Alternate Futures

Review: Nexus by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

Nexus (The Androma Saga #2)

by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Release Date: May 7th 2019Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Synopsis:
#1 New York Times bestselling authors Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings deliver the dazzling finale to the acclaimed Androma Saga, where stunning betrayals and devastating secrets send an embattled galaxy spiraling into the ultimate nightmare.
Her ship is gone, her crew is captured and notorious mercenary Androma Racella is no longer the powerful Bloody Baroness, but a fugitive ruthlessly hunted across the Mirabel Galaxy. The bloodthirsty Queen Nor now rules most of the galaxy through a mind-control toxin and she’ll stop at nothing to destroy her most hated adversary.
Andi will risk anything, even her precious freedom, to find a cure. Stranded with her unlikely ally, Dex, on the unforgiving ice planet of Solera, their plan to infiltrate a black-market city proves dangerously irresistible.
Back in Arcardius, Nor’s actions have opened Mirabel to invasion. As Andi’s crew fights to regain their freedom, Andi and Dex discover a threat far greater than anything they’ve faced before.
Only by saving their mortal enemy can the crew of the Maraudermake one last desperate strike to save the galaxy—unaware that a shattering, centuries-old secret may demand the most wrenching sacrifice of all.

My Take on Nexus

To begin with, it’s important to note that I haven’t read the first book in this duology, Zenith. I received Nexus to review from the Fantastic Flying Book Club. Despite this, however, information from the first story was woven subtly but completely enough into Nexus that I felt I had a good understanding of what happened without feeling like I’d been force-fed an infodump.

Nexus follows several characters – sometimes feeling a bit like Guardians of the Galaxy meets Star Wars – although the Bloody Baroness, space pirate Androma Racella is the main character. Following events of the previous book, she’s been brought low and has lost almost everything, very nearly including her life. The majority of the small Mirabel galaxy is now under the compulsion of queen Nor, with the help of her brother Valen, who controls the will of the people completely. Worse, she intends to tear open a rift in the dark void that would allow an alien race into the galaxy. It falls to Androma and her aptly-named right-hand man, Dextro, with the timely help of the mysterious Arachnid, to save the galaxy.

Nexus is a well-written story that moves along at an engaging pace. It’s been some time since I’ve read a science fiction novel that kept me turning the pages like this one. The main characters are interesting and each one feels unique. Both heroes and villains are well developed and we come to understand them as three-dimensional beings. The galaxy, although small, has had sufficient thought put into the world-building such that each system feels unique. This is, however, very soft-science fiction, with a great deal of magic masquerading as species traits. That’s not bad, and it plays an integral part in the story. It’s just useful to know before reading as some SF fans can be very selective about their sub-genre.

If I had any criticism of the story, it would have to be the weaker combat scenes. The authors seemed to shun writing in any detail about the combat to the point that I sometimes had trouble visualizing what was actually happening. Instead, each time they seemed to spend most of the conflict concentrating on the thoughts and feelings of the main characters. For me, this slowed down what should have been fast, dramatic scenes. However, these parts were few and far between and the true power of Nexus was in the intrigue built around the main plot. Especially, regarding the villains.

Overall, Nexus was a very enjoyable read and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys space fantasy – especially if you like ancient mystic powers, space pirates, and galactic-level threats.

Sasha Alsberg is the #1 NYT Bestselling Co-Author of ZENITH: The Androma Saga.
When Sasha is not writing or obsessing over Scotland she is making YouTube videos on her channel Abookutopia. She lives in Massachusetts with her dogs, Fraser and Fiona
For her writing, she is represented by Joanna Volpe at New Leaf Literary.

