The Modronovich Incident by RL Dean is a sci-fi mystery set in outer space and told from the perspective of Beatrice, a pilot and wreck driver. She is tipped off about a mysterious case in which the Modronovich, a cargo ship testing an advanced Newtonian drive, went missing. Bea is intrigued by this case and pulls some strings to get a crew on board so that she can take a deep dive to find it. However, after facing endless obstacles and dead ends, she is forced to give it up. Until, a figure central to the case finally appears. Bea is finally able to put together the missing pieces and finds a shocking revelation at the heart of the puzzle.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book- I read it in just a few sittings and found it nearly impossible to put down. Not only are the premise and plot captivating, but the perspective from which it is shown is also perfectly captured. Beatrice is the perfect window into this futuristic world- the secrets, conspiracies, and revelations are portrayed through her eyes. From the first scene itself, RL Dean masterfully creates an air of suspense and tension, without losing me on an overdose of tech jargon.
RL Dean also managed to create strong female characters in powerful positions. They were ready to save the day, irrespective of which situation happened to arise. Their voices were deftly handled for the most part, except for a few questionable allusions to the ‘women love shopping’ trope. Especially Bea, who handled professional trouble and a petulant mother like any real woman do, with exasperation and a determination to bring her life back on track.
Another aspect that I found great joy in were the ‘Harvey Editorial’ snippets at the beginning of each chapter. They offered short insights, dialogue, or debate on the current day affairs of the future. They were funny, quirky, and often harkening back to our very own 21st century. These were everything from a sassy quip on a politician to a gloomy proclamation of the world ending (I guess some things never change).
All in all, this is a rewarding and thrilling read from start to finish, and I would recommend it to everyone.
Pages: 171 | ASIN: B07Z282VB4
Year of the Child is book two in your Harmony space opera series. What were some ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from book one?
The first was a detective. I was really moved by Hideo Yokoyama’s protagonist, Mikami, in his best-seller ‘Six-Four’. And in the current plot it made sense to provide a storyline from the point of view of law enforcement. At some point the piracy occurring in the story would need to be investigated, and I thought it would be a good idea to bring that investigation to the foreground, rather than simply telling it via newsfeeds.
The second were children. Given the story, what is the implication for them? What is their future going to be like? There are five children in the novel, all of them have an impact on the storyline, even if they are not in the forefront. In some cases those storylines will be dealt with in subsequent novels.
I enjoyed Ludwick Chaserman’s character. What was your process for bringing that character to life?
Ludwick was easier to create then you might imagine. I think of someone that had big dreams and no opportunities, or at least no knowledge of how to fulfill those dreams. In Ludwick’s case he wanted to be an advocate for human rights, but he started pursuing it far later than he should have in life. With no real contacts, no real knowledge, and no real help, he was zealous to do the right thing, but didn’t realize the might of the corporate giant that he was up against.
Ludwick writes himself.
What draws you to the science fiction genre and makes it ripe for you to write such a great space opera story in it?
It’s really about people, I just prefer the space opera genre. It shows us that human nature is the same no matter the setting.
Will there be a Harmony book three? If so, where will the story pickup?
Book 3, A Country Among Countries, will pickup around a month after the events in Year of the Child.
All cops know a mystery starts with a lie …
MISAKI— Two months have passed since the destruction of Harmony dome, and Misaki, guilt ridden over her desperate act of sabotage, returns to the place of healing that she knows best … the Sadie. Mat accepts a contract on the far flung moon of Ganymede, hoping that time and distance will heal him of the nightmares from his own wrong doing.
TETSUYA— Disreputable, former detective Tetsuya Takahashi is reassigned as the Lead Investigator for out-system piracy. Despite his reputation, his work is part of who he is. He knows all mysteries start with a lie, and his investigation begins to lead him closer to finding Misaki Iriyama … who reminds him of his lost daughter. His answers lie at Ganymede.
ALEXANDRIA— Her plan has succeeded. The destruction of Apex’s plant has caused a loop-hole in the restrictive UN law that once prohibited the selling of raw ore to the Martians. Then suddenly, word comes from the new mining base on Ganymede- something has been found in the ice, something puzzling and unnatural that has been buried since the time of David. More surprising is the fact that Alexandria seems to already know of its existence.
