Charles Bone and Stan Loren are two FBI agents with quite the special set of skills. The least of which is their ability to communicate without vocalizing their thoughts. As two men with psychic abilities, they have been given the job of heading up a recruitment drive unlike any other in history. Charles and Stan, in the early 1970s, manage to pinpoint over 3,000 individuals exhibiting the qualities making them the perfect candidates for the job. Little do the recruits know the mission for which they have been chosen is one that could change the course of human history.
Terry Tumbler’s Future World Rolls (We Are Family) Book 2 in the Carousels of Life series has one of the most unique settings of its genre. Spanning centuries and with locations varying from Winter Park Florida in the 70s to vessels in space including the Voyager 6, Tumbler carries the reader on quite the raucous ride through time and space via Charles and Stan and the plethora of alien life forms peppered throughout this second in a series.
There is a Men in Black feel about the novel that gives the book a light, fun air. Fans of this type of science fiction will appreciate Tumbler’s alien beings, their idiosyncrasies, and the banter between the main characters as they go about the task set before them.
As with Tumbler’s first book in the series, Future World Rolls is laden with song lyrics, references to artists’ best-known works, and well-timed and perfectly-placed excerpts of the world’s best (my own humble opinion) music. Tumbler’s characters are more than capable of standing on their own, but these song references help to add another light note to the text. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to hum along to the tunes Tumbler sets as pleasant little earworms from the beginning to the end of the book. I mean who doesn’t love to be reminded of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” and “All Day and All of the Night” by the Kinks? Tumbler doesn’t just incorporate music from the 1960s. He takes readers on a nostalgic journey through music history, hitting all the right notes–so to speak.
To say Future World Rolls is fast-paced would be a gross understatement. Tumbler keeps the reader engaged from one jam-packed chapter to the next. Billed as a space opera, this book hops, skips, and jumps from one scene to the next introducing new and engaging characters while building on the already well-developed Charles, Stan, and the just-short-of-amazing green giants.
Science fiction fans who enjoy lively plots and bigger-than-life characters will find Tumbler’s works meet all of their expectations and more. Tumbler writes beautifully and manages to pull off humor in the most eloquent of ways possible. Some science fiction books are fraught with terminology and processes that overwhelm the reader. Tumbler combats all of that with his stunning cast of characters and an upbeat tone that is set from the first chapter.
Pages: 314 | ASIN: B07H4QQR8K
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Solstice is the thrilling finale to your Star-Crossed Saga and ends the trilogy with a bang. What were some things you wanted to make sure you touched on in the final book in the series?
I loved every minute of writing Solstice: mainly because it gave me the chance to tie up all the loose ends and make sure the story was complete and the character story arcs were congruent. As you’ve read, there were quite a number of characters throughout the story, although the main focus was centered around Sydney and William; as it should’ve been. And although remaining true to their love, along with maintaining the very cool elements of hard core Scifi was a challenge, I feel that I was successful in accomplishing that and I was proud of the outcome. To date, I written over 14 novels and Solstice is my absolute favorite one of them all.
I felt like the characters went through some large transformations throughout the series. Did the characters end up where you thought they would when you first started writing about them?
Actually, as a writer, I think you have a place (start and end) where you imagine or assume the characters will end up once you’re finished, but I never anticipated how much they’d evolve over time in the story. As pertaining to The Star-Crossed Saga, the story is told over a relative short period – if I were to guess, less than a year – but so much happens because the characters are in this frenetic, action-packed tale where they discover so much about themselves and then they mush figure out how everything ties together in order to save Fabricius and the Star-children. So to answer the question, they ended up showing me things about themselves that I did not anticipate and was like, ‘Oh wo, that’s cool,’ and it made sense to keep it.
What was your inspiration for the ‘Star-Children’ and their plight?
I looked our world today and really just crafted a story that reflected the times we live in now. How we unfairly allow our prejudices to control what we assume about one another. These have serious negative consequences and people are hurt as a result of it. In Star-Crossed, people who know of the Star-children assume they are dangerous because of the powers they posses and think they will use them for bad, when it’s the complete opposite. By the time the story comes to an end, the truth is revealed and now peace is restored. It’s unfortunate that so many people die along the quest of learning the truth. Very reflective of our society today.