Lindsay Cummings is the #1 NYT Bestselling co-author of ZENITH, along with her duology, THE MURDER COMPLEX from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, and the MG trilogy THE BALANCE KEEPERS, from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. She is represented by Pete Knapp at Park Literary in NYC.
Lindsay deals with chronic fatigue, writes full time from her home in the deep woods in North Texas, and loves to chat with fellow book nerds. Lindsay created the #booknerdigans hashtag.
She’s still waiting on her letter from Hogwarts–it was probably just lost in the mail. You can follow Lindsay on twitter @authorlindsayc or on instagram @authorlindsaycummings

Alternate Futures

Review and Giveaway of Dimension Drift prequel Umbra

Umbra
Christina Bauer
(Dimension Drift Prequels, #2)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: March 26th 2019
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult

A prequel novella to the new series from USA Today’s ‘must read YA paranormal romance’ author, Christina Bauer.

One day, eighteen-year-old Thorne will be the Emperor of the Omniverse, the single being who rules countless worlds. Trouble is, his father Cole–who’s also the current Emperor–is a sadistic freak.

In fact, Cole won’t even keep his promises to the very humans who got him his throne.

Thorne won’t stand for it. He decides to travel to the human world and make good on his father’s promises. What he doesn’t count on is falling in love….

My Take (Review)

Umbra is the second prequel in the Dimensional Drift series by Christina Bauer, although it’s the first book I’ve read in the series. This series is a YA science fiction romance series, with fairly heavy empahsis on the romance, if Umbra is representative.

Umbra features the story of Thorne, third in line to the crown of the omniverse and weakest Sentient user in his family. Thorne and family use their connection to technology called ‘sentients’ (there are multiple types) to drift between Earths of different universes in the multiverse and stop calamaties, often caused by their enemies. On one such Earth, while aiding the humans who gave his father the Crown Sentient, Thorne encounters Meimi, the main character of the Dimensional Drift series. Without spoiling it for those who haven’t read the series, their relationship grows in ways that are important to the fate of both worlds.

Umbra features some very interesting worldbuilding, of which I would have liked to have seen more. Thorne’s imperial world that rules the omniverse should have a great deal of imperial intrigue happening. And what about dealing with other races in an advanced universe? Or the king training his sons in the ways of the court to prepare them to take over from him? Unfortunately, we see very little of that here (although I can’t say for other books). What we do see, however, is still fun and interesting, as we watch Thorne manipulate his sentient in order to solve crises on multiple Earths – until he becomes romantically entangled with super-genius Meimi.

This is where I found the book to be at it’s weakest. However, bear in mind I’m not a fan of romance novels. And don’t get me wrong, there were times it was fine. However, I found Thorne almost too cringy to read during many of his dealings with Meimi. I felt this was played in such as way as to suggest it was meant to be romantic, but it just felt wrong as he continually objectified her in a possessive manner.

Nevertheless, the story was interesting, well-written, and moved at a good pace. It ends where it needs to in order to lead into the first book, however, as a stand-alone this feels like an unsatisfactory point to end the book as nothing has been resoved (it’s all left for the main series). I do recommend Umbra, but I would also recommend trying to get it as part of a boxset or discounted with the rest of the series (or in the Giveaway below!).

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Author Bio:

Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Be the first to know about new releases from Christina by signing up for her newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/CBupdates

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Alternate Futures

Artificial Intelligence: A View into the New Future

AI and The World of Tomorrow?

A row of cars wait, orderly and patient, as we reach the school driveway. I head for our family Auto, distinguishable by the customized chromo-flex decal on the hood, currently set to cycle through red and black arrows pointing toward the front. It’s supposed to look dramatic, tough, and it might if dad didn’t keep setting the chromo-flex body skin to cycle through a pattern of pale purple and blue.

The two side doors open outward from a centre seam as I come within range of the RFID scanner and flip my hand up, palm facing the door.
Dad’s colours change to an electric blue tech pattern as the Auto says, “Hello, sir, how are you today?” The deep, soothing voice is an immediate comfort after the crazy day.

Will and I reprogrammed the vehicle’s AI for an alternative behaviour pattern when there are no adults about. For one thing, it mimics the Artificial Intelligence that was Manifold’s partner in The Destiny Justice Force, a movie series Will and I were obsessed with a few years ago. For another, mom and dad’s AI is a nanny-bot.

“Fine, Jacob. How are you?” I answer, climbing into the spacious interior and taking a place on the circular sofa.

