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Unanimity 

In Alexandra Almeida’s Unanimity, screenwriter Thomas Astley-Byron and his partner, AI specialist Henry Nowak, have created a simulated reality allowing people to live an alternate life with the benefit of benevolent AI manipulation of this reality. The two essentially are gods in this new world and are referred to as such, but their own flaws lead to Thomas’ death, replacement, and revival by the young and beautiful Estelle Ngoie. Unlike Thomas, though, her benevolence is only skin-deep, and much of the novel goes back-and-forth between Thomas navigating this new world under its new goddess and looking back at the events that led him to this point.

Unanimity is an epic science fiction novel with multiple layers of depth. The setting of the artificial world (in fact, multiple worlds) is complex and takes many chapters to fully grasp and appreciate. The book also hops back-and-forth between past and present, characters’ relationships change, and their intentions are revealed gradually over a story that spans decades. It can be overwhelming, but if you enjoy full realized worlds with a deep backstory and solid lore than this is the novel for you. Unanimity rewards readers who do put in the effort to follow its many threads and, by the end, Thomas feels like a real person – emotional, not always predictable, but with a consistent personality. The same goes for the supporting characters as well.

Fans of hard science fiction will find much to dive into with the multiple worlds setting. This is only the first in Almeida’s Spiral Worlds series of novels, but the relationship between the worlds is clearly something she plotted out carefully, and which lends itself to interesting stories. The plot moves at a steady pace, as Almeida takes plenty of time for each scene to breathe and fully develop, with rich descriptions of the people and places involved, though not so much so that the reader is burdened with overly elaborate descriptions. Unanimity isn’t for those looking for a quick read, but I highly recommend this thrilling sci-fi novel to those looking for a novel that rewards attentive and fully engaged reading.

Pages: 442 | ASIN: B0B1TGN5FM

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I Love Adventure Stories

Alan Priest Author Interview

SkyWorld Saga Foundation follows the founder of Sky City as he embarks on a mission across Earth and space to save his crowning achievement. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I love adventure stories. Having read Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy growing up, I recently began reading the original adventure authors, Jules Verne, and H. Rider Haggard. Journey to the Center of the Earth and King Solomon’s Mines were the inspiration for the epic adventure theme I tried to create. And because I am a huge Isaac Asimov fan, his original Foundation series was what drove me to the space theme. My hope was to create a story that kept moving and also connected future technology to today.

Ben Dawson is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

Ben is a combination of many people I worked with in Silicon Valley. I’ve seen many incredibly talented people not succeed through no fault of their own except a lack of aggressiveness. It was important to show Ben’s path to success was different than most, but still, incredible in the results. Also, he realized family is more important than success and with the help of his wife, Paige, kept that his number one priority. It’s an idealized personality, but that’s the joy in creating characters, they can be an ideal to strive for.

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

This book revolves around the relationships between family and friends when they are put in stressful situations. While I wanted to write an adventure story about the near future, it felt hollow if the characters didn’t have strong bonds between them. Also, I wanted to explore how technology could allow for a floating city and what it could look like besides a large hunk of metal in the sky. Finally, I did feel a need to present the problems with government bureaucracies that lose sight of working for their citizens and instead focus on their own careers and power struggles.

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

While I will be returning to the SkyWorld Saga, I’m currently working on a story about time travel with an extended family. This will place husbands, wives, and their children, in various places in the past. They will have adventures experiencing the past but have to learn how to put their family issues behind them and rely on each other’s strengths. if they want to get back to their present. My goal is to have it available July 2023.

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In 2070, Ben Dawson was on the cusp of changing mankind, until mankind intervened. And then, instead of celebrating his crowning achievement of launching the world’s first airborne city, he was fighting for its survival. Threatened with imminent personal and financial ruin, Ben assembles a team that will embark on a mission across Earth and space to save Sky City.

Racing against the takeover of Sky City by The Department of Space, his team finds themselves with an impossible timeline. Forced to accelerate an already insane plan involving space colonies, moon mining and, per the Department of Space, Crimes Against Humanity, they will need all the cunning and grit they possess for their mission to work. But more likely, it will fail, leaving the Dawson family and colleagues with less than nothing.

Ben and his team realize for them to have any chance at success, they will need to rely on each other and learn the fundamental meaning of trust. If they do that, then they could come away with the biggest heist in history.

