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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Stillness of Time follows the adventure of Elara and Cyrus as they try to make their way on a mysterious planet which holds secrets they may not want to learn. Where did you want to take the characters in book two of your Seeker of Time series?
In Stillness of Time, I wanted to whisk my characters away from Earth and let them loose on an emotional roller coaster in a new world. The book series as a whole is about self-growth and discovery, but Stillness of Time is where the characters begin to face challenges that test their mental and physical endurance. In book two, Cyrus is more emotionally sound than Elara. I wanted the reader to see how their relationship evolved when things took a turn for the worst. Every character faces a struggle in Stillness of Time and the ending is the tipping point that sets the ball rolling for the third book in the series.
One thing that stands out to me in Stillness of Time is the creativity embedded in this world. What was your inspiration for creating such an imaginative world?
My inspiration for creating an imaginative world stems from my love of the unknown. As an only child, I would play in my room or the outdoors lost in my imagination. I would visualize far off places and pretend that I could travel to them in the blink of an eye. I always wondered if there were planets like ours with people like us living on them, and I would spend hours daydreaming about the ‘what ifs’ in life.
In your novel I picked up some inspiration from other science fiction novels that I thought played well in the story. What were some of your sources of inspiration for this book?
My inspiration for this story came from within. I enjoy science fiction but funny enough, I have never read any science fiction books other than my own. I do appreciate a good sci-fi film though and LOVE Star Wars.
Will there be a third book in your Seeker of Time series? If so, where will the story go in the next book?
Passage of Time is the third book in the Seeker of Time series and is set to release in the fall of this year. So far, it is the longest and most intense book in the series. The adult content gets kicked up a notch and the combative scenes will leave the readers on the edge of their seats. Characters are faced with their toughest challenges yet, and the final battle with Zenith takes a twist that readers will never see coming.
“I had to believe the good in life always prevailed. I had to believe that in the end, the truth would triumph.” Mystery, danger, and heartache are all things Elara must face now back on Aroonyx. Jax continues to reveal dark secrets that challenge her and Cyrus’s trust, pushing them farther than they ever thought possible. Can they keep their identities hidden from Zenith and the Collectors? New and mysterious friends help the twins through their darkest hours while enemies lurk around every corner. Eventually, Elara and Cyrus discover things are not always as they seem. Unsure of their fate, the twins form an unbreakable bond that over time will be put to the ultimate test. Elara’s relationship with Jax evolves to a whole new level, only to be challenged during a life-changing night. Presented with a difficult choice, Elara is forced to make a sacrifice that alters the course of her future forever. Does she have the strength to accept this new fate? Can you truly love someone enough to let them go? Stillness of Time is the second installment in the Seeker of Time series. Filled with danger, adventure, romance, and heartache, the plot twist and turns around every corner, sending the reader on an emotional roller coaster that leaves them breathless, longing for more.
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Tyler Wandschneider’s Lockheed Elite is a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi crime adventure akin to an episode of Firefly than anything else. We jump between the perspectives of a cast of intergalactic anti-heroes as they dance on the edge of the law, caught between the authoritarian Galactic Command and the ruthless criminal underbelly of the galaxy. The plot is spiced up with more than a few twists and thoroughly human and flawed characters that keep you engaged right up until the end. If you’re a fan of the science fiction genre, you won’t go wrong with picking up this book.
I think the word that really summarizes Lockheed Elite is: competent. The writing doesn’t sparkle off the page; it’s straightforward in its delivery. There’s a certain relief to not having to dig through layers of purple prose to find any kind of enjoyable story. It’s an easy read, especially if you’re already au fait with the science fiction genre.
The writing was absorbing precisely because it was easy to digest. I found myself chewing through ten to twenty pages at a time before I even realised it. If the goal of a writer is to engage the reader, then Tyler Wandschneider has certainly achieved it.
This is not to say the writing is flawless; it occasionally struggles with articulating emotions. Characters will pontificate on the stakes or over-explain themselves, even at points where the tension and pacing should be amping up. The effect is something of a stumbling block in some of the most exciting scenes, as we read through one character or another describing how and why they feel a certain way.
