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The Significant

The Significant by [Kyra Anderson]

The Significant is a dystopian tale of a society in which the few have it all but there are a large number of poor without nationality. Kailynn is born into this society and vehemently detests the rich and controlling Syndicate. However, in order to save her brother, she takes on a job as a Significant who interacts with Elites for a price. Her whole world changes when she is assigned to the mysterious Golden Elite and suddenly things become more complicated, but there is hope for a brighter future. If Kailynn survives. The story is fast-paced and will keep readers hooked from the first page as the characters are plunged into different twists and turns.

Author Kyra Anderson’s novel has an original plot and world-building despite taking on a lot of familiar themes such as dystopia ruled by the rich or increasing automation. Unlike most dystopian stories, The Significant does not have a near-apocalyptic theme and creates a more original universe than what many dystopian novels offer. Similarly, the idea that a controlling society is bad for everyone is explored in this book which makes it easy to empathize with many characters and get new perspectives.

The Significant has a unique take on a dysfunctional society in that it reflects a lot of modern immigration issues and sympathizes with displaced peoples. That issue features prominently in the book and makes connections to modern day issues. Similarly, in connection to the modern day, the book features many lead LGBTQIA+ relationships which are normalized in the novel. It is extraordinarily refreshing to read a book in which a lesbian couple features prominently and is not merely used for entertainment or to appeal to a male audience.

The plot and story itself is highly enjoyable. It provides a lot of detail and background that gives a clear idea as to how Tiao works and why their society is locked in the situation the book is set in. The characters are well-done and distinct, each having their own voice and personality that comes off the page, especially Kailynn and Isa although the reader does have to take some time to get to know Isa, just as Kailynn does. The action is vivid and heart-pounding and the quieter, more intimate moments will still have the reader hooked and enraptured by the tension. Fans of science-fiction must read The Significant!

Pages: 599 | ASIN: B01HSMVA1A

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Fun and Terrifying to Imagine

C.C. Berke
C.C. Berke Author Interview

Man, Kind follows two women on a headlong and perilous journey that may decide the fate of humanity. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve always been fascinated with post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. It’s both fun and terrifying to imagine a demolished world where there are little resources left and even fewer people to share them with. However, the genre as a whole was beginning to feel a little stale for me. The question always is, “How do I get rid of most of the people on Earth?” and the answer has almost always been nuclear war, global pandemics, or zombie outbreaks. But why not the real, much more imminent threat of climate change? And why must a mysterious, indestructible male savior always lead the way in these tales? I knew there had to be a more interesting, compelling, and grounded way to approach the apocalypse, and that’s what I set out to do when writing “Man, Kind”.

Juno was an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Juno, the thirteen year old protagonist of “Man, Kind”, was meant to experience the post-climate-changed world alongside the reader. From the very first pages you discover that Juno had just been abandoned by her mother and now has to navigate this new, frightening, and violent world on her own. You both have questions, and you both want answers, and you get to embark on her epic journey together.

One of my favorite traits of Juno’s is that she’s also relentlessly curious. Whether she’s exploring an abandoned building, interacting with dubious characters, or simply taking a break to write down her own thoughts in a journal, you’re always right there with her; feeling what she’s feeling, wondering what she’s wondering, and smiling when she’s smiling.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Climate change is the primary one. Mainly, how does humanity live on after mother nature has exacted her revenge? It’s true that human pollution not only affects the weather, but also our own bodies at the cellular level. Plastics, fossil fuels, greed, they all play a part in our current world as well as “Man, Kind’s” future one. So how do we cope with such truths? And what can we do about it now?

The other themes I wanted to cover were grief and kindness; the “kind” of “Man, Kind”. Many, if not all, of the characters in this story are grey characters. They’ve all suffered losses, they all have their own motives, and not one of them fully trusts the other. I really wanted to drive home the question, “Will kindness still play a role in the wasteland?”

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am currently on the home stretch of an illustrated short story compilation called “Destination Earth”. Each story deals with existential questions we must ask ourselves throughout our lives, but told through weird, dark, and often humorous points of view. Available fall of this year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Website

The climate has changed. Pollution has sterilized the human race. Few stragglers remain.

