aliens

The Sundered

The Sundered
In a world where the water kills, he must decide who lives or dies – humanity, or humanity’s broken slaves. Don’t touch the water, or it will pull you under. Conserve food, because there’s no arable land. Use Sundered slaves gently, or they die too quickly to be worthwhile. With extinction on the horizon and a world lost to deadly flood, Harry searches for a cure: the Hope of Humanity, the mysterious artifact that gave humans control over the Sundered centuries ago. According to legend, the Hope can fix the planet. But the Hope holds more secrets than Harry knows. Powerful Sundered Ones willingly bow to him just to get near it. Ambitious enemies pursue him, sure that the Hope is a weapon. Friends turn their backs, afraid Harry will choose wrong. And Harry has a choice to make. The time for sharing the Earth is done. Either the Sundered survive and humanity ends, or humanity lives for a while, but the Sundered are wiped out. He never wanted this choice. He still has to make it. In his broken, flooded world, Hope comes with a price.

Reviewed 

I won this book in a give away and when the author contacted me asking for my address, I said that since the postage to Australia would be quite a lot of money, I’d be fine with an ebook version, but she said she wanted to send me a paperback. A week or so later, it arrived. I read the blurb, then put the book down, thinking it sounded interesting. I didn’t think I’d get around to reading it for ages, but being a paperback, it sat on the coffee table shouting, read me, read me, so after dinner I picked it up to have a quick perusal of the first few pages and I and didn’t put it down again until I absolutely had to go to bed. You guessed it—I loved it. It grabbed me from page one and held me until the wonderful end.

The Sundered is fabulously different to anything else I’ve ever read—the mark of a strong new voice—and a totally unique story that had me completely enthralled.

The story takes place on a world flooded with black water that is deadly to humans. People share this world with the Sundered, magical creatures humans have enslaved. The Sundered are dying out, but since there is no arable land and they are the only ones who can go into the water, they are the ones that produce food. Once the Sundered are all gone, the humans will eventually die out.

Harry Iskinder is a salvager who paddles around in a small skiff looking for the Hope of humanity, a possibly mythical object that he hopes will save humans from extinction. No one knows what exactly it is or what it does, but Harry discovers that finding it will give him a choice; either the Sundered survive and humanity ends, or humanity lives for a while but the Sundered are wiped out.

The story is written in a snappy way that immediately drew this reader in. Harry is trying to live up to his family heritage of the ones who search for the Hope. He’s tense and terrified of failing to adequately lead his travellers, the gang that travels with him, and when he manages to claim a first tier Sundered, he is as surprised as anyone. Did the Sundered allow himself to be caught? And if so, why? Or does Harry simply have more power than he thought? Either way, Aakesh, his first tier Sundered is an extraordinary being and the conversations between him and Harry are brilliant.

I loved Gorish, the cute little Sundered. His simple ways were endearing and his love and loyalty for Harry, more than anything else, made me empathise with the Sundered. Aakesh was drawn so well, I could almost feel this incredibly powerful, noble and mysterious character. Other than these two, the only other character we really got to know (or needed to know) was Harry, who quickly became out of his depth. Sometimes I wished he would calm down a bit, and it would have been nice to have seen some kind of maturing in his character over the period of the story, some of Aakesh’s calm intelligence could have rubbed off on him. Also, I didn’t quite get why Bek was blowing up cities or how his weapon worked, so maybe that could have been clearer.

I really enjoyed the author’s descriptions of the perception of the Sundered and the concepts behind it, and the interrelational politics between Harry, his friends, his Sundered and his mentor were very well done. All in all an excellent book that I highly recommend to anyone who likes science fiction or fantasy.

Hollow Moon

Hollow Moon
What is the secret of the hollow moon? Join intrepid young heroine Ravana O’Brien in a fast-paced and witty science-fiction mystery of interstellar intrigue. Having fled civil war sixteen light years away, Ravana and her father now live in the sleepy commune of the hollow moon, a forgotten colony ship drifting around Barnard’s Star. Yet the evil priest Taranis, the dark architect of destiny, has returned from the dead. What began as a minor escapade to rescue her erratic electric pet soon leads Ravana and friends on an incredible planet-hopping voyage into the shady dystopian world of politics, terrible music and rebellion! Hollow Moon is an adventure for all who relish a dose of humour and practical astrophysics with their fantasy, for young adults and adults young at heart.