SkyWorld Saga Foundation

It’s the 2070s, and Ben Dawson has built a flying city made of hundreds of flying boats he invented. But Ben’s Sky City is threatened by the Department of Space, looking to take it over to score political points. Now Ben and his small team of loyalists must embark on a daring mission to retain control of Sky City —one that involves space travel, an asteroid, unlikely allies, and going up against formidable forces.

Alan Priest’s SkyWorld Saga Foundation is an upbeat science fiction novel that is bursting at the seams with intrigue and that curious allure that most futuristic stories have. The book is a breezy read punctuated by pulse-pounding moments of action that feels like they are fit for cinematic movie scenes.

The author utilizes simple but elegant writing to tell an imaginative story. This writing style helps keep readers focused on the creative world that Alan Priest has created and the clever storyline that delivers some stunning moments of sci-fi melodrama. This is a spirited adventure story that explores humanity’s ingenuity, resilience, and bravery contrasted with some of the more unsavory elements of humanity’s traits like power and a conspiratorial streak.

I was engrossed with the detailed world that is being built in this dystopian thriller. The world that the author is creating seems immense and begs to be explored in further novels. What is presented in this book serves as an interesting backdrop for the compelling cast of characters. I really appreciated the attention to detail that went into creating the backstory and I look forward to seeing how this evolves as the series continues.

While this can be considered hard sci-fi I appreciated the well-balanced ‘techsplaining’ that is used to drive this story forward without losing readers. Character development is also one of Priest’s strengths, as Skyworld Saga contains characters that have distinct and relatable, if not understandable, personalities. And the author really knows how to create genuinely unlikable characters too. I love how he throws wrenches into his protagonists’ plans and introduces new conflict to ramp up the drama and suspense that will eventually conclude in moments of fist-pumping glee for his readers.

SkyWorld Saga Foundation is an exciting science fiction story that builds a complex world with an organic sense of adventure that never forgets to entertain the reader.

Pages: 344 | ASIN: B09Z1S3M3Z

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Experiment A: Elimination

Experiment A: Elimination by [Nikki Haase]

Experiment A: Elimination by Nikki Haase is a prequel to the Experiment X trilogy (Sacrifice, Exposed and Revolt). Set in a cryptic lab somewhere in the United States. The story starts with Jack Cortex, the protagonist losing Alexie, the woman he loves. What follows is a thrilling story of more loss and torture and a lot of action as the enthralling storyline follows the shenanigans of Cortex and his friends Ryan, Matt and Liam. Constantly fed the image of the cruel world outside the lab, the Subjects find it hard to separate truth from lies. One by one, the weakest of the Subjects are ‘eliminated’, all in the name of creating a perfect soldier to protect a country that they’ve never seen. At least that’s what the Lab Coats say to justify the unthinkable torture and the ruthless killing, all in the name of science.

This is a vivid and gritty dystopian novel that dives straight into the action. Even without wasting much time in describing the setting at no point is the reader clueless. Haase hits you with one event after the other, and you never know who you’re going to lose next. What I really loved about the book was the perfect mix of action, emotion, and storyline. The author doesn’t go deep into descriptions, and instead gives you just enough for your imagination to run wild while keeping focus on the characters, ensuring this is a character focused drama above all else.

I finished the book in just a few days; although admittedly I’ve been a long time fan of the author and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. But I can now say that long time finds of the series should be VERY excited about this novel. Even though this is a prequel the concept of a hidden lab separate from the rest of the world and meant to save it still feels fresh. The story is reminiscent of the Maze Runner trilogy, with its dystopian feel and subtle commentary on society.

Experiment A: Elimination has an engaging plot and relentless action. Since this book is a prequel to the trilogy, anyone who hasn’t read the trilogy can still enjoy the book. This is a rousing science fiction novel that provides plenty of fan service, but also provides a standalone story that is equally as riveting as the original series.

Pages: 211 | ASIN: B09F6XJ6J9

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Original, Brutal and Complicated

Connor Mackay
Connor Mackay Author Interview

The Albatross: Contact is a thrilling science fiction novel. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

Thanks! It’s been a lot of fun writing. I originally came up with the idea for The Albatross Series over a decade ago while working as a wildland firefighter. While not military, there is a similar discipline and grit required for the job. The bond you form with many of your fellow crewmembers is something that I’ve found hard to replicate anywhere else; something I hope comes across in the book. Being a long-time science fiction fan, I looked for ways I could translate my own experiences into an interstellar setting. While a galactic firefighting story was considered, I decided to go with the waaay more original, brutal and complicated war theme instead. I think a bit more universality to it anyway . . . unfortunately.

