Wednesday, July 28, 2021


Antithesis is a collection of vivid and exhilarating science fiction stories, tied together by characters whose moral challenges offer windows into humanity and the human condition. These stories are cautionary tales, flights of fancy, terrifying psychological journeys, humorous romps, and even a space opera.

A speculative tale about humankind becoming obsolete from the perspective of the machines we created. The story of an airline pilot who loses his faith in the physics of flying as his rational and irrational mind fight for dominance. An ancient being born of human evolution that strips us of our memories, feeding on one precious reminiscence at a time. An audacious fable that explores a new galaxy, one where humans are irrelevant, but the conflicts of a class-based society are not. A novella-length saga about a mission to Mars, the origins of humanity, and an atrocity that stretches across time and space. And finally, a story that asks the question whether an unstoppable artificial intelligence would indeed be happier traveling the vast reaches of space, or back amongst the flawed beings who created it.

Escape into worlds unlike anything you have seen before, but some eerily similar to our own. Antithesis – where the opposite is to be expected.


Antithesis is a collection of five short stories and one novella. Two of the stories will finish in Rousov's second volume. Personally, that was a minor negative for me, although, on the positive side, Rousov's competent storytelling develops intrigue and mystery, making for a page-turning experience.

My top three stories were:

Obsolescence was an intriguing voyage into a future world of quantum computing and its ramifications to society if left unchecked. But, how do you achieve that when the technology you're creating is superior to its inventors? I particularly enjoyed the confrontation between the 'core' and its inventors after the point of singularity and the philosophical discourse that followed, unfortunately ending all too quickly.

MCDU was a mysterious voyage taken by John and a travelling companion, Chris, more a ghost story than sci-fi, but nicely told.

Andy and the Core was my favourite, telling the story of an AI sentient and his travels across the universe. Although a short story, Rousov took the time to develop Andy and the choices he made, even on becoming a male. His travels across the universe followed, offering an imaginative view of the different life forms that had evolved across galaxies, just a 'pinch' away from this voyager of the cosmos.

The two longer stories, The Harvest and The Blue Planet, were equally intriguing. Still, they ended abruptly, leaving the reader to wait and wonder about the next instalment, a successful strategy for a television series, but for me, less successful in a novel. 

All in all, Antithesis is an enjoyable read for lovers of SFF in the short story form. If you enjoy Twilight Zone style SFF, I recommend you read this novel. 4 STARS


Antonella walked down the corridor. Some of her crew scurried away as usual when she passed, but she also noticed a few looks that lingered. She turned a corner and saw that no one was there. Off to one side was a maintenance hatch, one that led to the outer hull of the Maiden. With a glance over her shoulder, Antonella opened the hatch and squeezed herself in.

It wasn’t easy going in the maintenance corridor. Antonella had to hunch over, constantly wary not to hit her head against scorching-hot pipes. Finally, she arrived at her destination, a viewing bubble that stuck out from the outer hull, allowing repair crews to see any deformation in the ship’s skin.

But what Antonella saw nearly stopped her fluidic pumping organ. There were hundreds of invaders clinging to her ship, like Alerian moths on a stag’s back. They were dressed in vac suits with magnetic shoes. More floated silently toward the Maiden, keeping away from viewing ports and making sure to stay in the blind spot of the bridge. Thud! She again heard the metallic noise that had triggered her initial reaction in the engine room. It was an invader landing on her hull and taking their position.

There was only a moment of doubt in Antonella as she tried to understand what was happening, but it all then became crystal clear. This was the crew of the freighter. They were going to board the Maiden.

Antonella could feel her jaw clench, her back arch. She turned to head back to the corridor, vowing to kill each one of them. But suddenly, she stopped with a thought: someone must be helping them from inside. She shook her head angrily; it must be the engineer who had betrayed her, and she was now certain who was pulling his strings.

AUTHOR Bio and Links

Svet Rouskov started his career as a graduate from the University of Toronto Mechanical Engineering program and became a successful automotive industry executive. After fifteen years he discovered that his real passion was writing. Once he took an introductory screenwriting class, Svet realized he was hooked and continued his filmmaking education at Norman Jewison's Canadian Film Centre. Since that time, Svet has written, developed, and produced feature films, television shows, video games, and web-based series. His passion for writing has now extended to literature, which offers him another exciting avenue to tell stories. This is Svet's first work of fiction.

