Centricity

Centricity: A Sci-Fi Espionage Thriller presumed published, copyright and written by Nathaniel Henderson.
Briefly, the plot follows the activities of several individualistic ‘loners’ who are attempting to function in a dystopian society that is highly compartmentalized but open to subcontractors and overseen by a CIA- or FBI-like central body that is able to discern their actions and thought patterns through various implants and take drastic action if anything contrary to the government’s interest is suspected. Past wars and resultant chaotic results are mentioned as is the occurrence of N-81 a mutating, airborne virus highly contagious during its incubation that wreaked havoc.
Discussion: From this reviewer’s perspective, nothing more can be offered with respect to this book without an explanation of the book’s basics. Specifically, it is a tale in the apparently quite rapidly growing sub-genre of sci-fi called Cyberpunk – succinctly described by Lawrence Person in Wikipedia as “Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.”
The book opens with a preface by the author thanking the reader ‘for plugging into the first instalment of the Centricity Cycle and an explanation of how his interest in this particular thrust for sci-fi stories occurred so that he felt compelled to combine this type of ‘techno-baroque world with his love of James Bond and thriller masters such as Tom Clancy to present his own type of tales’. He has done exactly this with a beautifully written, well-paced story complete with interesting characters. For readers new to this new phase of the psi-fi genre, quite fortunately, at the end of the book he provides an explanation of the rather extensive list of principle characters of the Naion Government, its Military and Corporate members in order of importance followed by those of Cheyvata’s Empire and a schematic of the Naion Hierarchy. Regrettably, a slight oversight caused a delay in explanations of certain of the terms being offered until after they had been used for a time; e.g. a good explanation of nimphs – “Neuronal Interface Multi-Process Hubs – not quite proper but often referred to all brainware including peripherals, software and synt assistants that managed them. They “allowed for the mental control of bodytech, including implants and wearables, but had limitations in trouble-shooting since they relied on local control programs to inform. If the local programs were missing the point, so would the nymph.” This explanation did not appear until Chapter 10.

5* Well-written/-paced/-characterized cyberpunk thriller; strong caveat for pragmatists.

The Martian among Us: The Unexpected Saga of Elon Musk and Space

The Martian among Us assumed published copyright and written by Dexter Franklin.

This book sub-titled “The Unexpected Saga of Elon Musk and Space, A science-Fiction Novel” opens with an explanation about Mars – a planet, fourth rock from the sun, that Earthlings called Mars – was more than a red planet of desert hills and valleys inhabited by weird creatures. Instead, the author presents a far different picture of the true planet, one with a vital civilization of intelligent beings living in an underground city. Physically, they were structured similarly to humans but with a head size about double, very large eyes and a small nose and mouth. They were immensely intelligent. Their one aerospace scientist, Dr. Dor, working through an extinct volcano, hopefully would be able to construct a space ship that would transport the entire population to another inhabitable planet. Changes in planet dictated such a move within the next one hundred years. They had no idea of earth, or any other plants. Simultaneously, Elon Musk is attempting to be the first person from Earth to set foot on Mars. His wife, Justine just lost her baby (crib death). He is an extremely successful and highly innovative entrepreneur with many businesses and a huge net worth. He awakens from a dream in the middle of the night that a spaceship is going to crash and he knows where. He gets up and rushes off. He does not find anything except a large hole with no discernable unusual debris. He does meet Dr. Dor however, who neutralizes him and assumes his identical physical and mental shape, memory and abilities, after which, he completely disintegrates into his individual component molecules which then erase all evidence that any Elon Musk exists except the one assumed by the Martian. Justine is unaware of any change except reappearance of the man she had learned to love.

As time passes, Dr. Henry Malcom, a geologist who was drawn to the scene, can’t find any evidence of a meteorite but finds an impression of a body plus a car key to Musk’s Tesla, which the Martian had forgotten to take before reducing Musk. He returns it to the Martian/Musk and his actions raise questions for the geologist. Additionally, Dr. Fredrick Wilson, one of Musk’s employees actually knew what had happened to the real Elon Musk and uses this to pressure the Martian to provide a better position for himself. The new Musk continues with gaining investors for his already begun space ship to Mars and complications continue to mount for all characters involved leading to a most interesting and unexpected finale. Provision of more details would constitute require a “Spoiler’ designation.