The Disenchanted Pet

The Disenchanted Pet
Aliens called ShaZha rule future Earth and struggle with capricious humanity. Zarah wants to prove humans can be civilized, but discovers a hidden people and must acknowledge her true status. Far into the future, the Earth is ruled by the ShaZha, a hyper-intelligent race of alien beings who are plagued by the violence and volatility of the human race. Supposedly intending to repair the broken societies and polluted planet, they have found the Human problem to be much more complex than they ever imagined. Zarah is a Prodigy, an obedient human, with a caring ShaZha master. Zarah wants to prove all her master’s hopes that humans can be civilized and responsible. When she is lost by her master and exposed to the other side of humanity, she must confront the possibility she might be not a valued citizen, but a pet.

 

Paw-Prints Of The Gods

Paw-Prints Of The Gods
On the forbidding planet of Falsafah, archaeologists are on the verge of a discovery that will shake the five systems to the core! Ravana O’Brien, snatched from her friends for reasons unknown, finds herself on another wild adventure, this time in the company of two alien greys, a cake-obsessed secret agent and a mysterious little orphan boy at the centre of something very big indeed. Their journey across the deadly dry deserts of Falsafah soon becomes a struggle against homicidal giant spiders, hostile machines and a psychotic nurse, not to mention an omniscient god-like watcher who is maybe also a cat. The disturbing new leaders of the Dhusarian Church and their cyberclone monks are preparing to meet their masters and saviours. But nobody believes in prophecies anymore, do they? Paw-Prints Of The Gods is the sequel to Hollow Moon, a light-hearted science-fiction adventure for young adults and adults young at heart.

Reviewed 

5 Stars.

Ravana O’Brien resumes her role as an intrepid teenage heroine in this sequel to Hollow Moon, which ends with… well, to avoid spoilers, let’s just say you should not count your dead villains until you see their desiccated corpses. In this story, the residents of her home inside a recently crippled hollowed-out asteroid have become refuges on Ascension, a nearby planet orbiting Barnard’s Star. They are not entirely welcome. In fact, they are not at all welcome. Ravana, now a student at Newbrum University, is not there, though. Her father believes she is on an archeological dig on the distant and inhospitable planet of Falsafah in the Tau Ceti system, but when the story opens, she finds herself in a hospital with very unlikely nurses, and she has no idea how or why she is there. Thus begins a well-told tale of mysteries, escapes, cyberclones, aliens, spies, spaceships, and giant spiders. It is a hard-to-put-down book.

I found the prose, editing, and formatting for the digital edition above average. Pacing is also good. Although some of the science is highly speculative, it is not outlandish within the context of the story. A little suspension of disbelief is required, but this is YA science fiction, so you expect that. The story is written with an omniscient point of view from the perspective of several characters, although primarily from that of Ravana. I had no trouble following it, and it was clear who was on center stage at all times. I found the characters quite believable, and I would put Ravana ahead of most teenage heroines I’ve seen in recent fiction. She is brave, intelligent, resourceful, and kind to short grey aliens and rude little boys.

YA science fiction has become something of a rarity these days, and it was delightful for me to find some that was so well done. I highly recommend Paw-Prints of the Gods for YA science fiction readers, but I suggest reading Hollow Moon first.

Full Disclosure: I received a promotional digital copy of this book through Awesome Indies.