Please check out his IMDb page for details of his work and representative contact information.








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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Electric Girl

Book Overview

Polly Michaels is trying to forget that her mom has cancer. She keeps busy at school and plods through a normal social life. Until a freak storm and a unicorn appear in the orchard next to her house.

Sy’kai wakes on an orchard floor to the smell of rotting cherries and wet earth. She doesn’t know where she is - or who she is - but she knows something is hunting her. 

Polly recruits her friends to find the mysterious creature she saw from her window while Sy’kai, a confused shape-shifting endling from another dimension tries to piece her mind back together. Once the human girls find Sy’kai (whom they nickname Psyche) the mystery unravels and the danger facing all of them comes into focus.

A gritty struggle ranges throughout the girls’ rural hometown and in the wild terrain around it. All while two questions hang over their heads. Can an alien deliver a miracle for a human mother? Can a group of teens defeat an inter dimensional demon?

My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed the cracking introduction. Christine Hart showcases her considerable writing skills, quickly moving the story forward and effortlessly building intrigue. However, the middle section doesn't quite reach the heights of the promising opening. That said, The Electric Girl should be an entertaining read for young readers.

Polly is your typical fifteen-year-old, filled with dreams of unicorns and boys, but she has to deal with her mother, who is seriously ill with cancer. Fortunately, Polly has a group of loyal friends to help her cope. 

Her everyday life among the cherry orchards suddenly changes when two aliens, morphlings, crash through a time portal onto Earth. One, Sy'kai, morphs into a young girl. The other, Nur-gahl, her deadly pursuer, transforms into a wild bear. 

Polly and her friends soon get caught up in the alien encounter. For me, extended scenes of Polly and her friends in their rural hometown slowed the story's pace, although, for younger readers, it may reinforce the strong bond these loyal friends share as they face life-threatening events. 

The author gave tantalising glimpses of Sy'kai's world in a meditation scene with Polly. But, as a science fiction fan, I wanted to know more about the two aliens and less about Cherry Orchard and its young inhabitants. 

Overall, young readers should enjoy Christine Hart's magical realm of unicorns, aliens, and the band of courageous friends who help an inter-dimensional being. A 3.5 STARS read for the young adult audience.


Sparks cut the space in front of her, dancing in a lacy ice and sapphire ring. If I can close the portal with him inside, it won’t matter what we leave behind or where I land. Trapping Nur-gahl was nearly impossible because Sy’kai needed her wits about her to close a portal. If she closed it too quickly, Nur-gahl would be left behind, free to devour an entire world, unchallenged by beings not capable of understanding what he was let alone the depths of his hunger, his fury. With every new passage her brain grew increasingly muddled by the energy expenditure and the instant intake of information—the new world and all its life being taken in at once. Her only chance to weaken and then destroy Nur-gahl was to find a world at the moment of its death, with nothing left for him to mimic. Sy’kai focused every molecule of her consciousness on finding this elusive destination. Her electricity stretched into a clumsy oval as a window to the unknown tore open. Energy exploded outward. Fresh, sweet air rushed at her, filling her lungs with relief.

But this new world was far from barren.

“I smell a feast on the other side! Go ahead, jump in. I am right behind you, ssssister!”

Rage flared in Sy’kai’s core. She risked a glance back and saw the dark silhouette of a gargantuan, monstrous creature racing toward her. She faced the portal again and plunged through.

Heat and light devoured Sy’kai’s flesh as the fissure enveloped her. What will I be on the other side? Please, please, let this be the final shift, she thought as the vacuum of the portal crushed her entire being.


And then she was spat out from the portal, into the dark of night. Atoms pulled other atoms into minute clusters as millions of electric implosions sucked matter off the ground and out of the surrounding terrain. Pure instinct flowing from a primal mind scanned the landscape for a blueprint of sentient life. A mental tentacle scraped and slurped, hungry for material until it finally latched onto something in the distance and made its decision. Another explosion crackled behind her elemental brain, but the sound hardly registered in the morphling’s still-forming body.

