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Scorched Earth

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A MURDER ON MARS LEADS TO HELL ON EARTH The year is 2188 and the Earth—long-ago abandoned for Mars by the plutocrats—is scorched by poverty, disease and environmental collapse. Meanwhile, the red planet is a flourishing playground for the Five Families who, thanks to Halo—an advanced AI—control everything and everyone on Earth, including Crucial Larsen, a disillusioned labor cop. The wealthy elite of Mars don't know that on his last trip up-universe, Crucial stumbled onto a secret that could destroy them. Yet, despite fervent pleas from his sister (a leader in the resistance), Crucial believes fighting back against the Five Families is a fool’s game destined for failure—or worse. Plus, he never wants to set foot on that damn planet again. Then Melinda, his long-lost love and a staff scientist on Mars, begs for his help clearing her fiancée of a murder charge. Crucial jumps on the next quantum rocket, hoping maybe this time he can patch things up with Mel. His investigation ultimately leads back to Earth’s radiation-blasted sunbelt, where cannibal lizard-people—a genetic experiment gone terribly wrong—hold the key to a different future, if only Crucial can stay alive long enough to unlock it. Blending science-fiction with a classic, hard-boiled detective story, Scorched Earth is the second book in The Halo Trilogy, an irreverent series set in post-colonial Mars, and the ninth novel by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall.

318 pages, Paperback

Published February 14, 2021

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About the author

Kathleen McFall

14 books78 followers
Kathleen has co-written ten books with Clark Hays — the four books of The Cowboy and Vampire collection, the three books in the Bonnie & Clyde trilogy and the three books of the Halo Trilogy. She is a former geologist turned journalist (energy, environment beats) and more recently served as a comms director/senior advisor at a major research university.

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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Sybrina Durant.
Author 116 books896 followers
March 19, 2021
Love the humor and action packed scenes.

After the end of Book 1 of the Halo Trilogy by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays, I found myself eagerly anticipating the opportunity to read the next one. I recently finished Book 2 and I’ve got to say, my esteem for this amazing writing duo has increased exponentially. The first three lines of the book drew a big laugh out of me. “Tired of wasting your credits on sonic laundry? Try our regenerative undersuits. They never stop growing so they never need washing.” I don’t even think you needed to have already immersed yourself in book 1 for that to be funny.

There is a lot of humor in the Halo Trilogy. That’s one of the things that hooks you into the otherwise devastating concept of an Earth that is no longer like the one we all know and love. But there is also a lot of very thoughtful, philosophical musing in this story such as this from the main character, Crucial, “I decided the truth is that people don’t really want to be free—it’s too hard.” I’ve come to believe that is true for far too many people in our time.

There are a slew of things in the book that are so thought-provoking. Crucial said something else that makes me reflect on what’s happening in our world today…or at least where we may be headed in the very near future. “On Earth, no one trusts anything that machines don’t make and bathe in ultraviolet light before popping out. It’s the only way to keep the viruses at bay.” I can’t help but wonder if that is to be our fate as well. Oh, I hope not!

I’m accustomed to reading science fiction books about aliens from different planets but the unique thing about the alienesque creatures in this book is that they began life as humans. After a genetic-amendment experiment using reptilian genes, the participants became known as the Blizards. They developed a unique ability to make themselves invisible to the all-knowing Halo surveillance system so that was enough to have them banished to the sunbelt to either thrive or perish. The sunbelt happened to be hyper-arid desert located between what used to be Mexico and what used to be Canada. Let that one sink in… after multiple experiments with climate change, the Earth became a barren wasteland. Worse still, the entire United States became a hostile desert that was no longer capable of sustaining life for anyone except for the genetically enhanced Saurians (as the reptilians preferred to call themselves).

