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The Masters Of Sci-Fi

Author Interview
Svet Rouskov Author Interview

Antithesis is a collection of fascinating science fiction stories offering a variety of intriguing scenarios that explore humanity through different lenses. What inspired some of the stories in your collection?

I am a science fiction nerd who grew up reading and idolizing the masters of sci-fi; Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert just to name a few. I also loved science fiction periodicals and read many lesser-known voices who contributed their stories. Inspiration in general came from wanting to remind myself why I love sci-fi, telling stories with a nod to the past. But I also wanted to make the subjects and themes of the stories relevant and timely. In effect, social commentary masquerading as nostalgia.

I really enjoyed the diverse and interesting characters in the stories. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

My day job is being a screenwriter. Character in film, television and video games is what excites me the most about storytelling. If people love your characters (even the evil ones), they will go along for the ride and enjoy the experience. Now, diverse characters lead to differing points of view and unique perspectives, which will hopefully challenge the viewer or reader to examine their own beliefs. If a character has you questioning a preconception, then he/she/they/it has been well developed.

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

Though Antithesis has six unique stories, they all revolve around humanity and the human condition. I wanted to explore what it means to be human. Our strengths, our weaknesses, our flaws, and our beliefs. Even when looking at non-human characters, I wanted to use them as a mirror to our own world to show areas where we as a species were either excelling or failing.

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

I am working on volume two of Antithesis. It will include the continuation of three of the stories and a few new ones as well. Hopefully, it will be out mid-2022. I’m also working on an adaptation/novelization of one of my own original screenplays that was never produced. Antithesis is my first book, and I enjoyed writing it so much that I’m being drawn more and more to literature. Stay tuned!

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Antithesis is a collection of vivid and exhilarating science fiction stories, tied together by characters whose moral challenges offer windows into humanity and the human condition. These stories are cautionary tales, flights of fancy, terrifying psychological journeys, humorous romps, and even a space opera.

A speculative tale about humankind becoming obsolete from the perspective of the machines we created. The story of an airline pilot who loses his faith in the physics of flying as his rational and irrational mind fight for dominance. An ancient being born of human evolution that strips us of our memories, feeding on one precious reminiscence at a time. An audacious fable that explores a new galaxy, one where humans are irrelevant, but the conflicts of a class-based society are not. A novella-length saga about a mission to Mars, the origins of humanity, and an atrocity that stretches across time and space. And finally, a story that asks the question whether an unstoppable artificial intelligence would indeed be happier traveling the vast reaches of space, or back amongst the flawed beings who created it.

Escape into worlds unlike anything you have seen before, but some eerily similar to our own. Antithesis – where the opposite is to be expected.

The Butterfly Bruises

I have been reading poetry for much of my life and Palmer Smith’s The Butterfly Bruises exceeded my expectations. The Butterfly Bruises is filled with poetry and short stories- all of which are emotive and captivating. The book is divided into sections, with each story or poem having a different length or theme. This made for an easy read. I think any reader would be able to find a short story or poem that they would love in this melodic collection.

These imaginative poems and short stories revolves around relatable, sometimes heart wrenching, topics. This is a great book to start with if you are not familiar with reading poetry or short stories, The Butterfly Bruises flows with ease and is easily comprehensible. While you read the book you will often reflect on the choices you have made in your life or consider how events could have turned out differently. Palmer’s writing allows you to paint a picture in your mind of how the poem or story is occurring. This, in my experience, is a rare talent for an author to achieve.

One thing to note is some of the stories and poems are dark, but these poems were my favorite because they were written tastefully. Palmer did a great job with allowing the reader to reflect and not judge for what their opinion may or may not be. Palmer kept my attention throughout the entire book.

The Butterfly Bruises is definitely a book I would read again for its striking imagery, creative stories, and its thoughtful themes.

Pages: 176 | ASIN: B093Z25LMW

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Antithesis

Antithesis: A Collection of Science Fiction and Other Short Stories by [Svet Rouskov]

What happens when an AI system in a manufacturing plant becomes sentient and chooses to find itself a body? How do you explain a former pilot now scared of flying planes catching wind of the calamity about to befall the flight he’s on? Can an unusual creature feeding on people’s memories and instigating their death be stopped? How will a no-nonsense space pirate protect her ship and government threatened by the people closest to her? How did humans get caught up in the war between stone-like space creatures and the descendants of the ancient Mars civilization?

Svet Rouskov’s Antithesis is a medley of riveting short stories, with some split into parts. Rouskov presents thought-provoking science fiction tales with shades of the supernatural. He packs so much tension and intrigue into various bits of flash fiction and each bit brims with relevant insights on life, humanity, technology, and more.

I love how some of the stories have dark undertones while others are just downright creepy. They also have enough futuristic elements to tickle anyone’s fancy and seem to balance the thrill they offer with ample conflict. From alien life to paranormal activities, Rouskov brings his A-game of fun mixed with spooky stuff.

