It is the year 3120, and humans have entered the world of intergalactic travel and commerce. The Milky Way has become a battle zone for resources between all the different alien races that reside there. With a new power source discovered, it is a race to see what race will control it, giving them the upper hand to control the direction of the galaxy. Can humans win the race? What will it take to get the job done and gain control of this new resource?
Author Aaron Walker Sr.’s Cargo 3120: Ties that Bind is an excellent science fiction adventure. Set in the distant future, the spirited members of the outlaw group, Raven Squad, find themselves in the middle of a heist gone wrong that could have implications for the future of the entire galaxy. Led by the imposing Marcus La’Dek, Raven Squad comprises sci-fi mainstays; the hotshot upstart, a cocky explosives expert, a brutish heavy gunner, and a brilliant hacker. Walker Sr. breaks some molds with the situations he puts his characters into, primarily by showing the devastating consequences of their actions.
At times, Cargo 3120 feels more like a crime drama than a sci-fi novel. There’s plenty of scheming, backstabbing, and betrayals. However, Marcus’s crew is brave and ambitious, often to a fault. The story takes a lengthy, albeit necessary, detour depicting a miserable stint in a galactic penitentiary. La’Dek is sent there for his past actions and the actions of his crew. Once “reformed,” Marcus is put into the unenviable position of choosing between his squad and his family. The author makes the situation work as La’Dek struggles to deal with the “ties that bind.”
Walker Sr. does an excellent job of building a vibrant world. The varying factions and syndicates of the Interstellar League of Planets are fleshed out and feel like real organizations. I like how the author presents a “real” fictional history for his future world. Also, the science fiction elements aren’t too far out there, allowing the reader to enjoy Marcus’s and the other characters’ journeys.
Cargo 3120: Ties that Bind is a riveting science fiction adventure that takes space opera fans into the world they love and gives them new villains and battles to follow along with. This remarkable story is sure to be the start of a captivating and engaging series that will garner the love of old and new sci-fi fans alike.
Pages: 263 | ASIN : B09B8454KV
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
Tags: Aaron Walker Sr., alien, author, Black and African American Sci Fi, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Cargo 3120, ebook, fiction, goodreads, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, sci fi, science fiction, space exploration, space fleet, space opera, story, teen, writer, writing, young adult
Music Is A Universal Language
I Need a Hero follows a space captain and his crew who are sent on a secret mission to stop a deadly force while back home his wife’s life is in danger. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
When my children were young, I would sing them a bedtime story, then share with them a story based on what I envisioned while listening to the words and hearing the harmony, beat, tenor, and feeling of the song. With encouragement from my wife, I wrote one of these stories for our future grandchildren.
Thumbing through my son’s playlist, I found “Something Like This”, written by Drew Taggart, and performed by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay. I NEED A HERO is the story I heard after listening to the song. An interview Drew Taggart gave concerning depression inspired Jacob’s character in the book in part.
Bonnie Tyler’s rendition of the song, Holding Out For a Hero inspired the conclusion of the book, co-written by Jim Steinman. An article I read on No Words, No Song about Holding Out For A Hero started by concluding that no woman has ever written about “holding out for a shy, slightly introverted, music-obsessed accountant”. I loved that quote. What Bonnie Tyler establishes are qualities which a hero should have: morality, strength, power, and compassion.
I NEED A HERO is the first of the series I have written. Each of the books continues the saga with a minor shift in emphasis. There are many underlying storylines in I NEED A HERO, but the major theme of the first book focuses on one primordial need. Most men have a desire to be the hero of their significant other. In a world of equality and independence, and gender neutrality, many men lose their sense of importance and purpose, their desire to be someone’s hero.
Did you plan the tone and direction of the novel before writing or did it come out organically as you were writing?
The music sets the tone for the book. Music is a universal language that transcends nationality. Most of the western world deems the metric system the most logical means to understand numbers and measurements and is the numerical system used by science. Music is still based on whole notes, quarters, eighths, and sixteenths. The imperial system matches the beat of our hearts and can convey emotions understood and recognized by all.
Besides supplying the storyline, the music also set the tone.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I have already mentioned the need many men have of wanting to be their significant other’s hero. Other themes which are developed over the series concern morality, strength, power, compassion, depression, jealousy, anger, and the tension which couples often must learn to deal with.
Another theme which I play with is the concept of euhemerism, the belief that all mythology is based on historical events, and etiological theory uses these explanations for why something is the way it is today. While I NEED A HERO is not suggesting an alternate history for humanity, it is suggesting that much of the history of humanity is unknown.
Is this the first book in the series? If so, when is the next book coming out and what can your fans expect in the next story?
Yes, I am writing Book Five in the HERO series, THE PROTECTOR, and editing Book Two, FEEL THE THUNDER, which I hope to release early in 2024. While not wanting to offer any spoilers to the next book in the series, the adventure continues and is full of surprises.
As we follow our favorite characters, I also introduce new characters. Some characters we already know become more important as they come into their own. As the series progresses, we draw closer to learning who the real antagonist is.
