat ride through the aftermath of the events in the first story. Deus Ex is another fast-paced, entertaining, and thought-provoking, tongue-in-cheek look at life after the accidental discovery of antigravity technology that brought about the eventual collapse of the global economy to make life better for everyone.

Deus Ex is a humorous work of speculative fiction that will also give the reader much to think about. There are some serious considerations that will crop up in this tale, but are presented in such a way that makes considering some of the grimmest situations fun to contemplate.

The characters in this story are all believable, so even the absurd will seem plausible.

Following the invention of antigravity, the four scientists who accidentally created the technology have all become billionaires and continue to work for the new company that is still developing and learning the consequences of their invention. In the meantime, there are those who would exploit this new tech for their own advancement and nefarious reasons. The global economy has become one where there is plenty for everyone, and that is difficult for some to accept, while others take to it without problems. A group of oligarchs see opportunities to use the tech to further their agenda. But the company is trying to investigate the problem of a hacker who has an agenda that is difficult to understand. Further, this hacker has a skewed sense of humor that is baffling everyone. No one can seem to get what this person wants, if it is even a person. Then, there are several nuclear devices traveling to major cities in the U.S. set to create mayhem and destruction on a massive scale, and they seem impossible to stop. And it is not clear who is behind that little plot, and there are numerous possibilities for the responsible party.

So, numerous problems and no easy solutions makes for a ride faster than a speeding bullet, and just as dangerous!

The characters in Deus Ex are all extraordinary individuals but are written in such a way they could be very real people. In this story, all the people introduced in Apocalypse are back, but some are expanded.

My favorite in this one is Ted "Boingy" Binghamton. He is the CEO of GravWorks. A former game programmer, he possesses a monster-sized sense of humor. Boingy will find the humor in all situations, no matter how grim. He’s the kind of boss I would want to work for. He seems very laid back, but he demands top performance from his people, but he does it without being overly demanding. He likes donuts and dunking them in his coffee (my kind of guy). 

Another favorite character was an octopus living in a Boston aquarium. I'll just leave that right there.

My favorite point of plot in Deus Ex is the mixture of various subjects to make the story thought provoking and informative. There is a mixture of science (both real and made-up) along with history, philosophy, politics, human relations, war and peace, and economics. While all the elements are fictitious, they all are relatable to situations we can read about every day in the news. While the reader will want to get on to the next element of the story, it wasn't uncommon for me to stop reading and contemplate what I had just read.

Another favorite part of Deus Ex was a chapter that had a subheading offering the reader to skip a chapter. I urge you not to do this! It's one of the best parts of the book!

My takeaway from Deus Ex is to remember something I will quote. I see it as more of a warning for vigilance than anything...

"Humans evolved from chimps into chumps. And everyone with something to sell knows it." (Page 273)

Deus Ex Effing Machina is 762 pages of sheer fun and an opportunity to think and learn. I am eager to see where the author takes the story from here. Rick has a great sense of humor and knows how to use it. The writing in this book reminds me a little of Douglas Adams because it combines dire situations with a natural sort of hilarity that one might find in reality. A friend once told me when the chips were down, "never lose your sense of humor."

The length of the novel might seem intimidating, but the book reads quickly and is absolutely worth the time.

I gave my highest recommendations for Deus Ex Effing Machina along with the previous book in the series, Apocalypse Du Jour. The author warns the reader that before reading Deus Ex, it would be wise to read Apocalypse, and I completely agree!

Oh, and while I'm at it, I'll warn you to beware of the interrupting bovine creature (you're going to have to read the book to get that).

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Rick Jurmain is a retired rocket scientist and entrepreneur. In the ‘90s, he and his late wife Mary (killed by cancer in 2016) built a successful corporation from the ground up. For Realityworks, Inc., the invented, built, and marketed a microprocessor-based product that gained national support, achieved international media attention, and was named by Fortune magazine as Product of the Year in 1994. In 2000, the Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Chamber of Commerce selected Rick and Mary as the local Entrepreneurs of the Year, and Ernst & Young selected them as Finalists for the Wisconsin Entrepreneur of the Year award. Mary ran the company, while Rick was Vice President In Charge Of Things That Go Beep (engineering, computers, phones, faxes, cars, dishwashers, and oddly enough, toilets, though they rarely go beep).