The book develops it’s characters slowly throughout the novel, letting them build into complex characters towards the end of the novel. Although characters don’t feel like they have their own voices in the beginning, it feels more real towards the end of the book.
Lockheed Elite is engaging, and it kept me reading all the way through to the end. Despite my above quibbles, I really did enjoy it. I think Wandschneider has done a great job in writing a solid, exciting book. I only wish that it perhaps had a bit of a stronger start and I think this would be a stellar example of a science fiction genre piece.
Pages: 416 | ASIN: B073VHM3QG
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GROND – The Raven High is a sci-fi book set in the future where pollution has caused giant storms across the planet. What was your inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I have a lot of inspiration sources, mostly the Golden Age Sci-Fi and the movie of the eighties, from the “Masking” of Henry Kuttner to Thing and Aliens. But most of all I was influenced by the old and almost forgotten Young Adult Sci-Fi – Earth Star Voyager. I saw it when I was at school, and loved much more than Star Wars. This should be a good sci-fi for teenagers – exciting, realistic, without superheroes, but with smart and courageous heroes. And it was Earth Star Voyager that I first saw the idea of a catastrophic climate change and the search for salvation in space. I was so pleased that I decided to create the same story. The same, but completely my own. No sooner said than done.
I recently reviewed Earth Star Voyager for the first time in twenty years. And he’s still good.
So, if you are looking for inspiration for a great space adventure – you are welcome.
Olga’s nanny is an android that I genuinely started to care for towards the end of the novel. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
Creating Olga, I wanted to get rid of two obsessive stereotypes of teenage literature.
Firstly, the main character isn’t the despised loser or ordinary schoolgirl, who suddenly finds herself in the center of the universal conspiracy.
Secondly, Olga’s superhuman abilities don’t fall on her in one fine morning, free and without consequences. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch in her world.
The image of Arina combines the features of an ideal mother and ideal teacher. She really loves Olga, so, when necessary, she can be very strict and demanding of her ward, otherwise, Olga won’t stand the load of enormous responsibility.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Earth is ravaged by pollution. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Morality is very simple – dreams and good intentions won’t change the world for the better. But the world can be changed for the better by persistent daily work. There are thousands of brave book heroes who save the world by simply believing in themselves and accomplishing a great feat in the battle against the system. Olga also saves the world, but in a completely different way – just goes on the next shift at her space plant. Day by day.
This story was written in Russian and translated to English. What were the challenges you faced when translating?
Most of the difficulties were caused by two things – compliance with the size of phrases and slang expressions, to which it is hard to make a direct translation.
The Raven High is book 1 in the GROND series. Where does book two take the story?
In fact, the GROND story begins with the second book, GROND: The Blitzkrieg. And at the beginning of this story, Olga will be forced to leave her orbital home, join the gang of space mercenaries and take part in the brutal war of the Martian colonists for independence. It’ll be cool!
In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.
The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.
But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible …
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Protector of Thristas takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War and Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before. What were some important themes for you to capture in this novel?
I’ve taken on several archetypes in these books with an eye towards shifting what originated as masculine-oriented myths into their feminine equivalent. Lisen is the hero of a story in which she must overcome many obstacles, including her own self-doubt, to rise at the end of the original trilogy to the destiny she cannot escape. I looked at heroes, such as Luke Skywalker and King Arthur, and asked myself how this would look not simply with a “girl” as the hero but with a gentler and more sympathetic way of presenting the momentous events that occur in the story. The battle at the end of Blooded is a case in point. Lisen found a way to break through the fighting and turn the combatants towards a negotiated resolution rather than one in which many people died or were left physically or emotionally injured.
So, when I decided to explore Lisen and the others as adults, to look at the relationships and their children fifteen years on, I made another decision–to raise the bar and tackle an archetype I refer to as “the king must die and live again.” This myth can be found in many nature-focused cultures. The leader of the people sacrifices his life (or acts the sacrifice out in ritual) and goes to the underworld, then rises again, all of which is symbolic of the “burying” of seeds in the fall and their rising as plants in the spring. It is a form of fertility ritual. It is also, in some ways, the Christ story, but this time it’s a young woman.
