Smith & W’Sin Adventures Book 1 by Matthew McCray By Matthew McCray Published on November 12, 2019
Two privateers seems to find themselves with a lot of bad luck in this space adventure that is full of so much fun from start to finish. This may be a short story, but there is a lot of action packed in the 41 pages.
Short Story in the Upgrade Series Universe by Wesley Cross Published on: November 5, 2019
Helen is on the run from a deadly enemy. But as she heads deep into the slums of New Kowloon looking for refuge, things are only getting worse. Now local thugs and the triads are trying to hunt her down too. The problem is–she’s got the world to save.
If you liked Altered Carbon, Blade Runner, and The Matrix, and enjoy page-turner thrillers you’ll love this short story set in the universe of the best-selling Upgrade series.
Up until recently, life in New Kowloon had been peaceful-ish. The three major triads had had an understanding of sorts with no real gang wars for several years. But recently something had caused the dynamics between the triads to shift and now Helen finds herself fighting for her life. However, it isn’t just Helen that is caught in the cross-hairs so she devises a plan to engage with someone else that seems to be getting the brunt of this new gang war in the hopes that perhaps together they can help each other out.
Although, I found this short story in the science fiction section, for the most part if feels more like an action thriller as Helen is constantly running or fighting off triad members. However, somewhere in the middle there is a small piece of conversation that reminds you that the world they live in isn’t quite like ours, but other than that it feels pretty normal. But even in that small moment where the sci fi piece is mentioned you do get the sense that this story and the Universe Series it is part of revolves more around technology than other types of science fiction sub-genres.
Overall, I found Helen’s plan that she comes up with a little too easy, but it’s a short story so you really can’t get overly complex. Even so, in the 39 pages you can tell there is a fully-fleshed out world these characters live in that sounded pretty intriguing. Rogue is part of the Upgrade Series Universe and at the end there is a sneak peak of the first novel in the series – BluePrint. According to Amazon, book 3 – The Loop is due out later this year.
Aeon 14/Perilous Alliance 6.5 by Chris Pike and M.D. Cooper Published on: September 22, 2019
Cats in space! What’s weird is this is the fourth science fiction short story I’ve read recently that features a cat – and from different authors too. Personally, I’ve never actually thought about which Earth pet might work best in space, but apparently it’s already decided – and it’s cats. But what’s beginning to pop out to me is the message these authors are sending in three of these four books: Cats are not getting fed!
Mr. Fizzle Pop tells an epic story about his adventures aboard the Barbaric Queen. In search of a fifty-foot pizza, he pilots a shuttle refitted for love, steals a box of cigars, and nearly gets killed in the process. All in the day and life of your favorite uplifted cat.
First – love the title. Titles aren’t usually a selling or non-selling point for me, but the name of that cat is awesome and most definitely attracted my attention. I mean, who doesn’t want to know how Mr. Fizzle Pops ruined everything?
But apparently sci fi writers are beginning to see a troubling trend that they are needing to address through their works- calling out like a canary in a coal mine. Do they know something we don’t? In Gerald’s Mistake and Gerald’s Regret, we see how not being fed on time leads Gerald to “accidentally” cause the end of the world. So perhaps they are just warning us of potential apocalyptic events that we can avoid if only we feed our cats. Or perhaps they are attempting to put mystery/thriller authors on notice. They are tired of police walking into the homes of potential victims (or suspects who have fled the scene) where it is noticed that the pet hasn’t been fed for days. But, I digress.
In the Forward section of this short read, the author actually identifies how Mr. Fizzle Pops came to be created and how he is based on their own cat who insisted on constantly being fed.
The short story starts with thecrew of the Barbaric Queen crew having a victory party and neglecting to feed Mr. Fizzle Pops. They laugh about his constant need for food and it is this that leads Bubbs and Mr. Fizzle Pops to tell a few stories of past events. Stories are:
How Mr. Fizzle Pops was found by Bubbs and came to be on the Barbaric Queen.
How Mr. Fizzle Pops got rid of the dog (Moon Sausage) that used to be on the ship.
Even though I read it I’m actually not 100% sure on what the third story is about, but I believe it is how some individuals left or were removed from the Barbaric Queen.
This is a series I am not familiar with – at all. I do this often – I see an interesting book, and then read it no matter where it is in the series. Generally, I can figure out the major plots and characters with little to no trouble. However, I had a much more difficult time with this one. The characters weren’t necessarily introduced by who they are within the story and prior plot points were not explained in enough detail that I could pick out what was going on. An example of this is the third story – it begins with Bubbs saying she will take care of another character right after he eats dinner. Then, Mr. Fizzle Pops strolls onto the bridge and cuddles with another character who is also giving him snacks. But, then someone else joins them on the bridge and the dynamics change, but we aren’t told why. I even wondered if they were putting on a show for the cat just to drive him crazy. The scene just didn’t make sense to me, partially because this is all from the cat’s perspective and we are given a “cat’s version” of what is actually occurring, but also because there is no reference point or explanation of the events to fall back on.
Even though I didn’t quite understand the characters and past events, I did find the stories to be very readable and would be interested in reading the series. It was most definitely filled with very memorable characters that felt like a true ‘crew.’ I just wish a little more background had been explained within the story so that I could enjoy it a bit more.
Rating: 3.5 if you’re new to the series 4.0 if you’re familiar with it.
The Amazing Conroy Book 4 by Lawrence M. Schoen Published on: August 28, 2019
Every once in a while one needs a science fiction story that is just pure fun. A story with a sense of style that has a lot of charisma. A story that gives you a break from alien invasions or post-apocalyptic worlds. In Barry’s Deal, you get the feel of Las Vegas along with the con games you might have seen in the movie Ocean’s 11 (or 12 or 13). All set on Neptune’s largest moon – Triton. Incidentally and unrelated to the book, per NASA’s web site, Triton is the “only large moon in our solar system that orbits in the opposite direction of its planet’s rotation.”
Four Science Fiction Stories By Michael Duda Published on: August 16, 2019
Nice collection of 4 science fiction short stories that while each are unique in their theme, all together they are a cohesive collection. The first one in the book, The Sound of Blue, was awarded Silver Honorable Mention by Writers of the Future, Q2 2019.
In short, Mass Transit is a terrific science fiction short story that hit all the right notes with me. This well crafted story was entertaining as we see a new and different way to handle traffic at Atlanta with an interesting conflict between the protagonist and antagonist that continues to build up to a satisfying conclusion.