Discussion: Devotees of Alien/Sci-fi tales may find this book to be somewhat below their expectations. Activities of several of the Earth characters are difficult to accept as are some of the Martian. Younger readers perhaps may find it appealing.

3*  4* interesting plot; -1* apropos discussion.

Something Found: A coin

Something Found: A Coin, published copyright and written by Troy Aaron Ratliff.

The reader is introduced to Todd Freeman, a middle-aged man who leaves Ohio to drive down to Key West, Florida where he establishes a studio. He is a good artist selling enough paintings to support himself and his studio. He is recognized by the locals for this, but also as a ‘Good Samaritan’. When Todd is not painting, he loves to roam the beaches with a top-of-the-line metal detector. He finds a lot of odd metal, and a considerable number of small coins and an occasional piece of value. And this is the reason for presenting him with a humanitarian award. Rather than gaining money for the valuable piece found, this “Selfless Scavenger” attempts to find and return the item to the rightful owner. As the story advances, we discover more about Todd’s early developed talent, marriage and arrival of a son that required a better income than that available for a new and unknown artist. Apparently he has other talents as well, which develop into the type of success every one associates with the American Dream. However, this purportedly idyllic life is destroyed by a catastrophic event that has led him to his journey to find solace in his original love of art and the success he has achieved within the last three years. However, once again fate intervenes when he discovers a most unusual penny with his metal detector and he is forced to flee for his life. He is saved with help from a number of strange individuals he does not know and begins a search for the answer to a long existent and well known mystery that has plagued an area of the Atlantic Ocean for many years, a unique and deadly problem that extensive scientific investigation has not been able to solve.

Discussion: the author has offered a most fascinating introduction to another possible answer to this strange phenomenon that has plagued scientists along with everyone else for many years. For this reviewer, the writing contains unnecessarily long descriptions of the trip, terrain, et al of the trip to and from Miami to Key West, but apologetically this may result from personal familiarity. Overall, the author has provided a fascinating opening book to what could be entrée to series exploring an intriguing addition to those proposals already set forth.

5* First of trilogy proposing cause of long standing phenomenon.

Canvas of Time

Canvas of Time ISBN: 9798690817947 assumed published copyright and written by Amélie Pimont.

The story is a sci/fi fantasy/romance following the lives of two people, Sarah and Eli, who are consumed with eternally lasting love that surfaces again with each reincarnation. The reader first is introduced to the couple as they are picked up by a passing space ship in a galaxy far removed, find their true love and are brutally terminated shortly thereafter. They are reunited in Egypt where she is a thoroughly spoiled Princess and he her acquired slave. Once again fate steps in and the relationship is fatally terminated. More reunions follow in France during WW I, and again in WWII when their country is invaded, German soldiers are forcibly assigned to their home, and their fortunes again end unpleasantly. The last reincarnation presented occurs in Los Angeles where Sarah is a free-lance journalist whose photographs gain prominence while Eli is an extremely famous artist. Destiny again brings them together and they live a number of soul-satisfying years until one night while embraced in each other’s arms they fall asleep and once more ascend into the beyond.

Discussion: The author, originally a Parisian, now is living in Los Angeles where she is a free-lance film maker. I understand that this is her initial attempt at production of a novel. As such, it is commendable. Each plot is interesting, the characters are sufficiently fleshed-out to elicit empathetic reactions and the pace, for the most part is good, although slowed considerably in areas. The writing style is unusual, rather simplistic and almost stilted at times, possibly as a result of use of a second language?  There also is a considerable amount of redundancy and/or repetition of words. Some of these features are understandable because of the book’s basic theme. However, a considerable amount actually is disconcerting, if not exactly annoying. However, as a total presentation, the author has produced a most interesting story that deals with a subject that has fascinated people for years. Certainly, these individuals as well as fantasy devotes, will discover these stories to be ‘hard-to-put-down.

 

3* 5* Basic plot intriguing to most; -2* problems encountered for new writers

Moraturi Lost

Moraturi Lost ISBN: 9781679850080 published, copyright SupRes, Inc. South Australia, written by Marti Ward.

