Saturday, November 14, 2020

Book Launch: Sentient




Blurb

A century has passed and yes, the human race stumbled into evolutionary compromise. But it’s not the androids who are the victors. Post-humans have exploded into preeminence, gaining tech superiority and a tech immunity against the global environmental degradation. Humans are trivialised, a minority species, their one last significant task, restore the environmental damage they inflicted on Earth and terraform off-planets. One human and his ‘biot’ android embark on such a journey to Mars, opening the possibility for an evolutionary path back to greatness, but hostile post-human agents have infiltrated their mission.


Story Origins and Influencers 

I was intrigued by space exploration from an early age and read many novels about inter-planetary travel. C A Lewis’s classic, Out of the Silent Planet was the first book I ever read, over fifty years ago, commencing my lifelong fascination about the future. HG Wells War of the Worlds was another favourite. It has been the motivation for a large number of film and television remakes. I still enjoy seeing new versions of this enduring classic. My favourite SFF novel about Mars goes hands down to Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, a masterpiece of hard science fiction. In some ways, my new novel is a tribute to those famous writers as well as today’s intrepid explorers. At the time of writing, a lot of exciting space projects were unfolding, particularly around Mars. Early drafts of Sentient were about intergalactic flight, but I ultimately narrowed the scope of the story to our backyard, the solar system and Mars.

Review Tour
Stop One: Fabulous and Brunette (November 10)

Stop Two: Hurn Publications (November 10)

Stop Three: The Avid Reader (November 17)






Stop Four: The Reading Addict (November 17)






Stop Five: Kit ’N Kabookle (November 24)






Stop Six: White Sky Project (November 24)






Stop Seven: Straight from the Library (December 1)

Stop Eight: Westveil Publishing (December 1)

Author and Links


Michael Leon is an explorer, writer and author of the new novel, Sentient. Professionally trained in international trade, Michael has spent the last decade reading and writing SFF novels about new worlds to be explored in the future. His latest work, Sentient, imagines Earth in the year 2120. Michael has travelled extensively around Europe, walking the paths of his characters, from the famous European opera houses in Phantoms to the mountain tops of Switzerland in Emissary.





Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Ministry for the Future

 


The Ministry for the Future is established in 2025 as a response to an unfolding climate change catastrophe. A heatwave kills 20 million in India heightening the global emergency.


Mary Murphy is charged with the responsibility of heading the Ministry, its key aim to bring financial, business and government to the table to address the emergency. Mary’s life is interleaved with Frank May, the sole survivor of the India catastrophe introduced in the searing opening chapter. 


Mainly set in the United Nations city of Zurich, Kim Stanley Robinson (KSR) lovingly brings a vitality to the city of international brokerage. At nearly 600 pages, KSR’s book is a long read. Having read his Mars Trilogy and 2312, I know KSR can be a stickler for detail, sometimes at the expanse of well drawn characters. That said, I'm eager to read his examination of the world’s single greatest challenge this century, climate change.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Review: The Rose


Book Overview

A masterful, dystopian science fiction thriller of underground genetic experiments, telepathic evil greys, mysterious rebellion, conspiracy, martial arts, and Alien Vampires.

Sandy Cox believed WW3 was over. But for those Alien Vampires, War Has Just Begun.


Forty-eight hours after a World War III treaty is signed Sandy Cox awakens in an underground compound unable to move. Tied to machines she screams for help but no one answers. At least NO ONE HUMAN.


And they’ve taken her unborn child.


Enter Phil, a rebel freedom fighter who has had more than his share of Alien Vampires. Armed with THE BLADES, a sacred alien martial art, he enters the compound on a mission to find Sandy. But as he battles his way through the compound, Phil discovers Sandy has her own agenda. Finding her stolen child is all that matters.


But the vampires have their own plan and Sandy’s baby is at the heart of their diabolical plot. Joined by a crew of rogue soldiers, they must navigate the underground compound, battling genetically mutated humans, aliens and monsters.


When battling Alien Vampires, one thing is certain…Get Ready To Bleed!


Fans of The Hunger Games, George RR Martin, VE Schwab, Star Wars and Ancient Aliens will be fascinated by this high-powered, intelligent, edge of your seat dystopian sci-fi action thriller.




Review

THE ROSE delves deep into the underground where horror and scifi favourites - reptilian aliens, UFO’s, vampires and werewolves - exist alongside corrupt human governments seeking to exploit the aliens superior technologies, a strategy fraught with risk, given the vampires’ dim view of humans. In the words of Sanos, an influential vampire, “Don’t make deals with your food.”


THE ROSE regularly switches POV between multiple protagonists and antagonists in a rapid-fire style, reflecting the chaotic and desperate situation the humans face, holocaust-like survivors of World War 3, required either for food or experimentation.