What’s even more impressive is the author’s ability to evoke vivid images in his reader’s mind. His writing is descriptive and immersive. On top of that, the stories are fast-paced and keep you on your toes all through. Rouskov undoubtedly has a way with words. He combines his knack for choosing the right words with his storytelling skills to create beautiful prose and compelling storylines.

Speaking of storylines, as I raced through each story, one thought kept popping up like a flickering light bulb: “this can easily be a film.” And guess what I found when I finished the book? Apparently, Rouskov is certified in filmmaking and started producing feature films, web-based series and television shows before switching to literature. He’s a master storyteller with loads of experience, and Antithesis reflects this. This volume gets 5 stars from me, and I can’t wait to get my hands on volume two.

Pages: 282 | ASIN: B08VMT89SC

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Echoes of Light

Echoes of Light by [Jani Viswanath]

Echoes of Light, by Jani Viswanathis a compilation of poems and short stories with the common underlying theme of hope, compassion, and love for the world around us and the people in it. The book consists of five poems covering five major themes of death, mortality, uncertainty, nostalgia and love. Additionally, there are six short stories that are set across the world with a common thread of compassion and humanity that perfectly sets the tone of the book. The stories take us from pandemic struck Indonesia to the caste system of India, and each story manages to stir up deep emotions of humanity that make us feel for all the people that Viswanath talks about.

The short stories evoke deep emotions. Written beautifully and in sweet, simple language that is easy to consume, these short stories talk about ordinary lives and their struggles. In less than twenty pages, the author makes us feel for the characters, empathize with their struggles and bring the story to a satisfying conclusion about how they conquer them. A cherry on the cake is the individual brief introductions to the theme before every poem and short story and the epigraphy to the book, which help set the tone for the upcoming story or poem. These small things, this focus on details, provides an overall soothing literary experience for the reader. Everyone indeed will find something that they cherish in this book.

Echoes of Light is an impassioned book with wonderfully immersive stories and beautiful overarching themes. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an uplifting read, which connects with their heart and soul and truly speaks to them. The poems touch upon the futility of human life and bring up a myriad of emotions, so the readers are in for a emotionally-charged journey of discovery.

Pages: 180 | ASIN: B097P8N83S

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Lives That Are Gradually Destroyed

Nooshin Mohajerin
Nooshin Mohajerin Author Interview

Where I am Standing is a thoughtful collection of short stories that provide subtle but potent commentary on life. What inspired you to write this collection of stories?

The book is about a hometown which, little by little, witnesses ruins in all aspects there. It is a narrative of valuable spiritual and worldly lives that are gradually destroyed and turned into ashes. The name of the book “Where I am standing” illustrates the place a human is born and stands on his root, hometown. This can be interpreted as every human being’s life status encompassing all sorrows, joys, struggles and desires.

Did you write these stories specifically for this book or did you write these stories over time?

I have written the stories over time since each story was an inspiration through gradual degradation of human’s life around me.

My favorite story from the collection is ‘Human Being’. Do you have a favorite story from this book?

As you know generally it is almost impossible to choose one of them, but I can tell you some of them are different; Scarecrow-The Alley- Titanic, War, Lost, and My Shadow.

What are some themes you wanted to explore in this book?

The themes mostly deal with the human values which are about to vanish as well as all symbols of life in every individual’s life span.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Her head was full of words; the words to be spoken every day, to be heard every day. But now, there was neither one to listen nor to talk to. She was experiencing a miserable downfall every day. She was born in the capital and had lived there for a long time. Every day, little by little the city went toward devastation in years. In fact, she lived in ruins. The city descended in all aspects.I can see how has an ugly new city been constructed on my city; my ruined city. The small trees were planted and the stout trees were cut and left just as a decayed log. Sometimes I can find an old tree with cut branches, ashamed, faded in a run-down alley.I am lost in a city that looks other than mine. I feel I am drowning in a swamp. I have only strong roots while all my branches have been cut; so even with a hand, I can do nothing. The crows fly above my life, I just observe how they feed on this slough. The Oriental Planes, the trees of my childhood grown and rose with me. The trees with whom we spent seasons and left the springs to the winter. The trees made four seasons with you.To say goodbye means you enter a new chapter of life; means something pushes you and, inevitably, you have to continue your way. Sometimes it seems bitter than a simple bye; a long journey, to die, divorce; a long sulk carrying heavy bad feelings for long. All these can damage your heart, your feelings and throw you toward a new and completely different way. Sometimes, there is some hope in goodbye and the future in front of you and freedom. Though there might be confusion, feeling blue, loneliness.I open my eyes while I do not really know for what purpose I have to. By waking, the first thing that always my brain asks is “what day is today” but what I just know is the sun has risen and the day has started. The global calendar says today is just a day with no prefix. The world has completely lost its attractions and, more importantly, its luxuries and all your stuff, like your expensive clothes, the precious rugs, and furniture, charming accessories, all seem worthless and useless. As if the death angle is around the corner. It is a sign and power of death. Our world was paralyzedI am walking in my city; among ruins, Stinky stagnant waters, the old ugly crows, and the rats chewing the bottom of bases in my city. The trees have been growing, but with distress, have spread their branches. Taking all these together, Covid-19 has devastatingly spread itself over my city.