 

 

Daimones

Daimones
Nothing prepared them for Earth’s last day.  May Dan Amenta be the last man alive on the planet? Death has swept away the lives of billions of people, but Dan and his family were spared. By whom, and why? Surviving, to give meaning to their lives, and looking for other survivors lead Dan to discover the truth about the extermination of the human race.  The encounter with Laura, a young and sexy girl of Italian origin, raises ethical and moral questions that had never touched the Amentas family before. Other survivors force Dan to confront his past to find answers to the many questions. The past and the present come together and upset the fragile balance, physical and mental, which allowed the Amentas to find a new meaning to their existence. Dan discovers his final role in a plan with million years roots. The planet Earth is in the hands of an ancient power, and the survivors have to choose a future that has no past, or remain in a past with no future.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies Assessor

Daimones begins with Dan being fired from his job. Though it’s a fairly ordinary situation and the author emphasises this ordinariness with writing that details the simple perceptions that make up our daily life, for Dan, it’s the beginning of a much greater change. He has barely managed to come to terms with his new situation, hasn’t even told his twelve year old daughter, when his concerns fade into insignificance in light of a complete upheaval to the world order. After a bad storm, his family awake to discover that they are the only ones left alive in their area. Everyone else has died, in their beds, at work, while driving their car, all at the same time, and all from the same unknown cause.

Their attempts to call friends and relatives meet with silence, their Internet searches indicate that the rest of the world has met the same fate. What killed everyone and why was he, his wife and daughter spared? These are questions they cannot answer, so they cope as best they can and plan for survival.

The book details their emotional journey, the way they adapt to their new circumstances  and their search for other survivors. Little happens in terms of action for many pages, so if you’re looking for fast paced action this is not the book for you, but the author skilfully embeds the simplicity of their life with enough tension to keep me turning pages to find out if someone would respond to their Facebook add, if the dogs would accept the family as their new masters or if Dan would find anyone alive in his trips around the area. Gradually the mystery is unveiled, but only at the end do we find out the full picture, and the picture is a large one, universal in its scope.

It’s a well written book. Dan is an intelligent, thoughtful character, and the ramifications of their situation for the future of the human race and, in particular, his daughter stimulate deep contemplation which, along with his realistic and sensitive insights into the character’s emotional journeys, gives the story depth.

The pacing is a little slow and more dramatic action would make this more appealing to a wider audience. As it is, it’s more contemporary fiction in style than the usual sci fi or apocolyptic book.

 

 

Reviewed by Richard Bunning

I loved reading this book. Some parts of it held my attention like a vice. I can still hear the roar of roller blades, the shatter of glass, the cawing of circling crows.
Some passages in the early version I read needed a touch more editing. However, the little stutters in the flow, the very occasional clumsyphrase, certainly didn’t spoil the book. I guess it might if you happen to be the sort of grammarian that suffers pain from every linguistic deviation, but then you must often be short of reading. (P.S. -I was an ARC reader- so prior to the book been revised to make the AI standard).

 

I had the constant nag at the back of my mind that the electricity supply for Geneva should have died, along with 99.9% of the population. Though this continuing availability was never explicitly explained the implicit assumption I eventually made tied the threads together satisfactorily. Another strand that I felt needed earlier enforcement was the childhood experience of Dan, which led to his life of chronic tinnitus. The early avoidance of these issues was I’m sure due to a determination to hold the surprise of the ending.
We start with reports of animal population crashes that might have come from the culturally shifting writing of Rachel Carson, move through a quiet apocalypse, then delve into the individualistic process of survival. Finally, Marino pulls together an episodic and dystopian past history of mankind, and the promise of a new galactic spirituality for our species. Erich Von Däniken, Philip K Dick and Arthur C Clarke might all have been sitting around a table collectively weaving together the elements of the new start instigated by the Daimones. I can see Marino sitting at the end of the table rapidly scribbling notes. Then finally, he selected a touch of each to colour his vision. Though each of these great authors probably inspired a few sentences, I feel that there is a lot of novel speculation to come in the rest of the planned trilogy.
I really found this to be a very enjoyable read. I am sure this is partly because I’m a writer of speculative science fiction of a similar nature. But also it’s because this is, even with science fiction discounted, a very entertaining book. The differing psychological profiles and difficulties of the main characters are well drawn, giving very real feeling grist to Marino’s speculative ideas.