Although the series is complete, do you think you will continue this story or characters in some way, or are you moving on to another story?
Absolutely! Already working on branching arcs where characters blend into the other series I’m writing and I’m also working on a solo Bounty Hunter series for Steele Reign.
The two starcrossed lovers William and Sydney have sacrificed everything to fortify their love, so much so that William dares to brave the depths of space to find a cure for their deadly Supernova bond, leaving both her and Earth vulnerable to alien Torrian Alliance’s attack. But with a full scale civil war in play on Fabricius, the reality of Sydney’s execution from Torrian hands is diminished, only eclipsed by the certainty of a more threats – The Third Faction and The Dagmas Clan – lead by Dominic and his insurgent recruits on a quest to complete the failed assassination of the teenage girl. With overwhelming odds mounting against them, William makes a desperate attempt to find the last of the endangered Star-children only to be captured by a new menace, where he is forced to compete in the dreaded Gauntlet of sport. Allies surge to free Fabricius, seeking alliances across the galaxy while Sydney tries to keep her identity hidden and trains to master the third phase of her Star-child evolution: Solstice. With Sarah’s mysterious return home with clues to unlock the future, Noella’s training and Bill’s symbiotic development hope is restored, but will it be enough to unite the galaxy and destroy evil for once and for all?
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Ray Collins’s book, What if it Were Possible?, is a space-age adventure set not too far in the future. Protagonist, Ray Holland, finds himself heading up a top-secret mission that he didn’t sign up for. He had spent his career working in public relations for NASA, and is a self-proclaimed “average guy.” He couldn’t have predicted that he would be leading a crew of ex-cons on a recognizance mission into the unknown. Ray and the crew set out on this dangerous mission knowing they won’t see earth for years, if ever again. Like any good adventure, there are I was figurative and literal bumps throughout the journey.
This is an entertaining space adventure story that appealed to the kid in me that is always hoping for a whirlwind adventure. The book flows well, but sometimes hit patches where it would drag. I wanted them to get to space so badly that the buildup was killing me. I liked the way the middle section was written with Ray’s logs giving insight into current scenarios and how much time had passed. I preferred the writing in the parts that dealt with space travel. Apart from a few typos the book is written very well. They were few and far between.
Collins did a great job of explaining how the ship flew with the cabin area moving independently of the ship to keep that area level. He explained the ship’s technology in an understandable way. He also explained the wormhole and other space elements in a way that made sense. I didn’t get too lost in the details and could get a pretty good grasp on what was happening and how.
I wasn’t a big fan of the “aliens” being so similar to the people of earth. I could have gotten past the physicality being the same, but there were an overwhelming number of similarities that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Being an 80s/90s kid, I loved the Star Trek and Star Wars throwback references. It was a nice way of keeping everything from getting too technical or heavy. It also showed Ray’s humanity and made his character one that will be identifiable to readers. The references also made it feel like the story wasn’t too far from our own reality or time.
There is a love story that develops in the begginging chapters that I would of liked to see developed further, but the story takes a sharp turn into an entertaining space adventure story and left that bit behind.
What if it Were Possible? was a good read that I recommend to readers of the Sci-Fi genre, especially anyone looking for a space adventure story that stays true to it’s roots. The journey through space was my favorite part and kept me engaged. Readers will root for Ray and his crew of misfits. I look forward to reading more of their adventures in the future.
Pages: 292 | ASIN: B077ZDCWBN
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An otherworldly adventure awaits readers in the pages of Solstice by Braxton A. Cosby. The third book in a series starts off with a bang as readers are introduced, or reintroduced, to our protagonists Sydney and William. Theirs is a story for the ages as they defy distance and fate to be together. This epic saga will take readers on a journey through the stars and intertwine between lives and destinies. Come along as we watch our protagonists face their fears, develop who they are and take on what could be seen as an impossible undertaking. They aren’t alone and their friends will be there to help and support them every step of the way.
For those who are new to the series, the first few chapters might seem a little overwhelming. It’s clear that some major world-building was established in previous installments in the saga. There are some circumstances and terminology that readers will feel goes over their heads when they first bite into it. Not only does the story take place in outer space for a large portion, there are legends and transformations at hand that require a solid understanding about what has happened, in order to understand what will occur. The story is engaging and invites young readers to see themselves in the characters. We all go through some sort of metamorphosis as we develop into our adult selves. The transformation that Sydney undergoes could be likened to that. It’s just a bit confusing for new readers to understand the impact of previous events without reading about them.
