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Thomas Edison and the Lazarus Vessel

Book Review

Thomas Edison and the Lazarus Vessel by David Church is a gripping page-turner. The main story follows John Dawkins, a man who, following the death of his former mentor Thomas Edison, is given a mysterious device that seems to grant him the ability to speak with the dead when he first activates it.

Two years pass, and the device never offers such a display again, leading John to think it was all in his head. That is until one day, when it unexpectedly begins to move, carving out a message telling John to find a former associate of Edison’s who has been kidnapped. This leads John on a thrilling journey to discover the secrets Edison left behind before they fall into the wrong hands.

This creative historical fiction book offers an entertaining alternate history starring many of the big names of the 1930s. Edison is, of course, a major character, but we’re also introduced to such memorable personalities such as George Gershwin, Groucho Marx, (both of which I feel don’t show up enough, if at all, in historical fiction novels) and the Roosevelts.

I would call this a historical thriller with some sci-fi and fantasy here and there that twist the story in fascinating directions, but so much is encompassed that it frankly seems to defy the traditional genre. The comedic moments sprinkled throughout earned a fair amount of chuckles from me, and there were even a few scenes I would classify as being genuinely effective horror. This occasionally creates some tonal issues, but nothing that diminishes the quality. I appreciate the writer’s ability to move between those moments and include them in one story.

The characters were written in such an engaging way that I wish we had gotten to spend more time with a few of them, which I think would have helped eliminate any trace elements of tropes and alleviate any issue with ‘fridging’ readers might notice. This is a sequel, but the story definitely stands on its own. The author also included just enough background information that readers will be able to follow the general setup, though not in a way that would be intrusive to anyone who has followed the series from the first amazing book.

I highly recommend Thomas Edison and the Lazarus Vessel to anyone looking for a fun and action-packed romp through 1930s America.

Pages: 270 | ASIN : B0BT4874XW

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Even After The End Of The World

Cheryl Peña Author Interview

Descent of the Vile follows a photographer and mysterious woman who barely escape death and must figure out a way to survive together and save humanity. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

This was the first time I used a dream to create a novel.  I’d watched all three films in the Three-Flavours Cornetto Trilogy consecutively, and although the films have comedic elements, I had a nightmare that night that became the opening sequence to Descent of the Vile.  When I woke, I had the feeling that an epic journey would come of it, and I wanted to write it down.  Originally, I wrote it as a novella, but I had to cut too much out to keep it at the shorter length.  So, I revised it to add the missing part of the story, and it became this short novel.  I liked the idea of an antagonist that changes throughout the story and a hero who is flawed, but learns from his past mistakes.  I also wanted to have Jackson’s perspective, even if a flawed one, the only perspective we see throughout the story, watching the events unfold through his eyes.  His journey isn’t only the one he takes with Nadine, but a journey of discovery as he learns that life still holds possibilities for him, even after the end of the world.

What was the inspiration for the relationship that developed between the characters?

Originally, I thought I didn’t want to have it be a romance at all.  And I think there is a romance that isn’t quite a romance between them.  They bond with each other beyond any level of attraction.  I also didn’t dwell on it, but there is an age difference between them, so I did consider that they might separate at the end, but the further I got into writing it, that seemed unlikely due to the personalities of the characters of Jackson and Nadine both.  Although they might not have met if not for the apocalypse that occurs, I thought they would at least find comfort in not being alone through the traumatic experiences that they endure.  It was important to me that Nadine save Jackson’s life, in more ways than one, and that Jackson opens up to her, learning that together they are stronger than they are apart.  But I didn’t want her to remain as someone Jackson has to protect, that they evolve to working more as a team.  It was also difficult to write from a male perspective, while creating a character who might be at once hurt but not broken.  He is healed by Nadine’s presence and discovers that he can evolve as a person, too.