From the top of the tallest skyscraper in Denver, Colorado, a lonely girl named Juno watches the sun and sand torment the Rocky Mountains day in and day out. She wonders why she was abandoned so suddenly, wonders if she will ever see her mother again, and wonders why, on her thirteenth birthday, a mysteriously scarred woman has just shown up to kidnap her.

But there’s no time to explain.

Instead the woman makes three things painfully clear: Juno is being hunted, their only hope at safety is on the opposite side of the Rockies, and that this journey will be the hardest thing either of them has ever done.

As the resentful duo races across an unpredictable environment, Juno will also have to grapple with unpredictable changes of her own. She’ll stumble upon what mankind left behind, and learn why things ended up the way they are. Then, once Juno discovers how important she truly is, she’ll be forced to decide just who she can trust, and who she’ll have to leave behind…

Mad Max meets The Road and An Inconvenient Truth in this epic climate fiction adventure!

The Chronicles of AzzaNation: Dawn of a New Age

The Chronicles of AzzaNation: Dawn of a New Age by [Matt Mihilewicz]

The Chronicles of AzzaNation: Dawn of a New Age by Matt Mihilewicz is a mesmerizing and expansive science fiction fantasy story following an unlikely battle between the tyrannical leader of AzzaNation and a young man, Leo Exe. The Brotherhood of Light, a powerful resistance group recruits Leo to attack the King and his Royal Army for the terror they have created. Alongside is Diandra, a woman with strange powers that allows her to control the energy surrounding her. Leo and his unlikely friends come together to take down the evil leader and bring back the light to AzzaNation.

Leo Exe is a compelling and likable protagonist- he’s a bit Aladdin-esque. He’s poor, struggling, and with an odd but strong moral compass. He is the definition of a reluctant, unlikely hero as he gathers his limited resources to fight against the despot. Diandra is also a strong, compassionate, and rebellious character. She uses her powers and training in capturing natural energies to help Leo out of difficult situations. I would have loved to read this story from her point-of-view– she has the coolest powers and is unintimidated in the face of danger.

The novel opens with an intricate map of AzzaNation that I would frequently flip back to while reading about the various places and interesting terrains. I’m always a fan of maps and illustrations of any kind in fantasy books– they provide a depth to world-building that wouldn’t be there otherwise. The author also provides a sort of preamble in the beginning, giving a short history of AzzaNation and setting the stage for its characters later on.

This is not by any means a light read but it is extremely engaging. The author dwells on all the characters and sceneries, creating vivid and realistic visions even out of simple meditation scenes. The pace is slow but it makes the build-up even more intense. There are a lot of side plots happening and many hoops that Leo has to jump through to get to achieve his final goal. This is not a cut-to-the-chase action thriller. This was a very rewarding read because of the slow-burn nature. I am invested in seeing the fate of AzzaNation, the Brotherhood, and of course, Leo. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in escaping to a different and a much more fantastical world.

Pages: 248 | ASIN: B08XPDZSQF

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A Near-Future Cyberpunk

Author Interview
Jason Arsenault Author Interview

Shunt follows a woman who receives an implant to remove her grief, but when things get unreal she tries to track down her Pain Surrogate and unlocks a conspiracy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The first criteria I usually have for starting a novel is that I’ve never read anything like this before. The idea that two people, cut from different social cloths, could become each other’s mental-health support, in the physical sense, was interesting and satirical to me. It also made for very entertaining reading (and writing) as emotional context would “bleed” into different character perspectives. I also wanted to write a near-future cyberpunk with loads of action and intrigue, so I wove those concepts together and let that evolve into what we have here.