“As well as always, sir. Master Will, Mistress Annie, will you be joining us today?”

“Sure will Jacob.”

“Yes, thank you.”

Will and Annie climb in, spreading out to get comfortable. Our teachers and parents regularly try to impress upon us what it was like before Autos— autodrive cars— had revolutionalized personal transportation, but it’s just unimaginable. Apparently, there was a lot less room inside the car and parents had to pick their kids up from school— assuming they didn’t take the bus. However, most of the normal population has Autos now, except those in small, rural communities.

“Would sir like the usual visual feeds for the drive home?”

“I won’t be going home just yet, Jacob. Override destination alpha-seven-niner-delta-four. Voice code ‘singularity’ ”. Of course, I couldn’t reprogram the AI without giving myself a backdoor.

“Very good, sir. Your parents have been notified that you and Master Will will be meeting at the library. Where would you like to go?”

“Seventy-three Newton Place. There’s a flash tournament I want in on. Oh, and would you pipe my usual training feeds, please.”

“Very good, sir. Arrival will be in thirteen minutes, twenty seven seconds from the time of departure. Will that be all, sir?”

“You have any snacks, Jacob?” Will asks as I feel the car pull away from the school lot.

The circle of screens surrounding the interior light-up, displaying live streams from the top gaming sites, as well as recordings from the global Regional Championships.

“I have recently been fitted with a prototype organic printer. It makes a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies. They will take five minutes to print. Would you like some?”

“Of course! Bring ’em on.”

The above excerpt is (c) 2019 Edwin H Rydberg

The preceding is an excerpt from a work-in-progress of mine, a near-future world where AI is one all-pervasive technology that is just accepted as common-place. This is, of course, AI as we currently experience it, not self-aware or ‘General’ AI (the development of the latter AI drives some of the above story).

In previous posts (7 areas that could see massive benefits from artificial intelligence, AI – Wonder tool or human replacement?, Fake News is about to get real (prevalent), AI – Boon or Bane?) I’ve written about various developments with AI, so how might they all come together? What might the future be with artificial intelligence?

The Good

As you can see in the excerpt, I suggest humans are adaptable and I believe most humans will adapt to the convenience of pervasive artificial intelligence even at the cost of privacy and security.

As a side note, artificial intelligence is not synonymous with a loss of privacy or security. Those only follow it in our world because of the big companies (and governments) that are behind the development of it. In theory, one could develop their own AI that wouldn’t have such flaws.

AI Assistants

‘Assistant’ AI (advanced versions of Alexa, Siri, or Google@home) will be accessible from every room in a house (except ‘privacy rooms’), in the auto-drive cars, and will eventually enter the workplace by the time today’s toddlers reach adulthood. Combining this with ever-improving speech-to-text algorithms will mean all jobs will experience dramatic change as individuals become one-person departments.

AI for Research

But such simplistic AI barely touches on the true power of the technology. Google’s Deep Mind project has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years tackling everything from strategy games with incomplete information, to the vast complexity of protein folding, to helping manage medical services. Projects I’d love to see them take on (with unbiased training sets) are climate change, global food and water management, government management, space vehicle propulsion, and the use of gravitational ‘highways’ for interplanetary transportation.

The Human Connection

However, back on Earth, once we get over the initial response of ‘massive job loss, computers can do everything better, and the future is no longer human’ we come to realize that it is still humans who act with purpose and direction and this technology will actually allow us to do far more than we ever could without it. After all, the universe is an incredibly complex place and it’s possible our brains are simply not capable of processing that complexity without assistance. The downside is, of course, that we have entered a period in our history where we no longer understand how our own technology works.

The Bad

Pervasive artificial intelligence will, without a doubt, continue the trend toward increasing human laziness and an ever-growing disconnect with both nature and our own past as we move further from both.

Changing Job Market

However, even before that we will see massive changes in the job market. With individuals being able to do more and technologies like auto-drive cars dramatically impacting the transport of goods and people the job market at all levels will change. Professionals like doctors and lawyers won’t be safe either as both of their jobs have a large database retrieval component to them which, at best, would mean a reorientation toward the human-centred part of the job rather than the diagnostic portion. By this time we’ll be long past the point were ‘learn to code’ will be useful advice.