If there has to be something to nitpick then perhaps the grammatical and stylistic errors that pop up ever so briefly would be the culprits. They aren’t startling enough to detract from the story, but a few rereads might be needed to make sense of what the sentence is supposed to say.
Cosby knows his craft and he knows his audience. It’s clear that he wrote this book for young adults as the language is easy and comfortable to read. The teens speak like real teenagers and ask the questions while speaking the frustrations that most teenagers might be too afraid to voice. It’s comforting to be able to read a book targeted to your age group and actually be able to identify with it. The fact that Cosby can share a point of view from the perspective of a young woman with just as much ease as sharing one form the view of a young man shows that he is dedicated to telling the best story that he can.
The space-odyssey of Solstice by Braxton A. Cosby is not a book to miss. It’s engaging and well written that readers of all ages will enjoy it. Young adults will get the most out of this book as they identify with the trials and tribulations our protagonists find themselves going through. While it might be confusing for new readers who have picked up this third book in the Star-Crossed Saga to understand what’s happening in the beginning, if you’re patient and devote your energy to this book, you will not be disappointed.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B01LZ4OMHI
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Intrepid continues to follow Justin Thorn as he struggles to make his way back to Earth on a damaged ship while fighting many of space’s deadly hazards. What were some themes you felt you had to carry over from Pegasus and what were some things you wanted to do differently in this book?
I wanted to expand the universe in which the story takes place by sending the crew to Mars this time instead of the moon. In Pegasus they could at least see Earth, but now they’re millions of miles from home in a crippled ship, so the perils are much greater. It increases the level of danger and makes the stakes so much higher. We’d already established in the first book that there is a scientific outpost on Mars and that Thorn’s former girlfriend is a scientist there. What would he do if he found out that she was in danger? How far would he go to try and save her? Not only is she in danger, he’s risking his life and his beloved ship to try and rescue her.
There is a rich backstory in this book, wars and dissolution have rearranged much of old Earth. How did you set about developing the backstory for this book?
Many stories set in the future feature a world that’s bleak and depressing, with people struggling to survive in a world that’s falling apart. Often the world has become a kind of a junkyard. I wanted to create a future that’s more hopeful. Even though there have been series of conflicts that brought us to this point, it’s a world where life has become much simpler. With large cities gone and the population significantly smaller, Earth has begun to repair itself, and the air and water have become less polluted. I feel it’s a more hopeful vision of the future, but not because technology has saved us, but because we’ve let nature take its course.
When developing a series, readers often know that the main character is immune from deadly danger. How did you solve this problem in your book to keep the tension high?
I knew that in order to make the danger feel real, some of the characters had to perish. I didn’t want the reader to get too comfortable with anyone because at any moment any character could be gone. Thorn himself is put in real danger several times, and I think there’s always the possibility that he could die as well, and someone else could take over as pilot and captain of his ship.
Will you continue the Justin Thorn series with a third and possibly fourth book? If so where do you want those books to take Justin?
This book was originally intended to be the third in the series. In the second one, Thorn was to come into possession of something that a lot of people want and are trying to acquire. It was supposed to be one long chase as Thorn tries to figure out why these people want this thing and how to stop them. Unfortunately, I didn’t what that thing was, so I decided to do the third book instead. It wasn’t until I was halfway through Intrepid that I realized what the object was that everyone was after, so the next book continues the story that’s set up in this one. And the third book then sets up a fourth.
All contact with the scientific outpost on Mars has been lost. The Federal Space Administration is sending the spaceship Intrepid on a desperate rescue mission, and they’ve commandeered Captain Justin Thorn’s ship Pegasus to use as a shuttle to the surface. But when they arrive on Mars, things go horribly wrong and the ship is severly damaged. Now millions of miles from home, the survivors must find a way to get themselves and their crippled ship back to Earth before their food and time run out.