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

I definitely wanted to write a story about an older protagonist.  Jackson is in his forties at the point of this novel, although it isn’t mentioned.  He has an established career.  Nadine was a student who dropped out of college, so she is younger, but she’d been in a stable relationship before she meets Jackson.  It was important that they both learn to accept each other for who they are and to grow as individuals.  But the main thing is that there is never a point of no return, when someone can’t make a new start.  I feel like there are few older protagonists in genre fiction especially, and older people still have valid contributions to make.  Also, making the point that being established doesn’t mean that a person can’t make a change and start over was important to me.  It’s never too late to learn a new skill or to make a career change or to move across the country to your dream house. Life isn’t static ever, and finding your own peace is something you have to work at, but you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you never attempt anything new.

Will there be a follow-up novel to this story? If so, what aspects of the story will the next book cover?

The sequel was signed by my publisher last summer, so it should come out this year.  It’s titled The Blood Hotel, and it takes place five years after the events in Descent of the Vile. Jackson and Nadine have settled into a comfortable routine when the return of a familiar foe uproots them and sends them fleeing once again. This time, the enemy has changed tactics, and they wonder what they can do to end the threat forever. There will be some themes that do come up again, like the fear of change, but it’s a new story with a different setting, so hopefully readers of Descent of the Vile will enjoy it. I think it’s a bit darker in tone with historical correlations, but you can simply read it as an action adventure if you prefer. I want it to be an enjoyable read, but there’s something more if you look for it.

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Photographer Jackson Riley is annoyed. He gets called to an unusual job where he’s given few details, and the client doesn’t seem to understand the time involved in taking large format photographs, which they specifically requested. Even worse, he almost misses the shuttle bus taking him back to his vehicle. But that’s when his entire life changes.
He barely escapes horrifying peril on the shuttle and races away in his car, only to rescue an enigmatic woman named Nadine who barely speaks to him. In doing so, he wonders what strange new terrors he’s discovered. Seeking to uncover the answer to the mystery, he drives away from the city and hopes to outrun any danger while also keeping his new companion safe. Eventually, however, he is no longer sure that running for the rest of his life is enough. To end the threat, he thinks he may have to return to the starting point but wonders if Nadine is too traumatized to face it again. Facing the choice of what to do with the mysterious woman he supposedly rescued, he must decide if he will protect her at all costs or if he will put her at risk to save the last of humanity.

Our Unbelievably Complex Universe

Shawn Adair Johnston Author Interview

Interstellar Sex Wars and the Blind Detective follows a renowned blind private investigator who is drawn into a case in which the fate of sentient life hangs in the balance. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

There are two interconnected inspirations for the story. The first is to introduce a credible blind hero into popular literature. If I can inspire some young blind men and women to pursue professional success, good. The second inspiration is to challenge readers to think seriously about enormously important issues (within the context of an exciting sci fi/fantasy mystery). I think many folks in the modern world have lost their way. It is my personal belief that good and evil really do exist and that there are transcendent forces at work in our unbelievably complex universe. I also believe that certain animals will be intellectually augmented in the future and that it is possible that self-aware and autonomous artificial intelligence will be developed. Exploring the ethical and practical implications of these issues, without getting preachy, while keeping an exciting story moving along, is a project.

This book is filled with intriguing characters. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Well, the point of the blind hero is hopefully self-evident. Beyond that, since intellectually augmented animals are in our future, I am fascinated as to what they would be like. As a retired forensic psychologist with a specialty in neuropsychology, I thought it would be possible to imagine what it would be like for a dog, a porpoise, and a chimp to receive such augmentation. I believe that my characterizations of the augmented animals in my stories provides a credible description of their cognition, personality styles and relationships with human beings. And then there is the question: what on earth might a truly self-aware and autonomous AI be like? With that, much fun did I have though it could not avoid getting a little scary.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?

With regard to “Interstellar sex wars and the blind detective” I most enjoyed the scene where the octopoids sing ‘amazing grace’ to their astounded human counterparts. In my second book, “Demons, the great white north and the blind detective,” my favorite scene was the debate in the cave concerning the existence of the soul between the humans, the intellectually augmented animals, the AI and, of course, the demon from hell. That debate includes info from Plato, Jung, parapsychic research and research on dreaming. It was a chore to write it while keeping the story moving, and all but one of ten reviewers thought it worked. You cannot please everyone.

