#BookReview: The Space Between by Jane Lebak

This Needs To Be Expanded (And That Is A Very Good Thing). Here Lebak creates an inventive yet relatable science fiction tale set on Pluto that is a great yet short read… which is really the only problem with the book. It is so intriguing that I for one would *really* like to see this expanded out into a full length novel, perhaps building in more suspense and mystery and *maybe* adding a few more named characters/ further fleshing out existing named characters. Played right, it could likely even be expanded into a trilogy – one that I for one would love to experience. Seriously great tale, and a very quick read. Which in and of itself is *great* for those with little reading time and/ or trying to squeeze in a few more books at the end of the year to meet reading goals for the year. Also great for younger readers, as there is no cursing / sex/ gore *and* it even has some actual science (explained to “an intelligent five year old”, as the Station Director directs in-book) to use as a teaching point. ๐Ÿ™‚ Very much recommended.

This review of The Space Between by Jane Lebak was originally written on October 13, 2021.

#BookReview: Out Of Time by Matthew Mather

Freaking LHC / CERN *STILL* Trying To Destroy The World! One of the most important websites you can check every morning is HasTheLargeHadronColliderDestroyedTheWorldYet.com … and here, in this action-packed continuation of the Delta Devlin series, Matthew Mather gives yet another reason this is true. One I had never even considered – passing data backward through time – … and doing other things that are certain to go into spoiler territory to name (even without a description of this book to judge “spoiler” by) but which are truly, utterly terrifying. Mather attains the best of the creativity of a Jeremy Robinson type of science fiction writer with the “straight out of the headlines” level current/ near-future tech of a more Michael Crichton type science fiction writer – high praise indeed, considering that both of the aforementioned authors are among my all-time favorites – and he uses this skill to create a tale that can stand up against most any action-based science fiction tale out there. I for one can’t wait to see what tech he tackles next in this series! Very much recommended.

This review of Out Of Time by Matthew Mather was originally written on September 28, 2021.

#BookReview: Chimera by Michael McBride

Human Hubris Leads To Disaster. This is a creature feature tale combined with a disaster tale, with a unique and fairly inventive creature combining with a massive blizzard in the Arctic Circle to create one hell of a ride. McBride uses a dual timeline approach to show us how the creature came to be and just how one scientist in particular had their noble goals turn out so horrifically, along with showing the “now” of having to rescue any possible survivors once the creature runs on its inevitable (due to the genre) rampage. McBride actually teases some even more horrific creatures, but the focus is completely on the titular Chimera. While not in any way a political book (similar to the greats of the genre in that regard), in showing yet another way that altruism and hubris can in fact lead to disaster, this book actually makes some solid points about caution and even corporate and government interests – and back-room dealings – in the areas at hand. But again, these are more minor points in the tale, more throw-away commentary that fleshes out minor characters than truly central to the actual story. Truly a story that fires on all cylinders and offers much for anyone that is remotely a fan of science fiction in general or creature features in particular. Very much recommended.

This review of Chimera by Michael McBride was originally written on September 26, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Dark by Jeremy Robinson

This week we’re looking at a scifi action tale that wraps itself up in horror clothing remarkably well. This week we’re looking at The Dark by Jeremy Robinson.

As always, the Goodreads review:

The Master Turns To Horror. With this book, Jeremy Robinson – The Modern Day Master of Science Fiction – again attempts a horror book… before bringing it back to the scifi action that is his bread and butter. He first establishes a loveable galoof of an anti-hero: an Army veteran who has PTSD from his experiences in Afghanistan who can’t quite fit in with his suburban civilian “normal” life. Then, he begins building in the mystery and the horror, slowly ramping it up to truly horrific levels across several different types of horror, finally culminating in a truly utterly horrific sequence that, arguably, hard core fans of Mass Effect who are familiar with Mass Effect 2 in particular may be at least somewhat jaded to. And then, the actual scifi action conclusion – almost as though Robinson has made us see hell, and now wants to leave us on a more interesting/ happier note. Long time fans of Robinson may see at least a few similarities to his 2010 “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God” retelling, TORMENT, though for me that particular book was so horrific *because* it was essentially a modern day version of that famous sermon (which was, in itself, essentially a then-modern retelling of Dante’s Inferno). For those like me who literally had nightmares for *years* after reading that book, I can tell you that this one isn’t anywhere near that bad – at least not in the same ways. It truly is utterly horrific in a couple of sequences in particular, and these new horrors may indeed haunt your nightmares for quite some time. But dammit, that is what makes Robinson the Master. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Unthinkable by Brad Parks

