scifi

Under Cover

Under Cover
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Published: February 6, 2014
Author's Twitter: @acspahn
Areva Praphasat can’t shoot anyone who is looking directly at her. Since she’s a cop, this causes problems. Since she also works on a spaceship fighting an alien empire that wants to invade Earth, those problems grow a bit out of control. When an espionage mission goes awry and Areva is captured by a group of spidery aliens who can’t understand her language, she faces the reality that her desire to stay out of sight may hinder her work more than she realized.

Reviewed by Shauna

5 Stars

I’ve read all three of the books so far in this series, and while they are more of a novella length, the author has created credible and convincing characters and none more so than Areva.

Areva’s quirks puzzled me in the earlier books, and appeared somewhat over the top even for this crew. In this third installment, Areva is one of the point of view characters, and so we learn about her past and the incident that caused her quirky characteristics.

Areva enjoys working on board Endurance, but she has to do some deep soul searching after an incident in which her ‘problem’ almost costs of the lives of two of the crew.

While this episode of the series takes place entirely in space, Any Spahn has created a very character-driven book, and I was rooting for Areva to escape the alien prison and to find an answer to her personal situation that she can live with. The ending poses a solution I didn’t want (or foresee) and I’m looking forward to more in this series

I received this book free from the author in return for an honest review.

Mightier than the Sword

Mightier than the Sword
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Published: October 22, 2013
Author's Twitter: @acspahn
Murder. Death threats. Working with the team that fired him six years ago. It’s a busy week for Viktor Ivanokoff. When Viktor is pulled off of the UELE Endurance to help solve the murder of his one-time captain, he’s eager to help. The case provides a challenge, as well as a chance to outperform his former colleagues. But as the investigation takes him into the far reaches of the solar system, he discovers that his work may carry greater stakes than a simple opportunity for payback.

Reviewed by Shauna

5 Stars

This is a good read and a great mix of murder, police investigation and science fiction. It’s the second book about the characters of the space ship Endurance, and in this one it is First Officer Viktor Ivanokoff as the point of view character. I enjoyed the change of narrator as we get to find out more about Viktor and how he came to be on Endurance.

Viktor previously worked in the organised crime division, and when his ex-boss is murdered, Viktor is asked to help with the investigation. There was no love lost between Viktor and his ex-boss, who was one of the people responsible for Viktor serving on the Endurance, but as Viktor’s name is on a list of targets found on the dead man’s body, he has good reason for helping to find the killer. Not to mention the satisfaction of finding the murderer before his ex-colleagues do.

To the reader’s delight, Viktor and his (written-off) Endurance colleagues work out what connects the people on the list before the Organised Crime group. The story is well-paced, mixing action and investigation, fight scenes and a hover car chase. After discovering a message sent to Saturn, there is an ironic turn of fate as Endurance is the only ship ready for the trip.

Towards the end, Viktor discovers a secret that may have far reaching consequences. This links back neatly to elements in the first book and gives the reader a satisfying ending, while looking forward to more.

I received this book free from the author in return for an honest review.

Enduring Endurance

Enduring Endurance
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Published: August 10, 2013
Author's Twitter: @acspahn
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.