This is the 2nd book in this author’s Lost Mission Series based upon a relatively large series of sci-fi stories about the Paradisi Project whose basics she describes again in detail so it is possible for this volume to ‘standalone’ without having read Casindra Lost, its predecessor. After Solar Horizons, the public face of the ten Founders has decided to ignore further messages from Casindra, they decide to send a second ship to establish the first colony on New Eden. The autocratic leader Henry Thorndike and his specialties ‘authorities’, Dr. Abramov, an AI specialist in charge of Solar System Security (CIA type), Dr. Aditya Ganesh, Intelligence systems, and Medical Authority Dr. Sabina Gunther call in Captain Michael Evans and give him command of the Spaceship Moraturi. They explain that the Casindra is being abandoned because, although Commander Sideris journey through the newly technologically developed wormhole had been successful, he had sustained severe injuries in subsequent encounters with severe storms in the new galaxy leaving a top level 3 AI in command. Messages sent by this AI made them believe that he had turned rogue because at this time the Founders group back home are facing unexpected difficulties with a strike by different levels of AI’s to which legally they must respond because of a legal snag. Thus, their action is to disregard further messages and dispatch another ship on the same journey.

This ship, the Moraturi and its journey, follows as the second book in this series. Captain Michael Evans as the commander of this new trip which advances to attempt actual colonization with 500 passengers, largely in various cryogenic states and, assumedly because of the problems in dealing with the disgruntled AIs, they provide him with a human crew, backed by mostly low level AIs. This journey also suffers severe consequences with damage to the ship besides injury and deaths to the entire crew, including Captain Evans. AND, these events occur before even reaching the galaxy. They are thrown out of the wormhole at a time now placing them more than thirty years from New Eden. There is no alternative other than for the passengers to step up, crew the ship, and attempt to figure out how they will run the ship and be able to extend the food, power and other supplies of necessities to allow them and their 500 passengers who must be brought out of their ‘sleep’ status in the very near future, to survive and safely arrive at their destination when the ship’s supplies had been arranged for less than a three year trip.

Discussion: This second volume perhaps is even more interesting than the first because of the interplay among the larger number of characters provided. It is aided also by the young ages of the principles and their abilities to grow rapidly with the situation. With inclusion of the quite lengthy description of the entire preceding events, this book, as stated earlier, can stand alone for new readers. However, actual reading of the first in the series before this one is enjoyable in itself and recommended,

5* Enjoyable new series for sci-fi devotees.

The Timekeepers War

The Timekeepers War ISBN: 9781939065643 Bedlam Press, copyright and written by S. C. Jensen.

This is an unusual fanciful thriller with the protagonist known as the ‘Ghost’ in that she, in some unimagined manner can find anybody, or any type of individual requested, for a price. This is a most important function in the world in which she lives. Civil wars of long ago have left a stratified population spread through three levels, a city of rubble peopled by hungry, desperate and dangerous individuals, a relatively well-constructed underground development inhabited largely by fishing villages along the underground river, and an upper city inhabited by the wealthy, living in another ‘city’ constructed by inter-connecting bridges providing all of the upper floors of the high rise buildings to function as one. Their servants are members of the lower city sold by clandestine traders as slaves to be used as desired by this upper city’s population. The Ghost’s younger sister, she believes, may be one of these slaves captured when very young, but she can find no trace until she is approached by Lynch, the legendary terrorist who says he can lead her to her sister if she, with her unusual ability of knowing the citizens of the city and underground villages, will help him put together a group of individuals that he intends to use to overthrow the ruler of the upper ‘high-rise’ city. The tale is about their attempts to accomplish this feat and of the part played by the ‘Timekeepers’.

Discussion: The impression one gains in the tale’s opening is one of wonder at where it was heading. However, it soon settles into an unusual and rather intriguing post-apocalyptic psi-fi story with interesting characters and abundant action. It leaves the reader with no closure per se, but rather a lot of thoughts and questions as to where the author intends to go with the next volume which one is given to understand will follow.

5* Rapidly moving, interesting fanciful psi-fi post-apocalyptic tale.

