Joshua Landeros is at it again with a sequel to his prequel series with Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Julissa Marconi is ready to take on the ultimate villain, Chancellor Venloran. All that stands between the United Nation Republic and Mexico is the rebels, who seek to resist the tyrannical influence of the more powerful country. This struggle will not end cleanly as Venloran deploys his cyborg soldiers, which leaves Julissa questioning if she can really stop this assault. She may have to become what she fights.
And once again Landeros hits it out of the park with this novel and there is a maturing of his prose in a way that should greatly satisfy his readers. Poison centers around the conflict, or rather, Expansion, that the United Nation Republic is forcing upon Mexico. There is a resonance here with the current events of immigration and Mexico with the US, which does not make this seem like an accident on Landeros’ part. The engagement not only of the struggle of soldiers, but of entire populaces, bumps up the stakes of what has been up until now, a waltz down memory lane to contextualize his main Reverence series.
This installment breathes new air into the series and gives the prequel series more weight going forward. In some ways the look at the national conflict tends to make the conflict become too political and the characters are lost in the back and forth, but it eventually re-centers and the story becomes an intimate tale about identity and duty.
The style of Landeros is largely unchanged aside from his deeper engagement with thematic elements helping his subtle prose along. Robert Heinlein would be proud as would Atwood with his struggle to both dignify the society he has created, and draw parallels from our world to the world of Reverence. For the science fiction reader, there may be more thriller, political drama than one is used to, but we can always count on Landeros to bring the fight to us.
In the grander scheme of his series and world building, Posion begins to show the end game that will follow, since the Expansion is only a piece to Venloran’s ongoing long game. We all know the players who are involved at this point and it’s really just seeing it all unravel. Truly, a pulse-pounding thrilling read.
Pages: 226 | ASIN: B07BNTQRTJ
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Interflow of Things is a highly realistic vision of the future where an A.I. seeks to segregate people. What served as your inspiration while writing this fascinating novel?
Well I guess the inspiration for the segregation is the idea that through A.I. society will become simpler, and the crowd will accept this and embrace this as something good. Dividing society in leaders, hardworkers, creative and relatively useless people is of course rather coldhearted and narrow-minded, but let’s not forget that a lot of people use these kind of phrases already, it’s in fact quite human to do this unfortunately. I guess A.I. has the danger of strengthening prejudices as we see in several examples already used, like f.e. a law system implemented.
I think you did a fantastic job creating an A.I. in immersive detail. What kind of research did you do ensure you portrayed the traits of A.I. accurately?
The writing of the A.I. chapters was intuitive, but I did study From Bacteria to Bach and back from Daniel Dennett and used it her and there. Furthermore I have read passages of On intelligence from Jeff Hawkins, How to create a mind from Ray Kurzwell, Superintelligence from Nick Bolstrom, Homo Deus from Yuval Noah Harari, Cosa Nostra, A History Of The Sicilian Mafia from John Dickie and lately the book Life 3.0 from Max Tegmark. This last book, I plan to use a bit more in part three of the cyclus.
I felt that this book was an ominous allusion to the current “Internet of Things” we are experiencing now. What is one common misconception you find that many people have about A.I.?
I don’t really know, I guess people slowly will get used to more A.I. without thinking about it that much mainly, or even without realizing its implications. The idea that A.I. might become conscious is something that is quite hard to comprehend, personally I have to use my imagination and read books like Max Tegmark his Life 3.0 or Daniel Dennett and then see it might indeed be possible. In Life 3.0 a number of scenario’s have been stated of the possible future, that’s interesting to read and discuss.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
The Game Changer I consider as part zero of a series of novels with the name Amor Mundi. Part 1 is the novel Julia’s memories, I am translating this novel into English at this moment and I am planning to publish it in one piece with Interflow of things, since the two really follow each other like it’s one novel. My plan is to let a professional editor look at this part 1 and 2 novel called ‘Julia’s memories and the interflow of things’ thoroughly, that’s really needed, I know. For the interflow of things I didn’t have the energy to do a good job in translating yet, I am sorry for that. Furthermore, I am working on a third part using Life 3.0 of Max Tegmark as inspiration.
Julia’s memories info:
‘Julia’s memories’, announced as the 1st novel of the AM cycle, contains partly the same characters as the novel The Game Changer. Julia is the daughter of the protagonist: Henk VWS. Julia is also the one who will tilt society, also according to her father Henk, although his insight, his idea of how to achieve that, is not at all like hers. In addition, certain events are now not described by Henk VWS, but from her (2050) perspective.