Posted in Interviews
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Did I Accomplish Everything I Set Out To Do?
Waltzing Matilda follows Captain Delahaye and her crew as they race against time to save their missing crew member from becoming a source of destruction while navigating the dangerous and revolutionary-filled asteroid Scrapheap. Were you able to accomplish everything you set out to with this series?
The Matilda Series was as much an adventure for me as it was for the characters! Its universe grew much larger than I had initially expected, and far stranger things were afoot than I could have dreamed at the beginning. Writing these characters and their story exceeded everything I thought I was capable of as a writer. Did I accomplish everything I set out to do? I didn’t even know how much there was to tell until it was all said and done!
If you could have dinner with any character from the Matilda series, who would it be and why?
Oh my, what a fun question! Just for the sheer food journey alone, it would have to be Anton Roane! His knowledge of foods is astounding and his excitement in sharing what he knows would be worth the price of admission. After that, it would have to be Luli Qing as she is a food lover, bar none! And any time spent with Luli will always be a blast.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing the final book in the Matilda series, and how did you overcome it?
Waltzing Matilda was easily the toughest book in the series for me to write. I think I restarted it from zero at least five times. Never mind that the middle was ‘Frankensteined’ together at one point before being entirely replaced. But each time there was always something missing or that didn’t flow the way I wanted it to.
How did I get through it? Perseverance, blood, sweat, and tears. And a whole lot of editing! To be honest, it finally came together through the first set of editing as I could finally see those bits that were missing or didn’t fit or were just plain wrong.
The funniest part (to me) is I knew the ending before I even really knew the beginning of the whole series! And the ending I wrote doesn’t even really resemble what I started with. By the way, this ending is hundreds of times better and I am way more pleased with the how characters and the story progressed from that initial kernel.
Do you have any plans to write more sci-fi novels in the future, and if so, can you give us a sneak peek into what we can expect?
After the long journey on the Matilda, I plan to step back from sci-fi for a bit. I have this crazy old wizard that loves grits and beer who desperately wants to go on an adventure, and I’ve put him off long enough.
But even before I hop into that fantastical world, I’ll be saddling up for another Western novella or two with the Nun with a Gun!
But I will come back to sci-fi. There are more stories to tell in Consortium space. I can already hear Mr. Leon and the genorgs knocking at my door with something to say.
Posted in Interviews
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Captain Delahaye and the rest of the crew of the Matilda are back for more adventures across space. Waltzing Matilda by Jon Gray Lang is the fifth and final book of the Matilda series, an exhilirating science fiction story that holds intrigue and entertainment from beginning to end. The crew of the Matilda doesn’t seem to have much time to rest, always ending up in the most unexpected and dangerous places. This time, they find themselves on an asteroid named the Scrapheap, a place filled with pirates, smugglers and many others that have the primary intent of avoiding the eye of the Consortium. Their mission is to find their missing crew member, Galena Chadov, a genorg who has been trapped and might become, against her own will, a source of complete destruction. A revolutionary sentiment keeps growing, ignited by the unjust treatment given to genorgs. Galena’s strange tendencies flourish again in this book, and the plot thickens as we see her fight with unknown entities deep inside her mind. War is approaching and unsure who to trust, the Matilda crew remains strong, relying on each other to protect who they care the most for.
Author Jon Gray Lang is a consistently entertaining writer. The book was fantastic and maintained the theme of the other books in the series. It all reads as a set of numerous adventures that the Matilda crew must partake in to fight for what they believe in and save one another. As the conflict between the humans and the genorg populations becomes more troublesome, the members of the Matilda are there to showcase the complex and profound bonds that can be made between humans and those that were built to serve them. Each character has its own strengths, and through each chapter, each of them is able to showcase an interesting and exciting part of their journey. With lots of new dangers and complications hiding on each corner, there’s simply no time to get bored. The resilience of the crew remains the key reason why there are always new intriguing and exciting events to experience and follow along.
The narration style and plot made for a riveting and gripping science fiction adventure book that was hard to put down. Join the final journey and get to know the answer to the many questions that have been planted along the series. Against all odds, the crew is set to save their friend and traverse an approaching revolution and alien invasion, doing their best to stay away from dangerous criminals and the threatening hands of the Consortium.
Pages: 379 | ASIN: B0BSGBYTWX
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
Tags: adventure, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, indie author, Jon Gray Lang, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, space marine, space opera, story, Waltzing Matilda, writer, writing
That Sci-fi I Love So Much
Extension follows a geneticist who must navigate a moral dilemma and her growing attraction to the mission leader while racing against time to save her world from extinction on a foreign planet. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
Music is a huge inspiration for everything I put to paper.
I was just listening one day and this scene started playing in my head:
Initially, Ayathesti was going to be an astronomer researching for somewhere they could either all relocate to, or that could provide something to save the planet. The starting scene was her surrounded by documents in her house, and the clouds cleared for her to be shrouded in moonlight, and that was her answer: the moon. Once I started writing it out, though, I was struggling to find a way for the moon to accomplish saving its parent planet.
