Tag: science fiction

Seeking Revenge Becomes Something Else


Gregory Roarke is a Trailblazer. He and his Kadolian partner Selene conduct surveys of unexplored worlds. It does not pay as well as bounty hunting, the pair’s previous career. Trailblazing covers the bills, barely. And that only if you include the money they make diverting samples from their hiring client for resale elsewhere and unskilled short-term jobs they take between trailblazing contracts. It is safer than bounty hunting. That cost Roarke an arm before he quit.

“The Icarus Plot,” by Timothy Zahn, follows Roarke and Selene. As the book opens, they are one step away from getting their spaceship seized to cover debts. Things get worse when Roarke gets fired from his job as server cum bouncer at a bar. They stand to lose everything.

A reprieve comes through a thuggish sort named Geri.  He and an associate named Freki hire Roarke and Selene to survey of Bonvere Seven, a Terran-type planet. They pay well, and Selene is able to identify a very marketable seed, samples of which they extract and hide from their employers. Only the whole point of hiring them for the survey was to catch the two in an illegal attempt to hide samples from the employer.

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For several months I had been planning on attending the 2022 World Science Convention, which is being held in Chicago.  Then the organizers came out with their Covid policy.  Not only do all attendees have to show proof of their vaccination, but everyone must wear a mask at all times unless they are eating in […]

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The Wild West in Outer Space


John Abbott is the All-American boy of the future. He is scrupulously honest yet ambitious, getting ahead on his abilities. An accountant, he is a family man, with a wife, two young daughters, a family dog and a mountain of student loan debt.

“Abbott in Darkness,” a science fiction novel by D. J. Butler follows Abbott and his family as John Abbott pursues a career to pay off his debts. He has taken a job with an American interstellar corporation, moving his family to a planet circling a remote star. The move offers an opportunity to get rich quickly.

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When I was a boy, I wanted to be an astronaut. My favorite TV program was “Lost in Space.” I remember fervently praying that I would be allowed to be someone who could travel to distant stars. [I became a theologian instead. Some may see a connection there. 😊] Coupled with my space odyssey, I […]

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A Science-Fiction Cookout


Food: it is a central part of our lives. It is surprising how relatively little fantasy and science fiction centers upon food. F&SF explores the human condition, extrapolating the present into alternate realities. Why not explore food?

“Eat, Drink, and Be Wary: Satisfying Stories with a Delicious Twist,” edited by Lisa Magnum, takes on that challenge. It is a collection of nineteen fantasy and science fiction stories, with food as a theme.

The nineteen contributors go many different directions with their stories. This book contains hard science fiction, classic fantasy, and just about everything in between, including a variety of genres. There is an old-fashioned murder mystery, a noir adventure, classic horror, post-apocalyptic tales, and urban fantasy. Some stories are laugh-out-loud funny. Others are tragic. A few would serve for an episode of Twilight Zone or Game of Thrones.

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One of the sub-plots (maybe not the best term for it, but all I can think of now) of the “2010” movie (sequel to “2001: A Space Odyssey” in case anyone still doesn’t know that) is rising war tensions between the US and the “Soviet Union” which still existed at the time the movie was […]

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Combat Throughout Time Travel


Time travel stories are almost as old as science fiction. One of H. G. Wells’s earliest involved time travel. So is combat SF.

“Time Troopers,” edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio, is a science fiction anthology combining the two themes: time travel and combat. Davis and Ruocchio assembled a stellar collection of tales ranging from short-short stories to novellas.

It is filled with stories by an all-star cast of authors. Contributors include twentieth-century science fiction giants Robert Heinlein, Keith Laumer, Poul Anderson, Fritz Leiber, A. E. Van Vogt, Robert Silverberg, and H. Beam Piper. 21st-century contributors include Davis and Ruocchio, Sara and Robert Hoyt, John C. Wright and Jacob Holo. Historian T. R. Fehrenbach and author Edmund Hamilton also provide stories.

Adventures in an Airy World


Augustus StJohn Thislewood III is the scion of an industrial barony in the planet Azure (a barony in terms of influence rather than actual nobility). Briz is an orphan, a young petty criminal who lives by her wits.

“Cloud-Castles,” a new science fiction novel by David Freer, opens with Augustus and Briz meeting. He has gone to Sybill III to uplift the natives. She is one of the natives. She starts their acquaintanceship by robbing him.

Sybil III is a gas dwarf with a habitable zone in its atmosphere. Two space-faring races, the mutually-hostile Thrymi and Zell used it as a neutral meeting place. Anti-gravity technology floated a trading plate used for exchanges and floating mansions for the Thrymi and Zell on) Sybil III. They created bioengineered floating plants for subsistence. Before humans began star-travel, the Thrymi –Zell War knocked both back to barbarism, from which they never emerged.

A Sino-American Battle in Space


The time is the near-future, perhaps 50 years from today. Commercial space is a major industry. Human presence in space is continuous and widespread. The United States even has a manned and armed spaceship in cislunar: space the Borman. Not a warship, it is a space-faring Coast Guard cutter, an orbital beat cop.

“Frontier,” a science-fiction novel by Patrick Chiles opens in this setting. Marshall Hunter, a new graduate of the Space Force Academy, wants a piece of that action. He wants to explore space.