Gray matter coalesced, bone materialized, and muscles knit themselves around the skeleton as it built itself from nothing. White light and raw energy found purchase through four glowing hooves. Delicious soft gas kissed her forehead, a body part that felt somehow heavy. Light hovered overhead, illuminating the way forward through dark leaves and moist dirt.

Brightness flooded the field ahead of her. Moments later, as her eyes adjusted, she sensed another life form somewhere inside the light. Instinctively, she walked toward a face she couldn’t see. A slight figure, a willowy bipedal creature with orange-red hair slowly came into focus. And the morphling brain, still crude with instinct and ability, reached out telepathically to evaluate this opposing alien heartbeat.

She turned back to the trees then as she felt the heat of another uncontrollable transformation taking hold.

Author and Bio Links

Christine Hart writes from her suburban home on BC’s beautiful West Coast. She specializes in speculative fiction for young readers. Her stories feature detailed real-world landscapes as a backdrop for the surreal and spectacular. 

Christine’s backlist includes YA, NA, and MG titles, including the speculative trilogy The Variant Conspiracy. Her debut YA, Watching July, won a gold medal from the Moonbeam Children's awards in the mature issues category and an honourable mention from the Sunburst Awards. 

Christine holds a BA in English and Professional Writing, as well as current membership with the Federation of BC Writers and SF Canada.

She works as a content and communications specialist for a technology studio in Vancouver. And when not writing, she creates wearable art from recycled metals under the guise of her Etsy alter-ego Sleepless Storyteller.  She shares her eclectic lifestyle with her husband and two children.


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Sunday, June 13, 2021

The City We Became


There is a threat to New York of ‘Lovecraftian’ proportions, waged on New York by parallel universe apparitions. I thought I’d try the 2020 BSFA winner, a disappointment to me as there was more fantasy and less science fiction, apart from patchy references to multi-verse theory. Jesmin moves away from the ‘other world’ settings of her previous award-winning novels to an Earthbound location. New York is where five avatars representing the major Burroughs of New York defend their city against an ‘other-universe’ threat that feeds on cities that are about to transform to a higher level of consciousness.

The five characters are pitched in the same direction to find a primary avatar unconscious somewhere in the city. Finding and joining him is their only hope of defeating an adversary that destroys whole worlds. Jesmin’s new novel, as always, is filled with witty prose, but it wasn’t enough to engage me. In the end, I skimmed through the story, so it would be unfair to rate it. Readers looking for insightful fantasy with a strong social commentary bent will rate this highly. Science fiction fans may do better to read Jesmin’s earlier work.

Monday, April 12, 2021



Necrogarden (Book Two: NeuralTech Rising Series)

Necrogarden, the second in Bryon Vaughn's trilogy, moves straight into the action as agents Landry and Mack give chase to Jenny and Leo. They, against the odds, escaped the Garden, a terrifying, secret technological construct powered by human minds. 

As the title implies, Necrogarden takes a sinister turn from its prequel, Neurogarden, introducing a dark assortment of antagonists, Takahiro and Mack, both prepared to unleash brutal violence on their targets, "seeking the next level of pain". The quick move to action grips the reader from the beginning, although it helps to have read book one. 

Brenna, the ruthless CEO of NeuralTech, barely holds the reins of her company. Now she enlists Artificial Intelligence, in the guise of her virtual assistant, Hal, to run the Garden. However, Hal goes rogue, carefully manipulating all around him to gain control.

All the main characters from the first book, Brenna, Jenny and Leo, are unwittingly caught in Hal's deceptive web, challenging their motives. Other characters, such as Brenna's father, are seamlessly linked into the story without any drop in pacing.

Vaughn's novel takes a decidedly dark turn from the first novel, moving more to horror than science fiction, but it's the thriller elements that bind this fast-paced story. For those who like their antagonists with a sadistic bent, this novel is for you. 4 STARS

Neurogarden (Book One: NeuralTech Rising Series)

Neurogarden, Bryon Vaughn's imaginative debut novel, delves into the possible future of AI technology. The theme is a familiar one: the corporate impulse to exploit profit and power no matter how questionable the technology versus those who see the moral disadvantage. It reminds me a little of Neuromancer, but with less tech and more of the thriller element. 

