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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Su Lin and Andy have everything they want on their farm–solitude, livestock to occupy them, and one another. Most importantly, Su Lin is worlds away from her old life. However, Su Lin and Andy are not as free from Su Lin’s past endeavors as they would like to believe. She is a genius in her own right, and that, in and of itself, may just be the downfall of her family and the entire team. As digital currencies begin to lurk behind the world’s financial curtain, Su Lin rises as one of the most desired faces on the planet as she possesses the unbreakable code that can help turn the world’s currency system upside down.
The Enigma Source, by Charles V. Breakfield and Roxanne E. Burkey, features the dynamic team from Breakfield and Burkey’s long list of Enigma books and is every bit as engaging and brimming with technological advancements as each of the pair’s previous installments in the series. The Enigma Source takes readers on a journey eighty years into the past as events in Poland are related via a set of books discovered by Jacob. Throughout the book, the authors have juxtaposed Jacob’s reading of said books with the events endured by Su Lin, Andy, and the rest of the team as they fight to stop Su Lin’s nemesis, Guano.
I am never disappointed in the strength and depth of the relationships between Breakfield and Burkey’s characters. Su Lin and Andy are the focus of The Enigma Source. Their love is intense, endures each and every test thrown their way, and is to be envied. They are among the most vivid of the authors’ couples–second only to Juan and Julie.
I didn’t want to be, but I was struck by Mathias’s sense of loss over Dutch. Breakfield and Burkey have a way of making the reader see the humanity in their antagonists. A sense of pity and sorrow overwhelmed me as I read of Mathias’s grief and his tragic revelation with regards to his own staggering lack of true friendships.
ICABOD, the ever-present supercomputer, remains one of the most fascinating aspects of the Enigma series. ICABOD is a unique blend of technology and humor. Throughout the book, the team of experts turns to ICABOD for intelligence and briefings and are able to obtain the needed information almost instantly–always amazing. In addition, there exists a friendly banter between the team members and the supercomputer that lends a welcome level of levity to rather serious and many times, dark situations.
ICABOD is only the beginning of the advancements peppering Breakfield and Burkey’s work. I was fascinated by the capsule used to track Su Lin’s movements. As she prepares to fly to China, her ingestion of the tiny encapsulated tracker mesmerized me. As with each of the other Enigma books, the authors’ storylines are rich with technology that will wow readers from the first page.
I am giving The Enigma Source, by Breakfield and Burkey, an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. Rich characters and spellbinding storylines permeate The Enigma Source. Readers looking to take a leap into the depths of the digital age will find everything they want within the covers of Breakfield and Burkey’s The Enigma Source.
Pages: 351 | ASIN: B07GD6S9SP
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A Fire in the West is a Christian fantasy novel that is the third installment in the Stonegate Series. The third book takes place a hundred years after the first two, in the west of the Rocky Mountains. Even though the book takes place in the future, it seems that civilization has taken a back step. The novel takes place in the United States, and even though some locations are easily recognizable to the reader, it’s evident that they have changed in many ways. The one thing that has completely changed are the characters within the novel. They are left without the technological advances needed or wanted to face life’s challenges. They’re faced with evil and have to work together to battle it while keeping their basic values intact.
One of the big things that I appreciated within this novel was the authenticity of the main characters. I found there to be a good mix of characters and all were believable. Harry James Fox and Lucia Mudgway do a great job at giving each character a level of complexity that makes them more interesting. The authors also do a good job at setting up the dystopian future that the characters are living in, so these aspects of the novel are believable to the reader as well. I can see how the break from the social norm and downfall of technology came about.
Even though this was the last book in trilogy, the reader can still follow along with the story line without having to read the first to books. It’s a good enough story to want to go back and read the first two however.
I thought that the theme of Christianity within the story was a bit off from what I was expecting. We understand from the beginning of the novel that Christianity has remained with the characters despite the collapse of just about everything else. This story line provides the argument that once everything else is gone, our faith in God remains. But the characters don’t discuss or display an intimate relationship with him throughout the novel. I felt that there was no specific relationship with God illustrated throughout the novel, and I thought that the characters also don’t seem to give a second thought to the devil or the idea of hell. He’s present within the novel, but I never got the feeling that the characters actually feared him, it was more of a loathing towards him. These missing pieces aren’t necessarily a bad thing, just something that I thought might have been incorporated into the tale.