Where I Am Standing

Where I am Standing by Nooshin Mohajerin is an emotional collection of short stories that explore and illuminate many internal struggles. From anxiety, abuse, war, and loneliness, author Nooshin Mohajerin captures despair in several forms in this remarkable literary collection. I loved how Nooshin creatively described each feeling in the stories. This shows that internal battles are more complex than they seem. When you don’t suffer from experiencing negative thoughts, anxiety, depression, or abuse, it doesn’t seem as big as it really is. This collection is written from a perspective that shows a great depth of understanding in these matters.

There are so many stories to love, but my favorite is “Human Being”. This revealing emotionally charged and eloquent story is an overall expression of the many barriers in life. Some of us are more fortunate than others, but we don’t value it as much as others who dream to be in our position. These difficulties are a part of being human, yet we aren’t always looked at as a part of the human race. I admired the strength that it took to write these stories considering the sensitive content included.

Where I am Standing by Nooshin Mohajerin is a deeply thoughtful collection of short stories that provide subtle but potent commentary on life and the struggles we all face.

Pages: 128 | ASIN: B09244XVGR

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FoxHide: From HillCountry Farm

FoxHide: From HillCountry Farm by [John C Hill]

Tales about animals, their ways of living, and their characters are always fascinating to me. In the book FoxHide: From HillCountry Farm, John C. Hill writes about a group of foxes and how they live. He narrates their adventures, the challenges they go through and the love they have for each other. One can almost visualize the foxes in their habitat when the author writes about them. I like that the author made the animals adapt some human characteristics. By doing this, he gets the reader to reflect on some traits human beings have and how they affect those that they live with.

This is an impassioned and thought-provoking work of literary fiction. The story is engaging and easy to follow and, rarely if ever do I mention the wording of a novel but, the diction here is excellent. FoxHide: From HillCountry Farm is the kind of book you would read and share with others as the stories are not only engaging, but also fun and funny. John C. Hill’s is accessible, I think, to different groups of readers; avid readers will appreciate the captivating narration, young readers will surely be enthralled with the animals, and literature enthusiasts will appreciate the subtle but profound depth of this book.

There are several themes and lessons that are explored in fascinating ways throughout the book. Major themes include family love, loyalty, dealing with foes, working hard, the power in unity and choosing one’s battles. Lessons on being the best version of yourself, honesty and being mindful of what you do are also displayed in the book in fresh ways.

FoxHide: From HillCountry Farm is a short read that could easily be completed in one sitting, but is nonetheless entertaining. FoxHide: From HillCountry Farm introduces readers to some compelling animal characters that find themselves in some humorous situations on a farm that any reader will enjoy.

Pages: 99 | ASIN: B08WCGTC98

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Robinson, IL and Other Flash Fiction Stories

Robinson, IL and Other Flash Fiction Stories by [Dennis Milam Bensie]

Robinson, IL is a collection of very short stories by Dennis Milam Bensie that explore life on the path less traveled. Classified as flash fiction, the stories are only a few pages long, but still manage to imbue enough emotion to be powerful and thought provoking, a fact which speaks of the talent the author possesses. Most of the stories focus on the LGBTQ community and the difficulties that come with it, both externally and internally. The tone of each one varies as much as the subject matter and ranges from somber, to flippant, to absolutely wild, and everything in between. There are even a few that have an almost science fiction feel to them. Overall, the author’s ability to convey so much in so few words is remarkable, as the more serious of his stories really make you feel the self doubt and angst that is a part of growing up and accepting who you are. The less serious ones are no less interesting and will leave you definitely wanting more of the world he’s created. And what would a book be without a touch of humor? There are unexpected laughs sprinkled throughout and when they do happen, they come naturally, again showcasing how easy the author conveys everyday slices of life.

The LGBTQ themes are explored from multiple perspectives in the collection. In one, it’s a son looking for assisted living placement for his gay father. In another, parents are trying to help pay for their child’s gender reassignment surgery. Often, the tales are told in the first person by someone within the community, sometimes happily, sometimes at odds with themselves. The variety of voices and perspectives add depth to the very human emotion and dilemmas that are presented. 

While it’d be easy to say I wish the stories were longer, I really believe that their length is a huge part of their strength. The bite sized portions of humanity move quickly, but stay with you long after their few pages are done and leave you imagining so much about the characters. Robinson, IL is a stirring and well crafted collection of fictional short stories that find strength in their brevity while still delivering thought provoking commentary on life.

Pages: 123 | ASIN: B08ZCZVKSF

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