Ah, the apocalypse. I never tire of thoughtful looks at the end of the world as we know it. Invasion (Alien Invasion Book 1) is just that—thoughtful.Ah, the apocalypse. I never tire of thoughtful looks at the end of the world as we know it. Invasion (Alien Invasion Book 1) is just that—thoughtful. While the plot certainly features preppers and mob mentality, it takes time to speculate on patterns within the madness. The main character, Meyer Dempsey, is a self-made man of considerable wealth and power. He has a wife, an ex-wife he still loves and two teenage children. In recent years he has become an enthusiastic (obsessive) end times prepper, complete with mountain compound in an isolated section of Colorado. He lives in New York. The story opens with knowledge of mysterious alien orbs rapidly approaching Earth from beyond Jupiter. Dempsey had planned on moving to Colorado within the next few months. Now time is up, and thus the conflict/tension of Invasion is born. Man against the madness. That’s the entire set up and storyline for Invasion, and it is intensely compelling. It’s not a spoiler when I tell you that the aliens never show up in book 1. You figure this to be the case early on in the story. Invasion is about what people do when they discover the aliens are on their way. What would you do? Would you feel the compulsion to do something? Go somewhere? Or would you simply sit in your lawn and watch the stars with an increasing sense of wonder and dread? Would you defend your family? Would you attack others proactively to do so? Meyer Dempsey is a man who has already asked and answered all these questions. He knows what will happen and what he’s willing to do. Because of this, he is not a nice guy. He is not compassionate or patient. He IS decisive, confident and aggressive. And he isn’t totally without love. His family dynamic is a believable one. His teenage children are teenagers. They explode at each other, they scream, they laugh, they cry. They experience horrible atrocities along the way. I’m a father. My children aren’t teenagers yet, but I get it. I understood the decisions that the characters in this book made for better and for worse. Because of that, I found this book to be a gripping and thought provoking glimpse of humanity in crisis—or in the anticipation of one....more
I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I'm a fan of biothrillers. You know, the kinds of stories that move aI received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I'm a fan of biothrillers. You know, the kinds of stories that move along quickly but slow down just enough for a solid dose of science--in this case, molecular biology.
In that regard, The K2 Virus doesn't disappoint. From beginning to end, Rhine delivers well researched possibilities as the story embarks on the near-future likelihood of the next big contagion. The book is aptly titled. This is a contagion story, and the virus is front and center. The main characters are pitted against the virus as they either fight to survive or overcome it. This tension and momentum drives the story forward at a good pace.
Rhine does a nice job with the character development as well. Daniel, the main protagonist is a very believable research scientist and programmer whose family emigrated from South Korea before his birth. He mixes the appropriate amount of Western and Eastern cultures while succeeding at being quirky and sometimes naive without becoming a stereotype.
One of my pet peeves is smart characters who inexplicably do stupid things in order to move along a blundering plot. But Rhine balances this well by creating believable character flaws around things such as personal/sexual relationships. Yes, smart people do stupid things. Rhine is able to explain them in a way that infuriates the reader (in a good way) without insulting him/her. The K2 Virus also incorporates clear knowledge of Korea and current events.
As much as I enjoyed the story, there were a couple of reasons I can't give The K2 Virus 5 stars. I found myself being tripped up by the narrative in dozen different places. Nothing major, but it required me to slow down and come out of the story before finding my way. I'm a slow reader, reluctant to miss anything. So when something doesn't click, I have a hard time moving on without going back over the sticky spot a few times. Lastly, I found the omniscient third-person POV frustrating in its inconsistency. At times, the POV was very intimate with a particular character and less omniscient. For instance, the narrator wouldn't mention how or if the virus was spreading if the character didn't know. Then at other times, the POV was completely omniscient, passing along contagion information to the reader in a detached manner (ie. "What such and such didn't know was that the virus had already spread to twelve other prisoners.") I found this jumping back and forth to be distracting.
Other than those two things, this story is a clear 4 star. I enjoyed reading it and would easily recommend it to others. The adult themes remained well clear of anything raunchy or offensive (in my opinion). Overall, an enjoyable read that had enough allure to pull me away from other things I could have been reading and keep me coming back through to the end....more
This book was not what I expected but charming and worth the listen. Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book (audiobook version) in exchaThis book was not what I expected but charming and worth the listen. Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book (audiobook version) in exchange for an honest review.
