Quick Fix, J Gregory Smith

Quick Fix, J Gregory Smith

Quick Fix (The Reluctant Hustler Book 1)

Quick Fix is a thriller whose protagonist showcases just how many ways trying to get rich quick can go wrong. Kyle Logan is down on his luck and trying to drown his sorrows in a bar when he’s served with divorce papers. Assaulting the lawyer who served them was one of those ideas that sounded better than it turned out to be, and Kyle finds himself reliant for income on an old associate running an art forgery con. Unfortunately, to con the South American Mob and the Irish Mob, you have to either be intelligent or lucky, and it’s remotely possible that Kyle and his associates don’t have what it takes…

While overall this is perfectly readable thriller, I have great difficulty getting into characters whose stupidity is the foundation of most of their troubles, and Kyle, with alcohol-fuelled impulse control issues and lousy judgement, was hard for me to really care about. This is one of those stories where each brilliant idea to fix the mess that the characters have got themselves into goes increasingly wrong, and most of the tension comes from watching them dancing along the disaster curve. That said, the author has a good sense of when to add a touch of detail to add realism to a setting, and one of the strongest elements in Quick Fix was the pacing. The storyline is well put together, and there were very few places where I felt any urge to start flicking ahead.

The Night Watch, Chris Gerrib

The Night Watch, Chris Gerrib

The Night Watch (The Pirates Trilogy)

The Night Watch is a story of a colonised Mars, under attack by a religious conservative movement from Earth’s USA. With various Earth nations holding independent oversight over various areas of Mars, and law enforcement in Mars space left to a volunteer group in mis-matched, antique ships, Mars looks like a soft target to the entrepreneurs behind the Manifest Destiny movement. The big question is whether or not the disparate interests of Mars can learn to pull together in time to stay free…

Chris Gerrib’s story backdrops benefit from a complete lack of any glamour, giving the settings an air of run-down reality that is one of the strongest elements in the book, and sets it apart from the majority of slick, futuristic sci-fi story settings. Other than that, I found this book a bit hard to really get into. While the principal characters were mostly plausible, the point of view moved frequently from character to character. It didn’t prevent the story as a whole from holding together, but there were a few points where I ended up trying to remember why someone was important and if they’d showed up before. Potentially, narrowing the focus a little might support the overall narrative; it felt a bit scattered at times as I read.

Chipless, Kfir Luzzato

Chipless, Kfir Luzzato

Review title

Chipless presents a story of an unlikely hero, and his struggle to free a society that doesn’t even know that it’s enslaved. Kal is one of the City elite, a technician valued for his skills and kept in luxury as he works to improve the chip implanted in every citizen’s brain that maintains their health. He enjoys his work, and he’s good at it: so good that one day, one of his experiments disrupts the chip’s input to his brain, and he sees a flash of the outside world as it really is. That peek behind the curtain sets in motion a train of events that may overturn life as he knows it…

Kfir Luzzato’s protagonist undergoes a lot of personal growth during the course of this book. From a law-abiding and somewhat geeky scientist, Kal becomes a highly effective and self-reliant traveller and fighter in the space of a few weeks—and becomes quite irresistible to women over the same period. While Kal’s evolution periodically raised my eyebrows, I found that the world-building was by and large very solid and well-done, based on ‘Matrix’-style themes of a citizenry controlled by a virtual reality to hide a dystopian reality from them. The wild-West settings beyond The City provide a salutary contrast as a backdrop for Kal’s adventures. Definitely worth a read for sci-fi fans.

Androdigm Park 2067, JMJ Williamson

Androdigm Park 2067, JMJ Williamson

AndroDigm Park 2067

Androdigm Park 2067 takes on the themes of AI, the pursuit of hedonism, and mixes them with a murder mystery in this intriguing sci-fi story. When Shelby goes into the nightclub known as Lucifer’s Pleasure Cave, he’s expecting someone to resist arrest, which happens, and not expecting to have to rescue the attractive barmaid – which also happens. When Scarlet turns out to come with her own high-powered enemies, Shelby’s caseload suddenly doubles down, and he finds himself in more trouble than anyone needs.

This story started out with very much a dystopia feel. It stirred in the concepts of AI, resistance to AI, and a government actively pushing sex to its populations to avoid any insurrection, and introduced the protagonists; a bounty hunter / cop trying to compensate for his own perceived failures, and an ex-sex junkie. As they form a reluctant team to uncover and stop their enemies, Scarlet and Shelby find themselves drawn into a series of strange adventures. Not the least of these was that they found themselves forced to enter a virtual dreamland set around Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table, which did feel a little contrived to me, but overall, I found the concepts of the story were interesting, and the writing itself was well-paced.

Seeker, David Noë and Laura Loolaid

Seeker, David Noë and Laura Loolaid

Seeker: A story in the ChaosNova Universe

Seeker is a heart-warming mix of sci-fi adventure and family reunion. When Jewel Harper, aka ‘Seeker Valkyrie’ drops off her latest bounty, she expects a brief stop-over before heading out on a new commission. However, when an unknown approaches her on-station with a private commission, her interest is piqued: not least because private commissions are looked on as nothing but trouble by the Seeker authorities. The more resistance Valkyrie meets, the more determined she is to look into the commission – especially when she figures out who the retrieval really concerns.

Seeker is an enjoyable read with a definite YA rags-to-riches flavour to the protagonist. While the underlying idea of the book was strong, I felt that it, and the characters, would have benefited from a little more depth and development. Aspects of the plot and the interactions felt shallow, and some of the reveals left me with a ‘that could have had so much more impact with a bit more foreshadowing’ sensation. On the other hand, the pacing was very good, and some of the detail of the world-building was excellent. This is definitely a book with a lot of potential, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a light sci-fi read.

Meet the author:

Amazon author page, Laura Loolaid

ChaosNova website

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