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Second Nature, Ellison Blackburn

Second Nature, Ellison Blackburn

Second Nature

After the human population on Earth was ravaged by a disease that targeted anyone with genetic modification, the survivors have banded together in small communities linked by geo-portals, and in a small underground community near what used to be Seattle, the descendants of Charlotte Rhys Avery still live. Second Nature is the story of Emery Kidd, 68 years old with the appearance of a 17-year-old, and she’s illicitly researching her connection to the mother of regeneration. Someone in power has no interest in her knowing who she’s related to, and the mediators are taking an interest in her work – especially Aiden Brodie, newly arrived in Podular 17.

Second Nature is the sequel to Flash Back, showing us the aftermath of Charley’s decision to experiment with the new process of regeneration, and it showcases Ellison Blackburn’s talent for writing characters that get inside your head. Emery is eminently relatable, a human being with problems and wants – and a burning curiosity to know who her parents are. 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. Definitely well-worth the read.

Flash Back, Ellison Blackburn

Flash Back, Ellison Blackburn

Flash Back

In Flash Back, by Ellison Blackburn, we meet Charlotte Rhys Fenn, a successful editor and writer for a health magazine. 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. Held in a relationship that has long since become more of a habit than a marriage for both partners, with a repetitive job, Charley makes periodic tries to strike some chord of interest in her partner, and to find some way to alleviate the humdrum of daily life. In desperation, she finally begins to research a cutting-edge surgery, known only as Renovation.

Ellison Blackburn’s protagonist is eminently relatable, and the mess of issues Charley faces in trying to make peace between her desires and her responsibilities will be shockingly familiar to many readers. Set in the near future, the story explores cutting-edge theories in both prosthetics and biology, while the level of psychological detail brings a realistic edge to the narrative and the characters spring vividly to life. Flash Back is well-written, with an analytical, laser-focus on the workings of inter-personal connections. If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and thought that there must be something better in life, then this book is definitely for you.

Uncertainty Principles, Krista Tibbs

Uncertainty Principles, Krista Tibbs

Uncertainty Principles

Krista Tibbs’ Uncertainty Principles brings together a very disparate group of students; their only common element a group study they’re required to complete in order to graduate. Their project focuses on electromagnetic disturbances, evolving from observations of EMF changes around a prayer group to an effort to try and measure whether or not living beings can cause measurable amounts of fluctuation. However, when they return from a data collection trip, they find themselves faced with a campus bomb scare, and they are all under suspicion. Their attempt to catch the bomber by measuring the EMF fields on campus has outcomes that none of them expected: so much so that it will shape the lives of each of them.

In Uncertainty Principles, Krista Tibbs draws together many of the issues we face today, from societal apathy to climate change, and posits the power of individuals to make a lasting difference, despite or because of personal struggles, flaws or differing beliefs. Character archetypes adeptly pencil in key segments of society, bringing their own influences and beliefs to bear on the story, from the anonymous money man to the maverick genius to the ultra-religious school teacher, but somehow, all their different angles illustrate the same theory. This book is a thought-provoking read, a powerful story over and above the sum of the questions it raises, well-structured and with characters who will draw you into their lives and views. If the questions the story poses don’t keep you turning the pages, the characters certainly will.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.