Category Archives: dystopian science fiction

I N T E R S T E L L A R ~ Offworld Adventure at Your Fingertips

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All subgenres of Science Fiction are included: Space Opera, Humor, TechnoThrillers, Military, Hard Science, Time Travel, Fantasy, Adventure and YA.
It’s a big universe out there…so Buckle-Up Buttercup–you’re in for a wild ride! Find your New Favorite Author and leave a Great Review.

Once again, I am part of a wonderful Instafreebie giveaway where all 54 novels on offer provide offworld adventures. I shall be featuring a selection of the free books so if you see something that takes your fancy, you can click on the link above and claim it…

 

“He wasn’t human. You’ve discovered the existence of a new enemy combatant, Captain. Since you saw him – he saw you.”
150 years after the last war, humanity has united in exploring space with colonies on its moon and Mars. But the Europa Mission has just failed and 152 people died in space. No one knows why. When military bioscientist Capt. Warren’s hidden research installation gets attacked, he joins forces with armored assault Sgt. Von Radach. They become entangled in a deadly fight to stop the theft of classified military secrets by a lethal female villain. Her devious plans to use enemy cyborgs posing as humans and altering military personnel’s neural implants to accept her commands have every chance of succeeding. Unless…Capt. Warren and Sgt. Von Radach can end her first.

 

 

A lethal orbital defense platform.
A squad of green Marines.
A silent alien killer.
WHO DIES NEXT?
2441AD. A quarantine platform in the Rakasa system goes quiet and a squad of freshly minted Marines are sent to investigate. The blood soon flows, but there is one Marine who has the bravery and cunning to take on even the most lethal hidden foe. Set 125 years before the events on Tranquility that sparked the creation of the Human Legion, ‘The Demons of Kor-Lir’ is a standalone novella that is also an introduction to the Sleeping Legion novels.

 

 

Isaac and Aaron are nothing if not survivors. Their homeworld lost and their people scattered, all they have left is each other. Then, in the Far Outworlds, they find a dead colony with a beautiful young woman frozen in cryostasis. She is also a survivor—and she needs their help.

 

 

Arek Lancer, independent freight hauler, just wants to pick up a cargo from the port of Buhin. But when an old “friend” from his military days forces Lancer to take on a cargo to deliver to a criminal organization, he must figure a way out of the mess before either side kills him.

 

 

 

Clunk’s grateful when his boss sends him off for a refit, because old robots are usually junke

d. So what’s the catch?

Well, before the refit he must help a freelancer pick up some cargo. Landing in a deserted field under cover of darkness, avoiding customs ships, orbital lasers and trigger-happy warships along the way, is not a problem for Clunk. The freelance pilot is a much bigger challenge, because Hal Spacejock is obstinate, over-confident, and woefully under-skilled, and yet he refuses to cede control of his ship to a mere robot.
Can the two of them sort out their differences and deliver the cargo, or will they still be wrestling over the controls when the deadline expires?

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*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Nyxia – Book 1 of The Nyxia Triad series by Scott Reintgen #Brainfluffbookreview #Nyxiabookreview

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I’ve been seeing this one around and hearing lots of good things about it, so when it became available on Netgalley, I immediately requested it and was delighted when I was approved to read it.

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family. Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe. But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

I have seen various references to Red Rising and The Hunger Games series in relation to this one and they are both apt. There is an ongoing contest where those who lose will never get to land on Eden and as you’d expect from a competition with such high stakes, there are some savage tactics employed. I really liked Emmett’s reluctance to adopt the most ruthless, violent route to try to achieve a place on Eden – and the fact that though he is very poor, he is also from a tight-knit, loving family. The cultural diversity of the youngsters taking part worked well and Reintgen managed to keep up the pace and tension throughout, despite the relatively large number of characters he was handling.

There is a steady progression of unpleasant discoveries about the project and the substance nyxia as the youngsters are mercilessly drilled and pitted against each other in order to hone their skills in mining and controlling nyxia, while coping with the environment. Eden doesn’t sound remotely like paradise if these exercises are any indication of the conditions prevailing on the alien planet. I like the fact that Emmett isn’t one of those who is right at the top – instead he is bumping along at the bottom and in constant danger of being flushed out of the project.