That’s why everyone else on Earth dreams of living on Mars and some get the chance through the labor lottery. Unlike what we expect from winning the lottery, the winners of this one find themselves conscripted into a life of domestic work or some other type of servitude. But no one minds. After all, it’s heck of a lot better than what they had on Earth. Once again Crucial hits the nail on the head when he muses, “Humans need to believe, despite a mound of evidence to the contrary, that they’re special, that their lives are going to be different. A person can put up with almost anything if there’s even a sliver of hope that they can beat the odds, that disasters can be dodged or turned into blessings.” Winning the lottery – yeah…that’s one way to beat the odds.

Crucial doesn’t dream of going to Mars but he keeps finding himself there in his official capacity as a labor cop. His revolutionary sister, Essential is right there, too, leading the resistance against Halo and the Mars ruling families. You gotta love that brother and sister team. Makes you wonder what their Mom knew when she bestowed those cryptic names upon them. Maybe the authors will tell us in Book 3. I’d love to know a little of that back story. Meantime, suffice it to say that Crucial and Essential are both necessary elements in the forming of a more comfortable and happy future for all variations of the human race – both on Earth and on Mars.

Finally, when you’re reading a book and it feels like you’re watching a movie, it leaves no doubt that the authors are talented beyond measure. This one feels like watching Mission Impossible on The Red Planet. Both Halo Trilogy’s so far have been mind-bending adventures but this one particularly left images and concepts lingering for days. I am really looking forward to reading what McFall and Hays come up with next.
Profile Image for Christena.
212 reviews52 followers
March 20, 2021
“Crucial, life is short, mostly painful and often ends in disaster. The most anyone can hope for is to be loved, here and now, in the present moment, before something else goes wrong.”

In February, my heart raced as I watched the final moments of the landing of the Mars 2020 Perseverance on the red planet over 140 million miles away from Earth. Immediately, I wished any form of life had been detected. Perseverance brought Mars a little closer to home just for those few minutes after it landed. Fortunately, there are great writers out there who can craft sci-fi stories around Mars bringing them to life. Scorched Earth brings Mars close to Earth and vice versa.

Scorched Earth, The Halo Trilogy, Book 2 by authors, Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays picks right up where Book 1 left off. Traversing between Earth and Mars, Crucial Larsen is trying to uncover a deep mystery tied to a murder. Along the way, his sister, Essential is trying to save what is left of humanity.

Scorched Earth is exceedingly enthralling, just like Book 1 of this Trilogy. The characters and the story linger in my head long after I put this story to bed. By the middle of this book, I did not want to put it down. I was anxiously looking forward to seeing where this story went.

Crucial. He’s a man you either love or hate. I lean towards the former. His character is likable, real, and cocky. I cannot believe I plant I naturally detest becomes the center of the most poignant point in this book.

I’ll restate this – good sci-fi makes you explore what it means to be human, makes you question your unknown assumptions about this universe, and leaves you with compelling questions. Mostly it leaves you entertained about either darker or more promising futures. Even better sci-fi makes you long for the story to continue long after you have turned the last page.

If you are a sci-fi lover, then The Halo Trilogy is series to read. The writing is fresh and the story is distinctive. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Jennie Rosenblum.
1,010 reviews31 followers
March 15, 2021
Being a major fan of detective/mystery books and only have a small experience with Science Fiction, I looked forward to exploring new ground with the reading of this book.

From the first chapter I felt like it was pulling me in with an undercurrent of quirky and humor that carried on throughout by the character dialogue and even into the character's names.

With this book, there is a depth you can’t help but be intrigued with such as the character’s names and what the author may have been thinking. Essential, Crucial and even Jynk all lend themselves to more thought as the names appear to line up with their personalities or situations. Then there are the Five Families and my mind went right to the mob and the infamous 5 families. Whether on purpose or not, these minor transgressions in my thinking led this reader down a path that might not have been intended but was enjoyable.