In the ‘80’s, Rick let, or was a member of, 13 NASA Space Shuttle mission control Flight Activities teams. Unlike cruise ships, Shuttle flight activities did not include shuffleboard or bingo. The Flight Activities teams planned missions starting years prior to launch, and re-planned missions during flights when things went wrong. And things always went wrong. Rick also led the Operations Analysis teams for General Dynamics’ Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) and McDonnell Douglas’ National AeroSpace Plane (NASP). He spent 15 years in the aerospace industry doing tactical analysis and war games, including top level WWIII combined arms games, and he helped invent hypersonic war games.

In 2002, Rick was a consultant to Coleman Aerospace on DARPA’s RASCAL study, which designed modifications for a rocket-powered F-14 fighter. For that contract, Rick headed up designing the Operations, Support, Avionics, Electrical, Instrumentation, Cockpit, Payload Interfaces, and Integrated Vehicle Health Management Systems. All the fun stuff.

In the late ‘90’s, Rick was founder of Vela Technology Development, Inc. Vela and its partners started much of what is becoming the space tourism industry. Vela’s briefings to Burt Rutan and Richard Branson started them on the path to space tourism. Vela worked with the FAA to write regulations for space tourism. And Vela helped design a space-tourism themed resort for Las Vegas. While Vela has since folded, Rick owns its process patent on key low-acceleration trajectories for space tourism. And if Rutan doesn’t get his butt in gear, the patent will be worthless because it expires soon.

Rick was a Captain in the Army Combat Engineers, National Guard and Reserves (no significant active duty).

Rick is 65 years old, currently retired, though working intermittently as a board member, inventor, and writer. He has two kids: Jake, age 30, and Ariel, Age 26. And he’s obnoxiously proud of both of them.

Rick is widely acknowledged to have been Mary’s trophy husband. Though no one has ever thought of him as just another pretty face. At least, no one who’s seen his face. And, come to think of it, no one has ever considered that he was a first-place trophy either. Rick was just in the right place at the right time to trip up a gorgeous, massively intelligent woman with an aging biological clock and desperately low standards. Someday, someone will make a fortune building a dating site for such women.

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Western Lights By C.P. Schaefer - A Fast-Paced,Entertaining, And Thoughtful Story

Western Lights by C.P. Schaefer

This is the second book from C.P. Schaefer, an author I have gained a great deal of respect for. The first book was The Kuyper Rogue, an excellent story of survival far from Earth. Western Lights, however, is set right here on the good Earth. It is a story that takes hold of the reader right from the opening and doesn't let go until it is over. But even then, there is a lot left to think about when the story ends. The 434 pages of this story blazed by, and it was a fun ride.

The world in Western Lights is being ravaged by runaway climate change. It is too late to stop it. At the same time, our Sun is in a period of heightened electromagnetic activity, and to make matters worse, the magnetic core of the Earth is flipping. Magnetic north is moving, and not in small increments, but in huge leaps from one place to another.

The result is complete and utter chaos.

This mix of circumstances results in some beautiful, and very dangerous, Super Aurora displays. There are also some very strange time portals opening up all over the planet. Those portal appearances result in some extraordinary events that baffle scientists.

NOAA researcher, Sara Gathers, is a concerned citizen who is seeking a way to stop climate change. She has the answers, but it is probably too late to make necessary changes to arrest the process threatening all life on the planet. When the magnetic pole moves to California, she and her two companions vanish without a trace.

Sarah winds up decades in the past and sees an opportunity to change the deadly course of runaway climate change.

But how?

And that barely scratches the surface of the amazing story in the pages of Western Lights.

The tale centers on Sara Gaithers, a researcher who cares about the planet. Everything on the planet, and she knows how to get things done, very much like her mother, who is the director of NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce). She is smart and driven even at a time when it seems there is little hope of reversing the damage that has been done to the planet dating back to the time of the Industrial Revolution. She also has an uncanny ability to move people to taking action on her behalf. 