It was a shock when a couple of likeable, major characters died along the way, which raised the stakes and made it harder to put the book down. The ending is well handled, bringing the book to a climactic conclusion with another nasty surprise that genuinely made my jaw drop – I love it when that happens…

Any niggles? I could have done without the romance. It felt rather tacked on and certainly added nothing to the storyline. However, it’s not a dealbreaker and I am keen to read the next book in this trilogy, Nyxia Unleashed. While I obtained an arc of Nyxia from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
8/10

Review of INDIE EBOOK The Backworlds by M. Pax #Brainfluffbookreview #TheBackworldsbookreview

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The Backworlds is one of the 52 books on offer during the Instafeebie LEGION – Women Authors of Sci-Fi giveaway, which I had the pleasure of reading a while ago. This is my review. Running Out of Space is also part of this giveaway, if you haven’t already got hold of a copy and would like to give it a try.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. After the war with the Foreworlders, Backworlders scatter across the planets left. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to improve his fortunes by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends with little money and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

The initial couple of chapters pack a real punch – Craze’s hurt and amazement at his father’s double-cross is believable and immediately had me rooting for him. Pax shows her experience in the slick handling of her protagonist – too much fury and resistance would have unduly slowed the pace, while a mere defeated shrug would have still had the reader convinced that his father was a complete ratbag, but would not necessarily have engendered quite as much sympathy for the main character.

After his unpleasant ejection from his village, the story follows a familiar pattern – an inexperienced youngster having to make his way in an innately hostile and uncaring world. This time around, the worlds are hostile with knobs on. In the aftermath of an interplanetary war, no one is particularly welcoming – except for the two aviarmen he encounters on his first journey offworld… And immediately the three of them spin off into an adventure, while trying to find a foothold somewhere to make their fortunes.

The writing is pacy, direct and very readable. Pax knows how to write an interesting, detailed character, provide an entertaining and believable backdrop, while keeping the action coming. I was swept along with the action and particularly enjoyed the colourful dialogue.
9/10

Instafreebie Giveaway – LEGION – Women Authors of Sci-Fi

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This giveaway is running until 21st August and is featuring women writing science fiction and yes – Running Out of Space is in there, along with 51 other books! I’m delighted to be part of any group that raises the profile of indie women authors writing my favourite genre and maybe you might like to check it out – here.

Friday Faceoff – Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoff

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the theme this week to feature on any of our covers is a starry sky. I’ve selected The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett – see my review here.

 

This edition was produced by Berkley in June 2017 and is my favourite. I think the starscape is absolutely beautiful and also suits the mood and content of the story. It also works really well as a thumbnail. If I had a quibble, it would be that I wish the title and author font had been given a bit more love and attention as they are rather boring.

 

Published in June 2017 by Pan Macmillan, this cover is eye-catching and reasonably attractive, though I don’t like it as much as the previous effort. However I do like the bright orange lettering, which works well against the backdrop. My main misgiving is that the book deals with the aftermath of a lethal virus and this cover looks a bit too cosy for the content.

 

This Italian edition, published by Leggereditore in June 2017, suffers from the same issue as the previous cover – it almost looks as though it could be a cover for a children’s book. And while this isn’t the gory type of post-apocalyptic story, the themes are only suitable for adults.

 

This edition, produced by Pan in March 2018 is an interesting example of what a difference an alternative colour scheme can make to the same design. I far prefer this version as I think both the orange lettering and the sky stands out more effectively. I also like the fact the woman is moving, rather than standing still.

 

This cover was published in November 2017 by Thorndike Press Large Print and is my least favourite. I’ve no quarrel with starscapes – in fact I’m a real sucker for them, but this is a particularly charmless effort with hardly any stars. It looks as though someone has knocked together this cover after browsing Shutterstock for all of ten minutes. Which one of these is your favourite?

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc novella Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia #Brainfluffbookreview #PrimeMeridianbookreview

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I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Beautiful Ones by Moreno-Garcia – see my review here – so when I caught sight of this novella on Netgalley, it was a no-brainer.

Amelia dreams of Mars. The Mars of the movies and the imagination, an endless bastion of opportunities for a colonist with some guts. But she’s trapped in Mexico City, enduring the drudgery of an unkind metropolis, working as a rent-a-friend, selling her blood to old folks with money who hope to rejuvenate themselves with it, enacting a fractured love story. And yet there’s Mars, at the edge of the silver screen, of life. It awaits her.