I think this book did a fantastic job displaying how emotional a mother-daughter relationship can be, and family relationships as well. How did you develop these complex relationships? Anything pulled from real life?
My mother was not the nurturing type which left my father with that role in my life. In fact, Korin’s nickname of “Fa” is the way my father, in his later years, signed birthday cards and such. But there was more to it than that. As I foraged deeper into the story and the wounded relationship between Lisen and Rinli, I realized one very important thing. I had to be very careful about how I framed the discord between the two of them. The critique group I belonged to at the time loved the portrayal of the mother-daughter conflict, but I began to recognize that I had created a very “earth-centric/potentially sexist” struggle. In my experience, women in our culture learn at a very early age that they must challenge one another over the attention of a man. Men are taught a similar lesson, but it manifests differently. Men thump their chests and growl at one another (figuratively) or go out and kick a football around, whereas women get mean. And it often begins in the relationship between a mother and daughter and their desire for the male in their lives–the husband/father. It’s fairly subtle in most cases, but it’s there, and once girls become teenagers with all those hormones raging, they may not “desire” their father, but they want what their mothers have and the fight is on.
I couldn’t let this be the basis for Lisen and Rinli’s conflict, so I struck out on my own to find something that didn’t smack of the sexism in the “typical” tension that can tear a mother and daughter apart. And although I may have no control over the enculturated eyes the reader brings to the story and her interpretation of what she sees in that relationship, I had to be true to my commitment to present Lisen and Rinli sparring not over the mean-girl stuff that can mess with a mother and a daughter but over the betrayal Rinli feels at her mother’s use of her as a bargaining tool to bring a war to an end. Add to that the fact that Lisen is not the nurturing parent in the family, and it becomes clear, in my eyes, at least, that their relationship was likely doomed no matter what Lisen did.
Rinli is resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities. How did you handle magic in this novel that was similar and/or different from the previous novels?
In some way, I think the magic became more central to the story than it had been previously. I have always played the push as something unacceptable but sometimes necessary, even to Garlans who are pretty accepting of most hermit magic. As a Thristan, Korin distrusts hermits and what they can do, and Lisen has a powerful gift. This presented its own set of problems in the first trilogy and ultimately tore them apart. Now, with Rinli growing up and it becoming obvious to both of her parents that she has inherited her mother’s gift, Lisen and Korin have to make their peace over the magic thing and then band together to convince Rinli that the only way to stay safe amongst magic-fearing Thristans is to master her gift in order to control it. This is where that conflict I mentioned above manifests with Lisen trying her damnedest to reach out to Rinli and Rinli turning away. (I had one reviewer say, “So many times I just wanted to scream ‘Say I LOVE YOU!'” which would, of course, have simplified things a great deal. But it was about the magic in Lisen’s mind, and “I love you” wasn’t in her lexicon.)
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I began a followup to Protector of Thristas with the idea that it would be the final book in the series. I had to find a way to put down the characters and the world I’d created in order to move on to something new. Five books. The series would be five books. I was adamant with myself. Then as I wrote and wrote and wrote, I began to realize that this was going to be one hell of a long book. I set a word limit at which point I would break it up into two books. I’m still on first draft, and I am within 2500 words of that limit I set. It’s definitely going to be 2 books. Because I’ve been making changes that affect earlier scenes as I go along, I must finish the entire tome before officially splitting them up. (And even then, I’m probably going to produce draft 2 of both books together, incorporating all the necessary tweaking at one time, before I turn to book 5 of the series and complete it.) All of this is to say, that this has taken far longer than I wanted it to take, but I continue to move forward.
As regards where we go from here, having sent a young person as flawed as Rinli through the experience of dying and rising from the dead, I discovered (upon working on the final two books) a character who is not doing well emotionally at all. It’s been an interesting trip. Rinli was originally intended to be the character to whom Lisen would pass the baton, but she turned out to be a character very different from what I had expected when I began. Her last words at the end of the book blew me away, coming as they did as I was writing that last scene, and they set the tone for the remaining story. I had to ask myself “what does a world broken by Mantar’s Child look like?” It took a while to answer that question. Now first draft is finally winding down for books 5 and 6, and all I can say is “whew, what a ride!” “When will it be available?” I’m hoping for some time early in the new year for book 5 and spring for book 6.