Sara comes by her abilities naturally when considering the abilities of her mother, Julia. Julia knows the right people in high places and helps Sara obtain the resources she needs to do her job investigating the chaotic events taking place.

Mason Hahn is a pilot and he and Sara meet up in Bristol Bay in Southwest Alaska, where an event, probably as a result of the shifting magnetic pole, could end in disaster. Sara knows what needs to be done, and Mason knows how to improvise and get things done, and these characters make a great team. They also have feelings for each other, adding another dimension to the story, making it feel real. Mason and Sara are joined by a young wiz-kid.

Ethan Sites, Assistant Manager of Operations for a NOAA outpost, finds himself in the wilderness until he is rescued by Sara and Mason. He is great with computers and other electronic devices and, while a bit obnoxious at times, Ethan is a valuable asset to the group, as well as others. He is a fun character in the tale and often provides a little comic relief to some otherwise grim situations.

All the characters in Western Lights are believable people, and characters I grew to like and care about.

My favorite point of plot in this story is how the author not only provides a great story, but he also includes some factual, scientific information. But that is not all. There is also the introduction of paranormal events included in the story, adding color and an interesting wrinkle to heighten interest. This story has it all!

My takeaway from Western Lights is to remember that an intelligent, resourceful person can affect change if they are willing to take great risks.

Sara could have just lived in the past safe from climate change, but instead, she chose to work in the past to make the world a better place going forward.

Western Lights is a great story about people who care about the world and the people in it. There are some bizarre situations, one might even think absurd in a way, but in this day and age, when nearly anything seems possible, maybe not so far-fetched. It is a fast-paced tale with some fine characters that will have the reader caring about them and their plight. But this story will also make one think about our own future and what is to be done to make corrections before we tip over the edge, if that isn't the case already.

I give my highest recommendations for Western Lights, an entertaining and informative story.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

C.P. Schaefer is an American writer and Engineer. He has been a private engineer in private practice for over 40 years and has written two science fiction novels called The Kuyper Rogue and Western Lights.

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Portals Of The Mind: A Short Story Collection By Stephen Wise - Eleven Unique Stories That Will Entertain The Mind

Portals of the Mind: A Short Story Collection by Stephen Wise

The book's title hints at the content, but it doesn't even scratch the surface of what is between the sheets. As a reader who enjoys short stories, I found this edition full of literary gold. All the contents are fun to read and thought provoking, and there is something for nearly everyone. The stories are quite diverse and include, along with sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and a western. One thing all the stories are thrilling reads.

The opening tale is about a 14-year-old kid whose weird uncle Bob disappears. Max misses his uncle and intends to find him when he gets messages from Bob on his electronic devices. What follows are stories from other portals that may or may not be from another plane of existence.

From the blurb on the back of the book, here is a small sampling of the eleven stories in this volume...

- A man returns to consciousness with a slowly returning memory and a body that doesn't function normally.

- A college student working overnight at a convenience store faces an unspeakable terror.

- After attending his best friend's funeral, a young man confronts grief, guilt, and a ghostly apparition.

- A band of killers track a desperado across the desert and to a deserted mission, where a final showdown ensues.

- Strange music draws a young boy to an old mill in his town, where he is presented with a wondrous new world and a tough choice.

And that barely describes the contents. There is so much more.

My favorite story of this collection is entitled Happy Camper. 24-year-old Ronnie reluctantly agrees to go camping with a couple of his friends. Normally, Ronnie spends his free time in his apartment gaming. When the trip begins, he is overwhelmed by everything he encounters. Every noise and movement cause him anxiety. He finds himself surrounded by nature and is experiencing nearly everything for the first time, and he is not enjoying his experience. He longs for the familiar surroundings of the city.

What happens to Ronnie is a kind of transformation as he discovers things about himself and what he is actually capable of.

My takeaway from Happy Camper is to always remain open to new and unfamiliar experiences. You never know what you might learn about yourself and others as well.