I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting – but it wasn’t this. Less escapist space opera and far more dystopian, very-near-future, this novella packed a punch. I’ll be honest – given what else was going in my life, this was not the read I would have chosen to pick up. But I’m glad I did.

Amelia has edges – and quite right, too. So would I if I’d endured the lack of opportunity and dead-end options facing her. She has fixated on going to Mars – right from the time she was old enough to be ambitious and despite having had a series of unlucky breaks, she still is determined to get there. It’s the only thing that really matters… so it is painful to read of her constant struggles that seem to go nowhere. She is constantly angry and hostile to those around her – not ideal when one of her hard-scrabble jobs is to sell her companionship in response to an app.

The world is richly depicted – which seems to be Moreno-Garcia’s trademark, along with indepth characterisation that doesn’t impede the storyline. She nearly has the pacing nailed, but I did feel the ending was a tad hurried in comparison to the rest of the story. Having said that, novellas are fiendishly difficult to get right.

I enjoyed the story and the awkward dynamic between Amelia and the rest of the characters. The times when she is most at peace with herself and those around her, are when thinking of Mars, or watching the movies with an ageing actress who employs her to listen to her past. And if you think that sounds rather poignant, you’d be right.

I would love to read a sequel to this thought-provoking story as I find myself wondering about the character and what happens next. Recommended for fans of literary fiction. While I obtained an arc of Prime Meridian from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
9/10

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Truth Sister by Phil Gilvin #Brainfluffbookreview #TruthSisterbookreview

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I was attracted by the title and the premise, so picked this up. Being a feminist, I was hoping that perhaps women would make a better fist of running the world – but that wasn’t to be…

The year is 2149. The Women’s Republic of Anglia seeks to harness forgotten technologies from the time when men ruled the world. Naturals are second-class citizens, while women born through cloning are the true children of the Republic. When Clara Perdue graduates from the prestigious Academy, she is ready to do her part to support the Republic and bring about a better future for all. But when she stumbles on information that the Republic has tried to keep hidden, she begins to realise that the society she has been taught to believe in and trained to defend is not all that it seems. A secret from Clara’s past puts herself, her family, and her friends in danger, and Clara must choose between subservience and rebellion.

Clara starts off as a really unpleasant protagonist – this is a brave move on the part of Gilvin, as many readers, me included, don’t particularly enjoy reading a first-person narrative by someone so priggish and judgemental. My advice would be to stick with her, though, as she becomes less close-minded and brainwashed once she leaves the Academy. There are a number of strong, well-written characters supporting her. I particularly liked Clara’s mother and their manservant, Jamie.

Increasingly, Clara begins to realise that the Republic is nothing like the idealised system she has been taught to love and defend and we are right with her as her beliefs become unravelled, along with her life as the fault lines in society start breaking down. I enjoyed the fact that this story is set in a post-apocalyptic England, where recognisable place names are clearly very different places. London, in particular, is in all sorts of trouble as the Thames Barrier is in danger of failing. I became caught up in Clara’s adventures and thoroughly enjoyed the twisting plot which presented many surprises along the way.

My one niggle is that the main antagonist is presented as something of a caricature who I found it difficult to take seriously. Despite being told how very frightening she was, she seemed too over the top and ridiculous in comparison to the sympathetic, nuanced characterisations throughout the rest of the story. Having said that, it wasn’t a dealbreaker and I have found myself thinking a lot about this book since I finished it. Recommended for fans of post-apocalyptic fiction. While I obtained an arc of Truth Sister from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
8/10

Sunday Post – 1st July, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog #BrainfluffSundayPost

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Sorry this is late – whether it’s the weather or the news below – I woke up with a dreadful headache and felt grim throughout the day, so I didn’t work at the computer screen for obvious reasons…

A momentous week! On Saturday evening, the latest member of the family joined us – my daughter gave birth to little Eliza. Mother and baby are both well. Needless to say, I’m thrilled and relieved that poor Rebecca is no longer so heavily pregnant in this heat and that Eliza has arrived safely. I’m looking forward to meeting her on Wednesday.

Other news – on Tuesday, I started my Poetry Workshop, which went really well – a relief. It was also my birthday, though the celebration went on hold as Himself was on late shift this week and it is so hot, we haven’t felt much like going out for the planned meal. On Wednesday, I met up with my sister who gave me her presents and we went shopping together. I also attended Petworth Festival with our writing group, where Geoff Alnutt was performing his poems as a homage to Dr Seuss. He was supported by two other great performers – Audi Masarati and Steve Tasane, author of the amazing Child I. On a wonderful sunny evening, we heard a marvellous variety of quality performance poetry. Mhairi came over on Friday as we monitored sales figures and planned the upcoming launch for Breathing Space which will be published on 8th July. And here is the cover – I’m delighted with it as I think it works really well with the rest of the trilogy.

