space opera

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 Plague

The Plague
Category:
Author:
Published: January 22, 2014
The Admiral of the Democratic Assembly. His right-hand man on a search for redemption. The lone survivor of a terraformed planet. A Defiled rebel unplugged from the Feed. And a memory of a time long ago. Five lives witness change in a universe that forgot it was possible. In the distant future every species is given a single vote to coordinate its existence. Humans, who sit at the top of this Democratic Assembly, require constant planetary terraforming to accommodate their booming population, which now includes naturally occurring genetic duplicates for every living sequence. This is the way it has always been. But when the one-thousandth Alien pyramid is found on a distant planet, and the murder of the marines who discovered it is broadcast across the public Feed, it seems change has finally come. Some would do anything to promote it, while others would die to prevent it. No one is ready for the truth: that change may come at the destruction of everything, and the ancient realization that “we are not alone” is about to take a whole new meaning.

Each Character is Well-Drawn and Complex

4 stars. 

The Plague is an entertaining and generally well-written science fiction story about a future where humans are a plague on the universe. It has all the elements that sci if fans will love – intelligent alien monsters with squishy tentacles and glistening scales, technological wizardry, deadly space battles, and even a touch of romance and a smidgen of magic.

Earth was destroyed long ago, and now New Earth has gone the same way. Humans are once again shifting planets.  I’m unsure of the time frame of this event, because though the author labels this part of the story The Near Future,  whether that is near to me, or near to the rest of the story, I’m not sure.  I don’t think it really matters that much in this somewhat disjointed form of story telling.

Four characters start in different places during the same time frame but in different, seemingly unrelated, situations, their only link the world they inhabit. But as the story continues, some of these characters come together, and each story informs the other.  Added to that are scenes from The Near Future and The Far Future which complete the story by giving us a view over a long period of human future history. Instead of these scenes coming at the end, they are peppered throughout the story. Some may not like this leaping about from character to character and between time periods, but I think it gives the story an interesting dynamic with the  glimpses of the future juxtaposed against the events that set the future along that path.

Each character is well-drawn and complex and their individual stories are strong, but the overall plot is not as strong as the individual strands that make it up. Near the end, the threads do start to converge and give of sense of an overall thrust to the story as the characters fall on different sides of a battle between the Defiled and the Assembly. I assume there will be sequels because the individual stories paused rather than ended, and the book clearly set the scene for future developments.

The book is sleek and well-edited, the only difficulty I had with it was the beginning. I simply had a hard time getting into it. The first and second scenes suffered from a lack of description, so I couldn’t get a visual of the setting and very little on the characters. The author didn’t introduce a central character up front either, so I didn’t know who the story was actually about until some way into the scene when I discovered that it was a first person narrative.  Even then, I couldn’t figure out who the narrator was and what role he played in the scene. His relationship to one of the other characters only became apparent at the end of the scene. Perhaps I simply missed these things, but I doubt I would be the only one who finds the beginning scenes a little vague.

The second scene also introduced many terms for aspects of the world but without any explanation, so I could only guess what on earth (or not on earth in this case) the narrator was  referring to. The author also introduced many characters in a short space of time and before the central character – another recipe for orientation difficulties.

Scene three, however, I found excellent. The main character was introduced up front, the threat was real, the visuals clear, the writing immediate and engaging, and by the end of the scene, I was rooting for Forge and the Flora. Things were looking up. And that standard continued throughout the rest of the book.

The author has used the characters and the world of his cartoon series for this novel, which  explains, but doesn’t excuse its early problems. Graphic fiction has pictures, but novels need description to create those pictures in the readers’ minds. Much about a world can be seen and understood in a glance with a picture, whereas it needs to be explained in a novel without associated graphics. The author provided me with the comic as well as the novel, but the novel should stand alone.

All up, if you can hang in at the beginning until things start to come together then the rest of the ride is great.

 

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.