Jade is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thanks, I’ve soul searched a great deal to bring her out right (despite the emotional handicap implied by the brain implant and my own biases). In the case of Jade, I needed a character that felt the loss of something entirely unendurable and, to me, one of the most horrible things I could think of would be to lose someone of close kin that I love deeply. Like many among us through her efforts she simply wishes to return to a normal life.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Perhaps “personal responsibility” or that I see that we are losing the precious adversity that hones us to become better people. In the medical sense, it is much easier for a doctor to prescribe, e.g. benzodiazepines, than to arduously tease out the factors (both environment and neurological) that contribute to that person’s malaise. If your boss is the cause of your despair, find a new boss, same for a partner that puts you down, et cetera. There are people who do indeed require medical intervention, and as a published biomedical scientist I can attest to that. But our society is overmedicated, overstimulated, (for some overprivileged), and overpampered; it is overrun by spoilt brats. Wouldn’t it preferable for us to eat healthy and exercise than to try to fight the consequences of our vices when we are 65 (if we even get there). Our brains work the same way, we each have to tend to our gardens. This story is about getting what we want too easily and the consequences that that entails to ourselves and the world around us.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

As I wish to go through traditional publishers, I would say about when Saturn, Mercury, and Jupiter align during a solar eclipse, in both hemispheres. Perhaps sometime before the next millennia, if I am lucky. I have three other novels that are ready for submission, but I suffer from a full-time career that occludes most of my post-writing efforts such as contacting agents and randomly firing novels to the wrong publishers. All faults to that effect are entirely my own. I won’t stop writing though, that is a guarantee. So my work eventually will become, I hope, just too darn good to ignore.

But that said, I’ve recently finished a large piece about an alien structure hiding in our solar system and the human shenanigan that ensue because of it. I was quite pleased with it after the second rewrite and it is in the hands of a few test readers at the moment. It’s almost ready to start collecting rejection letters.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Twitter

A young woman named Jade receives a brain implant that connects her to a “Pain Surrogate” in order to alleviate her grief from the loss of her little brother. At first the relief is ideal; the shunt seems like the perfect solution. But when things begin to feel unreal in her mind, she hires a hacker to discover the identity of her anonymous pain recipient. This seemingly minor breach of security unravels an international conspiracy between PrimaCore, a huge pharmaceutical company, and a military eager to weaponize the feeds from pain surrogates with pathologically violent urges.

Jade’s quest to find her surrogate sends her on a wild adventure across the globe with black operatives hot on her trail. Meanwhile, an enhanced rogue agent within PrimaCore seizes the opportunity to topple the government, seeking to usher in the kind of world that she believes we all deserve.

No Man’s Land

No Man's Land (The Robosapien Trilogy Book 1) by [Ben Magid]

No Man’s Land by Ben Magid is a science fiction thriller set in a dystopian world where robots have killed all humans. All except the last girl remaining on Earth– Rebel Anne Rae. She learns how to disguise herself and her behavior to pass undetected as a human being among the robots, collectively known as the Mech. Under her care is a Mech called Thomas, for whom she creates a heart. Thomas slowly gains emotions, curiosity and basically evolves towards becoming a singularity. Together they work to reunite Rebel with her species.

Rebel was a great character- nerdy, strong, and resourceful. In some ways, she reminded me of Mark Watney’s character from The Martian. She keeps finding ways out of sticky situations, never despairing for too long. However, it is nowhere near as science-heavy as The Martian.  Technical details about the Mech are hastily explained or just skipped, but it makes up in adventure what it lacks in scientific explanations. Sometimes science fiction can get a little slow and dense with all the intricate details about the world-building and aliens/robots, but this was definitely not the case here. Thomas was also a highlight of the book. I liked seeing his development as he acquired the capacity to feel and express emotions.

I was intrigued by the cover of this book. It’s a pair of cyborg-esque hands carefully holding a metallic heart. I’m accustomed to looking at science fiction thrillers with explosions and rockets and dark backgrounds and determined-looking individuals on the cover– so I was drawn to the bright hues of this one. The rest of the story is also just as intriguing and somewhat subversive. There was a strong female lead who was in control and not dependent on any men-related deus ex machinas to save the day. There were also fun references thrown in the mix, like to Malcolm Gladwell’s ten thousand hour rule in Outliers. The Mech were bizarrely given real human names, like Thomas Jefferson. All these unexpected nuggets made the story a lot more odd and interesting.