Back cover text: June 2050. Julia, a celebrated artist, celebrates her 55th birthday. Encouraged by the mayor of Rotterdam she decides to write her memoirs. She wants to try to unravel her passionate past, to understand it better, and hopes that the youth will be able to learn something from this candid quest in her life. Meanwhile, however, during her writing, she receives fragments of another reality, fragments that increase in quantity and intensity, fragments from the here-and-now that distract and influence her memoirs more and more.
Fragment (first page of the book):
In recent weeks I have managed to read my memoirs. I have tried it before, but it was hurting too much, mental pain caused by the realization that you have recorded your memoirs in a dream world and after manipulation by an artificial enemy, since it are creatives among us who – as a sopmer, like a lollipop for a child – are inspired to this senseless activity, to this exercise in selfishness and self-pity, to this form of autobiographical pride, an activity which Jules might have rightly called a disguised form of prostitution. It helps to keep creatives in check, in line, and admittedly, I went along like no other, yes, I firmly believed in the healing power of my memoirs for the youth of Rotterdam (and for myself). Writing memoirs became my life purpose, encouraged by our mayor with the lovely name Peter Cantacuzino, a mayor of whom I now suspect that he has been manipulated by this all dominating forms of intelligence. It is true, moving from an externally imposed compulsion to self-compulsion has reached new dimensions under the A.I. ruler: I guess that with my memoirs our enemy gets gold in his artificial hands! To think that through my outpourings I am offering him new possibilities to optimize his manipulations! Information collection is like a spider web that tightens every movement, it is high time we unravel this tangle! To sketch a complete picture, before we start with the Unmasking, here are my memories as dictated to my PR robot, just before my Awakening (all published at the express request of the major of Rotterdam).
After Julia has awakened, she finds out how the real world is currently functioning. A hyperintelligent computer entity X.yy has duplicated itself and slowly increases its power. The masterplan designed by X.yy provides a coarse segregation of homo sapiens in leaders, hard workers, creatives and relatively useless. All individuals get information on a need-to-know basis via a coloured AI filter.
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“There is no cure for birth or death, save to enjoy the interval”
This is easier said than done. How does one enjoy said interval? How is the enjoyment made possible in times of back breaking responsibility? The search for answers to the how-question has led to tedious inquiries into life’s meaning. It has led all individuals to try harder than they should to understand the age into which they are born. Whether it is a conscious effort or intentional, seeking freedom and fulfillment is a human condition. Without proper knowledge of the field, the search will be futile and frustrating. Learn first; earn the tools to navigate through life efficiently.
This book is about expanding and maturing the view of the future, it is about understanding the role of the past in the future, it is about understanding the extent of social and psychological challenges that deter wholesome living in this century, it is about introducing the novices to a picture of how civilized thoughts and ideas develop, to introduce people to the quintessence of human thinking. To help people contend with the role of religion despite rampant secularism.
Charles Reid has come up with a roadmap unlike nothing that has even been suggested before. He is not just telling the reader to live fully. He is handing the necessary tools to do exactly that. He is giving a guide to take advantage of every minute. He is ensuring that birth and death do not become regrettable events. His ideas are simple enough but intricate the more you think about it. He goes further to break down his ideas of a philosophical future into little tidbits. The breakdown is effective as it allows a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
Enthusiasm and passion are paramount to the successful conveyance of a message. This book has those in loads. The author has great passion in the subject matter as is evident in his eloquent portrayal of a philosophical definition of happiness, freedom, and fulfillment. He does not rush over any knots. Everything is exhaustively explained and explored. The Philosophical Future is very well written. It is a suggestion rather than a lecture. It is an invitation to comprehend the true meaning of things. The author does not force the ideas aggressively but rather places a bowl at the table to share. This is an important trait especially in a matter that is so subject to individual opinion.
This book is highly recommended to young people. They still have the time to entertain new ideas, to introduce new angles into their search for happiness, to develop a new dimension for their view of the future. The age-advanced should not be left behind either. It is never too late to tweak your thinking. You might use or you might pass it on. This book is well suited to either demographic.
Pages: 276 | ASIN: B079LH9GMH
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In the distant future, religion is against the law, and the Earth is a war-torn world ruled by an insane United Nations. All military forces are put on high alert when an ex-bishop of the outlawed “Catholic Church” decides to steal an artifact called “The Shroud of Turin” to help save the Earth from herself. He claims to have the power to use the cloth to help bring about “The Second Coming” – but what’s even more terrifying: he might just do it!