Now that I’ve finished outlining a few different stories and have more experience with structure, it could be an interesting concept to explore in the future.
How did you develop the characters of Ayathesti and Tiamet and their inner conflicts throughout the story?
The key components of Ayathesti grew from the parts of me I wasn’t sure how to manage. I know many say it becomes obvious to the reader, and is a bit of a ‘no, no’, when you emulate a character after yourself.
At the time I started writing Extension, I had already typed up a few scenes (which I ended up changing to match the storyline better.) These scenes were just writing exercises to help me learn to manage my anxiety(which was brand new to me), recommended by my therapist.
With Ayathesti being those pieces of myself, primarily the inner conflict she has with her relationships with herself and those around her, I needed a character to be a counterweight of those traits. For Tiamet, I chose traits that I wished I’d had in my life that I felt would help balance some of those things out.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The main theme was to show the vulnerability of Ayathesti with her relationships and find a way to help her grow throughout the story.
Another important thing to include was the reason traveling to Earth was necessary.
And I think finally, to touch on that sci-fi I love so much.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m actually working on four books simultaneously at the moment. The sequel for Extension, which has the working title: Sub-Fracture. It’s currently with beta readers before it goes to editing for an optimistic release later this year(2023).
I am also working on a three-part Paranormal Romantic Drama—which, of course, finds some sci-fi aspects incorporated. I’d love to release this year, but realistically it will probably be pushed to 2024.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: action, adventure, author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, EXTENSION, fantasy, goodreads, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, Melody Kepler, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, space opera, story, writer, writing
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
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
Tags: anthology, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, collection, colonization, dystopian, ebook, goodreads, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, Of Space & Time, Ray LeCara Jr, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, short stories, space opera, story, writer, writing
Blink even once while reading Stilled: The Story of Inklebrawt Winklehank, and you’ll miss a clue in this tightly woven plot full of twists and turns. Brian Estvander combines space opera and old-fashioned sci-fi genres to create a plot with twists and turns. This is why if you blink, you’ll miss something essential to this carefully constructed story.
This book tells the story of Inklebrawt, David, Maggie, and Nicola, four siblings, each living their own life on Earth. Unbeknownst to some, they are from a biologically engineered race. It is up to them to keep the future of the human race safe from harm at the hands of the Shepherds. But, at the heart of it is their mother, Zayla, to whom there is more than meets the eye.
Stilled: The Story of Inklebrawt Winklehank by Brian Estvander weaves a tale that will have classic sci-fi lovers and adventure seekers blown away. The author doesn’t pull any punches and dives straight into the science and technology-driven plot. You are provided a brief glossary at the beginning to help the transition, which does help ease the transition into this complicated world.
One minute the story takes you into the character’s past, and the next, it’s in the present. It delves into the past of several of the siblings, showing little insight into why they are the way they are. Never does the narrative miss a beat. The action keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Stilled: The Story of Inklebrawt Winklehank by Brian Estvander is a gripping hard science fiction novel that takes readers on a fast-paced adventure. The deep and rich sci-fi world will captivate readers and have them fully absorbed in the space opera that the author has created.
Pages: 339 | ASIN : B09HQ46JJC
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Brian Estvander, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, hard science fiction, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, space opera, STILLED, story, superhero, writer, writing
Interstellar Sex Wars and the Blind Detective
Interstellar Sex Wars and the Blind Detective, by Shawn Adair Johnston, is a lively science fiction novel about Earth, a world name Octopodia (inhabited by sentient octopus), and the intrigue of “Awakened” AI’s who want to bring serenity and beauty to the galaxy. This fascinating story takes place in the future, where Earth has created bases on Mars, have augmented animals, but hasn’t gotten past political and racial differences. Octopodia has had its revolutions and revelations but it is not as advanced in biology as humans. They seek Earth’s help, but don’t realize that “Awakened” AI’s want both races dead.
This is a riveting sci-fi story that relies less on the mystery to propel the story forward and more on the characters and their motivations to keep the reader drawn in. The intriguing villains of the story are introduced and their plan is laid out for the reader, which makes it easy for us to understand what they want without any guesswork. This will appeal to readers who want a science fiction story that doesn’t bury its ideas and instead presents them clearly.
Intrepid detective, Peter Straw, is the protagonist, but there are so many compelling characters and story lines that it’s hard to say that he’s the star of the show. He had a civil case to help dig up evidence and then he ended up going along for the ride when it came to the main story.
This is a fast paced story that does not spend too much time digging into character’s backstories and instead focuses on telling a thought-provoking story. I found the Octopoids of Octopodia to be very interesting and I would have loved to have dived deeper into their characters and learned more about them. I would’ve liked for the author to dive into present times on Octopodia with a few lines of their history to give us a sense of their past.
Interstellar Sex Wars and the Blind Detective is just as wild as the book’s title. This is a thrilling space adventure with likeable characters and a story that’s fun and intriguing. There is a lot going on in this story but the author’s writing keeps things focused and ensures the story is consistently entertaining.
Pages: 440 | ASIN: B0BLVJ23YR
Posted in Book Reviews
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