Somewhat ironically perhaps, a consideration of AIs limitations would suggest that jobs in traditional trades (although upscaled for dealing with the installation of new tech) will be the safest and will be among the last replaced.

Fake News

Also, fake news, which is always being discussed these days, will continue increasing in amount and believability as new technologies come online. Not only will AI be able to write amazingly realistic fake news stories, but it will even be able to generate videos of famous people that appear authentic. Bots are already being used to generate fake static facial images for social media, but video is not far behind.

Increasing Vulnerability

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t address an ever-present concern in the increasingly connected world. Specifically that of malicious hackers. Being so dependent on a connected world and the Internet of Things (IoT) necessarily leaves us increasingly open to cyberbullying, cyber-attack, and having our devices used for malicious purposes. Let’s hope the developers consider their builds well, and that our governments don’t try and force them to put in backdoors.

The Strange

All of the above doesn’t even touch on up-and-coming technologies like Elon Musk’s NeuraLink, which intends to build a direct interface between the human brain and technology and could be the beginning steps toward a cybernetic future. That, combined with his global internet called StarLink, of which the early stages are currently being placed in orbit would mean hands-free technology access anywhere on the planet. Something that would forever alter humanity.

And just imagine how AI could aid the new business space-race and the space tourism industry about to take off.

In Conclusion

I, for one, am cautiously optimistic about the future with artificial intelligence and excited about the possible advancement we can make with it — at least until it becomes self-aware. Perhaps I am fortunate to be entering my 50s as the wave of AI comes online, however, it means somehow preparing the children for what’s coming even when we can’t see it clearly ourselves.

We are truly at the event horizon of the technological singularity. As usual, we’ve predicted the existence of something without having any idea of what it actually means. But humans are explorers so let’s travel to this undiscovered country.

Fiction

Apocalypse 5 – Excerpt & Giveaway

Apocalypse Five
Stacey Rourke
(Archive of the Fives, #1)
Publication date: February 12th 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Good luck and have a pleasant apocalypse.

The end of the world is coming. How or when, scientists can’t agree upon. For decades, Earth’s best line of defense has been a team of young soldiers known as the Apocalypse Five, forced into virtual reality simulations to train for Doom’s Day. But, this is no game. Death on the grid is brutally final and calls up the next in a long line of cadets.

Stationed aboard the AT-1-NS Starship, the A5 are celebrities thrust into the limelight by a calling they didn’t choose. All it takes is one unscheduled mission, showing seventeen-year-old team leader Detroit a harsh and unfathomable reality, to shake the A5’s belief in all they thought they knew. After questioning people with the power to destroy them, the team is framed for a crime they didn’t commit and marked for death. Now, the hunt is on.

Can the Apocalypse Five expose the truth the starship would kill to keep hidden? Or, will their bravery end in a public execution?

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Author Bio:

RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel

Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012

Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013

Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner for Crane 2015

Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Reel Romance Series. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head.

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Fiction

The TransHuman Project – Giveaway and Review

The Transhuman Project
Erin Rhew
Publication date: January 15th 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

When a video of Molly Richards is taken out of context and goes viral, she’s thrust into the upper echelons of social media stardom and becomes an overnight success in a country where Life Channel ratings reign supreme. As Kadar’s fastest rising celebrity, her life becomes a media circus, a show put on for the shallow national audience salivating for the next new thing.

But in a world where image is king, danger and death hide among the shadows. In the nearby country of Pacifica, the brutal Caezar turns his citizens into robotic weapons who infiltrate Kadar as sleeper transhumans. They walk among the populace, unaware they are pawns in the madman’s personal arsenal.

Only Molly, her friends, and an elite group of Kadarian fighters known as the Cyber Knights fully understand the transhuman threat, and only they can break the Caezar’s terrorist grip on both Pacifica and Kadar. Battling Fire Bots and humanoid agents, they seek to put a stop to the Caezar’s tyranny by unraveling the secrets buried between layers of deception.And they have to do it all while smiling and waving for the cameras.