Serengeti, by J.B. Rockwell, opens with an epic battle, armada against rebel armada. After the first fifty pages (nearly an hour of the audiobook), I realized the pace was diverging from what I've come to expect with such a scene and genre. Rockwell takes her time in unfurling the relationships between the human crew and AI crew of the Valkyrie class starship Serengeti, and an interesting dynamic guides these relationships. In Rockwell’s universe the AI are in charge while remaining humbly indebted to their human creators. AI minds are master’s of their own fates while still harboring human crews inside their starship hulls.
The story is not a military sci-fi at all. Instead it becomes quite the AI drama. Without spoiling the story, I'll simply say that Serengeti herself is the central focus. This much should be obvious by the title, but the reader could easily start off by thinking of "Serengeti" as "Enterprise." This is not at all the case.
Serengeti is a stark and slow-blossoming story featuring moments that made me laugh and a couple that brought me to the verge of tears. Rockwell's strengths are the intimate, small-scale moments. She seems to recognize this. Even the epic battle at the beginning of the story is broken down and parsed out amidst continuously developing relationships and growing tension.
A couple of times I was jolted from the story when plot elements made me furrow my brows. Once, Serengeti overlooked an important aspect of her own schematic. For a super AI this struck me as convenient for the overall plot. And a few phrases were overused. Perhaps these stood out more due to hearing the story rather than reading it.
But these are small complaints for a story that I rather enjoyed. The audio performance was excellent as well. As all good books should, Serengeti left me asking a handful of deeper questions: What is intelligence? Organic? Artificial? Can the two be bridged? What of morality? What of life? Is there a universal created order/pattern that will emerge within all intelligence if given time? Or will the things humans create always gravitate toward human characteristics—imitation being the sincerest form of flattery? Thoughtful questions from a well-told story....more
One of my best. Anyone familiar with my Lost DMB Files or my DMB Files stories will slowly be able to make the connections here. But the Green Ones caOne of my best. Anyone familiar with my Lost DMB Files or my DMB Files stories will slowly be able to make the connections here. But the Green Ones can be read as a first exposure to my larger universe. I actually recommend this serial novel as the place for readers to jump in if they like dystopian literature, thrillers or anything that chips away at the glacier beneath the water.
This story is written in serial. This novel includes the first five episodes, and comprises the first season. Five other episodes are finished. Thirty are planned.
I've sat on this content for over a year now, because I value this story too much to simply dump it into the world without the right sales and marketing plan. With the shake down going on in digital publishing, I've chosen to focus on creating my own company/publishing platform for serial fiction and schools.
Thanks to all of you out there who have been supportive of my stories. I apologize for not keeping up my former publishing tempo. But my company will soon be able to support itself enough for me to return to writing....more
Full Disclosure: I wrote this book. That out of the way, writing this book really was an eye opening adventure for me. Not only has it been a diversionFull Disclosure: I wrote this book. That out of the way, writing this book really was an eye opening adventure for me. Not only has it been a diversion from pulp fiction and middle grade, but getting to know Cosmo Zimik has been an honor.
I've always prided myself on being "global" and staying informed on happenings beyond the glimmering shores of the USA. But I had no idea of the 50+ year war in Northeast India. Tibet? Sure. The true experiences recorded in these pages flooded onto my computer screen as easily as any crazy pulp story. But I couldn't have made this stuff up.
The fact that this stuff actually happened has impacted me much more than the nutty, over-the-top stuff I normally conjure up out of the aether. I truly believe this book can entertain with the best of them, while also impacting people.
I won't attempt to predict the future, but I'm sort of hoping the Empty Hand Revolution comes to mean something for a broad audience. Enjoy the show....more
Again, I've gone and rated a book I've authored with five stars. Of all the nerve. Hey, it is just that good.
Now for a few things I should explain upAgain, I've gone and rated a book I've authored with five stars. Of all the nerve. Hey, it is just that good.
Now for a few things I should explain up front. If you are new to my novels AND you don't tend to read very much, you should probably keep on moving. I don't write stand alone novels. I don't even write stand alone series. If you like things such as roller coasters, being discombobulated, saying the word 'discombobulated,' and experiencing your heart in your throat, then I'm your guy.