This book can be read and enjoyed by adults and young adults. Fox and Mudgway work together to create an interesting story that keep the reader’s attention and harkens back to an important aspect of any society, culture, or religion – morality.
Pages: 343 | ASIN: B07DRRMZLF
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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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When Mavin Cedarstrom heads to the Svalbard Seed Vault for another day on the job, he can’t possibly imagine the turn his life is about to take. His former life gathering seeds as an assistant to his favorite professor pales in comparison to the life he leads working in the exclusive and formidable vault housing samples of every seed variety in the world. Mavin’s job helping to protect and preserve the future of the planet’s primary food source leads him on a journey like no other when he awakens to find himself in what he soon learns is the future–the distant future.
Right out of the gate, Mark Daniel Seiler introduces readers to an intriguing set of circumstances. He wastes no time in keeping his audience guessing as to both time and place. The opening pages of River’s Child reveal a scene with an amalgamation of characters with varied backgrounds. It isn’t until Mavin reaches the vault itself that the reader is treated to the splendors of technological advancements. Seiler springs this futuristic setting on his readers in a wonderful contrast with the opening bar scene.
Reading River’s Child is akin to reading three different books, but it works well. Mavin’s time working in the vault and the tragedy that befalls him when he reports to work that fateful fall day are a far cry from the way he is found and worlds apart from the scene that greets him when he is pulled from beneath Earth’s surface. Once he and his rescuer/guide, Simone Kita, make the year-long trek to civilization, the story takes on a completely different feel which somehow also makes sense. To say that Mavin has taken a step into the past would not be wrong, nor would it be wrong to say he is almost light years in the future upon being pulled from the remains of the vault. Seiler presents for readers a picture of an Earth recreated after its destruction and, somehow, simultaneously archaic and advanced.
Seiler’s choice to make males subservient and females revered in the new world is both refreshing and entertaining. Simone, a strong woman in many ways, teaches Mavin the proper way to show respect and how to remain demure in his foreign surroundings. The author has pulled from multiple cultures to create the portrait of a lesser sex in this futuristic world which blends ancient customs with the discovery and mastery of unique and highly developed talents. Simone’s amazing ability to control space and time is superhero-like and takes the reader as much by surprise as it does Mavin the first time she tries to discreetly display it.
Seiler offers readers a picture of what is essentially a post-apocalyptic world that is different from any I have read. He takes readers on a journey that begins and ends with the soul survivor of a catastrophic event and allows them to watch as he struggles to find his place among those who now inhabit Earth. Seiler peppers his writing with the perfect amount of suspense and humor as he weaves this unforgettable tale.
Pages: 312 | ISBN: 1947003399
Posted in Book Reviews
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The year is 2050 and the overreaching A.I. is about to achieve total domination of the planet. If it succeeds, the end of humanity is certain. No resistance is expected since the human race has been herded into obedience and a false sense of security using high tech illusions and complacency. But the resistance is brewing – the Free Hackers are moving in the shadows, avoiding the scanners, blending with the crowd. They will cross the world, from Rotterdam to Sicily and all the way to California, in hopes of stopping the inevitable.
Interflow of Things by David Droge is a highly realistic vision of the future brought about by the constant revolutions in computing we have been witnessing in the past few decades. His A.I. starts its journey in our time but quickly spreads to control the world from the shadows. Its insatiable hunger for processing power has it manipulating governments and even change entire stratas of society. It uses high tech gadgetry to mask its debilitating effect on the planet. I enjoyed the superbly technical implementation of the technology which was always believable, especially when we remember how human totalitarian regimes have been able to accomplish the same effect without it.