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The year is 2050 and the overreaching A.I. is about to achieve total domination of the planet. If it succeeds, the end of humanity is certain. No resistance is expected since the human race has been herded into obedience and a false sense of security using high tech illusions and complacency. But the resistance is brewing – the Free Hackers are moving in the shadows, avoiding the scanners, blending with the crowd. They will cross the world, from Rotterdam to Sicily and all the way to California, in hopes of stopping the inevitable.
Interflow of Things by David Droge is a highly realistic vision of the future brought about by the constant revolutions in computing we have been witnessing in the past few decades. His A.I. starts its journey in our time but quickly spreads to control the world from the shadows. Its insatiable hunger for processing power has it manipulating governments and even change entire stratas of society. It uses high tech gadgetry to mask its debilitating effect on the planet. I enjoyed the superbly technical implementation of the technology which was always believable, especially when we remember how human totalitarian regimes have been able to accomplish the same effect without it.
Human emotions are the bedrock of its power – living in the A.I. controlled reality is comfortable. So much so that unplugging from it requires drug treatments and therapy. Julia, the first character we meet, needed extensive therapy provided by the Free Hackers before she got her emotions and clarity of mind back. And she was one of the lucky ones. Augmented reality dream is a prison of your own mind and you carry it everywhere. Why wouldn’t you? It makes everything, vision, smell, feel and touch, more beautiful! Droge is able to touch and develop every detail of the story so that you are completely immersed by the time you are just a few chapters in.
But the human emotion is something the A.I. doesn’t understand. Throughout the book we get inklings into the operation of this vast mind. Millions of calculations are being done in hopes of understanding basic human concepts and abilities, all in vain.
These passages serve the purpose of giving us the idea of the incomprehensible A.I.’s motivations. They turn out to be one of the few passages of the book that make sense. Dave Droge has translated this novel into English and the results could have been better. A layered and interesting world of the future was hard for me to comprehend. His human characters are intriguing but their motivation was obscured by poor translation.
Interflow of Things – the name of the novel is an obvious, ominous allusion to the current “Internet of Things” trend in computing integrated with ordinary business of living. It shows the future that we might be heading in. Droge gives us a warning that we might become willing slaves of computer controlled social constructs that we don’t really understand or care to understand. If the object of our desires is a real person or an android, will we know? Will we even care at that point? This is a fantastic science fiction story that can only get better.
Pages: 196 | ASIN: B07BTT6KRK
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All Roads Shattered by Lisa Meyer is the third book in the All Roads collection. This collection of dark fiction stories and poems begins with The Outposts III, which satisfyingly continues with the story of Georgia and Mitchell who we have been following through both books one and two. As we left them in book two to come to terms with their new life together, in this collection, Lisa picks up with the journey the two still must endure.
Then there is a three-part story in the form of People of Gods, a haunting selection of 12 pieces of poetry in the section titled Fragments, two further extended stories in the section The Enduring and finally, to end the collection, three small but perfectly formed short and simple stories which pack a huge punch in the section of The Oddities!
The Oddities features three ‘out there’ stories with Preacher, Crooks, and Helge. In a word, wow is what springs to mind when reading through each of them!
With Preacher, I never saw it coming at all, but the conclusion was oh so satisfying! Crooks was a great concept and equally mesmerizing. However, Helge had to be the most disturbing story of them all! I had, in fact, become so captivated by the last three stories that I wasn’t expecting the book to end when it did.
Helge produced some near awful visions in my mind as I read through, think Jack the Ripper style, back streets of grey and misty London; enough to give you nightmares. Yet, it was a tremendous and thoroughly satisfying end to a superb collection.
Having read both the first and second books in the collection, a part of me would have thought that perhaps by now Lisa may have run out of steam. After all, All Roads Home and All Roads Destined were for me, both 5 star reads. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
When you have read all three books, you may begin to feel that Lisa has a stronger connection to the futuristic sci-fi genre. This is perhaps because it is always the more extensive of stores and at the very beginning of each collection, with a continuation throughout the three.
However, in All Roads Shattered, the story I found the most compelling and atmospheric was Dinner with Myles. This was a story which I didn’t want to leave and could easily imagine Lisa writing a book based on this genre; such was it handled so well.
The ending to this story was, yet again, superbly accomplished by Lisa, as all her short stories have been throughout. However, I would still love for her to write a prequel to this one! Neil and Myles are wonderfully drawn, and complex characters and I could very well imagine them as partners working on crimes and investigating mysteries!