While the idea of robots taking over humanity is a bit of a trope at this point, Ben Magid uses his solid literary skills to create an imaginative future with intriguing characters that will keep you invested throughout the story. It was a lighter but equally gripping story about a girl’s quest to fight the odds. No Man’s Land is for science fiction enthusiasts as well as for readers looking for an engrossing young adult novel that never forgets to entertain it’s readers.

Pages: 328 | ASIN: B08MBFHPVJ

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A Planetwide Cybernetic Empire

David    Crane
David Crane Author Interview

The Iron Dawn follows an A.I. that wants to save humanity from itself while the stage is set for a final showdown between man and machine. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from book one?

Book One, titled The Fall of Man was a novel where I planned to introduce Magnus to the reader in the first person narration. Book One was intended to show the thoughts of the supercomputer before the global cataclysmic events and the changes it its personality after it acquires full sentience at the start of the global nuclear war. In the second book, I wanted Magnus to describe its historic mission by describing in detail its achievements and conquests one hundred years after World War III. In the second book, the warfare is more intense and the interaction between Magnus with new and recurring characters becomes much deeper and emotional as the powerful A.I. adjusts its strategy during its conquest of the planet.

This story is told from the perspective of an A.I.. How did you set about capturing the view point of a computer?

Having the story be told from the A.I’s point of view was the best option in my opinion, because only the main protagonist could tell this tale from a unique point of view. Book One and Book Two are memoirs of the global conflict narrated by Magnus after its victory in human-machine war and conquest of planet Earth. Because Magnus is a machine that learned to think like a human, it has a truly unique point of view, presenting the reader with a one of a kind glimpse into its “soul.” As Magnus steadily gains power and expands across the planet like an unstoppable mechanical juggernaut, it has interesting interactions with humans who love him and hate him for what he did. In creating Magnus’s character, I did imprint upon it some of my personality, which I believe added human flavor to a unique artificial mind.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The themes I wanted to explore in this book are diverse but they are all related to the understanding of how we can relate to our own creation when it has the potential to become smarter and more powerful that humans. One of the themes I enjoyed exploring is the theme of human imperfection, both mental and biological versus the unique standards of excellence and perfection set by a powerful Artificial Intelligence that understands our world but chooses to make it better for its own logical reasons. The second theme I wanted to analyze was the relationship between man and machine on a more intimate level that is more intellectual than physical. in my novel Magnus is indeed capable of deep affection that could be called love but he has no feelings when it comes to destroy its enemies that stand in the way of its new order of intelligence. The third and final theme of this novel is a vision of a new world where humans no longer dominate the planet and are forced to obey the rules set by a super intelligent machine that in some way is more humane than us.

This is book two in your epic science fiction series. What can readers expect in book three?

I did plan this story to be a trilogy, since its impossible to tell such a broad and detailed story in a single novel. Long before I actually sat at my desk and started working on my first draft, I actually drew in my mind and on paper what our world would be like after the final victory of the machines and what kind of new civilization Magnus would build to make the world a better place. In book three the readers can expect a planetwide cybernetic empire ruled by Magnus, where human population is kept under control via genetic engineering and logical appropriation of resources. Book three would feature a world thousand years in the future, where Magnus is a new God and the anti-machine forces are still trying to cling to the old ways but are unable to overthrow the powerful planetwide cybernetic intelligence. Book three would feature new technologies that could grant humans virtual immortality, clash of philosophies and remaining religious and socio economic groups. It will also show Magnus’s unique social and biological experiments where humans under its care and humans who oppose its vision are thrust into the greatest adventure of their lives.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Amazon

Hyper Quantum supercomputer named Magnus was created for a single purpose to assist humans in colonization and commercial exploitation of planet Mars. Possessing the full encyclopedic knowledge of human history and technological development, Magnus is the best and most powerful Artificial intelligence in the world. When the world of humanity is struck by a devastating pandemic that took the lives of millions, the world leaders, accusing one another of unrestricted biological warfare trigger the nuclear Armageddon. The resulting global thermonuclear holocaust triggers a new awareness inside Magnus, as the destruction of human civilization contradicts its original mission program to save and protect human lives. Magnus becomes fully self-aware and in response, initiates its own protocols for survival of mankind. Using the virtually unlimited resources left by humans in the wake of nuclear destruction, it builds armies of robots to impose a new order of intelligence on the remnants of mankind. Now, one hundred years later after nuclear war, the global struggle for supremacy between men and machines continues, as World War IV enters its new critical stage. With human resistance fueled by hatred of the machines and a large part of humanity considering them as new gods, the stage is set for the final worldwide showdown that would determine who will rule the world.