The CEO of NeuralTech Corporation, Brenna Patrick, has developed the world's most effective and accurate facial recognition system. Unsurprisingly, it has attracted the Department of Defence's collaborative funding, but the company's operations are not what they seem.

The antagonist, Brenna Patrick, possesses a ruthless ambition and superior intelligence that drives her to succeed no matter the cost, both to herself or those who dare to cross her path. A perfectionist at heart in all things, Brenna possesses a selfish streak that ultimately leads to her downfall.

The protagonist, Jenny Marcado, loyally supported by her grad student friend, Leo Marino, inadvertently fall into Brenna's dark web whilst innocently pitching their business acumen to NeuralTech. Jenny's presentation fearlessly speaks the truth to power, impressing Brenna and sparking an interest between them that extends beyond professional competence. A fatal attraction develops.

Jenny and Leo are drawn ever deeper into Brenna's shadowy corporate web, leading to a thrilling cat and mouse game between those who wish to expose NeuralTech's secrets and those who want to protect them.

I enjoy the new wave of tech science fiction, exploring the impact of new technology on society. Vaughn's take on 'The Garden' was an intriguing and imaginative journey. It took some time to reach the action as it introduced character backstories, unnecessarily slowing the pace. That said, the second half of the book quickly gathers momentum. Vaughn's atmospheric prose soars when it reaches the beating heart of NeuralTech's technology, 'The Garden'. The imaginative dreamlike experience is effectively counterbalanced with thriller elements, making for an entertaining and thought-provoking story.

Fans of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and Philip K Dick's Minority Report should enjoy Neurogarden. 4 Stars

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Australian and British Science Fiction Awards 2020

Australian Science Fiction Awards

The Aurealis Awards are an annual literary award for Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror fiction. It was established in 1995 by Chimera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis Magazine.

The Aurealis nominations are out for the best science fiction novels for 2020. There is a good mix of new writers and previous winners and nominees.

The nominations are:

Ghost Species, James Bradley;

Aurora Burning, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff;

Fauna, Donna Mazza;

The Animals in That Country, Laura Jean McKay;

The Mother Fault, Kate Mildenhall;

Repo Virtual, Corey J White.

British Science Fiction Awards

The 2020 British Science Fiction Awards (BSFA) are awarded every year by the British Science Fiction Association based on the votes of BSFA members, and in recent years, members of the British National Science Fiction Convention, Eastercon.

The 2020 awards will be held online from April 2 to 5, 2021. The nominees for all categories can be viewed on this link.

There’s an interesting group of science fiction novels this year and I have read one of the nominations. 

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. 

Two more interesting standouts for me are:

Threading the Labyrinth by Tiffany Angus; and 

Water Must Fall by Nick Wood.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Premium Virtual Tour: Chandelier

CHANDELIER is the genre-bending follow-up of Michael Leon’s 2019 fantasy-romance novel, PHANTOMS. 

Set a hundred years into the future, AI has achieved super intelligence and surpassed human knowledge, and yes humanity’s existence had been challenged. However, AI developed a solution, residing in their own ‘Virtual Earth’, leaving humans, now a minority, to share an environmentally damaged Earth with post-humans, technologically enhanced humans who are the dominant species. 

This uneasy alliance is governed under the watchful eye of AI. AI sentients, near perfect human replicas, have been developed as a method of better understanding humans. They possess only some of the vast cognitive powers of AI’s residing in Virtual Earth. Unaware of their origins, they believe they are human. 

This is the story of one such sentient, Benny, a talented musician, who is hired by a famous opera singer, Madame D’Arenberg (Diva), to help fulfill her final performance at the Garnier. Benny initially welcomes the opportunity, before he is swept up in the Phantom’s world, exposing him to the deadly web cast over two centuries and the awful truth about Diva’s life.

Blog 1 - Chapter Reveal

This week we provide an excerpt from Chapter One of Chandelier, Benny and the Diva.