SHULTZ— With the construction of the new Apex plant on Deimos, and the end of the ore embargo, Mars is entering a ‘bubble economy’. Governor Shultz and Lt. Governor Jung finally feel like they are doing their jobs for the Martian people. But, using the Free Mars Now movement like a tool for their own agenda has made them powerful enemies. Even as Shultz and Jung ride the heady days of making Mars free of UN greed they know those days are numbered. Colonel Compton is slowly putting together the pieces of the puzzle that will link them to the terrorist attacks. They must plan for a future Mars knowing that their own demise is soon to come.
COMPTON— The failed attempt to ambush FMN terrorists at Cydonia Depot cost seven of his people their lives, and Compton is facing a possible court-martial. The families and friends of those that died alongside his soldiers do not believe their loved-ones were terrorists, and the news media has ahold of the story. But, the embattled Lieutenant Colonel knows his duty. With no leads in one hand, and a hanging mob in the other, he must somehow find the head of the Free Mars terrorists and cut it off.
In R. L. Dean’s Year Of The Child, the reader is taken through a series of events entangling characters in crime, politics of control, and rogue groups.
The chapters in the book are short which makes it easy to follow the plot. The first character we’re introduced to is Misaki. The Apex plant and Harmony dome had been ruined. The blame had initially been placed on Free Mars Now terrorists. Ludwick Chaserman was an ex-employee of Apex Mining and a hard critic of plant leadership. He had received money from Shanghai Independent Bank and Trust after the dome had exploded and UN Special Security Team had enough reasons to implicate him. Ludwick Chaserman is an intriguing and well developed character, there is something about him that made him likable.
The hunt for Ludwick is akin to following a detective series. Using believable processes and deductive logic to hunt down criminals. Everything is subtle and I became so engrossed in the story. Feeling culpable for sabotage after the destruction, Misaki decided to go to her haven, the Sadie. Tetsuya was one character I cherished in the book. The man had a reputation that preceded him. A former detective, Tetsuya was tasked with investigating piracy. Tetsuya was knowledgeable in many things. His investigating techniques were not unique but enthralling to follow nonetheless. I like how Tetsuya’s mind worked.
R. L. Dean has arranged the content in the book distinctively, in that every chapter focuses on a particular character. This format was fun to read as going through every chapter gave me a new and unique experience.
Year of The Child is a great piece of science fiction with interweaving themes of drama, violence, organized crime, detective stories, power, and aggression. I felt that the characters in this book were exceptional and brought life into this otherwise straightforward space opera. The story is consistently interesting, while the suspense is muted at times, I felt that the plot twists more than made up for it. R. L. Dean’s book shows how complex people can be. Exploring humanity and the desire for control is not black and white.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B07XF7Z2ZY
In the year 2140 CE, Planet 9, more commonly known as Vixus, has resurfaced on the edge of the Milky Way… the only known planet that periodically reverses its rotation. Last seen in the middle of the Kuiper Belt in 2066 CE, it mysteriously disappeared after being discovered by a Galactic Corps scout ship. The unknown energy source enabling Vixus to spin in opposite directions represented great power which could help turn the tide in a war Earth was losing.
The Fighting Fury, the Corps’ finest platoon, has been called in to conduct a search and rescue operation for several missing landing parties. Following a fierce battle on the planet surface, Lieutenant Janet “Cat” Miles, leader of this elite group of combat women, was captured. She soon found herself imprisoned with the Corps’ most fabled leader, Commander Jason Cody. His name would forever be linked to the infamous wormhole hidden on Neptune’s dark side; an area of space now cautiously avoided by all due to the menace which lurks within.
Paranoia raced through both leaders’ minds. Could he trust a woman who seemingly had no imperfections? Could she trust a man who had vanished from sight years ago? Earth’s future laid in the balance as they struggled to overcome their mutual distrust and acknowledge what those before them understood: “If you live long enough, the wisdom will come.”
The Rhine is an exciting space opera following a dramatic chain of events set off by the Free Mars Now movement. What served as sources of inspiration for you while writing this book?