As Molly and her friends peer behind the glitz and glamour, they discover something more frightening and more sinister than anything they’ve encountered yet…the truth.

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 My Take on The TransHuman Project

Molly and her friends, trapped in the neighbouring country of Kadar after escaping the prisons and research centres of their home country of Pacifica, find themselves the centre of a power struggle between, and within, the two nations. For Molly, this means being thrust into the spotlight as the new number one reality star of Kadar and having the public choose her life direction. That means becoming part of a forced love-story leading to marriage. Not only does she not love her new fiance, but she fears he may have been turned into a transhuman weapon by the Caezar of Pacifica. With the public oblivious and the powers plotting among themselves, it’s up to Molly and her friends to solve the transhuman puzzle and stop the loss of countless lives. But can they do it before the wedding?

At its heart, The Transhuman project is a collection of romance stories in a science fiction wrapper. Each character has their own ‘forbidden romance’ often created as a consequence of the harsh behaviour of their parental figures. Some of these play a crucial role in the plot and some do not. The theme of unforgiving parents is so common that it affects virtually all the main characters in the book and is intimately related to the national conflicts.

The setting is interesting being essentially a tale of two countries. Pacifica, ruled by the Caezar, feels like one huge prison with most people either incarcerated or living in underground bunkers. Kadar, instead, is a beautiful but intellectually empty country ruled by what appears to be a matriarchal oligarchy, where the majority of the citizens spend their time living vicariously through the lives of the few Life Channel superstars (who are largely selected by the governing committee).

To conclude, I don’t believe I’m the target audience for this story. For me, The TransHuman Project moved quite slowly for the first two-thirds, where it focussed mostly on the romance, and then picked up very nicely in the last third. So, if the romance is your preference then this is probably a good book for you. Most of the characters were consistent, but I thought they sometimes responded naively given the hardships they endured growing up. Probably my biggest issue, however, was that I felt like I missed the first book of the series. The one detailing the backstory of the countries and the how and why of the main characters’ lives. Yet I checked several times and this appears to be the only book in this world.

Overall, if you like a lot of romance with your science fiction then this book is probably for you.

Author Bio:

Erin Rhew is an editor, the operations manager for a small press, and a YA fantasy and sci-fi author. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.”

A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin spent years in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest before returning to her roots in the land of hushpuppies, sweet tea, and pig pickin’. She’s married to fellow author, the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) Deek Rhew, and spends her time writing side-by-side with him under the watchful eye of their patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. Erin and Deek enjoy taking long walks, drinking coffee, lifting, boxing, eating pizza, staying up late into the night talking, and adventuring together.

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Fiction

Cover Reveal – Game, Set, Deathmatch by Edwin H…

Here is the cover for my new Science Fiction novel. Based loosely on First Person Shooters, it follows DaemonS and the Apocalypz Cowgirls who find their Death Match hopes derailed by disaster as they uncover a plot to end all life as they know it.

Release Date: November 15, 2018

Fiction

Confessions of a Government Spyder

Personal-Journal.com


Friday 18 November, 2039

It’s not a good sign that I’m writing here again. Seems I only come back when life sucks.

And right now — life sucks.

Okay, that’s not completely true. What I mean is that work sucks. But since work is such a big part of life, it’s almost the same thing.

Wow I’m rambling. This is why I hate journals. I’m going to start again.

Today I was responsible for locking up an old lady. Seventy-four and I helped put her in the slammer. She’s my thousandth incarceration since starting this position two years ago. That sucks.

I can’t believe it either. 1000 people I’ve put away. Garbage men, painters, grannies, priests, cops, teachers, shopkeepers, and so many others. None of them were dangerous. None of them were a threat. They all just wanted to know what was happening with their country. They all just wanted some answers.

