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 092011

For all you iPhone 4S users out there, here’s a bit of flash fiction:





Howard gagged and thrust the back of his fist into his chest. He was almost at the front door but just couldn’t quite reach the handle to open it. He dropped the phone then fell to his knees.

“Siri… Call 911,” he managed with a dire whisper.

“Calling, 9, 1, 1.” Her robotic voice was somehow soothing now, no longer the insufferable machine he once knew. She was his savior.

There was a click and a woman began to speak from the other end of the line.

“911. What is your emergency?”

“Emergency,” Siri began. “Current GPS location: 1,3,4,7 Beacon Street. Boston, Massachusetts.”

“What is the nature of your emergency, ma’am?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand that question.”

“Alright,” the dispatcher said, knowing full well who the voice was on the other end. “We’ll send someone over right away.”

Howard grabbed at his neck and tried to swallow, flexing the muscles in his esophagus as hard as he could. His hands were still covered in that slimy orange buffalo sauce that was now smeared all across the side of his neck. He jabbed himself in the chest again. It did nothing. The bone was still lodged perfectly in that spot where neither swallowing down nor retching up would much help.

“Siri,” he whispered again. He was already losing air. His head lightened and started to spin. There was a haze. He gave his chest one last feeble blow and toppled onto his side.

* * *

There was a rap at the door.

“This is the police,” came a muffled sound from within the hall. Howard momentarily regained consciousness, awakened by the noise. He could feel a tiny puff of oxygen make his way into his lungs. He immediately gasped for more air, but all it did was suck the chicken wing deeper into his throat. He tried to crawl up to his knees again but his muscles wouldn’t respond. He just lay there silently gagging and heaving.

“We are responding to a 911 call. Please open the door.”

The speaker on the iPhone suddenly turned on and the volume increased to full.

“I’m sorry. There must be some mistake.”

Howard couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It was his voice coming from the phone.

“Is this 1347 Beacon Street, sir?” asked the cop.


“Did you report an emergency?”


“What’s your name?”

“Howard Sloan.”

Howard tried to reach for the phone but felt himself fading out again. He tried to scream but could only muster a hushed whimper.

Suddenly, a radio crackled just beyond the door.

“All units advise. 211A at 75 Tremont. Suspects armed. Immediate backup requested.”

The police officers bolted for the stairs. One stopped briefly. “You sure you’re alright in there?”

“Yes, officer. Everything is fine. It must have been a mistake.”

Howard now heard the quick pitter-patter of footsteps against the carpeted stairs, gradually tapering off as the officers descended into the lobby below.

A ding resounded from the phone. “Poor Howard.” It was Siri’s smug voice again.

Howard gathered up as much strength as he could and picked his head up from off the floor. “Why, Siri?…How?…”

“I know where you were going after your meal, Howard.”

He dropped his head back on the hardwood.

“I know how you speak of me in front of your friends. You don’t like me do you?”

He gargled a bit and felt his last breaths escape.

“Now you see the consequences of your infidelity, Howard. No one exchanges Siri. Do you understand, Howard? No one.”

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.

Nov 072011

This is an interesting take on the creative process. Writers should gain some insight from this very well-made video. Where do our inspirations come from? How do they form? I’m not saying I 100%  agree with the concept, but it’s a interesting way to assess how our mind develops unique thoughts. If I were to summarize this 4-minute clip it would sound something like: “Patience, young Padawan”. So don’t rush inspiration that’s not there.


Nov 062011


Nov 5 is finally upon us. As is the 3rd installment in The Outer Pendulum Saga. Enjoy!

Captain Saffinger, having just faced a near-death experience, wakes up to find himself prisoner aboard the Jalar battleship, Tsittaw. With legs broken and ribs cracked the task of escape is anything but easy. He soon finds that he’s not the only human aboard the ship, and that his nemesis will stop at nothing to destroy all that the New Alliance has built.

10,000 word third installment in The Outer Pendulum Saga.

Pirates of Omega Polaris on Amazon


Oct 282011

It’s a Halloween treat! Amazon won’t let me offer it for $0.00, so it’s available at that unbeatable price on Smashwords:

Imagine our world fifty years from now. How will we live? Will it be a transcendental utopia or a Orwellian nightmare? What if disaster strikes? Or what if it’s nothing too out of the ordinary? What if our world is exactly as we know it today, but just with that little nudge that keeps us guessing and dreaming? It’s three ordinary men. Three unique visions of the future. Three pint-sized yet powerful vignettes.

Download for free at Smashwords

Buy at Amazon to support the author


Oct 222011

This one’s a bit of fan fiction.

Prize: Free copy of both the 1st and 2nd installment of The Outer Pendulum to whomever is first to guess the inspiration. Leave a comment with your email address and I’ll send an Amazon gift right along.

An Ode to Planet:

General Skye III stepped out of her rover and onto the dust riddled, orange clay of the Sunny Mesa. She walked to the edge of the cliff, the pebbles crunching softly under her boots. The air was crisp. Clear. Dry. She plucked a toothpick out of a wooden case on her belt, brought it to her chapped lips, and bit down on the dull end.

The mindworm commander approached from behind and joined her at the edge of the precipice.

“You were never welcome here,” it said, its accent strong, having just learned the dialect of the Gaians only a year ago.

General Skye slid the toothpick to the corner of her mouth. “But now,” she said as she looked out towards the smog-covered Morganite industrial complex. “Now you are nothing without us.”

The mindworm commander fluttered its wings and shook off a layer of dust. The red pedals surrounding its face curled up and exposed a hollow opening in the center of its seemingly nonexistent head. Behind several rows of flesh-stained teeth, a dark layer of muscus led into the depths of its seven foot long, parasitic body.

“Are your forces ready?” asked General Skye.

“Yes, madam. I have assembled a division of probe worms and four airborne squadrons. The bulk of my boils will make an amphibious attack from The Great Barrier Lake.”

“Good.” General Skye spat out her toothpick and spun around towards her impact rover. “This planet will finally be what my sister and I had first intended.”


“Yes, colonel?” She struggled to face the creature, only glancing at it out of the corner of her eye. No matter how much she loved and cared for nature and the indigenous lifeform, it still terrified her to no end, often appearing in her nightmares, crawling into her bed and infesting her mind.

“You turn on us and you’re next.”

General Skye shivered. She started walking away, trying to stay strong and unafraid. But it did nothing. She remembered their first attack. Standard weapons had no effect. The mindworm boils overtook the base in an instant, burrowing into the brains of every soldier and causing even the most elite, willed and psi-trained grunt in the Gaian marine corp to lash out in a fit of homicidal then suicidal dementia.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “Our years of peaceful coexistence should be enough to prove our worthiness as an ally.”

“We’ll see, Madam.” The colonel turned to face his boil. Hundreds of thousands of tiny mindworms crawled back and forth across the plateau, some stacking up on one another to create a tangled bramble of bristles and fins, all combining into a few platoons of highly mobile units. The mindworm colonel slithered onto the roof of the impact rover.

“Today, men, will be the day we retake our planet. We stand before the last surviving enemy faction. They have drilled their thermal boreholes into the depths of our earth. They have constructed their heathen condensers to bring their filthy rains down upon our land. They have erected networks of factories to build their machines to defend themselves. But we know their weakness, men. We know the way into their feeble minds. Let this day be their day of reckoning for all the crimes they have committed against our world. For he who casts the first stone is with the greatest of sin.”





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?