The Harmony series is based off of a 15 year old TV script that I wrote about Martian independence, the novel form is its third incarnation. That script was inspired by the TV show Babylon 5. I wanted to explore Mars more thoroughly; what is the impetus for the movement for independence, who are the leaders, what is their endgame?
We follow three very well developed characters in this story where their actions intertwine. What were some driving ideals behind their characters?
Mat is the ‘everyman’ or ‘average guy’ that suddenly finds himself in circumstances beyond his control, and in this capacity he is simply ‘reacting’ to what is happening. This was a deliberate design of character. Every one of us can relate to being ‘tossed’ into something that we must deal with- circumstances not of our own choosing. This also works as a forge for our own character, who we really are will come out. I think of all character archetypes, this is my favorite.
While it may be said that the UN (in my story) is the catalyst- their oppression of Mars setting everything in motion- the character of Alexandria is the one that sets the story off. She is my ‘grey’ character; a family woman, yet ambitious. In her case I wanted to explore those traits, how to balance ‘work’ and family. She loves her family, and seeing a world in the grip of government powers that live for greed, she decides to do something about it.
As the Governor of Mars, Shultz is completely dedicated to his people, but as the story progresses we see he’s in over his head. We hear so much about bad politicians, I thought I would shift the paradigm and make a good one.
You’ve built an intricate world in this book, between Earth and Mars and the corporations. What was the funnest part about building this world?
For me it’s the visualization. In a previous review of the book it was stated that I ‘lavish on detail’, and the reason for that is that I just write what I see. If Shultz and Jung are in his office talking, I imagine the office’s sights and sounds and smells. The same holds true for the Sadie’s corridors and cabins, or Apex’s boardroom.
This is book one in the Harmony series. Where will book two pick up and when will it be available?
Harmony Book 2: ‘Year of the Child’ picks up two months after the events in ‘The Rhine’, opening with Misaki. I expect it to be available by November 2019.
The colony depends on Earth businesses for goods, but Earth is run by an imperialistic United Nations whose regulations and sanctions are overbearing.
Increasing tensions are only exacerbated by suspicious pirate attacks in the Belt. It is rumored the attacks are the work of the Free Mars Now grassroots movement or privateers paid by the Martian government in defiance of the UN. Recent victims of a pirate attack, Mat and his crew aboard the Sadie, discover evidence that could prove the rumors true.
With the UN squeezing the colony for every dime they can get, and Shultz looking to better the Martian situation, there are deals to be made. No one knows that better than Apex Mining’s CEO, Alexandria Reinhardt, whose Board of Directors has ordered her to sell their ore to the Martians despite a UN embargo. Her plans are more ambitious than simply ignoring government decrees, though.
Will the Free Mars Now movement find a way to release the colony from their 100-year lease to Earth? Can Shultz find a way to work with Earth companies without angering their government? Does Mat possess enough evidence to prove Mars’ disloyalty? And … in the past what happens when you push a distant colony too far?
The Martians have been ‘enslaved’ by earth for many years and they want their freedom back. It’s rumored that a movement has been formed to rebel against the UN. A movement thought to be behind the pirate attacks in the Belt including one on the Sadie. Matt and his crew may have found proof of this rebellion. The question remains though, is the evidence enough? Will it prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the rebellion is led by Martians? Can Governor Gerhard Schultz find a solution to the difficult situation? Can the governor find reprieve for Martians without going against the UN? How will Apex Mining CEO go about being forced to go against the government?
One of the most enjoyable things about this book is that it is quite relatable. While the real United Nations is (probably) not like the one in the book. One can still compare the colonialism in the book to the neocolonialism that is rampant now. One can find the similarity in Alexandria’s position with that which is faced by many people in her position. The Rhine is both interesting and entertaining while speaking to many modern issues.
R. L. Dean is impeccable and his skills at painting word pictures is on full display. He easily pulls you into his story, and before you know it your in the deep end of a thought provoking science fiction novel. This is a thrilling novel that kept me engrossed from the moment I met Matt to the very end. This science fiction story, although set in the future and in space, is still believable, which is something I always look for in my sci-fi stories.
Matt is a good leader that gets along with his crew but also remains firm and well respected. Alexandria, like any other child who takes over from their esteemed parent, is misunderstood and underestimated. She is admirable in the way she handles Edgar. R. L. Dean is able to balance the characters just enough to understand who they are while still keeping an air of mystery around them.