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Ken Cressman’s book, Intrepid, is a futuristic adventure set mostly in space. We follow main character, Justin Thorn, and his engineer friend, Steven Wilson, as they take on a mission they never could have seen coming. Wars have broken out over race, religion, and even sports teams, dividing the United States. Martial Law has been declared. Military branches have dissolved, and the leftover scraps have been joined together to form the Military Defense Force. Justin, a former MDF pilot, has an anti-gravity capable ship named Pegasus pieced together from former military aircrafts, and the feds want it. Justin won’t let his ship leave without him. He volunteers to set out toward Mars. The mission is unclear. They will either fix faulty communication devices, rescue the nine people on the planet, or retrieve bodies. One of the nine is Justin’s ex and the love of his life, and all they know is there has been no communication between Mars and the Space Agency for months.
This is an edge-of-your-seat kind of book. Whatever can go wrong, does go wrong. A whole different set of obstacles is present during space travel than here on earth. Gravity, anti-gravity, air pressure and breathability, depleting food and fuel levels, meteor showers. It seems like every time things start going smoothly, something goes catastrophically wrong. Between Justin and Steven, they might as well have MacGyver on board though. They put their heads together to take on every problem that arises. The problems leave you woeful for the exhausted characters, but it keeps the excitement high. Risks are high, but so are rewards.
Justin is a loveable character. He is sort of a self-made man. He was a pilot with the military, but is now self-employed. He has taken advantage of the latest technology, and has built a ship equipped with anti-gravs (anti-gravity). He basically has formed a transport service, zooming goods around the globe. He does have space experience, and that comes into play when the Mars mission presents itself. He is also loyal. He doesn’t want to take the job if it means leaving Steven, his engineer and general know-it-all and problem-solver, behind. He also feels the need to be part of the team that goes to check on Kelsey, a member of the Mars research team who is also his former girlfriend and current love. Justin bravely puts his life on the line more than once for the good of the crew and the mission.
The book is packed with cutting-edge futuristic technology. Maia is also on board. Maia is an artificial intelligence computer system. Maia is ever-present and a pivotal tool when obstacles arise. Cressman does an excellent job of explaining the more technical parts of the book, including Maia. Technological advances are broken down where someone who is not scientifically or technically inclined can understand everything easily.
The element of the unknown also plays a big role in Intrepid. Space is vast and unimaginable without a million problems. The crew has no idea what they will find when they get to Mars. Will the research team all be dead? Will they find anything at all? Will there be a simple fix to their communication equipment? Will they walk into some sort of ambush? Will anyone make it back to Earth alive? The reader will find themselves questioning every next step as they follow the crew on their mission.
Ken Cressman makes everything so relatable and readable. It is technical at times, but the technology is effectively explained. I was all but biting my nails as the story progressed. I’d like to read more Cressman work.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B07BB6R7YR
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Few debut books attempt to achieve what J. I. Rogers set out to achieve, and even fewer are able to create a story that is so unlike everything else out there. The Korpes File is one such work and a stellar debut novel for Rogers. Nash Korpes, a technician, born a Diasporan, the underclass of his world. When he is marked by the ruling class as a threat due to his genetic make-up, it is up to his own intelligence to fight back against not only the ones who hunt him, but the entire ruling class that looks down on everything from their comfortable high-rises.
The goal of Nash and fighting what is essentially the 1% in Korpes’ world is both thrilling and interesting. And danger is never far from the characters in the form of corporate assassins, mass killings, and political intrigue. It is truly a dangerous, but wondrous world to inhabit all at the same time. The city states hide underground from the caustic rains on the surface, while the elites work on new ways to maintain control by subverting the masses under them.
Both a gritty thriller and action-packed adventure, The Korpes File is a fast-paced race to the end, as Nash attempts to survive in this dystopian world. Yet, all of our investment isn’t solely spent on Nash, but on the plethora of other characters who fill these pages. The multiple points-of-view is surprising, especially in a first novel, but Rogers is able to pull this off by making sure all of his characters are dynamic, and at their core real “people.” This was probably one of the best parts of this book, and feeling all of their motivations and emotions was a particular pleasure, especially in a genre when the focus can rely too much on background technology or plot. Some of the pacing at times became a little strange with Rogers’ choice to skip over years in places, but it seemed to be a wash by the end.
