The Fountain boxed set, Ellison Blackburn

The Fountain boxed set, Ellison Blackburn

The Fountain – boxed set

The Fountain trilogy set is a highly worth-while read, peopled with strong, well-fleshed-out characters who will pull you into their struggles and demand your understanding of their points of view. I don’t usually consider myself a reader of speculative fiction, but author Ellison Blackburn has a unique gift for evoking the human side of the stories and providing that occasional lightening-strike moment of ‘yes, yes, that right there is something I’ve felt too’.

With subject matter dear to the science-fiction genre such as time travel and rejuvenation, these books have the kind of genre-spanning appeal that merits a moment of respect, not to mention utterly plausible world-building that supports the dilemmas the characters face.

Flash Back

In Flash Back, we meet Charlotte Rhys Fenn. Charley is in her fifties, has been married for nearly twenty years, has plenty of income – and is bored out of her mind by her life. In desperation to alleviate the humdrum of her life, she finally begins to research a cutting-edge surgery, known only as Renovation.

The mess of issues Charley faces in trying to make peace between her desires and her responsibilities will be shockingly familiar to many readers. Flash Back is well-written, with an analytical, laser-focus on the workings of inter-personal connections.

Second Nature

In Second Nature, the human population on Earth was ravaged by a disease that targeted anyone with genetic modification. in a small underground community near what used to be Seattle, the descendants of Charlotte Rhys Avery still live. Emery Kidd, 68 years old with the appearance of a 17-year-old, is illicitly researching her connection to the mother of regeneration.

Where Flash Back in many ways studied the dissolution of a long-term relationship as its back story, Second Nature deals with love, commitment, and how the urge to reproduce could be affected by effective immortality. This series is sci-fi that will make you think, its concepts framed in very human stories.

Being Human

Being Human continues the story of Emery Kidd, newly engaged to Aiden Brodie, and living in the community of Tymony, a bubble outside time. Emery’s slowly driving herself crazy with boredom, to the point where she’s almost relieved when Sera Strong blows into town and proposes a project to save the future of humanity – again.

With a star cast of Ellison Blackburn’s incredibly well-written, deep characters, Being Human is the third in the trilogy, tracing the history immediately after the start of the Progeny Project. While the underlying fascination of the plot is time, mortality, paradox, and sexual fidelity, the story frames it in a rich tapestry of events and realistic characters, sliding the serious concepts in via sleight of hand amid the emotional drama between the characters.

Beyond the Vale, Kerry Alan Denney

Beyond the Vale, Kerry Alan Denney

Beyond the Vale

Logan isn’t sure if he’s dreaming, dead, or simply finally lost his marbles. There’s a woman he should know, a personal history he should know, and all he has is a blank in his head. There are doors that lead to impossible geography and photos that could never have been taken. However, crazy or not, something is clearly very wrong – and like it or not, Logan has apparently been elected general saviour of the world.

Beyond the Vale is one of those books where you spend the first few chapters just as confused as the protagonist, trying to figure out what’s going on. The author succeeds in conveying that utter disorientation particularly realistically in this book. However, coming out of that disorientation, you will pretty much perforce be very keyed in on the characters in the plot; Logan’s development through the book is a key theme and provides a lot of food for thought, especially since his development is all you find out about him until the latter stages of the book, where some of his missing past comes to light. The storyline is richly layered, and provides more thinking material the deeper you choose to delve into it. Definitely something to pick up for all the fantasy fans out there.

Release Day!








Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody, Joe Canzano

Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody, Joe Canzano

Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody

Suzy Castillo, better known as Suzy Spitfire, doesn’t have a lot of friends since she killed her uncle and ran away from her family and her father’s legacy. Aiko is one of them, so when he invites her to meet him in a seedy bar, she shows up with her guns on. Unfortunately, their meeting isn’t quite as quiet as they’d hoped; Suzy’s father left something behind that everyone wants, from government agencies down to the local gangs, and they’re willing to kill for it.

Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is a sci-fi adventure painted with a rich palette of AI, space fights, high-powered spaceships, and crooked cops. The story is fast-paced, and the twists and turns make for an enjoyable read as Suzy and her squad try to make their way across the inner solar system to retrieve their prize. I did find that there were elements of the story that stretched my ability to suspend my disbelief, not least the appearance of the Shakespeare troupe. On the other hand, the technical aspects of the writing were solid, and the read, given the plot elements, was surprisingly light-hearted overall. If you like your sci-fi with undertones of ‘Fast and Furious’, you’ll enjoy this book.

Lacy’s End, Victoria Schwimley

Lacy’s End, Victoria Schwimley

Lacy’s End

Lacy’s End, by Victoria Schwimley, paints a graphic picture of domestic abuse from the point of view of Lacy, the teenage daughter of the town sheriff. Her frequent injuries have been ignored for years by Lacy’s school and the town at large alike, underpinned by the small-town belief that it’s a man’s right to rape his wife and discipline his daughter with his fists, and it takes a visit too many to the local hospital to tip one out-of-town doctor past the point of being able to overlook the situation. Allen Petoro involves social services, and stirs up more fuss than even the sheriff’s office can ignore, but Sheriff Waldrip has a badge, and a gun, and isn’t about to let some upstart doctor stand between him and his rights.

Lacy’s End is a compelling book, well-written and offering a glimpse into the psychology of the abused and the abuser, as well as the all-too-common bystander effect. Victoria Schwimley creates a realistic setting for her story, including a neat contrast between Lacy’s existence and the world of Allen Petoro, and the characters are well-developed and gripping. The touches of romance are well-done, and don’t detract from the main message of the plot. This book has much to offer to all ages of readers – definitely a worth-while read.

Run from the Stars, R Billing

Run from the Stars, R Billing

Run from the Stars (The Arcturian Confederation Book 1)

The Arcturians are the only space fleet in human space with faster-than-light drive; the conduit through which all interstellar commerce and travellers must flow. Following a kidnap attempt that she successfully derailed, Jane Gould was recruited by the Arcturians, and she’s never looked back; the Space Fleet is her life. However, an old feud is heating up between planets, and when Jane goes undercover, things get complicated fast.

Run from the Stars is an explosion-filled, think-on-your feet read, with a protagonist who looks about as dangerous as a candyfloss cone and uses that appearance to kick a lot of ass. Jane is one of those absolutely non-stereotypical heroines who will make you breathe a sigh of relief – she rarely needs rescuing, she’s a top-rank pilot, she can shoot straight, and she doesn’t do gooey. I felt that some of the secondary characters could have been fleshed out a little more, and sometimes the explanations run a little long, but by and large this was a highly enjoyable read. R. Billing’s writing is action-packed and technically sound, with enough tech to make it fun but not enough to mire the pace of the story in technobabble. Definitely one to recommend to any sci-fi fans on the hunt for their next book.

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