With travel between Earth and Mars, technology and world structures that good Science Fiction can immerse you in, there is never a dull moment. There is something going on here that is beyond what each group is seeing and maybe between them all they could figure it out? But there’s that little issue of working with others that might not be exactly like you. This is a continuing challenge for us humans, not to mention if you add augmented populations to the mix.

This story takes place in a world where the idea of an all-seeing – all-knowing society is part of their everyday lives. This idea as well as the plot of the book, leads to some great discussions and provokes some deep thinking. Scorched Earth should be a consideration for any serious book clubs out there. I’ve already recommended it to one of mine!
Profile Image for Ruthie Jones.
1,003 reviews45 followers
March 18, 2021
"Don't stay mired in this wretched way of living because you can't conceive of something else. People deserve better. Building our systems on empathy instead of greed is the first step."

Scorched Earth by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays is book two in an interplanetary trilogy destined to become a favorite among all readers, no matter what genre you love the most because it covers a lot of bibliophilic ground.

Crucial Larsen has effectively achieved the status of beloved character by being witty and pragmatic and filled with unlimited hope cleverly disguised as pessimism and sarcasm. He loves to drink, especially Martian absinthe; knows how to tick all the wrong people (and even some of the right people) off and live to tell about it; and has a way of saying all the wrong things at all the wrong times, yet he remains endearing and actually quite lovable.

"I'm used to living right on the edge of always giving up." ~ Crucial Larsen

Reading book one, Gates of Mars, in this trilogy first is highly recommended because it is terrific, and the history and backstories of the main characters will come in handy. Book two references events in book one and continues several relationships, in addition to building new ones. Moreover, that obnoxious contrast between rich and poor/Mars and Earth remains a steady theme throughout both books. In Scorched Earth, Crucial is a labor cop on Earth, but he receives special investigative privileges into the murder of one of the mega rich members of the Five Families on Mars, giving him access to pretty much everywhere and almost everyone. How fortunate! And a bit dangerous. Through Crucial's droll point of view, the reader sees firsthand how all humans (and modified humans and other beings) on both Earth and Mars live, either barely hanging onto a life not worth living or languishing among the glittering richness of greed and useless wealth. And then there is the Resistance. There will always be a resisting group in any have/have not world, right? And what about those mutant blizards/Saurians in the Sunbelt on Earth? So much going on, but every page is a treat for readers who love a good science fiction, mystery, romance, adventure, and cautionary tale all rolled up into one fantastic story. I did say it covers a lot of ground, right?

"But can anything that offers relief really be voluntary for the desperate?"

Scorched Earth is an entertaining sojourn into the year 2188, where Earth is a total mess, and the poor and eternally indebted are scratching out a bleak existence. The red planet is the place to be if you are born rich or win the get-out-of-debt lottery, and all of these so-called lucky ones will do anything to preserve their selfish, opulent lifestyles and their health, apparently. Hays and Clark are expert world builders and have created many well-rounded and lively characters. I am happy to report that the delightfully funny and sweet bromance between Crucial and Sanders, who is the cybanism assistant/companion assigned to Crucial while he is on Mars, continues in book two.

As part of his investigation, Crucial and historian Lauren Valentine stumble onto some stranger-than-normal activity in the undesirable and practically uninhabitable Sunbelt on Earth, and as the mystery deepens and as Crucial creeps ever closer to the truth, the danger level ratchets up to an almost impossible level. Never fear! Crucial and several other characters have a way of landing on their feet...maybe...sort of. Well, read the book and find out who survives this latest interplanetary adventure. Word of caution! Don’t be surprised if some aspects feel a little too real and hit too close to home in this work of fiction because of our current real-life scenario of viruses, social distancing, and digital connections/surveillance. In all his quirkiness, likability, and humanness, Crucial reminds us how important it is to maintain our humanity, physical connections, and even humor in a world where all of these things are either extinct or on the brink. This trilogy may be science fiction, but who knows. We might be re-classifying this as non-fiction someday in the not-so-distant future. Like tomorrow maybe?