DOES ANYONE KNOW WHO MARCUS SAKEY IS??? Ok, so this was a fun rib at a fellow author that Parks tossed into this book, and if you’re in the know, it was genuinely hilarious. I don’t know if Parks and Sakey know each other or have any kind of relationship at all, but it was hilarious regardless. And great levity in an otherwise pretty heavy tale that asks the classic trolley problem in a much more personal and yet global context: If you knew that one singular person was going to be the thing that ultimately tips global warming beyond repair and that billions of lives would thus be lost, could you kill that person? What if that person was your wife? Through the first 2/3 of this book, this is the primary driver and raises a lot of thought provoking questions, as Sakey’s own books tend to do. The back third goes more to direct action tale (as the back parts of Sakey’s own books tend to do), but the interesting connection here given the ribbing is that there are elements that *could* tie this tale to Sakey’s own Brilliance Saga. Whether this was the intent, this reader has no clue. But again, an interesting thought experiment. Ultimately this is a fun mystery/ action tale that mostly sticks to the realistic – even the exact scenario of the finality of global warming is plausible given the facts recorded in After Cooling by Eric Dean Wilson, which releases just weeks before this book itself does. If you’re looking for *purely* mindless action, eh, there are other books better suited to that. If you like “action with a brain”… this is going to be *exactly* what you’re looking for. Very much recommended.

This review of Unthinkable by Brad Parks was originally written on June 30, 2021.

#BookReview: Crocalypse by David Wood

BFP! Curtis Hamsworth! Fans of creature movies (you know, the ones with only a survivor or two – if any – after the creature(s) rampage) and/ or Jurassic Park are going to love this particular book. Set within Woods’ ever-expanding Maddock universe, you don’t have to have any prior experience with that world to have one hell of an awesome time with this romp through the rainforests of northern Australia. Part Jurassic Park, part creature feature ala Deep Blue Sea or Anaconda, and filled with enough adventure and even laughs to bring down a … well, a Big Fucking Predator, this is simply a fun diversion from the “real” world that will leave you breathless… and wanting more. Indeed, the only quibble I have with this thing is the not-very-veiled shots at Sea World – and yet even then, the point *is* (eventually) made of just how much money comes to conservation efforts because of Sea World and similar parks. (Which is my ultimate real world point about such parks.) Beyond that particular sporadic commentary though, truly an amazing ride that will have you forgetting the “real” world for a few hours. And really, isn’t that all any of us can ask for these days? ๐Ÿ™‚ Very much recommended.

This review of Crocaplyse by David Wood was originally written on April 3, 2021.

#BookReview: How To Mars by David Ebenbach

Zany Space Story. The best way to describe this book, really, is that if you like Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy – a perennial favorite among the geek set for decades now that has in many cases transcended into pop culture – … you’re probably going to like this one too. There are quite a bit of similarities, given the hilarious and offbeat humor and even the “guidebook” element of the story. (Though unlike the Adams epic, this one actually includes at least parts of the guide in the story.) As others have noted, the fact that this was spurred many years ago by a (now defunct) Mars colonization effort that had the same general premise is, quite frankly, even more amusing. If you’re looking to see what all the fuss over Hitchhiker is about but you’re not willing to commit to something of quite that length, try this one. At roughly 250 pages, it is a short-average length and thus a good primer for that type of humor and creativity. If you’re looking for a more serious/ Hard Science Fiction ala Andy Weir’s take on The Martian… this isn’t that. So strap in and get ready to blast off on one wild ride. Very much recommended.

This review of How To Mars by David Ebenbach was originally written on March 1, 2021.