It isn’t often that a dystopian thriller can rise on a new set of legs, but Rogers sure does that here and makes sure that the start of his new series starts off running. This book will be a pleasure to readers of all genres, as long as they can tolerate a gritty undertone and sometimes brutal violence. If they can trust Nash, then they will be in good hands.
Pages: 342 | ASIN: B06XCZNTK7
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The Matriarch Matrix is a unique blend of genres combining history and centuries of speculation regarding ancient alien invasions of Earth. What made you want to start writing this novel?
I few years ago I read a news release on the world’s oldest temple built 12,000 years ago at a site called Göbekli Tepe in the Anatolian region of Turkey. Somehow hundreds of nomadic hunter-gathers came together and built a complex of monolithic pillars weighing tens of tons each. 6,000 years before Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza, pre-pottery Neolithic man figured out how to work together to build a stone complex seemingly unrelated to ordinary living.
Archaeologists would say that mankind was far more advanced than we give credit for coming out of the Paleolithic age, coming out of the ice age. Alien theorists would say that Göbekli Tepe is further proof of alien intervention in human history. Given some believe this complex represents the oldest temple known to modern man, some may believe that divine inspiration guided mankind into the modern age.
In 2016, more time came into my life and I wrote a story line pitting people with these three inherent beliefs into a search for a legendary object which will save the world from impending war. A key theme is what has happened in the past continues to happen throughout history. Mankind continues to repeat the same issues, the same themes. But to what end?
Zara endures many horrors, but becomes a woman who is true to her roots and a follower of her faith. What was the inspiration for Zara’s character?
As I crafted the story in early 2016, the lands south of Göbekli Tepe had been conquered by the Daesh, or ISIS as the West calls this group – a name which evokes religious stereotyping. In researching the lands around this temple, I read about the Kurdish women who fought the Daesh in all female units. So I decided to make the main female character a Kurdish woman who fought for her people’s freedom. As I researched the Kurds, their culture, their history, their centuries of oppression, Zara’s character became more complex and dark as a metaphoric reflection of what Kurdish women have endured. Hence I made Zara Khatum a woman who fought Saddam as a teen, then Assad as a young adult, and finally the Daesh only to be captured by the latter.
The horrors of her past life, the darkness she carries in the story, combines the biographies of Kurdish women, accounts by social workers treating Kurdish women refugees, the news stories of the Kurdish struggles, and documents from international governing bodies investigating human right violations in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, including institutional violation of women en masse.
What has happened to Kurdish women is a continuance of the horrors women have suffered repeatedly in periods of genocide or cultural/racial oppression throughout time. The accounts in Bosnia are very similar to that of the Kurds. Similar accounts are told in WWII between the Germans and Russians, with the Japanese to the Koreans and Chinese. History repeats itself in the worse ways.
I made an active decision not to pull punches in describing this oppression staying true to the multitude of actual accounts. But I made the ancient race, the giant Reindeer warriors, the originating perpetrators as to not condemn anyone in the present as to avoid the equal horror of stereotyping a group of people based on the crimes of but a few. I understand for some readers, this reality is too much. I opted to stay true to historical accounts as we must learn from our past follies in order to prevent the same horrors from happening again. In a number of European countries, they teach the past in this way so people will be sensitized to not repeating the bad of what happened in the past.
My inspiration to bring Zara’s story to life in this manner came from the words of a 22-year-old beta reader from Germany: “I would actually like to extend my gratitude. I can’t explain how touching it has been to read about a character like Zara. I think it sends a really strong message home that people seem to really forget. We can all be subject to rape. The world isn’t pretty. And it doesn’t matter how strong you are. But through everything, Zara is so incredibly beautiful. I think that’s important. Whether she agrees or not, she’s a stronger person for everything she’s been through. Thank you for not writing her as some typical rape victim. Thank you for creating something so much more powerful.”
What the portrayal of Zara did for her as a person gave me the conviction to bring this story to others. To bring strength into people’s lives.
I enjoyed the intuitive technological advancements juxtaposed with a glimpse into 9500 BCE. What were some themes you wanted to capture with this story?
The first theme is that culture did not start with written history. The wisdom we believe came from the Greeks and Persians through their writing likely came from their predecessors from oral traditions passed down through the centuries before mankind learned to write. For all we know, themes in our lives today came from the end of the ice age through stories passed from one generation to another.