Human emotions are the bedrock of its power – living in the A.I. controlled reality is comfortable. So much so that unplugging from it requires drug treatments and therapy. Julia, the first character we meet, needed extensive therapy provided by the Free Hackers before she got her emotions and clarity of mind back. And she was one of the lucky ones. Augmented reality dream is a prison of your own mind and you carry it everywhere. Why wouldn’t you? It makes everything, vision, smell, feel and touch, more beautiful! Droge is able to touch and develop every detail of the story so that you are completely immersed by the time you are just a few chapters in.
But the human emotion is something the A.I. doesn’t understand. Throughout the book we get inklings into the operation of this vast mind. Millions of calculations are being done in hopes of understanding basic human concepts and abilities, all in vain.
These passages serve the purpose of giving us the idea of the incomprehensible A.I.’s motivations. They turn out to be one of the few passages of the book that make sense. Dave Droge has translated this novel into English and the results could have been better. A layered and interesting world of the future was hard for me to comprehend. His human characters are intriguing but their motivation was obscured by poor translation.
Interflow of Things – the name of the novel is an obvious, ominous allusion to the current “Internet of Things” trend in computing integrated with ordinary business of living. It shows the future that we might be heading in. Droge gives us a warning that we might become willing slaves of computer controlled social constructs that we don’t really understand or care to understand. If the object of our desires is a real person or an android, will we know? Will we even care at that point? This is a fantastic science fiction story that can only get better.
Pages: 196 | ASIN: B07BTT6KRK
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Proper project management is essential in a business. The many moving parts need to be well oiled for a smooth ride. One therefore needs to be able to adapt to unpredictable changes in business. The traditional methodology of project management is sequential and focuses on predicting issues and having set ways to deal with them. The other project methodology is agile, which is a flexible, collaborative, and incremental process.
This book is about an agile framework called scrum. The idea is to focus on making the team adaptive to change. The framework appreciates requirement volatility. This is the prevalence of customer wants and preferences to change. Scrum instills an understanding that changes cannot be fully understood or foreseen. Rather than try to predict and understand the changes, this framework prepares the team to appropriately deal with such changes.
Agile scrum is more widely used in Software development but the author does a good job of generalizing it. Making it the go to framework for every project manager regardless of industry. The book highlights the versatility of scrum beautifully.
The subject matter is a bit complex. However, Scott M. Graffius breaks it down into little chewable bits before delving deep into each, taking it apart grain by grain. This method is greatly useful as it makes a daunting ideology easy to take in and implement. With this book, one can expertly introduce scrum into their business environment and confidently tackle any hurdle. It outlines all the basics in simple language and prose. The book is also greatly useful for people who are already using scrum. It makes for an excellent reference material for those that are already scrum certified or are preparing to be.
Using visual aids in addition to text greatly enhances the material. It makes for a more interactive and engaging experience. It makes the process of understanding the subject matter smoother for everyone whether beginner or veteran. Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step by Step Instructions offers a myriad of supplemental resources. Materials that one can use in addition to the book to better understand and use the scrum framework. It walks one through every step from vision to team formation to creating the product narrative up to release.
Unlike other books on the market, this one offers an informal look at scrum without losing its practicality. The tone is conversational thus does not feel like a textbook, and provides numerous examples and insight into real world implementation of scrum. I would recommended this to anyone looking to change their project management framework or work out knots in their current system. Scott M. Graffius delivers an in depth understanding of the subject matter and instills the same in the reader.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B01FZ0JIIY
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The Enigma Ignite is filled with technological advancements, drama, and humor while it assembles an interesting cast of characters to solve a problem with high tech communications. What was the inspiration for the theme of this novel?
Communications avenues have evolved to the point where we can speak over almost any device, often with video included. In our line of professional work using cell towers, satellites and SIP opens up more avenues for conversations to be monitored or masked. Each of our stories focus on the technology capabilities as well as how we use and abuse technology. Those who want to see what is occurring and yet they themselves hide under the radar are only limited by their imagination. A lot like a fictional author, right?