The great thing about reading Lisa Meyer’s collections is that each one gets better as you go along. That is particularly hard to achieve for many writers of such collections, but the All Roads Shattered collection is perhaps the most extensive and best written one yet.
It almost feels as though Lisa’s confidence has grown with each outing and this is therefore reflected in the intensity and broader scope of her writing. Her stories seem to expand and take on a deeper meaning in their unique genres in this collection, and I believe her writing style almost borders along the lines of perfection this time.
If you only manage to read one story, then Dinner with Myles should be that one. I can guarantee you that once you’ve sampled this nearly perfect piece of prose, you will feel compelled to read on.
Pages: 252 | ASIN: B0718Z38LD
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Masks by Nataly Restokian is salacious from the very beginning. We’re brought into the story where two relative strangers are having a one-night stand, one married woman with a lover on the side! It may appear to be an adult erotica novel at first, but keep reading, this is only one of the many layers to the plot that got me hooked and kept me flipping pages.
The protagonist is a fiery but spirited female named Anna that is surrounded by the glitz and glamour of the television industry. She is beautiful and successful, with her own show that sets her up to be an icon to woman in her country. The background setting gives the story a more visceral feel as one goes through the story. Anna is confident, daring, unstoppable and vivacious, but she is also hurting, bitter and cynical. She puts on her masks, as props to keep up appearances, lest others take advantage of her. The story evolves quickly and picks up speed from the risque beginning. Anna’s pursuit of happiness takes the reader on an emotional ride through the dark side of fame and fortune.
The story takes place in different cities throughout the middle-east which give you the same globe trotting feeling that Anna must have felt. I’ve never visited any of these places so this all seemed magically exotic to me. The settings are genuine and natural and lend to the emotional turmoil of the story.
There is a fresh feel in the author’s approach as she has been a keen observer of the societal nuances of the region, and is able to express it in terms that I felt were original and thought provoking. People from the west are inundated with reports everyday in the media and news channels about the region’s political and economic turmoil and forgets completely about the people, as individuals, living their lives. Hoping for a better future, like Anna. That’s what I like most about this story, that it’s a human story that I could relate to, because sometimes we too wear masks. I admire this story because it casts the region and culture in a different light, one that is not a hot spot for terror but instead brings forth the spirit of resilience. The spirit that makes people persevere in the face of difficulties and yet still have a passion for life. People that are scarred by their past, but not a prisoner of it. I feel that Anna embodies this spirit. I was intrigued by the exotic setting, Anna’s complex character, and the twists and turns that the story took as she risked it all in her quest for love and acceptance. I highly recommend this book.
Pages: 221 | ASIN: B07BB6RMDS
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The Separation follows Finn as he struggles to live in a world that separates the sexes and removes children from parents. Did you know where you were going when you started writing or did you let things happen organically?
This novel is actually part of a trilogy. I am currently working on the sequel, “United.” I had this great idea and created three stories based on the characters and storyline. Of course, some of the plot was initially simply outlined and then fleshed out significantly during the actual writing process. I am proud of this book. I think it touches on topics that are universal and of great interest to society today.
This book has a unique resolution to a real overpopulation problem. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
I wanted to address issues that are of great urgency in society today. Without bringing any of my own politics into this interview, I think the novel touches on provocative themes and pressing problems in society today. I won’t reveal all of them because I don’t want to give away the book. I feel this, above all my other work, is a must read. But, overpopulation is a real issue and I think this book addresses the topic head on.
Because the sexes are separated in the story, this makes for some great ‘worlds colliding’ type moments. What was your inspiration behind Finn and Angela’s relationship in the novel?
Their relationship is based on the fact that men and women are going to be different and have viewpoints on the separation (and on life in general) that are not necessarily identical. However, men and women do need each other in many respects. They complete each other in their own complex way. I wanted their relationship to reflect that.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on part two of this trilogy—-“United”–which will be out early in 2019!
In the distant future, there is a separation of the sexes at birth for the good of society. Financial needs, above all else, have led to such drastic measures. The Separation is the story of the life of a male named Finn. The book traces his life at birth and continues past his “education” as well as beyond the time when he ultimately learns of the opposite sex. What will result from the revelation of a female society? Finn may wish he never found out. This is a story of the consequences of needs, desires and answers to questions that sometimes should not be asked.
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In Empyrean two empires are stuck in a struggle for control and suspicion has been raised about Skae’s true motives towards the Brin. How did you approach this book in the Brin series to keep things fresh?