I recommend Portals of the Mind for any reader who enjoys a good short story collection. It is entertaining, and sometimes a little scary. Every story is a gem. The world building is excellent and the characters are fascinating. Stephen knows how to create characters a reader can care about in a very short space. I had a lot of fun reading this collection.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Stephen Wise is a multiple award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker with a bachelor's degree in film production from the University of Central Florida. His films have been screened in over a dozen countries. He is a co-writer of Batman: DarKnight, which IFC lists as one of the seven best unproduced Batman screen plays. He is a Michigan native and currently resides in Northwest Florida.

To find out more about Stephen Wise and his work, visit StephenJWise.com

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Girls V Boys By Ryan Woodwind Wan - It's A Race To Obtain The Universe's Ultimate Prize - Who Will Win?

Girls V Boys by Ryan Woodwind Wan

I received a copy of this book for free and am writing this review voluntarily.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I first opened this book. As I read along, I found a well-crafted story about a character named Rayne. As time went on, other characters were added, some friendly, others hostile, and some downright evil.

The whole thing was about obtaining a powerful object that would make one invincible, and everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted this object.

I couldn't help but get visions of an Anime style of story full of impossible to solve problems and characters that were bigger than life.

I enjoyed this tale of people on a quest to become all powerful, whether or not that was their intention.

But there aren't only challenges for the characters, there are also challenges for the reader. If you enjoy solving puzzles, this book has them. Every now and then, through the narrative, there will be a puzzle to solve.

I dislike doing puzzles. I'm not good at them and don't really have the patience. So, mostly, I just skipped those and read the story, and it worked out well. But, for those who enjoy puzzles, it will probably heighten the reading experience while you make your own choices on the direction.

From the back of the book, here is the summary...

GIRLS WITH GUNS; BOYS WITH TOYS;

Rayne, a girl seeking adventure, meets the Tracker, a boy out for redemption. When a new evil arises to steal the most powerful weapon in the universe, the unlikely duo must hunt down this foe. Either by challenging each other or teaming up together. As the two learn more about one another, will their feelings develop and lead to a confession, or will they tread separate paths? Or worse - become lifelong enemies? Enter their worlds filled with danger and chaos at every turn. Choose your side, play their matches, and uncover three different endings in the battle of a lifetime - 

GIRLS V BOYS!

The principal character, Rayne, is indeed an adventurous spirit. She has great courage and can hold her own well in a fight. But there are those who would discourage her from fulfilling her goal, to serve and persevere. But she will have none of the discouragement and presses ahead. However, she is a bit naïve, especially when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. She learns the hard way while dealing with her own uncertain emotions, triumphs, and disappointments. She is a good character. I wanted her to win out in the end. I cared about her and wanted her to be successful.

My favorite point of plot in Girls V Boys is how the members of the teams, both girls and boys, had their particular personalities that mirrored each other. It was fun to get into their heads and see how they felt and how they dealt with those feelings. There are some great plot twists and reveals involving the kids in this story. Watch for them, they're the best part of the book.

My takeaway from Girls V Boys is to remember that someone who appears to care about you may only be using you to further their own agenda.

Girls V Boys is a fun read full of action, plot twists, and characters that a reader can relate to and care about. It is a serious sci-fi space opera that visits many interesting places and situations that are full of danger and intrigue. Don't be surprised if the story plays out in the theater of your mind as an anime movie. It did in mine. I recommend this tale for those who want lots of fascinating banter between characters, and those who want a fast-paced action story.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lawyer by day, writer by night. Like many others, Ryan struggles with work-life balance. And when he gets it, he might just type a thing or two. Don't get him started in anime and tanks, or he'll never stop! He prefers working in his study on a late, rainy night. Follow him and his shenanigans on X @RyanWoodwindWan.

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Domo Arigato, Mister Roboto: Companion Chronicles Vol. 6 by Joshua Todd James - The Final Installment To An Amazing Saga!

Domo Arigato, Mister Roboto: Companion Chronicles Vol. 6 by Joshua Todd James

I received a copy of this book for free and am leaving this review voluntarily.