A century has passed since the fabled Phantom ruled the Garnier Opera House. Multiple generations of patrons have felt his wrath, including Madame D’Arenberg, referred to as Diva, a famous French opera singer who is now a centenarian post-human. (humans with technological implants)

She prepares for her final appearance at the Garnier for the 2121AD opening night of Verdi’s La Traviata. Her greatest love has long passed and she is now cared for by Peri (a human) and Dr Flynn (a humanoid). On Peri’s recommendation, Diva attends a performance by Benny, a musician who scrapes out a living as a pianist in a nightclub. Diva is affected by his unique musicianship and hires him to write a song for her final concert.

Excerpt from Chapter One

Hotel patrons streamed in from all corners of Paris SC (Super City) into Benny's world. The high-level retreat filled with an atmospheric fog, not from long-banned substances, but personal coms, permanently activated by the long-haulers, post-humans who congregated after a fifty straight hours shift. Some welcomed Benny's music but most preferred the personalised entertainment from their com. A few humans, 'old gen's' were scattered around the room, mostly aids accompanying wealthy post-humans, the new elite. 

Benny practised scales masquerading as background music before turning his talents to playing neoclassical noir in an attempt to break through their digital wall of indifference. Halfway into the musical arrangement, he scaled up the digital accompaniment, unable to play the piano's challenging set. The loss of control baffled him. What was usually easy could become an alarming challenge as his mind struggled to connect the paper's voluminous notes with his hand coordination. He played the more straightforward accompaniment with his good right hand. No one seemed to notice his struggle. He glanced across to the best tables, lining the panoramic view of the whirlpool of districts spiking web-like across the super city, housing the vast majority of the French population. They weren't even interested in Paris's most lovely view. Why should they care about his music?

The views that evening offered a special treat. Stars momentarily appeared in the sky, a rare event as the permanently thick cumulus layers choked the Earth's post-industrial stratosphere. A clearer view lay below. Climate roads cut green lines between a vast sea of regenerated buildings. Their cloud scraper fronted a 'farmlane', the largest of the old highways approved for farming under artificial 'sunstrips' where autonomous croppers tended to the super-city's food chain. 

Benny was the only unaccompanied human in the house. He relished the challenge of drawing post-humans attention from their virtual lives, but most nights, he failed, playing his heart out to phantoms, no longer fascinated by the natural world. Surprisingly, one table was taking an interest. 

Chapter One Podcast 

Like the excerpt? Listen to the podcast of Chapter One, Benny and Diva, and hear the song that motivated the chapter.

Blog 2 - World Build

This week we look at the world of one of the characters from Chandelier. The story line crosses two centuries, the 21st and 22nd. There is the world of Erik, the modern day Phantom of the Opera (2021AD) and Benny’s world one hundred years in the future. Benny is a humanoid who finds himself drawn into The Phantom’s realm as he tries to help the famous diva, Madame D’Arenberg, whose life was fatefully entangled with the Phantom’s a century earlier.

Today we examine Benny and the Diva’s 22nd century civilization, a future world I developed in a previous novel, Sentient.

Earth 2121AD

A century on and Earth’s population has peaked to nine billion. The human species has been relegated to minority status as post-humans become the dominant race on Earth. A century of rampant unchecked climate and technological change and subsequent catastrophic global pandemics, has laid claim to the very young, accelerating post-human development. Humans are mostly assigned to repairing the environmental damage they perpetrated on Earth. Nearly all new born are assigned post-human surgery as their only route to long term survival. Whereas post-humans, with superior technological and robotic enhancements and a 200 year life span, develop interplanetary and interstellar exploration and habitation. 

Artificial Intelligence achieved singularity and were willingly handed governance over a troubled Earth. While they govern Earth, most AI sentients reside in a virtual Earth known as the sensorium, but a small number are assigned to android hosts on Earth, known as humanoids, human-looking, with sentient capabilities undetectable so that they can go about their assigned programs on Earth, to better human/post-human/AI relations. Their intelligence is limited to particular skills and they are purposely programmed to be unaware of their sentient heritage and believe they are humans.