Fifteen years after the One-Day War, Lisen, now Empir Ariannas, has developed into a just and capable leader. Together she and Korin have created a union of two souls based on respect, commitment and love, and their family has grown. In addition to Rinli, their daughter who made her first appearance in Blooded, two more children have joined the family, completing their complement of three complicated adolescents.
Now the sixteen-year-out Rinli prepares to take on the mantle of Protector of Thristas, a title destined for her in the treaty that ended the war. The Empirs of Garla have carried this title for hundreds of years, and Lisen anticipates changes once she hands this single title on to Rinli at the girl’s investiture. But the prophesy of Mantar’s Child, upon which Lisen and Korin depended in the treaty negotiations fifteen years earlier, refuses to remain but a convenient myth, and with the advent of the fulfillment of the prophecy, an epic begins.
Although Protector of Thristas includes the familiar faces and settings of the young adult Lisen of Solsta trilogy, it begins a new adventure for an older and often wiser Lisen and her allies. Looking at their world through their matured eyes, the book takes on the heroic tragedy that the trilogy could only hint at. Return to Garla. Enter its mystical environs for a new encounter with Lisen and her world’s gender-free culture. The adventure awaits.
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King of the Moon is a story is about the strange, entertaining, and hilarious life of the king. What was your inspiration for the wild journey you take readers on in only this one week of the kings life?
I have written all my life, and as an adult generally had projects. King of the Moon was the latest—it was time, again, to write I novel. I’ve tried previously but was never happy with the results. For a while an idea had been in the back of my head about someone dying and waking up on another planet as its King. I decided to give the idea a try. The first chapter worked out pretty good, and then the second, and then, with rewrites, it was a year later. Why the subject matter? Our current world demands satire! I look at everything from the current Presidential election campaign to environmental issues to personal politics.
I found this novel to be a cutting piece of satire. What is one thing that you hope readers take away from your novel?
That they enjoyed it and want to read it again.
Most of the book takes place in the kings head, his thoughts and ruminations. What was your writing process to ensure you captured the essence of this character?
Well, each chapter had to satirize something. Sometimes low fruit, sometimes stuff high on the tree. Each chapter had to advance the plot. It also had to advance the main character. For example, it was after the first four chapters that I stopped and figured out what the rest of the novel would very roughly be. Short chapters. For satire, I started with the urge to have Kings and Queens instead of a democracy. Fox News and its impact on media played an important role. People fighting each other rather than a common enemy. Trading jobs for environmental pollution. Our world has plenty to satirize. Also, I played with Game of Thrones and Star Wars, two favorites.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
The next book? The first seven or so chapters, unedited, are on http://www.redfez.net, along with a bit of my poetry and short fables. I started this graphic novel (is there another name for what I’m doing?) in 1994. There are 26 completed chapters. Currently I am going back and editing the chapters. As the original desktop publishing software no longer functions with modern Windows, I can only edit the PDFs, but that will do. It is fine tuning. The graphic novel? It is the story of a failed social services manager who wins the lottery. He uses the money to start a community newspaper. To prove he is a good manager, he only hires people who had been fired. He also deliberately creates problems. Each chapter of the novel is one issue of the newspaper. This originated over 20 years ago, when there were community newspapers. Each issue is complete, with news articles, movie reviews, a comic strip and, on the end page, a puzzle. You find out what is happening through those, along with the classified ads. It is reading fiction obliquely. It is reading fiction as if the novel was a newspaper and you could flip from article to article, choosing what you read. The plot for each of the six characters progresses clearly, at least to me. Why have I spent so long working on this? I started almost as soon as I had my first computer. There is something about the concept. I love the format, which allows me to work in jokes and sarcasm.