This week I have read:

The Privilege of Peace – Book 3 of the Peacemaker’s trilogy by Tanya Huff
Warden Torin Kerr has put her past behind her and built a life away from the war and everything that meant. From the good, from the bad. From the heroics, from the betrayal. She’s created a place and purpose for others like her, a way to use their training for the good of the Confederation. She has friends, family, purpose. Unfortunately, her past refuses to grant her the same absolution. Big Yellow, the ship form of the plastic aliens responsible for the war, returns. The Silsviss test the strength of the Confederation. Torin has to be Gunnery Sergeant Kerr once again and find a way to keep the peace.
I was delighted when this one popped up on my Kindle, as Himself had pre–ordered it. Huff is one of our must-have authors… And this book brims with action and adventure, bringing this excellent military science fiction series to a triumphant conclusion.

 

Murder Takes a Turn – Book 5 of the Langham and Dupré by Eric Brown
When Langham’s literary agent receives a cryptic letter inviting him to spend the weekend at the grand Cornish home of successful novelist Denbigh Connaught, Charles Elder seems reluctant to attend. What really happened between Elder and Connaught during the summer of 1917, nearly forty years before – and why has it had such a devastating effect on Charles?

Accompanying his agent to Connaught House, Langham and his wife Maria discover that Charles is not the only one to have received a letter. But why has Denbigh Connaught gathered together a group of people who each bear him a grudge? When a body is discovered in Connaught’s study, the ensuing investigation uncovers dark secrets that haunt the past of each and every guest – including Charles Elder himself …
If this one sounds as if it has a resemblance to Agatha Christie’s mysteries, you’re right – it does. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the backstory behind the murder mystery.

 

Truth Sister by Phil Gilvin
The year is 2149. The Women’s Republic of Anglia seeks to harness forgotten technologies from the time when men ruled the world. Naturals are second-class citizens, while women born through cloning are the true children of the Republic. When Clara Perdue graduates from the prestigious Academy, she is ready to do her part to support the Republic and bring about a better future for all.

But when she stumbles on information that the Republic has tried to keep hidden, she begins to realise that the society she has been taught to believe in and trained to defend is not all that it seems. A secret from Clara’s past puts herself, her family, and her friends in danger, and Clara must choose between subservience and rebellion.
This Brit-based near-future dystopian adventure is an engrossing read that takes Clara from a  priggish, narrow-minded bigot to someone who is convinced that men also have a right to live in the new Republic. This is a gritty read with plenty of adventure and food for thought.

 

My posts during the last week:

Sunday Post – 24th June 2018

Review of Windswept by Adam Rakunas

Teaser Tuesday featuring Murder Takes a Turn – Book 5 of the Langham and Dupré series by Eric Brown

Can’t Wait Wednesday featuring Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Drop by Drop – Book 1 of the Step by Step series by Morgan Llewelyn

Friday Face-off featuring Red Rising – Book 1 of the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Privilege of Peace – Book 3 of the Peacekeeprs trilogy by Tanya Huff

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Thursday Doors – Irish Bears https://jeanreinhardt.wordpress.com/2018/06/29/thursday-doors-irish-bears/ This is a must-see article – those underground pics are amazing…

For the love of libraries http://writerunboxed.com/2018/06/26/for-the-love-of-libraries/ Like a lot of people, libraries hold a special place in my heart…

Recap post – …if yeez had a good pair of fitba’ boots, Jesus wanted yeez for a sunbeam… https://seumasgallacher.com/2018/06/26/a-recap-post-if-yeez-had-a-good-pair-of-fitba-boots-jesus-wanted-yeez-for-a-sunbeam/ Successful thriller writer, Seumas Gallacher has dusted off his memories of playing footy a lifetime ago in honour of a certain tournament going on somewhere…

Stop Lying! Everyone Knows You’re a Complete Fraud https://authorkristenlamb.com/2018/06/stop-lying-fraud-impostor/ Kristen Lamb’s confession rang a few bells with yours truly…

Worldbuilding – Creating your alien life http://earthianhivemind.net/2018/06/27/wordbuilding-creating-alien-life/ Those of you who know my writing will understand why I’m particularly drawn to this one!

Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site – and I promise to get back to you as soon as I can!

Friday Faceoff – Red is the ultimate cure for sadness… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoff

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. At present it is being nurtured by Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog. This week the theme is a cover featuring red, so I’ve selected Red Rising – Book 1 of the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown.

 

This edition was produced by Del Rey in January 2014 and it is the most well known of all the covers – and with good reason as it is eye-catching and iconic. The extended red wing against a black background is very simple, but that doesn’t stop it being beautiful. The title font is a nice reflection of the story as it runs from the bottom to the top of the cover… I love this one.

 

Published in February 2015 by Сиела, this Bulgarian edition is also strikingly eye-catching. Instead of the wing, we have an image of the young rebel, Darrow, all set to rise from the life of slave-slogged drudgery he’d been born into. The image is clever as it also refers to part of the plot and I also like the way the title font fits nicely between the wings.

 

This Portuguese edition, published by Editorial Presença in March 2015, is another strong contender. I love the stylish, imaginative way the wings have been spun around and used as to depict the backdrop, while Darrow is poised at the nexus of the divided society. My one niggle is that there is too much chatter on the cover, spoiling what should be a clean, uncluttered cover to maximise the effect.

 

This Czech edition, produced by Triton in October 2016 is another beautiful effort. I love the addition of the yellow amongst the red – and the effect, which looks a wing, feather or a flame. I also like the chunkier, yellow title font which nicely pops against the red and the complete lack of unnecessary blather to detract from the effective artwork. This is my favourite.

 

This Polish cover was published in March 2014 by Drageus Publishing House and, in my opinion, is the least effective of all the covers. In contrast it comes across as muddled and overworked. It certainly doesn’t stand out as a thumbnail, so it’s fortunate that Red Rising was a worldwide best-seller and didn’t rely on this cover to lure readers to pick it up. Which is your favourite?

Review of LIBRARY book Windswept by Adam Rakunas #Brainfluffbookreview #Windsweptbookreview

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I plucked this one off the shelves because I liked the look of the cover – and it is published by Angry Robot, whose books often appeal to me if I’m in the mood for a foot-to-the-floor adventure.

Labour organizer Padma Mehta is on the edge of space and the edge of burnout. All she wants is to buy out a little rum distillery and retire, but she’s supposed to recruit 500 people to the Union before they’ll let her. She’s only thirty-three short, so when a small-time con artist tells her forty people are ready to tumble down the space elevator she checks it out… And that’s when her problems really begin…

I’ve slightly tweaked the rather chatty blurb, but hopefully you get the idea. This is a world where oil has gone and the fuel that now powers the galaxy is derived from sugar cane. This small scruffy outpost grows the stuff in industrial quantities and is sufficiently off the beaten track that a number of folks fleeing the encompassing control of the Big Three – the huge cartels that people are born into and become indentured to – are able to eke out a humble living while being free. However, once those new recruits hit the planet surface, events and Padma’s gritted bloody-mindedness rolls this story forward into a gathering whirlwind of events that doesn’t let up until the last page.

Padma is a force of nature. She just never admits defeat and while there are times when I find I am slightly sceptical that young heroines would be in a position of such responsibility to be at the hub of events powering a book forward, this isn’t the case with Padma. In fact, I’m slightly surprised she isn’t running the Universe. She is a grade-A hustler, with a motor-mouth that could sell rainy days to the Brits and a sharp eye for people’s soft spots. That would make her unbearable if she, too, didn’t have her vulnerabilities – which she does, courtesy of a nightmarish long-haul journey in hibernation, when the hibernating didn’t go quite right… Alongside Padma are a colourful cast of misfits and big personalities, some who are her allies while a fair number are ranged against her – Padma tends to collect a fair number of enemies.

Writing strong characters is one of Rakunas’s strengths – as is depicting a grungy, over-industrialised world where people are trying to rub along as best they can. While the action and non-stop adventure is clearly escapist fun, the underlying themes of community, standing up to injustice and the damage inflicted when the profit line rules is a very familiar message, which bears repeating – kudos to Rakunas for doing so without coming over preachy or ranting about it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining colony world adventure and it comes highly recommended for fans of well-told, high-octane science fiction action tales.
9/10