I always had an overall general idea of how I wanted to wrap up the series so there were several hints along the way about the Skae and Gorvin empires. I wanted to follow a single family of Brin over a long span of time so creating individuals across generations was an essential part of the story. As in real life, even close relations have very different personalities so the new generation of characters in each book helped keep everything fresh with new perspectives. As the stories progressed, there were many alterations and details that changed as new inspirations hit, but the overall arc did not change too wildly from my original thoughts.
We delve deeper into the two cultures history and motives in this novel. What were some guiding principles for you as you were creating these empires?
As each book came to life, I strove to add greater depth to the universe the characters lived in. This was partly by design, but also the result of my learning more about how to write such an epic tale. Remember, Hegira was my first ever attempt at writing. Even though this is all happening in a different universe than ours, there still had to be certain laws of physics to follow and all the technologies had to abide by those rules. Some few alterations and extensions to our physical laws helped make it an interesting scifi universe, but straying too far would create too much disbelief. I wanted everything to be based on actual theories of what could be possible, then make it so. (yes, an intentional Picard reference.)
You were able to expertly balance technical jargon with easy prose. How did you strike that balance and was it purposeful?
I spent 35 years in the science classroom trying to explain complex scientific concepts to 7th grade students. I guess I developed a knack for doing this which carried over into my story-telling style.
Will this be the last book in the Brin Chronicles or do you plan to continue this series?
Yes, this is the final book of The Brin Archives. It was surprising to discover how much I would miss all these characters when I was finally done writing their story, but it is time to move on to a new project. Maybe someday, if fame and fortune hits and all my adoring fans demand a fourth novel in the series, then I might revisit all of them again. (it could happen… right?)
In this conclusion to The Brin Archives, Maliche Rocker must risk everything including his family’s reputation and even his life, to uncover the truth about the Skae. For over three hundred years the Brin have believed the Skae to be their benefactors, and the race that rescued them from extinction. But recent revelations by a group of young Kolbri, the offspring of Brin and Kolandi mating, tell a disturbingly different story.
Three Kolbri, including Maliche’s son Jontar, must use their unique abilities to telepathically connect with technology, and discover the truth about the Skae once and for all by undertaking a perilous journey through thousands of years in space and time, unravelling the history hidden from them by Skae. During this expedition, Jontar and his two companions must encounter the Gorvin, hated enemy of the Skae and supposed instigators of the current interstellar war.
What turned the Skae and Gorvin into mortal enemies? What is the true cause of the war responsible for the destruction of hundreds of worlds over thousands of years? Will Maliche and his small group find the truth and avert disaster both at home and across the galaxy? Can his wife, Ryma, hold the Brin government together long enough for Maliche to succeed? Only time will tell.
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The fifth installment of the Reverence series, Voice of a Crimson Angel, by Joshua Landeros is both an intimate and thrilling look at the lead up to his debut military science fiction series. Julissa Marconi’s life was pulled apart after her husband went into a coma. Her relationship with her daughter is on the brink of falling apart, friends have disappeared from her life, and the only solace she finds is at the bottom of a bottle. This all changes when Dr. Neeson offers her an open door to change her life and with the help of allies like Captain Halsey, and she grabs the opportunity to fight. The ever-scheming Chancellor Venloran has his own designs afoot for the expansion of the United Nation Republic.
With this new trilogy Landeros is giving background and context for his series, while also showing that the ever present villain of Venloran has been around for a long time in all of his power. If you’ve already read all the way up to Ballad of Demise, then this is another superb excuse to dive back into this torn apart world of super soldiers and war.
Landeros still manages to deliver on his strengths of dialogue and action. The beginning of this novel might start slow, but it picks up that familiar fast pace I have become accustomed to from this writer. Still heavily leaning into the military science fiction legacy, Landeros uses this to full effect in the near future of the United States and pushes it further with the backstory development of characters we haven’t either met or gotten fully developed in past stories.
While, the ending clearly makes room for a sequel, the novel itself is still satisfying on its own merit. It will be a treat to see where this new series goes and if there is something new waiting for us at the end, which we can hope. This stage setting series should please fans of the books and of science fiction in general with the way it keeps to the best tropes, while making fresh the well trampled ground of such narratives. Landeros keeps pushing his world deeper and expanding the horizon of both the characters and story line while managing to give readers a ride they won’t soon forget.
Pages: 207 | ASIN: B079H4FBKS
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