Nov 302011

Battle Earth by Nick S. Thomas

Battle Earth is the first of an epic new science fiction trilogy that tells of humanity’s desperate struggle to survive against an overwhelming alien invasion. A distress transmission from Mars research colony warns of an advanced and unknown enemy approaching the heavily populated lunar colony. An elite marine unit commanded by Major Mitch Taylor is dispatched to protect the beleaguered civilians. However, the attack is merely a prelude to a massive invasion of Earth. When the vast enemy mothership smashes through the Earth’s atmosphere and deploys in the Atlantic, the armed forces of Earth soon realise they are fighting for the very survival of the human race. As cities fall throughout the world, American and European forces rally together to make a stand as they battle an enemy unlike any they’ve ever encountered. Battle Earth is a futuristic sci-fi action adventure that chronicles vast bloody battles following humanity’s first reach into the stars.

My Rating:

Battle Earth is a very interesting tale. The first thing that struck me as bold and unique is the author’s take on the old “UK/US centric” trope that often plagues futuristic military sci-fi. Usually when aliens invade earth, one of those two countries is somehow responsible for the defense of the entire planet. Not here. When there’s an international crisis, there should be and is an international response. And what a response this was. Hard, fast-paced action. Just enough gore to make the scenes feel authentic without overdoing it. Believable characters and dialogue. Great ending. And interestingly, the entire story reminded me of a wonderful strategy game series of the same genre — X-COM. Aliens crash landing in the ocean. Multiple bases established around the world. Similar weaponry and tactics. But this story was done so well I felt it was a proper tribute rather than some cheap fan fiction ripoff. So well done, Mr. Thomas on a fine piece of fiction.

Nov 132011

The Belt Loop (Book 1) by Robert B. Jones

Captain Uri Haad is plunged into one of the most terrifying voyages of his Colonial Navy career. His ship, the CNS Corpus Christi, stumbles upon a derelict alien vessel out in the void of Orion’s Belt — The Belt Loop as it is known by the sailors of the Third Colonial Fleet out of Elber Prime. He launched a Search and Rescue mission to the hulking derelict after his scans detected surviving life forms. What started as a mission of mercy quickly turns into a nightmare of epic proportions and as the horror spreads to his ship and crew, Captain Haad must make life and death decisions to avoid his own destruction and possibly an interstellar war. This taut deep-space adventure bridges the gap between distant suns and gives us a glimpse into the workings of the Twenty-eighth Century Colonial Navy. Approximately 95,000 words.

My Rating

Space operas are meant to spark the imagination. They are meant to take the reader to places where in our lifetimes we will sadly never go. They must ooze drama, action, pleasure and pain. The Belt Loop by Robert Jones certainly does not disappoint. The action is steady and military (navy) aspect well researched. Once the story develops and you start to get to know each character – love them or hate them you really feel a part of the crew and truly a part of their investigation of the unknown derelict craft. Then once the meat  of the story begins (don’t want to give away spoilers), you are just simply immersed and there’s no turning back. I suppose the only thing that prevents me from giving this book 5 stars is – and it may just be a personal qualm – is the author occasionally abandons the narrator and almost takes on the role of the jester who makes little side jabs at characters or scenes. For example there was a catty exchange between two female officers where at the end the narrator throws in a ‘What, Gena? No invite to the slide show on the bridge? Aww, too bad, bitch.’  It feels slightly off-color and snarky and I saw it in places throughout the book. But that could be just me and my old-fashioned ways. So small gripes aside, I can only give this book praise. I hope to see more from this talented and hard-nosed author. Well done!

Nov 082011

Genome Maxtrix: A Virtual Suspense Thriller by Joseph Veramu

Ethan, a computer scientist working for GenGlobal a multinational genome mapping corporation, has the uncanny feeling that he is being watched and that his actions are being manipulated by artificial intelligence. The only thing that stands between Ethan and the AI that wants to silence him is his girlfriend, Emily. Joseph Veramu’s sci fi, virtual suspense/thriller takes you on a rollercoaster ride through the world of genome sequence machines and AIs to its shocking conclusion.

My Rating:

Veramu creates a fairly interesting world where dreams, reality, humans, and artificial intelligence all teeter a fine line. Infused in the story are believable characters as well. They face love, loss, fear – the spectrum of human emotion. But where this short story really falls flat is in the author’s inability to trust the reader. Veramu has great ideas and explains them in great detail, yet it feels like you are constantly beaten over the head with each and every one. There is very little left to the imagination. I strongly agree that speculative fiction with speculative technology needs some context, but unfortunately in this story, the scientific context seemed far far more important than plot or setting. A great deal of this was found in the dialogue, where characters, rather than having meaningful interactions that made the scenes come alive, seemed there solely for the purpose of regurgitating and explaining how this magical world works – and in effect completely breaking up any pacing that a good thriller requires. But I really do think that with a little work this story has potential to become a fascinating edge-of-your seat thrill-ride. It borrows well from some of the great films and books of our time. So now all we need is some cohesion.

Oct 212011

The Mutagenic Cycle, from author James Michael White

A thief discovers the drug he stole is more than merely mind-altering, and the designer from whom he stole it more terrible than humanly possible … love and betrayal clash in a world in which the only escape from slavery is to become inhuman … one man provides hope to a world devastated by genetic catastrophe.

Other Stories…

A down-on-his-luck journalist interviews a man who may be a god, a kook, or the perfect solution to a life of misery … a group of intrepid explorers touch the edges of space only to discover ancient terror … a man discovers disturbing hidden powers behind human motivation.

My Rating:


There is a stigma around science fiction that ALL of it is just dumbed-down, mindless escapism. What White does so well in his short story collection is create a sense that science fiction can really be story-driven while showing literary prowess. His characters are deep, his imagery vibrant.  There is a feeling that you are trapped inside his settings, unable to leave until the story is finished.  I could easily equate it to Philip K. Dick. It’s dark, almost to the point of a cyberpunk throwback. And there’s a noir feel to it. All-in-all it’s just great writing. My only reason for not giving five stars is that all three of the stories in The Mutagenic Cycle seemed unfinished. There was closure, sure, but still felt unresolved in some way. I suppose that’s a testament to the author. These characters are too interesting to be stifled into 10k words. Will we be seeing any of the stories developed into full-length novels?