First Relic is book one in my new series, Relic Hunters. This series runs parallel to the DMB Files. It also has ties to a yet to be released serial, The Green Ones. Relic Hunters will explore the DMB universe from yet another angle. You can choose to read them on their own, or you can choose to read them in concert with the rest of the DMB universe.
Oh, I'm a fan of Joss Whedon. Kudos to you if you can find all 38 references to his work in this novel. THE BROWNCOATS WILL RISE AGAIN!!!...more
Dripping with science and sex, Sequela is a thought provoking excursion into an extremely sexualized future built from the foundation of raunchy possiDripping with science and sex, Sequela is a thought provoking excursion into an extremely sexualized future built from the foundation of raunchy possibilities already present in our society.
Life has evolved within the urban core of London, protected from the countryside by a wall, into a matter of sexual posturing. The key means of upward mobility is "wearing" the latest and most desirable sexually transmitted disease. Yep. Human engineered viruses with visible side effects. The more visible the side effects the better.
Such a reversal on the common attitude toward viruses has been made possible through a series of scientific discoveries (built in bio-screens, etc.) along with a healthy dose of hedonism and a sturdy superiority complex the people of the city have over those in the country who can't afford the good life. Overall, I found the premise to be quite believable and internally consistent.
This futuristic setting (and the commentary embedded in it) is the genius of Sequela. Every aspect of the debauched society comes across in wonderfully disgusting detail: The Real Church--determined to strong-arm its way back inside the city; The working girl tasked with the extra job of contracting the newest and most desirable diseases in order to boost business for her madam; The marginalized scientific community stewing in their own juices as private industry steals away talent in order to create designer viruses for the sex-crazed.
The society is detailed and vivid. The characters are multi-dimensional, flawed and memorable. These are the things I loved about the book.
My problem with Sequela stems from these same characters. By the end, I simply wanted all of them to lose. Selfish, misdirected, egocentric, self-righteous, vindictive--they are a nasty lot. I actually started enjoying the book much more toward the latter half when everything goes awry. This can be a great accomplishment on the writer's part IF, (and here is the catch) if there is a cost or lesson or moral for all these nasty characters (or if the reader hates them so much the reader can really cheer on their destruction).
But none of that happened for me. Instead I was stuck with mixed emotions. I didn't want the characters to succeed. At the same time, I didn't want their total destruction. I wanted them to learn and change for the better. This gets into choppy waters (my definition of "better" may not be yours).
Let me be clear, this is more of a personal taste issue than one reflecting on Cleland's skills as an novelist. The one thing I felt Cleland failed to do well was establish the motives of the main character, Kester. I never could be sure really why he was doing what he was doing. Often he simply ended up being passively swept along. This certainly contributed to my annoyance with him. Other than that, I simply didn't like the moral conclusion of the story.
And while the ending of Sequela is brilliant in its own nihilistic or cyclical sort of way, it certainly fails to hit the uplifting or redeeming note I had personally hoped for. All said and done, Sequela is written cunningly enough to make the reader care how the story ends. It pokes and prods one throughout. For that, I give Cleland full kudos. Alas, as many of us readers know, it's these cunning books that can be most disappointing when they deviate from our aspirations for them....more
First off, I'm the author. If you're familiar with my work, this may seem a divergence from things like Paraplegic Zombie Slayer and Reefer Ranger. IFirst off, I'm the author. If you're familiar with my work, this may seem a divergence from things like Paraplegic Zombie Slayer and Reefer Ranger. I suppose it is. Stated most simply, I'm a Christian who writes, but not a Christian writer. Not wanting to limit my material or my readers to people of my personal faith, I intentionally waited a season before venturing back into writing spiritual/Christian content.
Having said that, I love this simple little story. I love that Jesus the Christ sought out the least, last, lost and loser while he walked the earth. Each INCARNATIONAL SHORTS will highlight a different one of these losers. My own experiences demanded that I start here, with the woman at the well.
I hope you read the story, enjoy it and discuss it with a friend....more
If you have gotten to book two, hopefully you realize Jim Buckner and I are one in the same. (But only within the universe we call "reality.")
Is it aIf you have gotten to book two, hopefully you realize Jim Buckner and I are one in the same. (But only within the universe we call "reality.")