Another addresses the dangers and opportunities of the modern digital age. Is the advancement of science, of technology leading to dystopic world? The recent FB data privacy issue is only an example of the magnitude of such privacy incursions all over. But what if the collection of information worldwide could lead to the cure for the worst diseases, could lead us to a greater prosperity and peace? Is the body collecting that data for these ends so bad after all? I built that notion into the book’s villain who in end professes in his Machiavellian way he was only trying to save us all.
The last, the most subtle, and yet the most important is the human tendency to pass judgement early and form stereotypes and harmful impressions about other people who are different from them. Zara has been a victim of this trait by others to her, but she does the same until she hears “the voice”. I made her Muslim to show the metaphoric example of what religious discrimination does to negatively form a child’s life. Like other forms of hatred and discrimination, Islamaphobia shaped her belief of the world only to be changed by her meeting her other half from the other side of the world. The book is written in a way that if the reader passes judgement too early they will not glean as much as those who are patient. Peace in this world will us striving to understand each other.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The Matriarch Messiah is the working title. What is “the voice”? Is it good or bad? From the divine or anther planet? What secrets lay buried in the Crimea? The protagonists travel through the pyramid lands of China, through Jerusalem, and finally back to where the originating family came from in the Crimea.
The first half of the book is with four alpha readers. Four of the most intelligent, insightful, powerful, and well-read women I know. Release maybe by the end of this calendar year.
Kidnapped again. But this time by the oligarch who saved her from kidnapping by the Daesh. And he wants her to do what? With whom?
Meet Zara – a woman of great depth, courage, faith, and human frailty who only wanted to follow the path of love and peace. But a dark, violent past haunts her from which she cannot escape. Destiny calls her to shake up her life and partner with her exact opposite from the other side of the world. Together they must discover the answer to an ancient legend from the world’s oldest temple locked in their DNA. Only through finding a certain love as told by an ancient matriarch will they unlock this mystery and stop the next world war.
The fate of Earth is now in their hands in an all-encompassing narrative of conflict, salvation, and the struggles of womankind across the ages in this dark, intriguing science-fiction fantasy epic.
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Return of the Sagan follows a bookish young man as he wrangles his crew on a mission to save Earth and humanity. What served as your inspiration while writing this story?
As a prehistoric archaeologist, I have long dreamed of exploration of the cosmos and the past. My fieldwork centered on digging into the deep past for which no written records have surfaced. I can’t begin to explain how overpowering it is to uncover mysteries through digging and analyzing artifacts. It is a job that takes considerable time and patience as if you dig to deep, you can easily destroy valuable information. We only get one shot, so we have to be careful. For those interested in archaeology, I encourage them to see if local museums or colleges are operating excavations and having volunteer days – that way you can experience archaeology and avoid damaging/losing critical information. As for studying the cosmos, my wife already told me I can’t go to Mars 😞
As for the timing of the novel, my beloved Uncle Paul Leary was battling cancer so I wrote the story with him as a main character. He was able to read some of the story before he passed. My writing could never do justice to the lovely man that Uncle Paul had always been. We all miss him terribly.
Francis is a book worm that loves to quote his favorite authors. Is this an extension of yourself or did you have to research these quotes?
Totally me. Francis is named after my brother, Francis Aloysius O’Donnell. He was my parents’ first child who died at birth. I have often wondered what he would be like. Given my brother Ned and I (along with my sisters Moe and Sandi) can quote fantasy and scifi books all day long, it just seemed to fit that Francis would also be a bookworm like the rest of us. Mom and Dad were veracious readers and constantly encouraged us to read whenever we had the chance. Probably my favorite quote all-time is from Tolkien: “not all who wander are lost.”
The re-population of some of the world’s endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. What scenes did you have the most fun writing?