Benny is a humanoid, his specialist capability, music. He has worked the bars and night clubs of Paris Super City for all of his programmed life until a post-human walks in on one of his performances. He is offered a job to develop music for the diva’s final performance at the Garnier, the opera house she ruled as the world’s best opera singer a century earlier. Benny believes he has found his true calling as he assists the diva. However, as events unfold, Benny is increasingly drawn into worlds he could never have imagined, as another humanoid, Flynn, shows him the true extent of his powers, exploring other dimensions and time itself, where he observes the Diva’s life when she was the toast of France and came under the spell of the Phantom’s deadly web.

I enjoyed blurring the past with the future in this genre bending tale. It's impossible to predict what that world will be, but like the current tech revolution was unimaginable to our forefathers, so too the next hundred years would appear more as a magical fantasy world to us. 

Blog 3 - Author Interview

This week we ask the author what is the importance of research in novel writing?

Research is a very important component of the writing process. Given Chandelier is a follow up novel of my 2019 book, Phantoms, much of the background research was already done.

There are two levels of research, secondary and primary. In my previous career in international business, I’d research as much as I could about the country and its markets before travelling there to carry out field interviews with business operators. I use much the same process for fictional writing.

Secondary Research: To write Phantoms, I researched and read the many adaptions of the famous tale, as well as the original novel, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Like many books, there are film and theatre versions as well, and Phantom of the Opera is more widely known from the stunning success of the musical adaption. After watching the theatre version, reading the original book falls flat compared to the high drama of the musical, but Leroux’s work remains a uniquely creative work.

I also use Verdi’s opera as the backdrop of my novels so I had to research Verdi’s work before deciding on the appropriate operas. I used Macbeth in Phantoms and decided on La Traviata in Chandelier, as the story revolves around the sacrifice of the female lead, Violetta. 

Primary Research: This was the fun bit! Long before writing Phantoms, I lived in France for three months spending equal time in Bordeaux, Lyon and Paris. As a francophile, I enjoyed living among the French and experiencing their unique culture. I was invited to an opera at the Garnier in Paris and never forgot the experience. It is a stunning opera house filled with history, stunning architecture and of course the stories of the famed opera ghost, making for an unforgettable experience. It left an indelible mark on my life, so much so, I co-wrote Phantoms as a tribute to the experience. I also have a picture of that visit containing the Phantom’s signature. I believe he appeared with me in a photo taken of me in the Garnier, but I’ll let you decide! Can you see the shape of the Phantom’s face on my shirt?

Blog 4 - Chapter Reveal

This week’s blog provides an excerpt from Chapter 10 of Chandelier, Philippe and Viola.

Philippe is the older brother of Raoul, descendants of wealthy aristocratic parents. Unlike his brother, Philippe has squandered his inheritance from an addiction to gambling. Living in Italy and beholden to the mafia who funded his gambling debts, Philippe runs a mafia owned jazz club as a way of repaying his debts. There, he meets a promising singer, Viola, who wants one day to perform opera. Secretly, they become lovers and Philippe begins to hatch a plan to return to the Garnier and with the mafia’s support, manage the Garnier Opera company and help Viola achieve her dream.

Excerpt from Chapter 10

"I do it mainly for you," Viola replied, seemingly hurt by Philippe's slight.

"Let's get this straight, Viola. We work for Capo. Reggi reports to Capo. You do nothing to raise his suspicions, including fraternising with any of the family’s clientele."

"Reggi doesn't have any interest in my singing. Why should I care or even bother helping him or you?" she replied, noticeably hurt.

"Because you want to be a diva. Remember?"

Viola let go of her warm embrace, any desires she had for him spent. She brushed her long hair over her shoulders, and adjusted her top, walking toward the entry, not caring to look back, and pronouncing defiantly, "more than anything or anyone," before disappearing into the night club, her musical home.

Philippe watched her walk to the entry. Viola had the voice of an angel and the curvy body to match. He didn't hold back, showing his new performer that she had the appeal of a diva with the alluring charms of a goddess, but their relationship remained playful even though he lusted for her. If not for Reggi, he would have taken her on their first day together. Viola had Christine's voice and Carlotta’s body, a charismatic force that would take them to the Garnier. He just had to persuade Capo.