Do you plan on writing more books in this universe?

I must write more books from this universe. It is far too much fun to stop now.

Author Links: Website | Amazon

In this futuristic adventure, Shawn Adair Johnston describes the struggle for equal rights of males on Octopodia, the preparation on Earth for an extraterrestrial invasion and the plan of the “Awakened” to bring about galactic serenity and beauty, no matter who gets hurt.

Renowned blind, private investigator Peter Straw, of the “Third Eye Detective Agency,” assisted by his intellectually augmented guide dog, Watson, is initially retained by a victim of child abuse to aid her in the civil trial of her wealthy and powerful stepfather. In the midst of this investigation, because of a unique friendship between Watson and the first self-aware and autonomous AI to originate on Earth, Straw and his canine companion find themselves drawn into an interstellar intrigue in which the motives of two different alien actors are unclear and the fate of sentient biological life may hang in the balance.

Exotic locations, plots within plots and an unforgettable cast of human, intellectually-augmented nonhuman and inhuman characters provides the reader with a good old-fashioned mystery story on a believable future Earth. Recognizing that human history is characterized as much by the fantastic as the tragic, the reader is treated to a non-dystopian story full of surprises, dry humor and a thoughtful consideration of current and future moral dilemmas. Prepare for a story that will be as emotionally satisfying as it is thought-provoking.

The Pistons That Crank The Universe

Brian Estvander Author Interview

Stilled: The Story of Inklebrawt Winklehank follows four biologically engineered siblings who are tasked with saving humans from a hostile force. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

The very ancient ruins of Puma Punku located in Bolivia. The root cause is my interest in history (mostly military), music, and my professional background in the physical and life sciences. The craftmanship of Puma Punku is remarkable and fantastically unique. Nowhere else on the planet can you find similar architecture. A true enigma for humankind’s history. After speaking with several structural engineers, metallurgists, and geologists, the building of Puma Punku would be a real feat to replicate (even in modern times) the precision architecture without machine tools and perhaps robotic template computer software with lasers as a prerequisite for design and building. I blended this location with my knowledge in nano regenerative medicine, biochemistry, computer science and physics and applied these to each of the characters attributes.  

Also, I was diagnosed with Cluster Headaches years ago and that is where the idea for the Tsr’ Yyd came from. Anybody who has cluster headaches (acute or chronic) will recognize this immediately. It’s a terrible debilitating condition both physically and emotionally that hardly anyone knows about. So, I incorporated the likes of it within my book to deal with it for my own emotional needs. 

Finally, I love a play on words and scattered clues within a story that all add up at the end. If you read Ink’s story closely and study the book cover, a lot will just pop out at you when you least expect it and then think, “How did I miss that!” or “That makes sense!”

Each of the siblings has unique abilities that cause them challenges. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Well, Ink and Maggie are basically a mix of me, so their development was easy to create and write. In fact, some of Ink’s and Maggie’s experiences in the present day happened to me, minus the SCI-FI stuff. Maggie’s garden for example, I built my own garden in my yard a few years before I even thought of writing Stilled and I built it exactly the way Maggie describes it in Stilled.

All the characters in the book have a meaningful role in Stilled. That is, all are needed to make the story work. The characters surprised me sometimes with their actions and intentions. That is the best part of creating your characters – not knowing what exactly they might do the day you write. I go with flow and what feels right and act the characters mannerisms and voices out. It’s not weird, it just needs to be done to really feel the character. The reader may fall in love with a character or just plain dislike them because of their actions or intentions within Stilled. That’s great! I wanted to make the characters and story seem a real possibility for the reader.   

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

The pistons that crank the universe. The ever-influencing vibrational strings of music that touch our hearts and brain matter. Love. Time. Reincarnation. The inevitable mesh of human and machine and its payoffs and drawbacks for human evolution. Or has that already happened thousands of years ago and now only just repeating?

