Brian Sfinas

The Darkest of Suns Will Rise

The Darkest of Suns Will Rise
Author:
Publisher:
Published: April 1, 2015
Two hundred years in our future, mankind has made contact with a nigh-omniscient, pacifistic alien race known as The Prognosticate. With their help, Earth has banished overpopulation and disease. Peace, however, is not in our nature.   The Darkest of Suns Will Rise tells the story of Aiden DeCaro and Clarissa Blue, the captain of a near-Earth defense ship and his damaged counterpart. The Orphanage, a loose collection of terrorist cells populated with religious zealots, destroys a merchant vessel while it moves through an AEN-protected trade route. Aiden’s ship is the closest to the incident when it happens and when it’s discovered that the Orphans are using Alliance military codes to nullify observation satellites and intercept civilian ships undetected, eyes turn toward Aiden.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

Sfinas has taken a risk here, one that many couldn’t have pulled off, but he’s nailed it. If you like reading reports, you’ll love this. That might sound a little odd, but I’m not being sarcastic because the story is written completely in report form. Rather than have the story laid out for the reader in the usual way, it’s left to the reader to string it together from a series of reports that range from a personal diary of a rather psychologically challenged girl to excerpts from official documents. Apart from the diaries, the effect is somewhat impersonal, and it took me some time to get used to the style.

I didn’t find the characters particularly likable, but they were intriguing. I wanted to find out why they enjoyed a relationship that involved very violent sex (not explicit thankfully). Insights came as the book progressed as did a unifying thread of quelling a rebellion, exposing a traitor and characters and relationships not being what they appeared to be. The end had a surprising element that left me wondering – something I consider a good thing, especially in a book such as this.

I sweated over the star rating, hovering between 4.5 and 5 stars, and I eventually decided on 5 because the author has undoubtedly done what he set out to do and he’s done it well. The prose, though virtually all exposition, as would be expected in a report form, is well written, and the book has been finely edited. Also it’s refreshing to see a different approach to story telling.

 

 

 

 

 

The Sexual Adventures of Time and Space

Sexual Adventures of Time and Space, The
Author:
Publisher:
Published: December 31, 2013
The Sexual Adventures of Time and Space is an epistolary novel told in the form of excerpts from a young man’s journal. After a group of friends becomes addicted to the concept of lucid dreaming, they find a way to medically induce themselves into comas with the goal of extending their lucid experiences. When things get out of hand and someone dies, the friends must find a way to cover it up.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies' Assessor

August 6, 2013

For me, this book falls into the unusual books category, in both style and content. It’s a serious of diary entries written by Michael Thorn about his experiences in drug assisted lucid dreaming. He details the changes that take place in his and his friends’s lives as the dreaming takes hold of him like a drug.

There isn’t a strong plot, and for some this lack will be too great for their taste. It’s a character driven novel and what holds the entries together and keeps you reading is the question of what is going to happen to these people. The writing hints early on at dire consequences from the lucid dreaming ‘vacations’ and the suggestion increases once Dorothy is introduced. The recollections amble along, and my attention is held primarily by the strength of the prose, the voice of the central character, and the fact that the author teases out the answers we are waiting for.

The character of Henry, the drug dealer who gets the drug they need for the assisted sleeping, provides a little tension as well. We feel Micheal’s distrust of him and when that distrust proves warranted, there is the question of what is to be done about him. Again, the author drops hints that suggest that something dire happens, and once again we read on to find out what it is, even while still waiting for the answer of the previous question ie what happens to Dorothy, and the one before that, ie what happens to all of them. The author is a master hint-dropper. He creates mystery, where there is none, and it is just enough to give the book a sense of direction.

Michael’s  character is very strong and his observations on life are interesting, but the other characters are not particularly well-fleshed out. The lack of detail in characterisation is, however, reflective of Micheal’s increasing dissociation with the real world. The focus in this journal-style novel is solely on Micheal and his perceptions.

Though Dorothy’s story had an expected outcome, the ending of the book was a surprise, and it gave the  story the impact it needed to overcome its weaker points.

I had expected more description of  the dreams, especially considering the book’s title – which is not at all indicative of the actual story – but in fact we see very little of what Michael experiences while in his extended sleep. The one dream sequence written in the present tense was the best bit of writing in the book and I would have liked to have had read more such sequences.

Overall, this is an interesting, well-written book and, though not gripping, is worth a read.  I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of Michael’s perception of the world in the light of his growing immersion in the dreamspace.