The mastodons and dire wolfs. I am a prehistoric archaeologist, and my specialty is in the woodlands of North Eastern North America. The people I studied lived side by side with Mastodons and the only reasonable prehistoric predator to suit the story, prehistory and climate was the dire wolf. After the book was published was when I saw Game of Thrones, a show I adore. I got the first season as a gift and then proceeded to watch the first three seasons over the course of two weeks. I then read the books after. I wish I would have encountered GOT before I wrote my novel as I would not have included dire wolves. I have referenced other extinct species from North America in my books before, particularly giant sloth, but for a predator in SAGAN, I would just conjure up something other than wolves because of GOT, though wolves are prehistorically accurate for the area and dire wolves would really be the only predator to fit the circumstances in the story. I did very much enjoy Francis’ stand on the bridge – total throwback to the Bridge of Khazad-dum. When I was a kid, my older brother Ned was devastated when Gandalf fell in the Fellowship of the Ring. Thankfully he read the next book quickly and was ecstatic to say the least. Gandalf’s stand was just so moving. When I got to the bridge standoff in SAGAN, I couldn’t help but make that connection.
Do you think you will write more stories about the crew of the USS Carl Sagan, or continue Francis’s story in some way?
I already have plans to write the story of the initial crew of the Sagan that left Earth centuries earlier. As for Francis, I have contemplated his leading the building of a ship and a subsequent sea voyage, but I have many other projects that need to be finished first.
300 years ago, USS Carl Sagan blasted off from overpopulated Earth in search of survival. Returning to Earth, the USS Carl Sagan finds humanity now extinct and Earth populated by deadly, once extinct pre-historic predators.
What disaster eradicated mankind? Was it man-made or of natural origin? One thing for certain: survival for the USS Carl Sagan and its crew will difficult at best, as while humans are no longer inhabit the Earth , they left behind deadly machines to guard the airspace against space invaders. The commander and the crew of the returning Earth ship will have to overcome those unexpected fool-proof sentries. And the machines are not the only obstacles for the travel-weary men and women of USS Carl Sagan to overcome. If they want to re-inhabit Earth.
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Francis, a twenty-three year old man dealing with his own overwhelming fears brought on by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, happens to be humanity’s next best chance at establishing life on Earth once more. Traveling aboard the Sagan, Francis faces all the struggles of a man coping with life in space and the anxiety of having one of his own forgetful moments bring about the destruction of the entire vessel and all who inhabit it. As a professor and trusted expert, it is Francis to whom the rest of the crew turn to as they make plans to return to Earth. Forced to break out of his comfort zone and abandon the safety of his classic literature, Francis obliges and proceeds to help save life as it was once known.
Professor Francis Burns, the main character in Neil O’Donnell’s Return of the Sagan, is one of the richest and most well-drawn characters I have encountered in a book in the science fiction genre. He is endearing from his first appearance and continues throughout the book to be relatable on a level most characters never reach. Francis’s battle with OCD is just one of the many aspects that keeps him down-to-earth. His constant references to Tolkien and the effortless way with which he quotes lines from Tolkien’s novels make him a less intimidating personality among the other characters.
O’Donnell’s desire to pepper his text with pop culture references adds to the book’s overall appeal. I am not a science fiction fan, but familiar names, books, movies, and song titles pull me in and give me more of a reason to continue reading when the more technical lingo tends to have the opposite effect. The author places these pop culture hooks in the perfect spots throughout the reading.
The unique blend of science fiction and fantasy emphasized by Francis’s extensive knowledge of literature and history is quite amazing to behold. The repopulation of some of the world’s most endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. However, the reappearance of extinct species–and aggressive predators, at that–was simply breathtaking. I hesitate to compare it in any way to Jurassic Park, but in some small ways, O’Donnell’s story bears a resemblance to the original movie’s plot.
I have to admit, I saw the plot going in a much different direction once the crew reached Earth. I won’t say I am disappointed, but I will say, without giving away the ending, that I looked for a resolution that never arrived. O’Donnell has left me to reach some of my own conclusions–and that, I appreciate. Whereas, some readers prefer to have the story wrapped up in a nice little package by the concluding lines, I prefer an author leave me with the desire to reread for clues and leave the book open for a sequel. O’Donnell definitely inspires as many questions about the fate of Earth’s human population as he does answers about the resurgence of plant and animal life.
I give Return of the Sagan 5 out of 5 stars. With a relatable main character and a plot filled with action from the opening chapter, O’Donnell has provided readers with a hit. Science fiction fans who seek memorable characters will not be disappointed with Professor Francis Burns, his extensive knowledge base, and his undying love for J.R.R. Tolkien.
Pages: 304 | ASIN: B00SP4BOZS
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