I’m also a screenwriter and actor, so the first iteration of The Albatross Series was this epic 3 1/2 hour feature screenplay I wrote; a screenplay I always wanted to either direct myself, or kick ass in as an actor. I just want it all, OK?! However, I knew I wanted more space to really flesh out the world, explore the characters, and weave the story, hence diving in and expanding into a novel and series. Finding a way to parallel it with one of my favorite poems, “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” by Coleridge, was a bonus.

I enjoyed the deep world building in your book. What were some themes you felt were important to capture in your universe?

First off let me say again, I love sci-fi: there are so many varied and incredible branches of it. However, I have found there’s a tendency to get lost in the world-building or the actual science of the fiction from time to time. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building, I tried my best to make sure the real eggheady stuff wasn’t too overwhelming and that the characters and their relationships weren’t lost in the universe. An equilibrium. It’s a style I personally enjoy most, and I think the most treasured stories in the genre, old and new, have always found a way to do that. “The Forever War” by Joe Haldeman, “Dune” by Frank Herbert, “Starship Troopers” by Robert A. Heinlein; newer books like the “Old Man’s War” series by John Scalzi, or Pierce Brown’s “Red Rising” books. Hell, the “Harry Potter” books if we dip into fantasy. “Star Wars.” “Star Trek.” We’re entranced by these beautiful and creative worlds, in awe of them, desperate to explore and be a part of them; but we stick around for the people who inhabit them. If you don’t have characters that people feel for, that you really give a shit about, what’s the point? What’s “Dune” without characters like Paul Atreides or Gurney Halleck, “Forever War” without Sgt. Mandella, “Starship Troopers” without Rico, “Old Man’s War” without Jane? Because of this, the most important themes ended up being family, connection, love, duality – The things worth fighting for and struggling against. Nothing new or flashy, but transplanted into something . . . new and flashy. Giants and their shoulders, ya know?

The cast of characters were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

The character of Will Reach is about as close to myself as any character I’ve written. Good and bad. Not a facsimile, but similar. I mean, he’s kind of a darkly sarcastic asshole so maybe not entirely like me . . . Anyway, the fun thing about that is being able to really dig into the light and dark as explorations of not only the character, but myself. Dreaming up new ‘what ifs.’ How do I think I would deal in these situations (ideally)? How would I probably screw things up? Each of the three main POV characters are very different from each other, hopefully providing a well-rounded view of this new world, and I love writing each one, but Sarah (oh Sarah, how I love thee) and Arthur are also a lot smarter than Will . . . and by extension me. So, while I enjoy the challenge of writing the others and fully extracting their souls, Will is more natural for me.

This is book one in your Albatross series. What can readers expect in book two, Requiem?

Requiem will crank things up a notch or two. Contact, as the title suggests, is all about the first encounters and setting the stage – with the good guys and the bad. In Requiem, we’ll see the conflict on a much larger scale as our heroes pick up the pieces from the end of Book 1 and become fully embroiled in the war and the mystery of the Forsaken. A new character, who we only glimpsed in Contact, will also be taking the reins for a bit, and establishing herself as a powerful force throughout the rest of the series. My goal was always to leave lots of hidden little Easter eggs in the first book that won’t be fully realized until Book 5; benign clues that mean nothing without context, but along the way and by the time we reach the end of the road, readers will be able to look back and go, “Well, son of a bitch! He hinted at that in Book 1.” So yeah, Requiem will be dark and have some serious shit going on.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Present day Earth’s first contact with an advanced extraterrestrial race doesn’t go how people thought it would. There’s no invasion, no unfortunate probes, and no misunderstanding. The Lumenarians have come desperately seeking our help. Light years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a shadowy race known as the Forsaken is decimating their people, and the Lumenarians have arrived on Earth to recruit humankind as soldiers. Equipped with new weaponry and biotechnology that gives them devastating abilities, the Terran volunteers are thrust into the middle of a vicious interstellar war begun when people were still firing muskets.

Follow Will Reach, a damaged ex-special forces alcoholic with nothing to lose; Sarah Li, one of Earth’s brightest minds trying to find her place in the stars; and Arthur, the enigmatic alien leader of the recruitment mission and commander of the flagship, Albatross.

But with inner demons, inter-species struggles, and self-doubt plaguing the human/Lumenarian alliance, their ability to overcome the Forsaken looks increasingly grim as the battle looms near….
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