Hays and Clark are the perfect writing team! They deliver an engaging story that makes you laugh, cringe, and boil, sometimes all within the same paragraph. The dynamic characterization and superb world building and plot lines will have you clamoring for book three!

"Your life is about to get very complicated."

I received a free copy of this book from Lone Star Book Blog Tours in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Lynn Poppe.
542 reviews55 followers
March 15, 2021
What I really enjoy about this series, and Scorched Earth in particular, is the mash-up of hard-boiled detective with science fiction. Crucial is detecting and crime solving across two planets! If you are asking yourself how is it possible to mash together two very different genres, let me provide some examples.

-On the hard-boiled detective side:

-Over on Mars, Crucial is tasked with solving the murder of one of the First Five Families. And oh yeah, his ex's fiancée is charged with the crime. No conflicts there, that's for sure!
-Also, what's with all the brains in blue goo?
-Back on Earth, who are the 'fake' resistance fighters? And what are they doing in the Sunbelt - that dried out middle of the continent?

On the Sci Fi side:

-Halo, the sentient AI in the series, is still there, tracking every movement, every thought, reminding me more of Thunderhead from the Scythe series this time around. I love this quote from Essential:

"AI is built by humans, an as long as we can control it - which isn't necessarily for much longer - it's anchored in human values. And right now, those values are defined by the Five Families."

-Sanders, the cybanism (cybernetic humanoid type), is learning to be "more human", including drinking alcohol. He even tries switching his blue blood (so no one thinks he's human at an accident) to red.
Nanites. So many nanites.
-We meet the Saurians, a race of humans who were genetically crossed with lizards and now live in the Sunbelt. With tails, scales, third eyes, and the ability to camouflage themselves, they are thriving while Halo cannot see them.

McFall and Hays show some serious writing skills in blending these genres and ideas.

On a personal note, I'm on the fence about having an OCD (ocular communications device). Sure, it would be cool to have the internet ALWAYS there. But also, always there seems loud and invasive. If the recent pandemic has taught me anything, it's that I do not always need to be connected to the internet. I need a break sometimes. And the interesting fact that we learn in Scorched Earth about the OCDs - they are implanted on day two of a baby's life. DAY. TWO.

The pacing of Scorched Earth is fast and page turning. From the opening scene (a shoot-out, btw), I was engaged and following along, like I was there with Crucial. From the baking heat of the Sunbelt to a q-rocket that somehow MISSES Earth on the way back, I was turning pages as fast as I could. I read most of the book in one day because I HAD to find out what was going to happen next!

I genuinely like the characters in these novels. They are well-written, believable, and flawed. I found myself attached and worried about each one of them when they are put in peril by the authors. Crucial is cranky, disillusioned, and a brilliant detective. Essential is the activist we all want to be. I absolutely love Sanders and his attempts at being human.

Scorched Earth is the second novel in a series but could be read by itself. McFall and Hays do a great job in the first chapters of the novel summarizing the plot points of Gates of Mars (book #1 of The Halo Trilogy) for new readers. But not so much recap as to be dull for someone who read the first novel. But honestly, you should check out Gates of Mars. It was recently named a Foreword INDIES Finalist!

Amazing writing, fast-paced, fab world-building, authentic characters, and outstanding crime solving had me turning the pages as fast as I could. Scorched Earth fits right in with my pandemic sci fi obsession. Hopefully my review has intrigued you to pick up this series. I know I'm excited for the next installment!
Profile Image for Mike.
165 reviews3 followers
March 16, 2021
This storyline is so utterly good and written so utterly well that I didn’t want the book to end! Lucky for me, though - this is only the second book in this trilogy from Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays. I’ll be counting the days until I can read the third story, when it becomes available.

What makes this story so fantastic? It’s just a combination of things done markedly well. The ONLY bad thing I have to say about this book is that it ended. I’m satisfied and all that, but I want more!