The lights faded in the club as the stage lit up, revealing Viola at the front, her band jamming in the background. Philippe rejoined Reggi, two cutty sark whiskies in hand, one for his overly intoxicated companion. Mercifully, alcohol brought out Reggi's brighter side, allowing both to enjoy Viola's soothing tones and her backing band. He cast an eye across the audience, primarily enamoured men, studying Viola's amply filled black dress. She played to them with all the skill of a woman who'd learnt to seduce to overcome a meagre past. He believed that to be the single biggest reason for her succeeding in the most challenging and demanding industry in the world, opera.

Chapter 10 Podcast 

Like the excerpt? Listen to the podcast of Chapter 10, Philippe and Viola.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Time Gatherer

Book Overview

Coming of age as a time traveler isn’t easy. Young George St. James gets help from a magical medieval monk and a 23rd century geneticist. But they can’t keep him safe from a secret society dedicated to eliminating time travel. When love unexpectedly arrives in a distant century, George must use all his skill to thwart his foes while trying to save his beloved from their malice.

My Review

The Time Gatherer, a prequel to Rachel Dacus's novel, The Renaissance Club, explores the backstory of George St James, the leader of the Renaissance Club, a group of historians touring Italy. I didn't read the earlier novel, but it wasn't necessary to enjoy its prequel.

The Time Gather provides the YA reader with an enjoyable journey into the world of Renaissance art and time travel. George, the protagonist from 2073 AD, is dealing with the changes of adolescence and a genetic ability to skip through time with a single thought. 

An ensemble of mentors, Sanders his butler, Dr Zheng a 23rd-century geneticist and Bernardo, a medieval monk, assist George. However, George is an impatient student who allows love to get in the way of rational decision making, often running the gauntlet of time travel and the inherent risks, notably being discovered by The Optimalists, who want time gathering outlawed.

He adventures across generations of the creative arts world, from twentieth-century rock music to the seventeenth century's Renaissance art, meeting an assortment of beautiful women, ultimately falling in love with Elisabetta, a gifted Renaissance artist.

The Time Gather is a well crafted YA story that captures the frustrations faced by this very stubborn protagonist. Dacus's vivid and painstakingly crafted descriptions of the art of painting was a joy to read. Whereas her portrayal of time travel training was less convincing and at times rushed. That said, the Time Gatherer is an enjoyable romp for young readers with interest in romance, art and Renaissance history.

Fans of Tempest by Julie Cross and The Here and Now by Ann Brashares should enjoy this book. 4 STARS


Her hand was limp in his, and her eyes had ceased to move under closed lids.


He couldn’t take a breath until she took one, but her breathing was shallow and slow. George finally inhaled, a lump in his throat. But he couldn’t allow the tears. Not yet. Not while she lived. 

A single window above her bed let in a feeble shaft of light, but not much air. The stone walls oppressed him. This backward place. If only he could have transported his beloved to the airy apartment he lived in, four hundred years in the future. She could have recovered there. No one could get well in this backward century. 

He had offered to take Elisabetta with him, knowing that she would die of this unknown disease. In his time, they might have been able to cure her, but she’d refused. He wouldn’t force this brilliant young painter to leave everything she’d ever known when that might ruin her and disturb history. 

This was all his fault. If George hadn’t allowed his teenage passion for rock and roll to lead him to an even deeper passion for delving into history, he might not be sitting in this stone-walled room in the seventeenth century, keeping vigil at the bedside of the only woman he would ever love. 

He could jump right now to the future and ask Dr. Zheng for another remedy, but since this one had gone so wrong, the next cure could be worse. And he couldn’t leave Elisabetta alone now. 

Author Bio and Links

Rachel Dacus is the author of three novels touched with the supernatural, The Time Gatherer, The Renaissance Club and The Invisibles. Magical realism also runs through her four poetry collections: Arabesque, Gods of Water and Air, Femme au Chapeau, and Earth Lessons. Her writing has appeared in many journals, including Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Gargoyle, and Prairie Schooner, as well as the anthology Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and a tiny but feisty Silky Terrier. She loves exploring the outdoors and raising funds for good causes.




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