first contact

Enduring Endurance

Enduring Endurance
Infusing the traditional science fiction format with humor and awkward coworkers, Enduring Endurance follows the not-so-best-and-brightest of humanity as they explore the galaxy by accident.   Infusing the traditional science fiction format with humor and awkward coworkers, Enduring Endurance follows the not-so-best-and-brightest of humanity as they explore the galaxy by accident. Captain Thomas Withers expects the worst when he’s assigned command of the Endurance, the least-respected ship in the United Earth Law Enforcement Corps. He gets it, and then some. After a poorly executed experiment throws Thomas and his crew out of Earth’s solar system and into humanity’s first meeting with aliens, he must rely on the outcasts of the corps, not only to get home, but to survive the trip at all.

Reviewed by Shauna

4 Stars

This book sits as easily in humour or adventure with space as the backdrop as it does science fiction. The quirky characters take centre-stage and drive the story, rather than technology and plot.

Thomas Withers has just been promoted to Captain of the space ship Endurance, but he’s not happy. He had ‘…dreamed about this day from childhood. Now he was here, he wished he’d stayed in bed.’ One of the things I enjoyed most is the quietly ironic tone of the writing which remains true throughout the book.

We discover the captain’s promising career has come to a resounding halt after putting the life of a hostage ahead of an operation. This act endears him to the reader and ensures we are on his side as he is assigned to lead a ship of misfits. What he finds is a group of quirky individuals with their own reasons for being on the Endurance

Thomas has plans to improve the discipline of the crew and therefore his own future options, but he doesn’t have time to implement them before one of the chief engineer’s experiments finally works. The result is that Thomas and his crew are the first humans to leave the universe. While trying to reproduce the experiment so they can return home, they discover not one but two alien species.

The writing is crisp, and the character interactions humorous and honest as Thomas discovers that even a group of individuals who have been written off can pull together and create some surprising results.

This book is called Episode 1, and ‘episode’ describes the novella length and shape of the book perfectly. I’m looking forward to reading Episode 2.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

Reviewed by Connick

4 Stars

This was a brave choice of title, as I guess we’ve all had to endure tedious books in our time. Thankfully Enduring Endurance is lightyears from tedium. It is a fast, exciting adventure, wrapped up in around 80 pages. It begins with a fairly Star Trekie vision of future Earth with our hero, a discredited lieutenant being promoted to Captain of a space ship full of similarly disgraced crew, for allowing his moral fibre to take precedence over orders, effectively side-lining him for the rest of his career. He begins his new role by taking a strict authoritarian tack (determined to make good of a bad situation) with limited success, as the Endurance begins its tour of the most desolate reaches of the solar system. It isn’t long however, before the ship is sent massively off course and the crew are forced to forget their differences and work together to find a way to return home. As events spiral out of the group’s control, there are alien encounters, not all of them friendly or resolved without a battle.

This was a very enjoyable page-turner and a great start to what I’m sure will be a thrilling series of books. If I were to offer some constructive criticism… it is a short story with a lot going on, so there is a lack of suspense, building tension and peril. It seemed like each situation was resolved a little too quickly and then on to the next. I also feel that this type of book: short, exciting, action packed, and part of a sequence of stories (I believe four have been released so far) would lend itself very well to a cliff-hanger ending, to get the reader scurrying to find the next instalment to find out what happens. A bit cheeky perhaps, but I wouldn’t have had a problem with that. This is not to suggest that the actual ending is unsatisfying.

I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review.

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.