In a trilogy, an author can do some serious world-building, and these authors didn’t even let the ink dry on the paper before they constructed elaborate worlds - one being a future Earth, and the other being a habitable Mars. This is a little hard to explain, but the worlds are just so cleverly built! The descriptions are marvelous and ingenious.

The protagonist is Crucial Larsen, a cop. The time is the year 2188 (or thereabouts). He always seems to be in the wrong place at the right time. The authors show that he has a heart of gold, but he rarely lets it be seen. He also has a very dry sense of cop humor. His dialogue is kind of like a twenty-second century version of the cops in the renowned Joseph Wambaugh cop books. What makes it even better, however, is the story is told in Crucial’s first person POV. We know what he’s thinking, and sometimes his thoughts are hilarious.

For example, Crucial really knows how to make an insult: “You strike me as a barely functioning biped.” He’s also quick to point out the oddities of cybanisms: “Wait, you poop … in cubes?” There were times that I laughed so hard at something Crucial said that my eyes started tearing.

The antagonists are the Five Families - the ruling class of humanity after the Consolidation Wars, and Halo - a computer system that collects data from everywhere - including the device all humans must have. “On day one, you’re born into this world. On day two, you get your Ocular Communication Device implanted.” Halo knows everything that’s going on and feeds the data to the FIST - the head of the Five Families. The ruling class keeps everyone else in line by keeping them in debt. I thought this construction worked together very well for the story to be told.

I especially loved how the authors gave future names to some common vernacular: “two rockets, one launch pad” for kill two birds with one stone. And I’ll also never forget, “At the door, he turns and gives me the tall-finger.”

This story is also action-packed from start to finish! There was one part where I really got the creepy-jeebies, and I had an immediate flashback to a specific scene in the movie Aliens. (To find out which one, you’ll have to read the book. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know it when you get there.)

I could talk all day long about how much I enjoyed this book, but I think it would be best if I just let you read it for yourselves. Regardless of what your favorite genre is, I’m quite sure that you will thoroughly enjoy this book. (In case you’re wondering, you don’t need to read the first book to enjoy this one.)

As Crucial might say, “Not reading this book would cause you to bring a serious injustice on yourself.” Enough said.
Profile Image for Lorilei Gonzales.
163 reviews3 followers
March 16, 2021
Scorched Earth by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays is the fourth book I have read by this talented couple, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with their ability to build such a bleak and interesting future. That might sound like an odd thing to say, but I feel like most authors figure out their lane and stay in it. The duo’s Bonnie and Clyde series was so well written that for a second, my brain wouldn’t accept that they co-authored this amazing science fiction novel with the totally rad cover. (Can I get the cover art on a T-shirt, please?) So what is their lane? Anything action packed with brilliant characters and punchy dialogue, apparently.

So, normally I would complain about a book that didn’t do the whole exposition thing thoroughly for the previous books in the series. But I liked how this one gives you just enough information to power through and understand what is going on. And if the intention was to make the reader want to go back and read Book One, mission accomplished. Thankfully, there were only two or three instances where I was kicking myself for not reading the previous book, but they were enough for me to add Gates of Mars to my TBR list. And best believe that it will get read before Book Three comes out.

There is a delicate balance to writing good science fiction. The future has to be different enough from the present to make a plausible and realistic story, but at the same time not be completely off-the-wall to the point that the reader scoffs at the unlikelihood of any of it coming true one day. The idea that humans have migrated to Mars is not a new one – what with all of our Mars missions and other fiction works where science has finally figured out how to sustain life on the Red Planet. What I found particularly compelling in this new world is the monopoly on leading a comfortable life on Mars and the lengths that people will go to fight against or maintain that power.

And it is these people, AI included, that really make this book a fantastic read. Not only do McFall and Hays write a seamless story, a feat that many co-authors are unable to accomplish, but they create these colorful characters with wonderful voices and quirks. Even the characters that you probably won’t care much for, you kind of do, because as annoying as they are, you are now invested in what happens to them.