Casindra Lost

Casindra Lost ISBN: 9781708810108, first published and copyright by Supres Inc. written by Marti Ward,

This book is part of the Last Missions Series of The Paradisi Series with acknowledgements first to “the effort and support of those who created and opened up the Paradisi Universe to all writers of whatever background, experience and genre” and to the author’s “teachers from science to philosophy, linguistics, to psychology, geology to biology, mathematics to neuroscience” and to her students “across these and all the Sciences, Technology, Mathematics & Engineering (STEM) disciplines.” The reference is to a relatively large series of sci-fi stories. The basis of the stories is about the imminent destruction of Earth. For too many years its population had been derelict in taking even nominal care of the planet and as a result it was on an escalating path to ultimate destruction. In 2025 ten men and women, all tremendously wealthy and powerful leaders in various areas of commerce, decided to become the Founders of the Paradisi Project. Because of anticipated interference from various forces on Earth, supposedly their activity was investigating the feasibility of establishing colonies on the Moon and Mars. Actually, they were setting up and colonizing New Eden, a Planet in the Andromeda Galaxy that scientists recently had discovered and deemed able to support human life. The colony was to survive and grow by the passing down of the basic goals from family to family, all acting in concert with the Council of Ten. This volume details the activities of Commander Jerome Sideris who captains the first intergalactic craft through a devised wormhole to the new planet and his exploratory activities. On its face, the project was an altruistic experiment to save the human race. Because of the secrecy and selective membership involved, the thought also might arise that it could be a conspiracy to save ten of the richest families on Earth – the Founders and their proposed selection of inhabitants of this new world. Henry Thorndike, was the autocratic leader that had gathered a group of authorities in their specialties. They were Dr. Abramov, an AI specialist in charge of Solar System Security (CIA type), Dr. Aditya Ganesh, Intelligence systems, and Medical Authority Dr. Sabina Gunther. Commander Jerome Sideris, a stalwart and probably the most knowledgeable of all of their possible selections, was given command of the first exploratory vessel and sets off. Regrettably and for undisclosed reason other than he was known as a ‘loner’ his only crew consisted of AI’s of various levels. However, Sideris’ main companion was the thoroughly trained top level AI he, as well as the Commander, referred to as ‘Al’ and an empathetic relationship develops. He also befriends a male and female cat who are part of the experimental selection of animals, birds and marine life that was incorporated in this exploratory event. Unexpected atmospheric problems ensue, Sideris is badly injured and ‘Al’ must assume command until he can be fully repaired by the on-board medical AI’s. Because simultaneously the Founders group back home are facing unexpected difficulties with a strike by different levels of AI’s to which legally they must respond, they misinterpret messages sent back to headquarters as demonstrative of ‘AL’ going rogue. So their action is to disregard further messages and dispatch another ship on the same journey. This ship, the Moraturi and its journey, follows as the second book in this series.

Discussion: The author has set forth an interesting sci-fi tale with abundant psychological overtones that provides the reader with an opportunity to see how people with little knowledge can make decisions and act authoritatively too quickly and especially without sufficient information. Regrettably such decisions all too frequently are made with dependence on a single purportedly authoritative opinion. One such decision, for example, Intelligence systems authority Ganesh’s apparent original decision to send a full ship with only one human and not even a backup Executive Officer in the chain of command on a three and one-half year, 2500000 light year mission would not appear to be a sound decision under any circumstances.

5* for sci-fi aficionados; fascinating psychological aspects.

Incite Insight

Incite Insight ISBN: 9780994439901 Tale Publishing, Australia first published 2015 written by Robert New.

The protagonist, Brad Thomas, is a young man who, in spite of somewhat lesser abilities to ‘read’ people, their expressions and body language, and postulate on possibly hidden agendas, manages to become a detective in one of the smaller cities of Australia. However he somehow manages to obtain a similar position in one of the large cities where he constantly is made to feel inferior. He has a certain personal charm, however, which provides some hope for the sergeant to whom he reports and she assigns him to a case where the victim suddenly succumbs from an apparent ‘melting’ of the brain tissues. Several more victims suffer similar occurrences and all are recognized as prominent members of ‘think tanks’ or the highly intelligent products thereof. Forensics provides basic information which allows Brad to discover a certain professor’s programs that were “designed to help its audience improve their understanding of the links between aspects of the so-called ‘human situation’. It aims to increase people’s working memory and awareness of what happens around them”; i.e. not simply make them more intelligent. There are several levels of advancement which they gradually can unlock but really need to work mentally to reach each new level. He is provided another young woman detective as a partner, and at the same time meets, and is attracted to Amy, a secretary he meets while following a prominent lead. The attraction grows as they both are studying the professor’s levels, he thinking it might aid in solving the case while her interest is a basic desire to advance in life. The tale continues as Brad engages in computer hacking to advance in the program, confers with the prominent head of an organization that provides programs for others to circumvent undesirable matters and discovers a world of secrete organizations with thoughts of world dominance they in no way consider unconscionable. Brad gains in self-confidence and makes progress with solving the mystery, but concurrently the tale assumes another, associated but somewhat different, direction to its climax.