The many and varied characters shine in Alleva’s unique work, the first of a proposed trilogy. This is unusual in a high octane thriller, but I found myself caring for the ensemble of humans, pitted against the overwhelming power of the telepathic Greys (reptilian aliens), vampires and their various beast soldiers.


Phil, the main protagonist is a master of the martial arts, his weapon, the blade. He faces impossible odds with a faith born from his leader, Robyn Walker, a human with the ability to see all things, past, present and future. Phil’s warrior spirit endures as he takes on an army. “Get ready to bleed!” his call to arms.


I thoroughly enjoyed the thriller style of this book, enough to forgive the sometimes confusing narrative. Where the thrills pulsed along, slower scenes were less effective, at times bordering on information dumps. The occasional pacing issues aside, the story steamrolled ahead, adding multiple layers of suspense and intrigue as the characters attempted to escape their perilous situation. 


All of this is unfolding in a world on the cusp of intergalactic war, a theme touched on throughout, no doubt to be fully explored in future instalments.


Original cross-genre storyline, memorable characters and an intricate plot with a page-turning thriller edge made this a 4.5 STARS novel for me. Fans of Haldeman’s The Forever War or Watt’s Blind Sight should enjoy this book.




Excerpt

The blades were unharmed. The blades are a unique contraption with thin handles held in the palms, clamps that wrapped around the wrist and just above the elbow, connected by a thin, almost string like plastic. The metal blade descended from the handles down across the arm bone to the elbow clamp and locked into place. The metal they were made from was not of this earth and was able to collapse inside the handles and wrist clamp like tin foil crumples inside a fist. But this metal was strong and solid and unmatched to any substance on earth. The handles when pressed by the index finger would ignite the blades down the arm, locking in place. Another unique feature were the handles, fitted comfortably in the palm, when pressed with the thumbs would ignite claws of steel. A useful tool when needing to climb walls. Robyn had spent years teaching Phil the art of Kobudo Tonfa. An art he’d become supremely confident with.


Phil’s stare drifted to the full blood moon rising over the compound. Eyes wide, thinking: You know what that means. There’s more under the moon tonight than just alien vampires. And they come with teeth. The moon’s red glow crept across the landscape as Phil dipped his chin to his chest, grinding his teeth. Four simple words on the tip of his tongue…


“Get ready to bleed.”




About the Author


PD Alleva is an alternative fiction author. His novels cross genres, blending mystery, conspiracy, psychology, and action with horror and dystopian science fiction. Alternative fiction is PD's attempt at describing what readers uncover in any one of his books, a new discovery towards mainstream storytelling. 


He's been writing since childhood, creating and developing stories with brash and impactful concepts that he would describe are metaphors for the shifting energies that exist in the universe. 


PD exists inside of his own universe, working diligently on The Rose Vol. II and exceptional horror novels. Be prepared for Golem, PD’s upcoming horror thriller.  







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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Review: Centricity

 


Book Overview

The world already ended once. Now it's up to an outgunned negotiator, a disavowed spy, and an immersion-addicted hacker to stop it from happening again.

Centuries after the Fold, civilization is fragile. In the megacity of Naion, people live stacked in arcologies, most never going outside because the air is another enemy. Instead, freedom comes from technology: bodytechs modify the human form while synthetic intelligences whisper through brainware.

Now a new bridge between man and machine has emerged, one that could destroy humanity’s second shot at survival—or save it, depending on who gets to it first....

Adasha Denali is one of the government’s best dispute resolution specialists, but when a scandal threatens to destabilize the city and end her career, she’ll need more than words to escape the fallout. Venturing out of her office and into a fight for the future, she’ll team up with a disavowed spy, learning the hard way that betrayal wears many faces, and one of them may be her own.

Neon Nik is an immersion-addicted IT freelancer struggling to pay off debts to circling loan sharks. Threats of dismemberment become the least of his problems when a surprise inheritance throws him into a vortex of corporate kill squads willing to burn the city down to find him.

Engineered spies, high-tech mercenaries, and immersion hackers collide in this first gripping instalment of the Centricity Cycle.



Review 

CENTRICITY by Nathaniel Henderson: supercharged spy-fi that delivers a real tango in your temple!


CENTRICITY is an immersive and atmospheric novel that blends sci-fi, espionage and thriller elements. Henderson’s world-building is particularly impressive, providing vivid descriptions of a society coping with unchecked exponential technological growth and rampant global environmental deterioration. His masterful wordcraft adds an authenticity to how life would feel in a future world where augmented reality technology is omnipotent.


The action is based in the city-sphere of ’Naion’, a self-sustaining arcology protected from an environmentally damaged Earth. Humans possess immersive technology, ‘synts’, a brain-machine interface linked to the ‘Nebula’ file system, heightening their capacity to investigate, interrogate or flee.