This is definitely a series that I hope Netflix or some other streaming service will pick up and make into a movie or TV show. Do yourself a favor; make sure you read Gates of Mars if you haven’t already. I bet that there are some truly hilarious and exciting moments in that book, as there will be in Book Three, no doubt.
6 reviews
April 22, 2021
Skillful, intelligent, humorous adventure--can't wait for the next book!
The second book in this exciting trilogy left me breathless with anticipation for the final installation. The Halo Trilogy by Hays and McFall is a roller-coaster sci-fi adventure mystery that drops you into the (sophisticated and intelligent) action from the first page. My fiction reading passions are sci-fi, mystery, adventure, and espionage (with historical romance thrown into any of these genres--if done well). Halo meets all of my joys in reading. First, the sci-fi: plausible. A perfect balance of technology, action, premise, and terminology appealing to experts and lay-persons alike. I appreciate the aspects I don't know about because the authors skillfully channel me into immediate comprehension--without dumbing-down. Accessibility is key when taking someone into the future. Second, intelligent.Though the authors incrementally peel away the layers; most every character is multifaceted, engaging and smart. I love smart characters and Halo characters invite me into their world from start to finish--each professional and expert is written to help me travel in their shoes, in the moment. Third, fun and funny. Realistic, relatable, self-made, courageous leaders with everyday issues-- some charming and humorous.The adventure is richly integrated with tension, fear and plenty of humor. It takes a lot of skill to make me laugh at a story--especially one fraught with painful, dark challenges. Hays and McFall provide plenty of laughs--sarcastic, sardonic, silly, self-deprecating... clearly they understand fun and humor in many dimensions. Fourth, mystery. This is a series of deep, dark mysteries encompassing the intergalactic future of Earth, mars and their inhabitants. Edgy, sinister, compelling and tight. As with the character's personalities, the mysteries are revealed via well timed clues. From murder to DNA experimentation, conspiracies and revolution, there is a lot going on and I never got lost! Fifth, a brilliant socio-economic, political, environmental cautionary tale. Drawing from real circumstances of today, Halo's authors immerse readers into a highly realistic future. It's torturous and frighteningly possible. Finally, the first two Halo books left me impatient to read the next volume. Please, Hays and McFall write faster!!! As a fan of their earlier works (Cowboy and the Vampire series; Bonnie and Clyde trilogy) I can't wait to see where the next Halo book leads (hopefully to the big screen eventually). I highly recommend this compelling series filled with mystery, humor, hope and a touch of romance.
Profile Image for Tangled in Text.
853 reviews21 followers
March 16, 2021
Scorched Earth indeed was a quick read. Short chapters are my preference and this book delivered. Longer books have me setting aside time to maybe read a chapter a night, but with a book like this, having each chapter be only a couple pages long, I can get lost in how many I've read each night. I finished half this book in one evening because that quick rush of accomplishment upon finishing a chapter built a momentum that constantly keep me thinking "just one more chapter".

Not only the character development, but the whole world development in Scorched Earth was thrilling. I was impressed with the creativity it must have taken to create an entire world, civilization, and way of life and for it to somehow feel natural and known. I was pulled into this world and fell in love with it's detail and visual elements. I love when books are able to almost create a character with how much the setting was well thought out.

I'm not usually a science-fiction reader, but I picked up this book with its' description of murder and lies. It was such a fun, fast-paced plot that I would read more sci-fi if I knew they were anything like this. This is a great introduction to sci-fi for those like myself because I didn't get confused it a multitude of languages, species, and civilizations trying to remember who is at war with who. Scorched Earth was very easy for a noob sci-fi reader, like myself, to enjoy.