Hunter’s dream is an assignment aboard the nuclear-powered Borman. He busted his final check flight on the first go-around. Although he passed it the second time around, he believes he is bound for a dead-end assignment due to the screw-up. His worst fears seem realized when he is given a headquarters posting.

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Sometimes people will ask, “What do you think will happen in the future?” My general response is, “Have you read any good science fiction lately?” I remember years ago reading H.G. Wells novel The Time Machine. Toward the end of the book, the time traveler fast-forwards himself thousands of years into earth’s future. He finds […]

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About 13 months ago I published Charis Colony: The Landing on Kindle Direct. Kristina Hofstede, a friend in the Netherlands who attended the discipleship school at the Augsburg House of Prayer a few years ago saw it and volunteered to design a new cover. I finally put the work up last night. It looks like […]

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A Return Trip to the Past and Future


In Michael Z. Williamson’s novel “A Long Time Until Now” First Lieutenant Sean Elliott and nine US soldiers traveling in a convoy in Afghanistan suddenly found themselves flung into the Earth’s Paleolithic Age. Other time-displaced people from throughout history were with them. All had been accidentally displaced through a time travel experiment conducted by the Cogi, people in the far future. The Cogi eventually rescued them.

“That Was Now This Is Then,” by Michael Z. Williamson picks up the story after the soldiers’ return.  Some have been discharged; others remained in the Armed Forces. All are trying to pick up their lives.

Now they are being recruited for a new mission in the past. The Cogi need help. It turns out Elliot and his team were not the only American soldiers stuck in the past. The Cogi have found another group. Worse, a Paleolithic human displaced forward in time shows up in a now-time American base.

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No one seems to care very much about what I have to say regarding Werner Jaeger or Hal Foster, and why should they? But I can always rely on getting interesting comments when I write something about popular fiction, especially spy thrillers and the like. I am fascinated by genre fiction, and in particular how […]

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Bob Was There Too


I just finished reading Artemis, by Andy Weir. Yes, I know it’s been out for *checks title page* five years? Really? Man, I am slow at this kind of thing. The good part of not staying up-to-the-minute on these things is that I can get the book from the library because nobody else has it out. The bad thing is that nobody cares about what you have to say by then. But sometimes I’m early; sometimes I… hold on, I’m going to need to get a proper hipster beer to fortify me for this next part.

Now that I’m drinking a Triple India Pale Ale double dry hopped with Simcoe, Callista, and Kohatu,* I can tell you that I’ve been a fan of Andy Weir’s for longer than you have. I’ve read his first novel. No, not The Martian, this is the unpublished one called Theft of Pride. You’ve probably never heard of it. He had a download link on his website. No, not his current website; galactanet, the old one where he hosted his webcomic Casey & Andy. Hold on…

An Attempt to Rescue Tsar Nicholas


How would the world have changed had the Russian royal family not been murdered in 1918? Especially had they escaped Bolshevik captivity to serve as a focus for an anticommunist movement?

“The Romanov Rescue,” by Tom Kratman, Justin Watson, and Kacey Ezell, explores that possibility. It is an alternate-history novel, in which an attempt to rescue the Romanovs is mounted.

The authors posit a scenario where Kaiser Wilhelm decides to back an effort to rescue cousin Nicky and his family from the Bolsheviks. He sets in motion a mission to free the Russian Royal Family in December 1917.

The Hunt for the Mesan Alignment


The sprawling science fiction series involving Honor Harrington started in 1993, with “On Basilisk Station.” Nearly thirty years later it is still going strong with nearly thirty novels and six anthologies in five different threads.

“To End in Fire,” by David Weber and Eric Flint is the Honorverse’s latest arrival. Part of the “Crown of Slaves” strand of the saga, its focus is on the genetic slavery in the far future. The slave-sponsoring planet Mesa, and the self-emancipated slaves of planet Torch, feature prominently.

Earlier in the series Honor Harrington’s Manticorian conquered Empire Mesa. Manticorian with their starfaring allies in the Grand Alliance also defeated the Earth-based Solarian Empire. The Grand Alliance was formed after the Solarians – headquartered on Earth and making up the Core Worlds of human-occupied space – attacked Manticore.  That war and earlier wars between Manticore and Haven were triggered by the Mesa-based Alignment. Mesa was taken to subdue the Alignment.

Teens Saving the Earth’s Future in a Devastated World


John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” series presents a world devastated by a bio-engineered viral plague. The plague destroys upper-brain functions turning the infected into mindless cannibals—effectively zombies. It’s highly contagious. It’s contracted through blood-to-blood contact with the infected—usually as they attack those not infected, to eat them. The series focuses on how survivors cope with the collapse of society.

“At the End of the Journey,” by Charles E. Gannon, is the latest arrival in the “Black Tide Rising” series. It follows the story of American teenagers who begin a senior year summer cruise aboard sailing ketch Crosscurrent Voyager just before the plague strikes. Sailing alone from the Galapagos to the South Sandwich Islands, they’re able to avoid the plague

This was related to an earlier novel, “At the End of the World.” In it, the ship’s ex-Special Air Service captain dies of a preexisting condition, but not before preparing his teenage charges to run the boat themselves and to fend off both the infected and those remaining human that mercilessly prey on the weak after society’s collapse.