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

I am currently writing a book named Sounding Loud. It is set in a world culture of England in the late 1800’s on a planet like Earth. Some of the technology is more advanced yet also commensurate with the industrial revolution cultures that our Earth experienced. It mainly focuses on a man named Elliot who has several physical ailments that affect his five senses. He pals around with a lifelong friend Valentine and a newfound friend named King and is constantly pestered by Ms. Pressing and shadow entities. The story is ongoing, and I really don’t know what will exactly happen, but it is a mix of horror and SCI-FI and is extremely character driven like Stilled. It may or may not tie into Stilled. We will see; the ideas and flow are there to make that happen. It should be completed sometime in late 2024 or 2025 is my guess.

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Inklebrawt Winklehank is a Huply, a hybrid of the biologically engineered immortal Plythi’i race and a human. Because of his birthright, he has both the logic and enhanced psychokinetic abilities of the Plythi’i paired with the wild emotions and temperament of humanity. He is forced to wrestle with these emotions in the face of what his logical mind knows he must do to safeguard the future of the human race. But he is not alone.

Maggie Henderson is a scientist working at MIT, creating leading-edge bio-nanotechnology while struggling to keep her own powers hidden, unaware of a growing threat close to home.

DavidWessel is an elite sniper stationed in the Afghanistan desert. When his latest target turns out to be far more dangerous than your average enemy, he is forced to choose who to believe to protect those closest to him.

And Nicola Helyn is a runaway mobster who only wants to forget his past, but when he meets a mysterious woman and finds himself hunted by a dangerous man, he is forced to reconcile all he thought he knew with the truth of who he is.

Connected by the threads of fate, the four must learn how to work together despite their differences. Because time is running out. The Shepherds, a group of rogue Huply who believe the Plythi’i should remain separate from humans, are moving. They nearly destroyed the Plythi’i in their first attack centuries ago, leaving the Earth and its civilizations in shambles, with nothing more than rubble to mark the technological advances of the past. This time they are determined not to fail.

And behind the scenes, whispers of the enigmatic Tsr’Yyd are growing. Shrouded in mystery and myth, no one knows who or what they are. But Ink, the Shepherds, and the Plythi’i know one thing: they are to be feared.

Spanning lifetimes and crossing galaxies, Stilled: The Story of Inklebrawt Winklehank is an intricate, fast-paced science fiction novel of a fight across millennia for the future of the evolution of the human race.

Descent of the Vile

Descent of the Vile is a dystopian thriller following the choices of our protagonist Jackson Riley, a photographer who is asked to take photos of peculiar items in a research lab. Following this photo session, Jackson goes to leave the facility when he first comes across what he calls the “strangers” these are beings that look like people but can instantly be recognized because they lack emotion or any kind of feeling. They try to chase, attack, and kill. Jackson is in a race against time to get to safety when he comes across a young woman on the highway trying to get away from these bizarre “strangers.” Jackson kicks into hero mode and saves her, and the story follows them together as they try to piece together what is going on while also trying to determine if they can trust each other.

Author Cheryl Pena has written an enthralling thriller that I found to be intriguing and kept me turning the pages. I had a little trouble trying to figure out what sort of person Nadine was, but so did the protagonist Jackson, so perhaps she was trying to make readers see her through his eyes.

The suspense that is woven into the story is exhilarating with each chapter ending in a “cliffhanger,” leaving the reader unable to put the book down for even a moment. Another thing I thought was noteworthy was the relationship between Jackson and Nadine. Instead of being fantastical, Pena wrote a relationship between two strangers that could be attracted to each other in other circumstances but really couldn’t focus on their intimacy because of the degree of trauma and heartbreak they had experienced. As a result, their relationship is a slow burn with both having to earn the other’s trust.

Descent of the Vile is a gripping dystopian science fiction novel with fast moving action. This short read is perfect for the reader that wants a story they can finish in an afternoon and be on the edge of their seat the entire time.