They’re not dissidents and they’re certainly not the public menaces they’ve been labelled as. At most they’re just people who are having trouble adjusting to change. And who can blame them? The world is speeding forward at such a rapid pace that beliefs and institutions of a generation are all but dust before that same generation even dies. But as fast as some things move forward, other things move backwards.

So, what did this woman do? She posted to the global MeHIVE one too many comments criticizing our government’s new social structuring policies. And what did she say that was so horrible?

‘Equality used to mean everyone had an equal chance.”

That’s it. That’s what I locked her away for. She would have been safe — well, safer — posting it to a local MeHIVE but the oldies have trouble keeping up with the constant change. This kind of thing is probably the most common flag I receive for the over 60’s. But once they’re flagged, once they enter our web, it’s over for them. No one escapes the government Spyders.

We’ve got access to everything everyone has ever done. All e-mail, all text posts, all images, all audio or video from the time you were born. In fact, we even have your baby pictures. We know all your school grades, we know what you ate every day, we know what time you arrived and how you treated your teachers and classmates every hour you were there. And we know the same about you for every job you’ve ever had. If you’re self-employed, we extrapolate the information from the tone of your social posts. We can even access your private logs without consent if the publicly available ones don’t have sufficient information, although that’s rarely necessary.

We know everything about you. That includes all your crimes, no matter how big or small. And everyone has committed a crime.

I mean that. Literally. Everyone.

The web of laws is so complete now that no one can escape it. If you’re still free it’s only because the government finds you useful or hasn’t found a reason to lock you up. It stopped being about guilt or innocence several decades ago. Now, it’s about ‘keeping the peace’. It’s about creating a docile population that allows the government to do whatever they want. So if you’re useful, they keep you around. If not, as soon as you come onto their radar someone like me starts the data-mining algorithm and you’re found guilty. Yep. I don’t even look at your file. I just plug your name and personal details into the software and it compiles your life story, fitting to it whatever crimes apply. Then we charge you retroactively.

And when you’re proven guilty? All your assets are liquidated. Ten percent is put into holdings for you on the chance you get out and can somehow restart your life. The rest goes to the government. It’s ironic, in a way. It’s the 90% tax rate so many were fighting for, only it applies to everyone, not just the rich. We’re finally all equal under the law. All equally guilty.

Anyway, you’re then sent to a government internment town, one of hundreds around the country, where you’re given a dormitory and a job in your new society. You don’t pay rent, but you don’t make any money either. The number and size of these ‘towns’ are growing incredibly. Pretty soon there will be more of them than free towns. But most of us suspect that’s the government’s plan. This allows them to keep tight order while filling unpopular jobs with unpaid labour. Yep, under the guise of keeping the peace, the government has become the new slaver.

As I said, while tech speeds forward, our social structure speeds backwards. We’re now living in a high-tech feudal society. I feel like a henchman for the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Anyway, there’s nothing to be done about it now. It’s just — a thousand! It caught me by surprise. But it’s the weekend now. I’ll drink the feelings away and come in Monday ready for a new week, just like I always do. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy I have a job that keeps me off the radar.

Rant ended.

Perfect time to sign off, I just heard a knock at the door.

Fiction

Out Of Sight book review

Out of Sight
Matthew S. Cox
Publication date: August 13th 2018
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

 

Most Citizens hold Outcasts in dim regard, but Sima never expected they’d throw her off the planet.

In 2411, overpopulation has spread a plaque of filthy, congested city to the corners of the Earth. Government has raised corruption to an art form, and no one hears the cries of those left to die in the dark passageways of civilization. Following the End of Nations, people cling to the only division left: social status.

 

Sima Nuvari ran away from a dysfunctional home at twelve and has been living as an Outcast on the streets of the globe-spanning city. It’s a dirty, dangerous place where everyone is trying to either use you or kill you and friends are hard to come by. Now, at the ripe old age of sixteen, her best years of begging are behind her — those darned kids are getting all the top ‘glint’ — and she’s faced with the decision of moving forward as either a prostitute, a drug runner, or a member of the strange new government ‘progenitor program’. As it turns out, fate makes the decision for her as she finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and is captured by the government security forces.