Domo Arigato, Mister Roboto is the sixth and last book in Joshua Todd James' Companion Chronicles series. It is the conclusion to the exploits and adventures of Jacob Kind, a synthetic Companion who witnessed the murder of his Primary, a human who purchases a companion. Her name was Sylvia Kind. She was more than a simple Primary to Jacob; she was also his teacher and mentor in humanity who encouraged Jacob to learn and improve himself. Following Munson Tolliver's brutal attack, Sylvia lay dying in Jacob's arms. He promised her he would work to protect and serve humanity at all costs, and he promised himself he would find those responsible for Sylvia's murder and bring them to justice.

I have taken this journey through all sorts of situations, both good and bad, from the beginning. It is one of the most compelling sagas I have ever read. It is emotionally charged spanning all levels of emotional engagement, and I found myself angry at the level of cruelty humans are capable of, not only to Jacob, but to each other as well.

Jacob's saga will make one think, reflect, and introspect on what it means to be human, as well as being inhumane to those lesser than us.

In this final book brings the story to a close with another story that answers all the questions raised in the previous installments. It is full of characters a reader can care about, and a few that are appalling. If you choose to read, keep your eyes open for some surprises that knocked me out of my chair when I reached them. There is plenty of action, suspense, and compassion to keep any reader engaged and entertained.

After running off the road in a stolen truck, Jacob wakes up after being cared for by a retired doctor named Larry, his wife, Evie, and their cat, Socrates. Jacob is in bad shape from the accident, a gunshot wound, and a morbid addiction to painkillers.

While he appreciates the care he is given, he is also very aware that his mere presence puts his benefactors in grave danger should anyone discover he is there. Along with that, Jacob is eager to get on with his mission to find the murderer, Munson Tolliver, and another man named Larkin Finn.

Jacob heals from his wounds well but also undergoes a brutal round of detoxification from the painkillers that have him in their grip.

Jacob Kind is a compassionate individual who will help anyone in need, but out of necessity, he has also learned to be brutal. It is unfortunate, but everywhere he goes, he faces people who want to hurt him because he is different. In Domo Arigato, even with the kindness of Larry and Evie, he still finds those who perceive him as a threat. Jacob's primary objective is to find the one man responsible for the death of his adopted mother, Sylvia, but his promise to her means that instead of going out to search for the murderer, he will stay where he is until those who have taken care of him are safe from harm, as per his promise to Sylvia.

Larry and Evie are a couple who have moved to the country in upstate New York to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. They live in a nice home with their cat, and soon to arrive child, only wanting peace and harmony. They have an interesting lifestyle anyone might desire, but they also harbor secrets.

Munson Tolliver is one of the most reprehensible, evil, and irredeemable characters I have ever found in anything I have ever read. He is a person who enjoys making others suffer and kills without remorse. He is also relentless in his pursuit of his prey. This character casts a shadow over the entire series, but in this installment of the Companion Chronicles, he becomes the stuff of nightmares.

My favorite point of plot in Domo Arigato is the healing of Jacob Kind, freely given by Larry and Evie. They ask nothing in return for their ministrations. Jacob is grateful for their care and does his best to show his gratitude in return. In order to avoid major spoilers, I will just leave that where it is.

My takeaway from this story, along with the entire series, is how these books made me feel. It runs the full gamut of emotional content, and it gives the reader pause to reflect on their own feelings and intrinsic biases, and the damage that can be done if one doesn't examine their own thought processes. It is a real eye opener.

Through his work, I have come to know the author, Joshua Tood James, as an outstanding writer worthy of attention. Through this final installment, and the five previous stories in the Companion Chronicles, I feel I have learned to think about things I haven't explored before. But these books aren't just a tome for self-exploration, they are also some just great and entertaining stories. Domo Arigato wraps up the series by answering all the questions a reader might have as they read the series and is a well written, fast-paced tale. I give my highest recommendations for all the books in the series. Together, they make up an amazing epic to fire the imagination and spark the question of how we will deal with the future of Artificial Intelligence should it also become sentient.

The books of the series are...