Is it a bit cheeky to rate your own book with five stars? Maybe. But would it be better if I rated it less? Hey, I wouldn't be a writer if I didn't believe in my supreme talent.
Desert Gods is the tense, and at times humorous, follow up to De Novo Syndrome. In it, Buckner and his daughter, Evie, are challenged to truly function as a team. Desert Gods also drops a pretty big bomb near the end--one that will continue to expand the DMB Universe to crazy places. Of course, I won't say more on that.
I will say I agree with most of the reviews on De Novo Syndrome and think they will apply to Desert Gods as well. Both of these books are detailed. The plot is not a simple thing spoon fed to the reader. At the same time, I do not try to make them opaque or unnecessarily difficult. I simply enjoy a form of entertainment that requires my full engagement throughout rather than one in which I know the ending after the first few chapters.
Finally, I highly recommending reading De Novo Syndrome first. This novel is a continuation.
This is a surprising collection of shorts from an emerging author. The themes of dark and light, mysticism, and faith in the unseen, roll across its pThis is a surprising collection of shorts from an emerging author. The themes of dark and light, mysticism, and faith in the unseen, roll across its pages like waves. Always toying with the edges of perception and poking at things that go bump in the dark, these shorts blur realism with fantasy and science fiction in ways I found amusing, inspiring and frightening in turn. Wilson's ability to craft provocative and endearing characters in so few pages is brilliant. While his craft certainly has not reached its apex yet, these stories easily demonstrate as much talent as they do potential. I found each story thoroughly enjoyable....more
Seeing how the author listed on the cover of this book is the main POV character, and the book is based in the near future, it shouldn't take too longSeeing how the author listed on the cover of this book is the main POV character, and the book is based in the near future, it shouldn't take too long for readers to figure out Jim Buckner is a pen name. As it turns out, my pen name. Having come clean with that...
De Novo Syndrome begins a new series of stories within the same universe as the Lost DMB Files, but taking place 100 years later. A thriller for those who expect the unexpected, De Novo can be read looking forwards, backwards or both. When taken together with the Lost Files, these near future thrillers begin to unravel a universe broader than any of the characters have been able to guess.
This was the most influential book of my childhood in getting me to read at all. I swear I thought the librarian had screwed up, and that this book waThis was the most influential book of my childhood in getting me to read at all. I swear I thought the librarian had screwed up, and that this book was available only because no adult had bothered to read it. It was just that awesome to an 8 year old boy.
I mean, flying via fart power? It simply doesn't get any better. Roald Dahl was a gift to childrens' books. Few like him exist anymore--writers who don't dumb things down or rob children of wonder and mischief.
I’ve also reviewed the first book in this series and highly recommend reading it before the second. Rather than being separate entities, they are partI’ve also reviewed the first book in this series and highly recommend reading it before the second. Rather than being separate entities, they are parts of the same whole. That being said, The City of Destruction is as toothsome as it is brainsome. It is a mind-altering twisty tale not without a devastatingly-human element. Two opposing forces, intelligent races, duel across time and space to win a war that dictates whether they ever even existed. History will remember only the winner, but does that make them righteous? or merely victorious? In a story where some sacrifices last forever and others never happened (or sometimes both at once) the main players develop complex motives and even more complex complexes in a manner that kept me thinking about the repercussions of human relationship. I love time travel when it’s done right. The City of Destruction was just that, sporting a host of character-testing contradictions that beg readers to inspect their deepest selves. If right and wrong were irrelevant would I abandon my humanity to do what had to be done to save it? Read it! Review it! Share it!...more
I've gone and read another young adult book! It just keeps happening against my will. But The Dryad's Kiss has a hint of that Stand By Me/Super 8 retrI've gone and read another young adult book! It just keeps happening against my will. But The Dryad's Kiss has a hint of that Stand By Me/Super 8 retro feel that drew me in (despite an opening dream sequence!). In truth the first couple of chapters left me wanting to skim read.
But when Finn embarked on a morally questionable unearthing of a haunted burial mound with his father and uncle, the text found its voice and came alive. Finn's voice-cracking, wobbly-kneed youth becomes endearing as he wrestles with everything from common sexual attraction to mystical revelation.
Overall I think Vankirk and his protagonist the Mighty Finn recover from a few missed cues early in the routine in order to stick the landing. Read it! Review it! Share it!...more