Metal Bones is an enthralling science fiction story that connects two separate story lines. The first one is about Leo and Gaeth, brothers who are on a mission to cure Gaeth’s contagious “steel elbow.” After their neighbors have unfairly shunned them, they set off on a space faring journey to Oblurn, where all those affected by this mysterious condition reside. They encounter a series of interesting and unique characters which sets off a bunch of misadventures along the way. The second story line follows one of the most interesting sci-fi characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year: Tank, a man on a mission. His father has been missing for a long time and Tank almost loses his own life in search of his long lost father. A mysterious woman saves him and gives him an arm cannon (yes! a cannon for an arm) under one condition: he must protect a Myca, a child, at all costs. Tank agrees but soon discovers that everything is not as straightforward as it seems.
Metal Bones is an action packed novel with a quick pace interrupted only by necessary exposition that drives a far flung plot that’s held together by intriguing characters. Although the premise and situations of the characters are somewhat difficult to believe (a steel elbow? How would that work?), Kathleen Contine makes it work and the suspension of disbelief is pulled of quite easily. Everything is serious without being grave, and the light touches of humor really add to the whole experience.
Some of the comments and behaviour made towards his “disease” spoke multitudes about the way humans themselves deal with those with disabilities or conditions. I’m not sure whether the author intended to make a comment or draw attention to this situation, but it was a topic that was subtly and sensitively explored; I greatly appreciated that.
The characters and their motivations were also portrayed with great depth. Leo was not simply the selfless, sacrificial brother to Gaeth. And neither was Gaeth a helpless, grateful, steel elbow victim. All the characters were complex and human- that’s what made them so compelling.
Metal Bones a fun and interesting book that sets up an intriguing universe and places some engaging characters within it. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a science fiction novel with a bit of humor that’s rife with action.
Pages: 299 | ASIN: B084H9BMDF
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Neutral Space, written by Rebecca Tran, is a story told through the eyes of Jackson Eli Peterson; a man raised on a planet in the Sirus Seven. The Sirus Seven are planets named after the seven deadly sins in the Bible and were the catalyst for the war between the Kelsairans and humans. Jackson has a chance encounter with a beautiful Kelsairan woman which changes both their perspectives on the government and war. They soon realise that they may not have been told the truth about the opposition and its race, leaving them both to make decisions that will change their lives forever. A trial will begin, and secrets will be revealed in an epic futuristic tale where exposing the truth will have you killed.
Neutral Space is set in the year 3006, in a world where intergalactic races have intermingled with humans. Technology and territory were shared, but like most trade agreements, alliances were broken causing an unruly war between Kelsairans and humans.
Corrupt governments and evil agendas will mean that the characters may not all be who they seem. Allies will be formed, and friendships will be created, regardless of the race. Through the new found friendships, the authority will be questioned- and betrayed- to save the people they care about the most.
I loved how the novel incorporated futuristic ideas such as new races, advanced technology and ideas while still implementing familiar scenarios such as court scenes, jails and friendship. There’s even cultural food such as Italian and Chinese that are twisted into the plotline, giving the story an almost realistic feel. With human governments still participating in dodgy deals and corrupt politics, you can practically imagine the future in the 3000’s being very similar to what you find in Neutral Space.
Between the battles of war lies a love story that will have you eager to learn how it all ends. Rebecca Tran writes with a momentum that fills the pages with layers of action, romance and intergalactic adventures. The story was easy to read, but the characters were complex, with parts of their past being told as the plot line progressed. Rebecca Tran cleverly transcribes the character progression in a way that makes you feel attached and invested in the outcomes of their lives.
The story switches between past and present and Jackson recounts his encounter with the Kelsairan woman. This builds up the relationship and gives the reader an insight into the minds of both races. There were many parallels to how today’s society may have felt during a time of war with other countries, especially regarding the unspoken political agendas. An element of family is also present in Neutral Space as it hints at the everlasting values of humans and their desire to protect and create a family of their own.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys futuristic style novels with action, friendship and a dash of politics.
Pages: 170 | ASIN: B076GHGTJD
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Adam’s Stepsons by M. Thomas Apple is an interesting science fiction piece. We follow Dr. Heimann who designs the perfect super soldiers for the United America’s in their war against the Martian colonies. Heimann quickly discovers that he did not anticipate the brutal efficiency of the military, nor the attachment that arises from his creations. These clones are not only the peak of what the human form can do, they actually transcend humanity through intelligence and strength. They are the weapon that the United Americas will use to crush the rebellion on Mars. Dr. Heimann is shocked when one clone, Six, begins to call him “Father” and then the can of worms truly opens.
Apple’s novel is almost painfully short, only because I wanted to have more to read and dive into. He anticipates the future of inter-solar system colonization and the struggles that can arise, such as this between the United Americas and the Martian colonies. He does not neglect the complicated matter here or the scope considering the Terran governing force is losing the war and needs these clones to pan out.
The struggle between scientist and soldier is an old one, but one that takes on a new twist with the rise of cloned super soldiers. Apple goes along the lines of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, but does not seek to critique war itself. Instead, the author goes further and asks whether these soldiers are “truly” human or are they just “equipment” as the military officer Marquez calls them.
The conflict deepens even further when “Seth”, clone number six, as Dr. Heimann calls him when no one else is around, begins to call him “father”. The book bounces between the POV’s of the scientist and Six, which is interesting because as the book goes on Heimann becomes more and more unstable and uncertain of his mission of designing soldiers, who resemble the people that their genetic material comes from. Six, or rather, “Seth” becomes increasingly more confident in his abilities and his intelligence. All of this leads to a climax that may polarize readers, but one that will still make the reader ponder on far after they have finished the novel.
Overall, I enjoyed Apple’s prose. It reads crisp like that of Asimov or Heinlein, but I am still unsure if the short length of the work was appropriate. There is a lot of dialogue and not enough actual “action” going on throughout, so I was expecting more digging into the rich themes of personhood and philosophy of the soul. I realize that may be asking too much.
Adam’s Stepsons is a fun addition to the long canon of science fiction that dares to ask the “what if” of the future. It also seeks to ask the “should we, if we can” question that not enough science fiction is retrospective enough to ask. A good read for any science fiction lover, especially of the Heinlein or Asimov variety.
Pages: 92 | ASIN: B06XJRT8CS
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