Some Animals - Volume 1

Minority Of One - Volume 2

Freedom Run - Volume 3

Man In A Box - Volume 4

Renegade - Volume 5

Domo Arigato, Mister Roboto - Volume 6

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Joshua Todd James is a novelist, screenwriter, and playwright based in New York City. He's written the feature film Pound of Flesh, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, and the upcoming film Take Cover, starring Alice Eve and Scott Adkins, among others.

Books include The Companion Chronicles, detailing the adventures of synthetic person, Jacob Kind in the novellas Some Animals, Minority of One, Freedom Run, Renegade, and Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto.

Joshua is a member of WGAE and likes ice-cold tea, cool summer breezes, and hot Brazilian Jiujitsu.

Well, there it is...

Qapla!

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Aftermath: Lunar By Bradley James - A Great Fascinating Debut Novel Worth Reading!

The Aftermath: Lunar by Bradley James

I received a copy of this book for free and am leaving this review voluntarily. 

The Aftermath: Lunar is the debut novel and first part of a planned series by Bradley James.

When I saw the cover, I knew I had to read this one. Imagine standing on the surface of another world where you have had to bring everything you need to survive and then you witness the destruction of your home planet. Unimaginable, you say? Yes, it is. But the author of this brilliant first novel builds a world on another world to spark the imagination.

There are twists and turns galore at nearly every page turn, making this unlikely story seem plausible. It is packed with plenty of action that begins on the opening page and never lets up right through to the end. I found myself not wanting to put Aftermath down because the ends of most chapters are cliffhangers in miniature spurring one to read on.

Astronauts Elliot Adams and Franklin Lewis are on a mission to the Earth's Moon near the site of a base under construction. When they look up, they see rocks and boulders impacting the surface, kicking up dust and debris and seek to get undercover to wait the event out.

But that is only the beginning of the explorer's problems.

In the chaos, the pair dash for cover and become separated. Elliot notices a large shadow pass over the surface and can only watch as the Earth suffers from the impact of a huge asteroid. There isn't time for reminiscing, as survival is the first order of business. Elliot and Franklin become separated and lose communication. Elliot falls unconscious.

When he awakes, he literally stumbles into something that shouldn't be on the moon. What he finds is only the beginning of an adventure to boggle and fascinate the reader.

One of the author's major strengths in the writing of this story is a bullpen of well-developed characters. Many are characters the reader will certainly find themselves caring about, while others are shrouded in mystery. This makes for a fascinating and well-paced read. I will not talk too much about them because it would lead to some major spoilers.

The principal character, and the one whom we follow through the story, Elliot, is a strong character and the one we get to know the best. He is a good man with a solid moral base. Even with everything he faces, he doesn't lose his composure as he works out puzzles and navigates through and around obstacles the author places in his way. He also has some special skills that make him even more fun to read.

Another of Bradley James’ strengths in Aftermath is the world building and is my favorite plot point in the book.

Right from the beginning, during the meteor storm all the way to the end of the book are vivid and make an amazing backdrop for the characters to move through.

The major theme of this tale is survival. There are numerous and varied situations presented to challenge Elliot and others as they work to overcome them. There is never a dull moment in this book.

My takeaway from Aftermath is to remember that no matter how hopeless things may seem, there will always be a solution to problems as long as one doesn't stop thinking and acting while taking advantage of what one has at hand and remains open to learning something new.

The Aftermath: Lunar is just a fun and entertaining story that is hard to put down once the reader cracks the cover. I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a fantastic journey. I think even those who are not sci-fi fans would enjoy this just for the humanity in it. It is a cracker-jack of a first novel that includes not only a great story but also great characters and some fine world building. It has everything one could want in a well-crafted tale of adventure and survival.

Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bradley James published his debut novel, The Aftermath Lunar, in early 2024, realizing a long-held dream. Since then, he has been irreversibly bitten by the writing bug, immediately embarking on his next literary adventure without looking back. When not immersed in crafting narratives, Bradley can be found indulging in long runs, losing himself in books, consuming copious amounts of coffee, or passionately cheering on his favorite football team. Though born in London, he now resides in Southwest England, where the lush landscapes often serve as a backdrop for his creativity.

Find Bradley's website at https://bradleyjamesauthor.com/

Well, there it is...

Qapla!