The Pursuit of the Pankera is a 2020 science fiction book by Robert A. Heinlein which is a parallel version of The Number of the Beast. The Number of the Beast and The Pursuit of the Pankera follow the same characters; Deety, Zeb, Hilda and Jake, who are ambushed by the alien called Black Hats, but escape in a vehicle that can travel through different planes of existence. When Robert Heinlein published The Number of the Beast in 1980 he created a parallel version of what would have happened if Zeb, Deety, Jake and Hilda were taken to another universe besides what had happened in the 1980 book and that story is called The Pursuit of the Pankera.
I have read many sci-fi books but nothing stands out as a unique continuation of a story quite like the The Pursuit of the Pankera. This book is an unparalleled science fiction thrill ride that is crafted to entertain the reader. Most authors write about parallel universes as an idea to begin a plot, but parallel universes are a part of the plot here and Robert Heinlein explores the idea vividly. He first wrote about a parallel universe and then went ahead and wrote a parallel version of the parallel universe story he had introduced to his readers. Which makes sense, I suppose, as this is exactly what the parallel worlds theory would suggest. Heinlein is able to imbue a feel of classic science fiction, propelled by action scenes, which the genre has righteously deemed ‘Heinlein-esque’. The feel of deep science fiction with thought-provoking theories and hard hitting action is on brilliant display here. Everything that made me a hardcore Heinlein fan so many years ago has resurfaced here.
The book was written in 1977 but published in 2020. The author wrote two parallel novels about parallel universe but released one in 1980. The two books share the same start but they diverge and the characters are transported to two different parallel universes. The Pursuit of the Pankera is a bold literary experiment and the results are astonishing.
Hardcore science fiction fans may rejoice, but all others must not fear, I found this book to be easily digestible considering the scientific ideas utilized throughout the book. A few bits of jargon, but I found them to be good mood setters. This is still a human story that builds up and tests some fascinating characters. A suspenseful and thought-provoking classic science fiction story that will delight anyone looking for a gripping space adventure.
Pages: 545 | ASIN: B082838YYY
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End of Knighthood Part II: The King’s Move keeps the action blazing forward! The second installment, by Joshua Landeros, follows rebel cyborg super soldiers and continues the story of William Marconi, who seeks vengeance from Chancellor Venloran. After finding out what latest weapon the Chancellor holds, rebel fighters Captain Halsey and Gabby, were lured into a trap and are at his mercy. This sets the stage for what the rebellion needs to do. Will, who started this rebellion, may get his chance to achieve his vengeance and end it, but the cost may be even too great for him to bear.
The King’s Move wastes no time in getting back into the thick of the action and picking up where we left off in the first. The action does not break and the events become more heinous as we reach the book’s climax and the tragic conclusion. Landeros continues to borrow the best from classic military sci-fi authors with short, clipped sentences and telling “only the facts” when denoting action and danger. His world building is subtle and should please any reader who pays attention to the craft of writing. With this second part in his series Landeros has escalated the conflict and moved the stakes to an even higher plane.
The characters remain, along with the action, some of the best parts of the novel. His rather wide cast of rebels and villains are all a thrill to read and fun to follow as they attempt to achieve their various goals. The book remains a blend of sci-fi/thriller that would keep any fan of those two genres satisfied. The dialogue shoots back and forth between the characters as fast as the bullets, keeping the pace quick and the readier on the edge of their seat. These are a welcome distraction from the brutal carnage that sometimes occurs.
The lack of description hurts this work at times, which it makes up for since with prose that has improved since the last installment. He continues to borrow heavily from screenwriting techniques, with consistent dialogue on almost every page, while providing only deep description of the action scenes. His fast pace style will suit casual readers as well as those used to thrillers and military sci-fi.
The King’s Move is an exciting bridge that keeps the reader entertained and swept away on the plight of these rebel cyborgs. Anyone who enjoys a military science fiction thriller will find their palates pleased with Landeros’ work and hungry for the third installment.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B073WHFL24
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The war between the North and the South has made its way to the Arab Territories. Theoretically allied with the North, they instead decide to put up a forcefield to sequester themselves and block the Southern fighters. The Arab Territories quickly realize that their enemies in the South are much stronger, smarter, and more dangerous than they ever suspected. The war for the South to take Pearson Station in space continues to rage on, as both sides try to develop technologies to protect themselves and exploit their enemy’s weaknesses. Despite being spread between more than one fighting front, the South proves to be a formidable enemy for everyone that falls in their cross-hairs.
Across the Realm, Book 2: When Two Tribes Go To War by Isobel Mitton is the second in the Across The Realm series. After finishing the first one, I couldn’t wait to get hold of the second one and jump right in. It did not disappoint. Because there was less backstory to set up in the second book, things moved at an even faster pace than in Book 1, keeping me flipping the pages long past bedtime.
The Arab Territories are a part of this book, and I felt like the presentation of the people living there was a bit negative. A lot of Islamic beliefs are addressed in it, and I felt like they were largely being treated as backwards beliefs, rather than legitimate religious beliefs. I didn’t find this to be an overwhelming feeling, however, and it did a wonderful job illustrating the differences between the characters in the Arab Territories, versus the rest of the North and the South.
One of my favorite parts of the series is the skill with which Ms. Mitton creates differences between the characters in various parts of the realm. Each type of character is distinct. Although some characters are purely good, there are a number of characters that I both loved and hated in full measure in different parts of the book. Her ability to paint three dimensional characters that are incredibly realistic in their flaws and their strengths is part of what makes the book so addictive.
Another strength of the book is the way no one side is being treated as wholly the bad guy. It’s presented primarily as the warring sides not understanding one another, and not understanding each other’s ways, being the source of the primary problem. Both sides believe in the other’s inhumanity and are unable to comprehend their actions and behaviors. Even as they capture and examine one another, they are not looking for the common humanity between them, but rather seek to locate the other’s weaknesses.