Characters are thrust into a complex narrative that make for a challenging read. The dialogue, often amusing and witty, offsets the evocative technical discourse on Naion’s vanguard technology. There's action too, in the fight and flee scenes, described in exquisite detail and incorporating a heady mix of the senses - taste, touch, sight, sound and synt. This is a necessarily long novel as the main characters, Nik, Adasha, Voros and Rown methodically untangle the facts and sift through multi-layered leads. 


In short, CENTRICITY has something for everyone. 


It's by no means an easy read as the author develops multiple plot lines and multiple POVs in a world of spies and their unwitting targets. For me, this made for a rewarding experience, although a more comprehensive index of characters and organisations than the one offered would have assisted.


I strongly recommend this engrossing dystopian tale of the future. Readers of cyberpunk novels such as Gibson’s Neuromancer should thoroughly enjoy CENTRICITY. 5 Stars



Excerpt

NIK SMILED AND the building smiled back, its fa├žade all black teeth angles and white gum signage held together with cables and fat tendrils of epoxy. Poetry curled along the bulging geometry, hand-painted in dead Persian. He’d never bothered to have his software translate it. In an age of information bloat, ignorance was a proactive sport. 


Above the entryway a single word blazed: HALE.


Two store fronts down, a woman rested against the shell of a mutilated cleaning bot. The glow of her cig warmed her blank expression. Another silhouetted figure pissed into a gap between buildings. 


Hands in his pockets, Nik rolled his too small shoulders in his too big jacket. Soft with age, the leather made no sound. Canopy environmental systems kept temperatures chilly or warm but never quite comfortable. He coughed and thought about clearing his throat onto the sidewalk, decided not to—didn’t want to waste the residue of his last Cinnamon Fire—and crossed the street to Hale. Underfoot, a trampled stew of discard formed the menu of some future archaeological buffet.


The air inside hinted at decomposing animals in heating ducts. Ironic, considering this was the Canopy’s premier breather bar, where patrons sucked down spiked air cocktails.



About the Author

Nathaniel Henderson was born in 1983 in Albuquerque, NM, USA. At a young age he moved to Tulsa, OK, where he spent the next fifteen or so years surviving adolescence. After graduating from high school, he packed it up and headed out west to the picturesque Santa Cruz, CA to attend UCSC.  After a year of wrestling with computer science, he transferred to San Francisco to study computer animation and special effects. The career didn’t stick, and he set off to teach English in South Korea, Thailand, and finally Tokyo, Japan, where he currently resides. 


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Monday, October 5, 2020

Review: Neurogarden

 


Book Overview

Where can you run when there is no place to hide?


Brenna Patrick is a brilliant technologist specializing in neural-cognitive functions and AI. She has cracked the code to solve one of the most troublesome problems in the field, and turned that into the multi-billion dollar NeuralTech Corporation.


Working quietly with the U.S. Department of Defense, NeuralTech is poised to leapfrog the competition with a revolutionary system for tracking people, starting with the world’s most wanted terrorists. But there are only so many terrorists in the world, so who’s next?


When a pair of Columbia graduate students, Jenny and Leo, stumble on the dark secret of NeuralTech’s success, it kicks off a tense game of cat and mouse. As they fight to defeat the powerful forces arrayed against them, nothing less than the fate of humanity hangs in the balance…


NEUROGARDEN is a roller-coaster ride of a thriller, one that will have readers pondering the nature of memory, and of reality, long after they've read the last page.




Author  Bio and Links:


Ever since reading Douglas Adams back in my formative years, I have had an interesting relationship with humor, science fiction, and technology. My first computer was a TI-99/4A, so yeah, I’m old, but only until scientists have cracked the code on transplanting our brains into shiny new vessels.


My body may be showing signs of wear, but I’m keeping my brain tight.


When I am not dreaming of far off worlds and writing, I am living a semi-normal life working in New York City, and watching movies with my wife and her spastic cat, Moss.


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In Conversation with Bryon Vaughn


What are you passionate about these days?

Aside from my current obsession with writing, I am working on finishing up my masters degree at Columbia in strategic communication and that has become my new passion. I have an unnatural affinity for data analytics, finding patterns and telling stories with information. When I find a hidden nugget of insight in a 20MB dataset that nobody else has noticed it is intoxicating. Like I said above, nerd.

If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have gone straight to self-publishing early on. As a data researcher, I looked at all the numbers and despite the strong case for taking the indie route, I held on to the traditional publishing model as the best approach. In my early years, it was difficult to break through using traditional methods, and honestly pushed me away from doing what I loved. Now that I am in a place where I have gotten my groove back, I’m confident that my work will find its audience, and if not then that’s on me.

Ebook or print? And why?