Discussion:  Brad’s approach to solving the mystery employs an approach that is somewhat implausible and the multi-layers of the story and their juxtapositioning is a little perplexing. However, the story retains the reader’s interest, but somehow leaves, at least this reviewer, with a somewhat confused understanding of its direction from that initially provided for prospective readers.

3* Interestingly worthwhile, but somewhat confusing read.

The Price of Safety

The Price of Safety ISBN: 9781950890811 World Castle Publishing copyright and written by Michael C. Bland.

The storyteller opens with his statement that “Igniting a miniature sun was the riskiest thing we’d ever attempted. Yet we were doing it in front of the entire planet” With 45 seconds left in countdown, he was mentally checking all aspects of the project while his onetime best friend and company co-founder CEO Nikolai, was in front of the 200 assembled CEOs bragging about the various accomplishments. The ignition is accomplished, in part, but must be terminated by a structural failure. From this introduction the tale continues as we follow the activity of Dray Quintero, a brilliant scientist who is the inventor of the extensive array of methods employed by the government supposedly to protect and provide a better life for the citizens. He discovers far too late that instead, these features are being employed to control them. Seemingly, the CEO has been able to provide the manner in which they are disseminated and has been completely tied to the government resulting in great wealth for himself, while Dray was involved in the brilliant investigative activity of providing the blueprints. The story is a matter of many twists and turns that involves his wife and three children. Death of the first one having a tremendous effect on him and his wife and directing their attention in an unhealthy manner toward attempts to protect the remaining offspring. But here, we discover that the older daughter has an agenda of her own. There are a large number of twists and turns in the plot with abundant distrust, deception, betrayal and treachery discovered to have been extant for some time and even within his own family.

Discussion: The author has provided a tale that reflects much of the thought and attitudes of much of today’s population set in a sci-fi of a number of years in the future. There is much repetition and some inexplicable thoughtless activity. However, this is a book for individuals who are devotees of sci-fi non-stop action thrillers. Regrettably from this reviewer’s perspective, it may be a little ‘over-the-top’ for even the reader who enjoys sci-fi/thrillers but is a tad more pragmatic.

3* 5* great read for die-hard readers of action-packed sci-fi/thrillers; -2* as explained.

The DAR LUMBRE Chronicles

The Dar Lumbre Chronicles ISBN: 9780692086162 assumed published, copyright and written by Don Johnson.

The author has devised an interesting plot where a highly intelligent geneticist, Dar Lumbre, was about to be arrested by the government for his continued work in the field. Although he had engineered the only viable heart replacement available, one evolving from actual heart tissue. They were concerned about other of his experiments and decided he must be apprehended and kept from continuing. The heavily controlling government was unable to find him in spite of all their efforts. The book opens a hundred years later, where the government has evolved into an all-encompassing power where there were only two political parties that alternated years of control, but regardless, all housing, food allotment and distribution of other necessities were administered by the ruling body. There was a requirement for citizen enrollment in one or the other party with non-registrants considered ‘Outsiders” who were forced to survive the best they could. Trouble begins with the DL-666 heart tissue losing ability to function properly and two extremely intelligent geneticists Craig Hopkins and Annie Lee working for the owner, Cal Tech, are assigned to discover why it is failing. The new laboratory director who was hired to ‘turn the company around’ because it was losing revenue, ultimately dismisses Craig. Because the wife of the government’s President suddenly requires a heart transplant, Craig is rehired and he and Annie continue to make advances in repairing the damage. Numerous other complications arise with a long-existent, but secret, Dar Lumbre Society surfacing and registering the ‘Outcasts’, an overwhelming majority of whom believe that eventually  the missing Dar Lumbar wil reappear  a hundred years after he disappeared while in his late fifties or sixties. Numerous supportive characters add levels of suspense to the tale as it evolves and any further details would be a complete disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: a well written, spaced and paced, sci-fi, mystery, thriller with extensive details on genetics presented in a readable fashion.

5* Pleasant, easy to read sci-fi/mystery/thriller involving genetics.