All in all, this has been a great series to read so far. The book kept plowing ahead, gaining energy rather than losing it. Though I have not read a great deal of science fiction in this past, the Across the Realm series is inspiring me to read more.
Pages: 256 | ASIN: B01MUHOLM3
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End of Knighthood Part I: The Chess Pieces by Joshua Landeros is a ripping tale of military science fiction. The novel follows the continued struggle of William Marconi a cyborg super soldier as he continues to figure out his place and duty as a soldier and knight in this futuristic warzone. Will ends up joining the resistance movement. Fighting the UNR, the new world government superstructure, or curbing its growth becomes the center of conflict. Chancellor Venloran is the locus of these plans and wishes to destroy his enemies completely. Can non-UNR countries survive the rising tide and hardened troops? The principal question is, what will Will do to make up for his past transgressions on behalf of his former role?
Landeros paints a picture worthy of the classic military science fiction writers in their hay day. Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers can be felt in every leap of Will from rooftop to rooftop. He masterfully borrows what made these novels great by their action and dialogue. One of the strong parts of the End of Knighthood is not just the fantastic action, but the dialogue between the soldiers is some of the best I have ever read. This is what keeps these soldiers human and what makes them instantly relatable to the reader. Sure, it is cool to read the amazing action scenes that Landeros crafts, but in the quiter moments we get to see how these individuals struggle with their in between status and their struggle in the midst of war.
As far as action goes, you can’t get too much wrong when you have cyborg on cyborg action, but Landeros takes painstakingly careful steps so that the reader does not become lost in the rain of bullets and blows. We are able see every body fall, but we are also able to see the glimpses of humanity from these soldiers as they reflect later their deeds. Will, the main protagonist, and one of the few carry overs from the previous book, is one such character that we get to see who continues to develop.
In our current times of political upheavals and nation states, one would think a book such as End of Knighthood would be hard to swallow. The UNR seems to be something that could occur in the not so distant future, but with the addition of these tech enhanced soldiers, Landeros has given the reader enough of an escape to enjoy oneself rather than wallow in more reality. Despite having a military science fiction bend, the novel could appeal to anyone looking for an action centered yarn along with some political thriller overtones. The genre blending on Landeros’ part is spot on and should please a wide variety of readers.
All in all, the reader may lose some sleep going through one battle scene and turning the page for another, but it is sleep happily given up. I look forward to the next installment of the Reverence series.
Pages: 233 | ASIN: B06ZZCDJ44
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Reverence follows the stories of humanoid super soldiers Will and Luis as they work under their fearless leader and follow his orders to demolish a budding resistance that threatens their utopian world. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?
The inspiration came mainly from some of my favorite science fiction films, namely Children of Men, V for Vendetta, Dark City, and Blade Runner. What I wanted to instill most was that Reverence wasn’t purely a dystopian world because some of the people are indeed very happy with what their country had become. The setup of the story for me was establishing the fact that the plot would be driven by conflicting viewpoints, not by purely good vs. evil. The most vital point of the novel was the need for people to question their surroundings, which is a double-edged sword for the main character, Will Marconi. The ending chapters were some of the hardest to write because I wanted to really sell the tragedy of what these people had been reduced to: both sides resorting to violence and lies to accomplish their goals. There is also a tragedy to Will finally removing his blinders about the reality of his environment, but there is a bit of hope, too. That final chapter represents the need to look forward, but not without forgetting the past.
There is a lot of great twists and mystery in the novel. When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?
Oh boy, well I should start by saying that Reverence has a convoluted history. Strangely enough, I had the twists in mind as far back as the outline phase. I initially published it back in March of 2016. I noticed something felt off, but I couldn’t figure it out for a bit. Then one day it hit me after watching Anthropoid, a fairly unknown film from 2016 that I hope achieves cult status. The twists and overall story needed more emotion, not to mention it needed more editing overall. So I went back with a professional editor and added more detail at certain points in the story and refined it to a level I was quite happy with. It was re-released in December and I’m glad readers have enjoyed it.
Joseph Halsey is my favorite character because of his moral transformation and strong beliefs. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
The characters all represent different morals, good and bad. With Halsey I wanted to explore a man who, unlike almost every other character in the story, does not take the lives of others for granted. His beliefs stem from that and while the other rebels try to live up to that, they’ve lost their way. The antithesis of that ideal is incarnate in characters like Chancellor Venloran, Luis, and even Robert Neeson. These characters believe progress is worth any cost, even if it means sacrificing lives and sometimes the truth. With Will I wanted one thing to be certain: devotion to ideals is dangerous.
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
My God, a whole lot! I’ve already written a sequel to Reverence which I am very proud of. A preview of it was provided in both print and Kindle editions of my first book and it greatly expands on the world. Readers can expect it to be released April of this year. I’m also in the works of writing a prequel to the Reverence saga. I can’t say much, but what I can say is that you can expect it to be released this year as well. The prequel will focus on familiar characters like Robert Neeson, Captain Halsey, and Chancellor Venloran, but the main focus is on Will’s wife and daughter, Julissa and Zaneta. The story will explore the early stages of the UNR-rebel conflict. It’s going to be a great read and aiming for its release to be this summer, maybe around July.
“William Marconi is the face of anguish and righteousness. By his blood stained hands, he inspires the people with both fear and awe. But he is not alone. He is one of the 144, 000 and together they are the guardians of a new order. By their gun and their sword, they have upheld justice. When the peace they have maintained comes under fire from a new threat, William quickly realizes this war could possibly cause the collapse of all he holds dear. As the world is dragged down to hell, this knight must ask himself just how much it will take to accomplish the mission, which could be his last.”
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