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Trumpocalypse Now, Alfy Dade

Trumpocalypse Now, Alfy Dade

Trumpocalypse Now

Set in a future where the orange troll has brought about the apocalypse, I had to give Trumpocalypse Now at least a few stars for entertainment value, even though I’m generally not a fan of political satire.

The novella starts in a deceptively genuine dystopian setting, with our hero scavenging for medical supplies, but after the first section, the story becomes increasingly satirical, and the segue into the fairy story of how the troll caused the apocalypse is a blatant, entertaining parallel to the current US election.

The language of Trumpocalypse Now is full of nods to the genre, with references such as ‘like pancake orange makeup it disguised a most disgusting sight’, and the ‘Secret Service’ episode ends up describing every act of the troll and Brandon screwing Ligeia in political terms. The cameo description of Aglaopë as Hillary at the end was a particularly nice touch.

However, the structure of the book was more focussed on scoring the satirical points than on readability, with the result that while it gave me several grins, I wasn’t really captured by it. I also found that the editorial side could have used some more attention, with occasional misspellings and punctuation oddities detracting from the read.

Trumpocalypse Now cover

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Pirate Bound, Carysa Locke

Pirate Bound, Carysa Locke

Pirate Bound

Women complicate things, Talented woman above all; that rarest resource for the pirate society, the only reliable way to propagate Talent. Dem is the pirate king’s security chief, a rare combination of Talents, both a Hunter and Killer, and there’s a very good reason why those types of Talent don’t have personal relationships. Up until this trip, it’s never been a problem. However, when a tiny Viking-class ship crosses their path, Dem and his crew realise that the only people aboard are female, Talented…and on the run.

Pirate Bound is a great combination of pirate atmosphere and sci-fi setting, playing on the theme of the misunderstood underdogs against a massive totalitarian regime, threaded with vividly evoked, colourful backdrops and unexpected romance. There’s also plenty of action to keep things interesting, from internal fights aboard ship to space skirmishes and epic confrontations of Talent. Carysa Locke writes a compelling set of characters, and the sexual tension between Dem and Sanah is well done, as is Dem’s complete lack of understanding of why his usually well under control emotions are suddenly spinning loose. The story has an interesting slant on ESP, providing a unique set of Talents for the plot and capitalising on lesser-used aspects of others. Definitely a book worth the read, with a guaranteed appeal to sci-fi and romance readers alike.

Armageddon and the 4th Timeline, Don Mardak

Armageddon and the 4th Timeline, Don Mardak

Armageddon and the 4th Timeline

Don Mardak’s Armageddon and the 4th Timeline is the story of Eric, an enlightened American spiritual healer.  Following his childhood meeting with a Tibetan priest named Shimahn, Eric had never expected to hear from the old man again, but an unexpected, urgent message sends both Eric and his wife Kathy to an isolated area of Tibet to meet with Shimahn and his acolytes – and finally to receive the revelation that Eric is about to be catapulted into the front lines of a war for the collective human soul; a war that, if he loses, will precipitate World War 3.

Armageddon and the 4th Timeline offers an interesting take on several concepts ranging from time travel to reincarnation. While the role of the wife as the temperamental, supporting character, and the rather sweeping assumption that all Muslims either are radical or at least are at high risk of radicalisation may grate on some readers, the basic ideas the book is plotted around are thought-provoking, and the inset cameos of the world’s intelligence agencies gearing up to meet a massive terrorist threat are well done and weave neatly into the backdrop of the main storyline to build the tension. This book will appeal to thriller and fantasy readers alike, and keep you thinking long after you turn the last page.

Trojan: Hollow Moon of Jupiter, Brian Dingle

Trojan: Hollow Moon of Jupiter, Brian Dingle

Trojan: Hollow Moon of Jupiter (Trojan Series Book 1)

Trojan: Hollow Moon of Jupiter follows chronologically from Trojan: Nefra Contact. Humanity has colonised Trojan to ensure that the Nefra can never use it as a beach head to invade Earth. Despite the social unease, and the myriad incorrect theories flying about the Nefra, there are a number of Nefra living among the colonists, mostly working in the armed forces and law enforcement. However, something is mysteriously killing street people, a fact that doesn’t attract much attention until one of the victims doesn’t end up dead – and turns out to be the brother of one of Trojan’s most notorious crime bosses.

Brian Dingle’s characters form the strong point of this book, from the seminarian-turned-crook to the sunny-natured Nefra policewoman who helps to break the string of murders, and the world-building is detailed and convincing. The main points of philosophy are told, rather than shown, which is a shame as they’re good points, but the overall story will gain the reader’s sympathy despite that, with good action scenes and dialogue. The science behind Trojan is also refreshingly well integrated into the plot, placing the story firmly as a science-fiction crime thriller, rather than a crime thriller where the characters happen to have spaceships rather than taxis. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys sci-fi.

Heartless: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice, S. R. Karfelt

Heartless: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice, S. R. Karfelt

Heartless: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice

Heartless: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice provides a thrilling prequel to S.R. Karfelt’s Kahtar: Warrior of the Ages, introducing us to Carole Blank, an orphaned, violent misfit in the USA’s foster system. Carole’s earliest memories are of other people like her: people who can hear thoughts, people who can’t abide the chemical, processed materials and foods of the modern world. However, as those memories age, Carole begins to wonder if they weren’t merely hallucinations. Her unique fighting abilities get her into trouble right through school, and draw her into the US Marines as soon as she completes her education, where her gender and abilities lead her into unlisted service in a black ops team. Both her extraordinary skill set and her mentality make the job a perfect fit … until the unexpected happens and Carole has to make some hard choices.

This is a stunning prequel novel in the Covenant Keeper series, filling in much of the series’ back story and bringing depth and colour to the story of a unique lead character. Heartless: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice is a great read as a stand-alone book or as a part of the Covenant Keepers series. The story is decorated with scenes from all over the world and punctuated with vivid secondary characters who add their own insights into the plot. S.R. Karfelt uses Carole’s adventures to highlight a central issue in today’s society, where a female, no matter how talented or successful, is expected to sacrifice ambition and career for family. Carole’s struggles with this expectation, even more than her struggles with her alienation from society, make this a compelling, thought-provoking read.

Reviewed for Reader’s Favorite.