Everything from descriptions to dialogue are succinct and engrossing. Or it could be that the book was so immensely enjoyed that the discrepancies faded into the background. I loved experiencing the ride with Matt, Yuri and Haydon, and it was enlightening to be in the boardroom with Alexandria giving glimpses into her home life.
At the heart of it, this book is about freedom and how to achieve it. Would you like to achieve freedom through aggression or would you like to be more civil about it?
Pages: 273 | ASIN: B07LD2CQ11
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Space Rogues is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a science fiction, action, and adventure as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Organically, I’m more pantster than plotter so the stories just sort of form as they go. In hindsight it makes sense, since as a reader, I’m drawn to similar stories.
Wil was an interesting and well developed character. What was the inspiration for his character and backstory?
Wil is a mix of TV scifi characters. Some John Crichton (Farscape), some John Jaqobis (Killjoys), and a healthy dose of Mal Reynolds (Firefly). I like the idea of the out of his depth character, just getting by. He’s smart, but in a completely foreign environment and even the smallest things is a huge learning curve.
I’m assuming you’re a fan of the space opera genre. What are some books in that genre that you felt most inspired this story?
One of my favorite genres to read for sure 🙂 Omega Force by Joshua Dalzelle, Ryk Brown’s Frontiers saga, Randolph LaLonde’s Spinward Fringe, and Jamie McFarlane’s Privateer Tales are kind of my top four, I devour every new book that’s released in these series.
This is the first book in your scifi series. Where will book two take readers?
I view each book as a sort of episode or movie, so I like to sprinkle in a little bit of “Stuff happens before the story starts; a weird mission the crew is talking about, etc. Book two finds the crew in another “Save the galaxy, even though no one asks them to” kind of scenario. I like using the crew to explore big ideas I have, and letting the story play out from their perspective.
Wil just wanted a crew for his ship.
He got a galactic conspiracy.
Wil Calder is a human, the only one to leave our solar system.
But that was years ago.
Now, he’s a lonely smuggler, looking for a crew, because space is lonely and boring.
Just a few folks to boss around once in a while, is that so much?
What he definitely isn’t looking for, a galactic conspiracy.
But that’s what he and his new crew find. They’ve just met each other and now they have to save the commonwealth from war, no big deal.
Does this untested crew and their entirely out of his depth human captain have what it takes?
Posted in Interviews
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An epic sci-fi tale that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. This story is both mesmerizing and terrifying at the same time. Wil is testing an experimental space pod that ends up on the opposite side of the solar system, NASA can’t find him, and their probably not going to be able to bring him back, anyway.
Fast forward many years, and Wil is still in outer space, he has somewhat given up on the chance of being rescued, he’s basically an outer space bad guy, who smuggles and gets away with a lot of stuff he really shouldn’t, but who’s going to arrest him? The space police? He’s now looking for a crew to help him deal with the all out war that is happening right in front of his eyes.
After being captured by a ship from another galaxy, Wil is ready to fight back. He really has nothing else to lose, so why not? If you’re looking for a lighthearted space saga, then this is definitely a book you’re going to want to pick up. I love that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, there are tons of pop culture references, and there are many homages to pop culture themes. It’s enjoyable, relaxing, and definitely funny. People who enjoy shows like Farscape and Guardians of the Galaxy will get a kick out of this.
There were times that Wil would do or say things and I was completely flabbergasted, but also I totally believed that this is something that he would do. He is at the point in life where he really doesn’t care anymore, because he knows he’s probably not going to make it back to earth, so he just does what he wants and people have to do deal with it.
The writing was great, it was easy to read, and fun to enjoy, it didn’t matter if I had 5 minutes to read or an hour, I could get sucked into the story quickly, and it was easy to pick up right where I left off. I can’t wait to read the next books in this series.
Pages: 422 | ASIN: B07H7QXWKT
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In the science fiction genre, many stories share similar plots. The authors, Grant Elliot Smith and Steven H. Stohler, in their co-venture, Rathen: Into Bramblewood Forest, expertly utilize concepts from great sci-fi classics. With this they create a very entertaining story that keeps readers rooting for the protagonist, Rathen, and his crew throughout their quest to vanquish evil from their world and other worlds in the galaxy.