Pages: 163 | ASIN : B0BNVX6YVH

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The Visitors – Book Trailer

Two time-travelling aliens, Bjorn and Zorn, witness the destruction of the Earth in 2052. They believe the Earth has been destroyed by religious zealots. Their investigation reveals one of their own is behind it. The intended goal was to hide the Earth from the universe. With Tasmania up for grabs, the chess game begins. They travel in time to collect a little band of misfits, to help them save humanity from its religious wars.

The laid back Ptoni the Pteranodon, the ladylike Florence the Jersey Cow, the excitable Penelope the Adelie Penguin, and the Chicken Nugget obsessed Dax the Maine Coon Cat, set off on an adventure that will see them cross the galaxy and back again.

Their adventure is filled with drama, fun and chaos. The local drive-thru will never be the same again, and neither will Florence’s derriere. Alien abduction can be fun!

Of Space & Time

Revolution, space, and a healthy amount of dystopia await you in Of Space & Time by Ray LeCara Jr. As you journey through this exciting book, readers are pulled into a SciFi world where they explore the futuristic cities that author Ray LeCara Jr creates. Throughout this novel, we will find gripping stories that leave us wanting more. It creates a world and gives us the space to create some of our endings. From dystopian futures on different planets mixed with some extremely relatable pandemic futures, these five short stories include it all.

Of Space & Time is a collection of thought-provoking short stories. In decorated worlds, LeCara brings us on a journey through space. This action-packed book was one read that kept you turning page after page. Readers will find themselves in the shoes of the protagonists facing their trials and tribulations. The beauty of these stories is that they hook you in quickly and don’t let go. LeCara makes sure readers want to keep reading with the fascinating characters and original storylines. Hop aboard a spaceship and make your way through the different universes in Of Space & Time.

Science Fiction writer Ray LeCara JR brings the literary universe to life that includes many different layers in each of his compelling short stories. With relatable subjects, world events, and history, he gives readers a great SciFi short story compilation. I would recommend this collection for any SciFi lover. They would be great for older teens to adults who are interested in reading exhilarating short stories that take readers on an adventure through space and time. When readers have finished this collection, they are left with questions of their own to ponder and consider about the future of mankind and our exploration of space.

Pages: 157 | ASIN : B0B8TGWHJB

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Something Typically Cheeky

Andrew Cahill-Lloyd Author Interview

The Visitors follows two time-traveling aliens who go back in time to save Earth from destruction with the help of some misfit friends. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

I was fiddling with some basic digital art. I created a Pteranodon aimed at kids. My cat Dax, one of the main characters, did something typically cheeky and I was inspired to create the story round Dax and Ptoni.

With so many entertaining characters in this story, who was your favourite character to write for and why?

My favourite is Dax because he is based on a real cat. The scene on the ship in orbit over NASA, where Dax flicks his collar off, is based on an actual event. I do have to say that family feedback is that Florence the Jersey Cow is the favourite among readers hands down.

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


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

I am currently on working on a follow up to The Visitors, and I am turning an original screenplay into novel form. A very adult story of street kids, I will release it under a new pen name. Both should be around 6 months away.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Two time-travelling aliens, Bjorn and Zorn, witness the destruction of the Earth in 2052. They believe the Earth has been destroyed by religious zealots. Their investigation reveals one of their own is behind it. The intended goal was to hide the Earth from the universe. With Tasmania up for grabs, the chess game begins. They travel in time to collect a little band of misfits, to help them save humanity from its religious wars.
The laid back Ptoni the Pteranodon, the ladylike Florence the Jersey Cow, the excitable Penelope the Adelie Penguin, and the Chicken Nugget obsessed Dax the Maine Coon Cat, set off on an adventure that will see them cross the galaxy and back again.
Their adventure is filled with drama, fun and chaos. The local drive-thru will never be the same again, and neither will Florence’s derriere. Alien abduction can be fun!

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