The witty dialogue and sarcasm-blind character made my day. Characters like Spock (Star Trek) and Drax the Destroyer (Guardians of the Galaxy) always end up my favorite characters, providing a plethora of excellent banter and fun, awkward moments. Scorched Earth had its' own character who quickly became my favorite and I don't think I'll be forgetting Sanders anytime soon. I found myself smiling several times and the fact that my husband and I both read this, it was fun to joke with him about some of the phrases and characters that we adored.

Thank you Lonestar Literary Life for sending me a free, review copy of this book to review and now have a shared set of inside jokes with my hubs.

Head to https://www.tangledintext.com/post/sc... to read my husbands review too!
2 reviews
April 3, 2021
I really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall, Gates of Mars, so I was excited when Scorched Earth was recently published. The second installment lived up to my expectations and then some.

Crucial Larsen is a very realistic and engaging hero in the classic noir tradition: the world-weary detective who uncovers plots at the highest level in his search to solve the mystery, and whose hardbitten cynicism is increasingly at odds with his better nature. The continued world-building is thorough and frighteningly plausible: a hot, polluted earth devastated by climate change, viruses, and war, where clouds and most animals are long gone and most of humanity lives short, miserable lives working off their debt to the Five Families. The oligarchs who control everything live in luxury under domes on Mars, where our hero travels to solve cases which lead to secrets and cover-ups at the highest level. Crucial's ongoing relationship in this installment with his sister, one of the leaders of the resistance movement trying to alter the balance of power, and his ex, who he's still pining for, add emotional resonance to the story.

One of the most convincing and alarming aspects of this society of 150+ years in the future is the constant technological surveillance and interaction that dominates everyone's lives. People no longer gather in person to communicate, spend much of their time escaping into virtual reality and are constantly being monitored and bombarded with annoying ads. A central element of the plot of this series is the "HALO" AI which controls all aspects of everyone's lives and is controlled by the Five Families for their benefit.

One of my favorite things about this series is the humor. Hays and McFall manage to balance pointed social commentary, dystopian world-building, emotional moments and action sequences with a lot of very funny quips and scenarios. Crucial is a hard-drinking wise guy who delights in infuriating those in power. One of the best characters is Sanders the "cybanism," Crucial's frequent sidekick on Mars, an android who has a bad habit of meeting a horrible death over and over in the course of his adventures with Crucial and learns more about being human with each resurrection. I enjoyed the introduction of the "blizards" or (as they prefer to call themselves) "Saurians," humans with reptile DNA who were created to survive in the inhospitable desert "sunbelt" that now covers much of the middle of the former U.S. Though I don't think I want to try their preferred alcoholic beverage "antgin" (just what it sounds like) anytime soon. As a Portland, OR resident like the authors, I enjoyed seeing Klamath Falls and Crater Lake (looking somewhat different) as plot locations.

Scorched Earth was a really fun read and I'm looking forward to the third installment in this trilogy.
195 reviews1 follower
January 1, 2022
Even better than Giraffes on Mars'

Crucial has enough twists in this new mystery, but giving up not an option. And, actually get a glimpse of the evil with a Capital 'E'. Truly a great adventure/ mystery read. Only downside; would have loved more of a back story on K. And what in the world is up with---.? But I don't want to give anything away. Looks like we're left with a mystery within a conundrum! Can't wait for the 3rd book in the series.
Profile Image for Cathy Leininger.
121 reviews
February 24, 2022
Crucial Larsen does it again!

Crucial Larsen is summoned to Mars again, accompanied by his cybanism Sanders, and as usual he causes an endless amount of trouble but manages to solve the puzzle and expose the bad guys. A great sequel and will there be a third?
Profile Image for Stephanie Phillips.
36 reviews3 followers
November 22, 2021
Couldn’t put it down!!! It’s both fun and so smartly linked to the world we could so easily be heading toward! Go read it ASAP!
2 reviews
March 5, 2023
great sci-fi

Great characters and great action. Concept interesting and entertaining. Moves quickly and doesn’t linger over alot of small talk or explanations.

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