The story begins roughly a year after the first book left off in a dark scene where Rathen and his companions—Bandark and Rulo—nervously approach a terrible foe that is capable of destroying the group with his magical ability that allows him control of many elements and also the dead. The result of this meeting then forms a core group that joins in a quest in search of a powerful book called The Book of Ziz that will allow its wielders to vanquish a terrorizing deity known as Gothoar. The story has much more depth as the characters face personal issues and other forms of conflict as the story unfolds.
One concept that makes this book a great read is the discussion of social dynamics through the interaction of fictional races. The group contains several humans, a lich, a half-orc, and people from other worlds in their fold. Therefore, the authors found a way to talk about and resolve racial conflicts. The details of the story show that some people have to live in certain neighborhoods and have to be defensive regarding their heritage. Thack, a capable warrior who is half human and orc, has apparently had a history of racial persecution because he chose to live in an area away from his home where he has found acceptance, but with the introduction of a love interest, feels defensive about his mixed heritage to seek acceptance.
Other social issues like gender disparity are discussed. Caswen—a healer—and her sister Drynwen—a protector—feel gender bias in their organization and have to fight harder to receive missions than their male counterparts. This book seeks to show that the bias others hold can often overshadow dreams and skills. The sisters get their opportunity to sharpen their skills on the road. They find their niche amongst the team allowing them to shine brighter than many of their order back home.
Rathen is able to shed new light on old tropes. Most everyone is familiar with the hero and company on a quest to save the world from destructive foe. The story adds plenty of depth through the implementation of human nature with nonhuman characters and the exploration of human tendencies like the search for redemption, acceptance, contentment, immortality, and even revenge in some cases. Smith and Stohler did a fantastic job telling a story that goes much deeper than the words on the pages; their work sticks with their readers well after the words are read.
Pages: 282 | ASIN: B07HWNK13Z
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Apex Five: The Plane, is a science fiction novel that details life on another plane of existence. We are given a very brief history of this world in the prologue, and then in Chapter 1 we find the story propelled forward about 12,000 years from a life altering event known as The Storm.
The first character we are introduced to is Nasin, and the story immediately takes a rather political turn. Nasin was sent to Tabir to try and secure a sort of trade deal between her own nation of Lir and the people of Tabir. The story and dialogue are well written, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was rather dry reading from the onset and it had a hard time keeping my attention. However, once we are introduced to Hazard 14, the story becomes a lot more intriguing.
The character Hazard 14, whose real name is Rohem, is absolutely fascinating. I think the author did a great job of describing his physical differences (anomalies?) from other people; the scene where he is being examined by the doctor in Lir was a great way to introduce the reader to his unusual abilities. From this point forward, it’s hard to put the book down. It’s clear from the beginning that the Tabirians think that Rohem is a dangerous criminal, while Nasin sees a vulnerable little boy who needs protection. The distinct differences between the Tabir and Lir nationalities really become apparent through their treatment of Rohem. I really loved how the author brought these things to light through his character, rather than in a more direct way.
I always think it’s a little bit difficult to get acquainted with characters in a science fiction novel of this type; where all the races and customs are new to the reader. As well as some of the names being a little difficult to pronounce. However, overall the author did a good job of creating dialogue between the characters that explains the characteristics and histories of the races while still seeming like natural conversation. A lot of times this type of description can seem forced and pretentious but I did not think that it came across that way in Apex Five.
I also found the imagery in the book to be really great. I could envision the different terrains; the dunes of Lir, the industrial feel of Tabir, the rainforests of the Ayam. The evolution of all the different groups of people, from the The Storm forward, is a very believable progression and also written really well. It’s clear that while their relationships with one another are largely diplomatic, there are undertones of distrust. For instance, when Nasin is in Tabir she is asked if they’ve (the Lir) succeeded in making any weaponry, to which she fibs and tells them they have not. The reader is quickly privy to the fact that something is culminating between the different races that is soon going to come to a head. This suspense definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall, I ended up enjoying the story thoroughly and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up any other book by this author.
Pages: 338 | ASIN: B07BRCRD8V
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