I love a printed book. I have many bookshelves in my apartment, and despite the fact that all of my books fill over 30 boxes every time we move to another apartment, there is no way I’m leaving them behind. That said, I will release my books in whatever format people want to buy. The feel of a book in my hand is satisfying in a fetishistic way, but the words are what matters, so to each their own. But give me something I can stick on a shelf and show off to my friends any day.

What is your favorite scene in this book?

I don’t want to give away too much, but my favorite scene is one between the heroine, Jenny, and the antagonist, Brenna. It takes place in the mind of Brenna, and folds in on itself with an earlier event that makes it an interesting look into reality and memory, and the blurry line between awareness and the sub-conscious. We get to know these two characters in a way that is nearly impossible in the context of our own traditional perception. All that, and it’s hot.



Review

Neurogarden, Bryon Vaughn’s imaginative debut novel, delves into the possible future of AI technology. The theme is a familiar one: 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 powerful and accurate facial recognition system. Unsurprisingly, it has attracted the collaborative funding of the Department of Defense, but there are illegal company secrets being withheld from the public.


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 narcissistic 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 interesting and imaginative journey. It took some time to reach the action as it introduced character back stories, at times 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





Thursday, August 13, 2020

Book Blast Tour: Dark Matter

 


Earth is dying. The only salvation for humanity is colonizing space, yet so far that has failed. The last hope for survival exists on a planet light years away…and the mission is fraught with danger. Teenager Selina Alois leads a group of six high achievers who pass the exam of a lifetime to earn a position on the precarious expedition. As the mission launch approaches, dark secrets are exposed about the planet. Further digging reveals a sinister plot that not only risks humanity’s fate but also puts Selina and her team to the ultimate test.


Read another Excerpt

“We don’t have much time.” 

The first words out of my mother’s mouth were not what I had expected. I had expected to find both of my parents home from work early; I had expected them to want to talk to me; I had expected an endless stream of questions. But not this. 

The urgency in my mother’s tone told me this was more than a melancholic response to my impending departure—this was much more. Frowning with concern, I looked from my mother’s knitted brow to my father’s taut jawline. I stood frozen in place, hesitant even to close the door behind me. 

“Come in,” my mother rushed on impatiently. “We really don’t have much time.” 

Obediently, robot-like, I took a segmented step. My father pulled me forward and deeper into the kitchen until the door clicked shut behind me. 

“You need to listen very carefully to what we’re about to tell you,” my mother told me sternly. 

“We won’t have a chance to say anything twice. What you hear, you must never repeat.” 

“If any of us are caught sharing this information, we’ll be executed,” my father cut in, voice low and grave. 



About the Author

Alyssa Huckleberry grew up in San Diego as the oldest of four children. After earning a business degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Alyssa spent a short time working in finance before transitioning to work in education. Today Alyssa works as a fifth grade teacher and she LOVES her job! 

When she isn't teaching or writing, you can find Alyssa running, reading, practicing yoga, traveling the world, or spending time with those dearest to her. She loves spending time outdoors, growing in her faith, and learning new things (hence, the great amount of time spent reading, traveling, and going on adventures!). A true lover of whimsy, she also believes everything is better with a latte in hand.

Alyssa's first novel, Rescuing Racei, was published in 2004 (while Alyssa was still a high school student) and later won the San Diego Book Award for Best Young Adult Novel. Since then, Alyssa published three other books to complete the series: Stealing Splendiferous, Magicus, and The Maleku Map.

The Struggle is Real was an inspired piece written for an adult audience as a stand-alone work. Her latest novel, Dark Matter, is written for a young adult audience. It is the first book in what will be a science-fiction series imagining a future of space exploration!

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Giveaway 

Alyssa Huckleberry will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Review: The City in the Middle of the Night



The story of this Hugo nominated novel takes place on the planet January, a sphere tidally locked to its star, creating two worlds, one scorched by constant sunlight, the other a cold world of endless night. Humans barely survive in the narrow twilight world that borders both extremities. 


The story begins with a sacrifice. Sophie takes the blame for a theft committed by her roommate Bianca, her punishment for this trivial misdemeanour, to be hurled down a steep precipice to the night world and almost certain death. Unexpectedly, Sophie is saved by a fearsome alien life form (the Gelids) and returned to her twilight home, Xiosphant.  


The setting up of the story was a delight. Anders builds tension with skilled prose, quickly capturing reader interest. 


The characters were well defined but I found little about them to interest me which made the overly long middle section of the novel a challenge. It's a pity, given the well-executed opening scenes. The main protagonist, Sophie engages the Gelid early but further contact is minimal until the final section, where she journeys to their dark world to understand the strange connection she feels for them. This was the most compelling section of the novel, but for me, too little too late.


That said, this is a unique tale of survival and adaption to the harshest of environments, offering one of the better descriptions of what an alien race may be like. Four Stars