Apophis, Caron Rider

Apophis, Caron Rider

Apophis

Faced with an extinction-sized asteroid, code-named Apophis, on a collision course for Earth, the USA has tried missions to divert the rock, and failed. In a last-ditch attempt to save the human race, scientists create two separate genetic groups: one, Group A, intended to tolerate the cryogenic process and be frozen through the decades following impact, and the other, Group B, designed to deal well in low-oxygen environments, who will be sent to colonise Mars. However, the adaptation of Group B, while successful on the physical level, results in sociopathic tendencies that may, eventually, pose as much risk to humanity as the asteroid…

Apophis offers an interesting take on the catastrophic-impact scenario, where an impact event actually comes close to wiping out the human species. The psychological contrasts between the two experimental groups offers the reader food for thought, and while this book is clearly leading on to at least one more, the story is well-written and stands on its own merits, although the reaction of the mass population once the news of the inevitable disaster is leaked is surprisingly understated. I found that Caron Rider’s characters were the chief strength of this story, their fears, conflicts, and histories adding a lot of depth to the book. Certainly a worth-while read!

Bloodwalker, L X Cain

Bloodwalker, L X Cain

Bloodwalker

Bloodwalker picks up the folklore of the Skomori, a legendary Romanian clan whose women traditionally lay out the dead. Sylvie is eighteen and facing an arranged marriage to a man she’s never met, late at the age of eighteen. Sylvie has faced a lot of challenges as an apprentice bloodwalker; despite her knowledge, laying-outs go awry, she doesn’t share in the bloodwalker ability to see the future, and there are whispers about her in her home village. By long tradition, the Skomori weddings take place in the Zorka circus, presided over by one of the oldest bloodwalkers living. Sylvie is terrified of what Zora will prophesy for her future – but even her wildest nightmares don’t come close.

L X Cain has created a unique story, lifting the curtain to give her readers a view into an area of Europe shrouded in fantastic legends of monsters. With a plot where the supernatural blends seamlessly into a murder mystery, peopled with circus performers, murderous clowns, and the closed, ritual-bound community of the Skomori, Bloodwalker will suck you in from the first page and not let go until the last one. This is a fast-paced, brilliantly-crafted book that touches on everything from folklore to domestic abuse to multi-cultural society, and the characters and settings are fascinatingly plausible. Twisty and gripping, I highly recommend this to enthusiasts of the fantasy and thriller genres alike.

A Clone Legacy, Paul Chaplin

A Clone Legacy, Paul Chaplin

A Clone Legacy

A Clone Legacy leaves Torb fleeing his home planet after the death of his parents, alone in the universe but for his ship and a hold full of supplies. When that last link to home is blown out from under him, Torb finds himself rescued by one of the strangest-looking ships he’s ever seen, piloted by an AI named Miss Prim that needs a human to pilot it and its sister ships on its mission to begin a cryo facility of embryonic material on an out-of-the-way planet. However, when Torb’s need for a less nutritious meal requires a detour, a random encounter with a beautiful slave girl adds an entire new aspect to his life.

Paul Chaplin’s story offers exotic spaceships, a range of humanoid politics, and a slightly tubby middle-aged hero with an unexpectedly resilient streak. From his ability to nap leaving the crater that was his family home all his life to taking on a rescue mission of giant aliens, Torb takes everything in his stride. A Clone Legacy had several things going for it, but I felt it was lacking depth in some areas that would have earnt it a higher star rating, including character development. The plot also goes on a galactic journey of exploration before you learn the true purpose behind Torb’s mysterious rescue ships and why some people are so invested in seeing him dead. Overall, I found that this book was an entertaining, light sci-fi read that could have benefited from a little bit more development.