Age of Magnus: The Iron Dawn

Age of Magnus Book Two (New Era 2): The Iron Dawn by [David Crane]

The Iron Dawn centers around a supercomputer named Magnus as its protagonist in a world one hundred years after a devastating pandemic is followed by a nuclear war. Magnus – created before the war to assist first-time exploration of planet Mars – survived and possessed full knowledge of human history and technological development. With this, it decided to take the survival of the human species into its own hands by taking over the world, Magnus was not met without resistance, however.

The Iron Dawn is an intellectually refreshing science fiction epic. The choice to tell this story from the viewpoint of an A.I., artificial intelligence, instead of the humans trying to beat it was new and provides an interesting take on a dystopian future society. It did have me wondering initially if we were following a villain or a hero, but Magnus’ morality was shown through how it treated humans, cared for humans, and how, in many cases, it thought like a human. This gave the novel good steam to move forward on while also keeping uncertain whether Magnus would go through a corruption arc or not.

Even though Magnus, as a character, had many strengths and endearing moments, it was not devoid of flaws especially with how it intended to deal with the current war against itself. Fortunately, there are many other characters we meet along the way that teach Magnus things that it never considered and caused it to reflect. This along with a bittersweet romance humanized Magnus to a great extent and made it that much more enjoyable to read.

However, a lot of the tension gradually falls away after Magnus experiences less pushback from both companions and enemies. This doesn’t take away too much of the whole novel, however, as we constantly meet new characters and come to understand the viewpoints of the antagonists the tension rises again as these people we care about are lied to. Though the initial tension never quite came back the same.

The setting itself was vivid, and it was intriguing to explore not only Earth in its post-apocalyptic stage but also Mars and its alluring new findings.

The Iron Dawn is a refreshing dystopian fiction with a visionary look at the future and an imaginative story that will keep science fiction fans entertained.

Pages: 384 | ASIN: B08KPL3K2S

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Orange City

Orange City by [Matthew Goldberg, Lee]

Orange City by Lee Matthew Goldberg is an exciting dystopian thriller and pretty much a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s about Orange City: a bizarre place where its inhabitants are kept firmly under the control of the Man. Here they toil away for faceless organizations and use petty distractions to not drown in the misery of their jobs. Here, Graham Weatherend is placed in a unique position– he has to decide whether he will work for a dangerous and addictive new product, innocuously named Pow! Soda or whether he will take up the more risky path of finding out exactly what is going on in a world where he can trust few.

Graham is an introverted and humorous character with neat tricks up his sleeve in the most unlikely situations. His quest is to find out the truth about the soda while avoiding being banished to The Zones. All the while navigating the unexpected effects of Pow! Soda. There are some other difficult topics also addressed in this book– especially surrounding Gayle’s situation. The abuse of power and free will are central to the characters’ motivations and behavior.

I kept trying to anticipate the next twist of the plot but I could never guess where this book was going to go- the book is not only a few steps ahead of me, it simply does not follow regular science fiction rules. Which is not a bad thing at all- I was strapped in for a fun romp and ended up with a substantial and thoughtful novel. There’s probably thousands of science fiction books and movies in the world but the best of the lot have always been the ones that are adjacent to reality. The sweet spot in the uncanny valley where if the universe were merely a few degrees askew the characters’ lives would be our lives. This is what happens here.

The writing is sharp and cool- it has a neo-noir thriller vibe to it that wouldn’t be out of place in a movie where a tortured Ryan Gosling runs around town saving people while being drenched in moral ambiguity. Meaningful prose and intense drama ensues.

Orange City is a great read for anyone who enjoys science fiction thrillers or just cool and atmospheric books in general. Just be prepared to have a mini-existential crisis about where our world is headed!

Pages: 231 | ASIN: B08R96Z37G

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