Out of Sight is an interesting book. It has an intriguing premise, it’s well-written, and has a fully developed world. However, it attempts to sell itself on something it is not. It’s clearly not a Dystopian story, although it’s set in a corrupt, futuristic world. It’s not a story about social status, although that does feature in the story. It’s not really even a story about surviving in the wilderness of a new world, although the characters do undergo that challenge. Rather, it’s a story about finding a family when you had none and learning to take responsibility for others, even though no one has ever taken responsibility for you.

There are many interesting characters in Out of Sight, and the world they live in (both of them) appear to be rich and detailed. The writing was also enjoyable to read. Where I had the most problem with this story was in the pacing. Despite a lot of action, the plot seemed to plod along and I kept waiting for something to happen that would move us from just following the character’s life, to involvement in the plot. I truly believe this book could have worked just as well and been many chapters shorter. Alternatively, the author could have built in a more driving plot throughout the ‘day in a life’ sequences (which were most of the book). I especially would have liked to see more development of the mystery of Mirage. Although I suspect the author will do that in future books in the series, it would have been nice if that was more of a plot line in this book. Having said that, the ending of Out of Sight was satisfying and fit the story well.

Overall, Out of Sight by Matthew S. Cox is a good read filled with interesting characters and well-developed settings. If you enjoy character-driven SF that is light on plot but heavier on relationships, you might want to look at this book.

* * * I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review * * *

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Author Bio:

Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.

Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it. He is also fond of cats. Awards: Prophet of the Badlands (excerpt) – Honorable Mention – Writers of the Future

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Fiction

Your chance to win Out Of Sight by Matthew…

Out of Sight
Matthew S. Cox
Publication date: August 13th 2018
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

Most Citizens hold Outcasts in dim regard, but Sima never expected they’d throw her off the planet.

In 2411, overpopulation has spread a plaque of filthy, congested city to the corners of the Earth. Government has raised corruption to an art form, and no one hears the cries of those left to die in the dark passageways of civilization. Following the End of Nations, people cling to the only division left: social status.

Since running away from home four years ago, she’s managed to stay a step ahead of death―or worse. At sixteen, she’s getting too old to survive from begging, despite her best effort to pretend she’s younger. Worse, the sidewalks teem with little kids edging in on her turf, monopolizing Citizens’ charity with their wide, pleading eyes and genuine innocence.

A chance meeting with suspiciously nice cops leaves her more confused than ever. Between deadly gangs, unforgiving security forces, and a terrifying madam eager to exploit a girl her age, merely getting older is the biggest threat to her life. With no good choice to make, she risks the least of three evils.

Sima thought her life on Earth had been dangerous…

She hasn’t seen anything yet.

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Author Bio:

Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.

Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it. He is also fond of cats. Awards: Prophet of the Badlands (excerpt) – Honorable Mention – Writers of the Future

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Fiction

First Look! Cover for Jack Jetstark’s Intergalactic Freakshow

Jack Jetstark’s Intergalactic FreakShow
Jennifer Lee Rossman
Publication date: December 4th 2018
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction

Jack Jetstark travels the universe to seek out the descendants of superpowered freaks created long ago by VesCorp scientists. The vibrations encoded in a particular song transform the members of Jack’s crew into a firebreather and an angel, a wildman and telepathic conjoined triplets, so they hide the truth of who they really are with the theatrics of a carnival.

The song plays every night through the receptor Jack carries with them, but when one night it has a different ending and their temporary powers become permanent, Jack believes the change is a signal from the woman who sent him on this quest in the first place. He and his freaks must navigate a universe at war to protect the love of his life.

But does the ruler of VesCorp really need protecting?

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Author Bio:

Jennifer Lee Rossman is a science fiction geek from Oneonta, New York, where she cross stitches, watches Doctor Who, and threatens to run over people with her wheelchair. Her work has been featured in several anthologies and her time travel novella Anachronism will be available in June 2018. Her debut novel, Jack Jetstark’s Intergalactic Freakshow, will be published by World Weaver Press in 2019.

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