Technology is a lot like art in that it can inspire different interpretations in each person. The difference however is that with technology if you see dark thoughts you can use the product for dark actions. Enhanced communications for the battlefield, the main theme for this story, is just exactly what we were trying to illustrate. We create this brilliant researcher, Su Lin, trying to improve food production and the bad guys have seen the possibilities of her development efforts, yet have mapped it to their purposes in the dark net. The point we are trying to drive home is that no matter what your intentions were there will be some entity capable of morphing it into something never imagined. The problem then becomes how to put the genie back into the bottle?
Your work is able to effortlessly switch between drama and humor. Is that because of the two of you working together? Which one of you do you find lends more levity to your writing?
We do have fun working together to continue the aspects of drama and humor. Burkey has continually tried to learn humor over the years and is improving. The subtle aspects of the humor for the most part in the early stories of the series is Breakfield, however as you get further into the series Burkey comes up with some winning humor aspects. Over the years we have had a lot of humor in heavy drama circumstances when stuck in a horrific late night upgrade. Like the time we had talk down an engineer that ran screaming out of the building with our emergency chocolate pieces. You just can’t make that stuff up. Of course, we can’t tell you who wrote which portions because then we would need to arrange an unfortunate accident for you in a future story.
I found Su Lin and Franklin’s story line to be intriguing all the way around. What was your inspiration for the characters and relationship?
In our experience pigs are creatures who can bind with people, like a dog. They also have some physiology that makes that ideal for this kind of experimentation. Su Lin needed a new way to focus her creative efforts and do something for humanity that would make her feel like the valuable individual she is. Her brilliant character has evolved in the series and we wanted to give her some additional dimension. We honestly felt that putting the two together would interesting. Perhaps we were slightly influenced by the long ago story of a family, a pig, and a spider.
The Enigma Ignite is the third book in the Enigma series. What did you do different in this story to keep things fresh?
The technology keeps our series fresh as it keeps changing and we are in a position to observe its applications. However, it is the characters that give the series a very unique perspective. We have a subject rich pool of people and technology for our award winning techno thriller series. We incorporate the numerous characters, aka business professionals, we have encountered and it simply allows our imaginations to run rampant. Nanotechnology, drones, and military superiority as a mix seemed to play right into our process. The technologies alone don’t matter without the human interactions. The human interaction is more inspiring when they help paint a great story. We believe we balance a great combination of the technologies, research and characters to keep it fresh. We are so delighted you enjoyed it. In subsequent stories some characters, good and bad return, and some simply earn their just desserts. New technology continues to evolve our stories.
What does research to improve animal husbandry to boost global food supplies have in common with next generation high-tech military communications? A Texas university professor, quietly working in her field of study, finds her unconventional communication techniques have put her in the cross-hairs of multiple interested parties. Her applied research of nanotechnology, coupled with new programming methods has gotten her more attention than she wanted.
When the world’s biggest powers compete for superiority, it’s not larger weapons or greater numbers of soldiers that top their wish lists. Instead, it’s leveraging the latest technology improvements: nanotechnology,dynamic programming algorithms, and drones, working together to build the next generation of military communications. But what challenges do they face before emerging as the tall hog at the trough?
As Keith Austin Avery scouts new technology and new applications under his military contract his research draws the attention of a powerful terrorist group, with traumatic consequences for him and his subcontractor Eilla-Zan Marshall. Will they be forced to reveal the confidential military plans? Or is all this information already out on the Dark Net?
The R-Group is engaged to locate terrorists and their captives. Marshaling all data and using sophisticated analytics, they uncover more than they planned. Is there government corruption? Are secrets kept from those who can help? Most importantly, how many will lose their lives in the fight to perfect advanced battlefield communications?
This fast-paced third installment of the Enigma Series,TheEnigma Ignite, has the R-Group’s Jacob Michaels and Petra Rancowski working closely with a powerful and talented team to uncover the newest technological inroads. The technology programs they uncover results in a race against time to save lives.
Award winning authors, Breakfield and Burkey, provide a solid espionage thriller, that incorporates a satisfying balance of technology, tension, surprisingly sensitive romance,and the blurred lines that surround the age-old conflict between good and evil.