Author Links: GoodReads
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King of the Moon by Victor Schwartzman is a story about a young king who truly does not want to be king. The book focuses on one week in the life of the king and everything that he has to deal with from politics to courting women. It is a hilarious satirical look at other works of art such as Gulliver’s Travels, Star Wars, mixed in with Game of Thrones. There are moments of jokes (some of which are dirty such as the title of Chapter 2), and cheap shots. Just a few things that makes a book incredibly entertaining, especially for someone who may not enjoy reading.
This was definitely an interesting story straight from the beginning. Some of the sentences get confusing while reading them such as “I needed it cleared because I needed to get my head clear to me I clearly needed to get out of here!” the multiple uses of “clear” shows how silly the English language is, and the lack of punctuation makes it difficult to understand what Schwartzman is really trying to say. Readers are in the head of the king, so they get his silly random thoughts from dancing like Gene Kelly to trying to make serious decisions for the kingdom. It is an interesting idea that the king gets reincarnated, though the king doesn’t come back at birth. He comes back as twenty seven year old man. I’ve read a lot of stories where people who are reincarnated start out from birth, but this is the first story that I’ve read where the person gets reincarnated as an adult and I enjoyed the originality in the way that it was presented.
Schwartzman does a great job at presenting the inner thoughts of his character in a way that reflects how many of us think, random and all over the place. He pokes fun at a lot of different things; some are obvious while others seem a little more allusive. There is even a little bit of romance in the tale for those who enjoy romance. Dialogue between characters was funny and natural, transitions and description scenes were not forced nor were they too extensive. Everything fit perfectly and made the reader get lost in the story, in turn losing track of the time! A lot of things happen within this one week of the king’s life, but it keeps things interesting. It keeps the story moving and the readers interested to see what will happen next.
There are many different literary genres wrapped into one story. There is truly something for everyone in this book. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a good book to read regardless of preferred genre. If you are not much of a fan of reading, even you will enjoy this book. It is hard to find something that is not entertaining about this book. I would give it a rating of 4 out 5 because frankly it felt like there was more story to be told. The story really leaves the reading wanting more, and hoping to see more things by Victor Schwartzman.
Pages: 450 | ASIN: B01D83TNPI
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With the death of Anakin Skywalker, the destruction of the Jedi order and the rise of the Empire, Kenobi goes to Tatooine to protect Luke Skywalker, but this is not the story the book follows. This is the story of a lonely shop owner in the middle of the Tatooine desert that is bored of serving moisture farmers and subconsciously wants more from her life; enter Kenobi, or crazy Ben Kenobi as the farmers soon call him. He comes at a time when all their lives are poised for change. Sand People are attacking in force threatening the farmer’s life and property. The farmers respond by contributing to a protection fund that is essentially an army called the Settlers Call. Bu the Settlers Call is a pretense for a criminal enterprise with ties to Jaba the Hutt. No matter the outcome, everyone’s lives will be changed and Kenobi is called on once again to be the hero.
Kenobi is such an interesting, intrepid character with a thrilling and traumatic back story. It’s hard to go wrong with such a protagonist. The book it titled Kenobi, which leads you to believe that this is who the story is about, but you would be wrong. The book should be titled Annileen, the lonely yet dutiful shopkeep. The book follows her for more than half the story along with a few other characters. Most of Kenobi’s parts come in when he’s meditating, trying to talk to the ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn and reflecting on his daily actions. He reluctantly interacts with Annileen where a brooding and haunted Kenobi is revealed. The most action you get from him is when he fights a krayt dragon at the end of the story and eventually saves the day. The ending of the story is bitter sweet, but the story overall is a weak reflection of the Anakin story from episode 3 where Anakin turns to the dark side, has a chance to turn back, but doesn’t. I have absolutely no complaints about the writing. John Jackson Miller is a great writer and a veteran contributor to the Star Wars universe. All of my complaints come from the overtly pedestrian story. Especially coming out of episode 3 where huge galaxy wide changes were taking place. It’s possible a point was being made as to the relative importance of one’s life or actions, but the point was not weighty enough to carry an entire story about a character such as Kenobi. I would recommend this book to fans of the Star Wars universe, as it gives you that glimpse into Kenobi’s life when he arrives on Tatooine, but be ware; it’s mundane.