Posted in Interviews
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Neutral Space, written by Rebecca Tran, is a story told through the eyes of Jackson Eli Peterson; a man raised on a planet in the Sirus Seven. The Sirus Seven are planets named after the seven deadly sins in the Bible and were the catalyst for the war between the Kelsairans and humans. Jackson has a chance encounter with a beautiful Kelsairan woman which changes both their perspectives on the government and war. They soon realise that they may not have been told the truth about the opposition and its race, leaving them both to make decisions that will change their lives forever. A trial will begin, and secrets will be revealed in an epic futuristic tale where exposing the truth will have you killed.
Neutral Space is set in the year 3006, in a world where intergalactic races have intermingled with humans. Technology and territory were shared, but like most trade agreements, alliances were broken causing an unruly war between Kelsairans and humans.
Corrupt governments and evil agendas will mean that the characters may not all be who they seem. Allies will be formed, and friendships will be created, regardless of the race. Through the new found friendships, the authority will be questioned- and betrayed- to save the people they care about the most.
I loved how the novel incorporated futuristic ideas such as new races, advanced technology and ideas while still implementing familiar scenarios such as court scenes, jails and friendship. There’s even cultural food such as Italian and Chinese that are twisted into the plotline, giving the story an almost realistic feel. With human governments still participating in dodgy deals and corrupt politics, you can practically imagine the future in the 3000’s being very similar to what you find in Neutral Space.
Between the battles of war lies a love story that will have you eager to learn how it all ends. Rebecca Tran writes with a momentum that fills the pages with layers of action, romance and intergalactic adventures. The story was easy to read, but the characters were complex, with parts of their past being told as the plot line progressed. Rebecca Tran cleverly transcribes the character progression in a way that makes you feel attached and invested in the outcomes of their lives.
The story switches between past and present and Jackson recounts his encounter with the Kelsairan woman. This builds up the relationship and gives the reader an insight into the minds of both races. There were many parallels to how today’s society may have felt during a time of war with other countries, especially regarding the unspoken political agendas. An element of family is also present in Neutral Space as it hints at the everlasting values of humans and their desire to protect and create a family of their own.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys futuristic style novels with action, friendship and a dash of politics.
Pages: 170 | ASIN: B076GHGTJD
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Project Bodi focuses on Google Health and the impact that artificial intelligence has on the future of work. What was your inspiration for this book and why was it important for you to write it?
One day I was driving to San Diego and I had an idea – what if mindfulness meditation can enhance creativity and innovation? Mindfulness is very popular right now with apps like Headspace, 10% Happier, etc. It occurred to me that mindfulness was a way to tap into the subconscious mind and solve the challenges in our lives. I decided to write this book on that drive to San Diego, and I used the same techniques for harnessing innovation to write the book itself, which is why I wrote the book in only 8 weeks. Mindfulness really does enhance innovation, and I have this book to prove it.
Beth and Austin are interesting and well developed characters. What was your inspiration for their relationship?
It’s based on my own experiences in the corporate world. In many companies, the younger, entry-level employees are often ignored and they fall into a void of obsolescence. But in fact companies do best when engage their young employees and set high expectations for them. So the relationship between Beth and Austin is something quite common in the work force in my opinion.
This book has some scary parallels with our current world? Is there anything that worries you about our current level of AI or do you have a positive outlook?
A.I. has the potential to be a bright, powerful force for humanity that can enhance our lives, but there’s no denying the dark potential as well. It will depend on the motivations of our leaders, as described at the end of the book.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
It will happen when the idea comes to me. You can’t force innovation; just like Austin learned, you should let your subconscious mind bring the brilliant ideas to you. Just be patient and it will arrive on its own.
In 2029, Google is the most dominant company in the world. Dr. Bethany Andrews heads the company’s Artificial Intelligence Department and leads Project Bodi, the world’s most advanced Augmented Reality smartglasses that will one day revolutionize the tech space. Her lead programmer is Austin Sanders, a 26-year-old psychonaut who loves Burning Man and electronic dance music. Together they embark on a life-changing journey to design the product of the decade, and along the way they discover the mind’s inner source of insight and innovation.
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