Inevitable Ascension by V. K. McAllister

Inevitable Ascension by V.K McAllister, 342 pages, KZA LLC, September 12th 2015, Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian/Time Travel. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

By Leigh Holland.

If you could look into the hearts of all mankind, and determined they were wicked, what would you do?

This is the story of Violina and Lux, two thieving gals making their way the only way they know how in a corrupt world run by oligarchic criminals. They’d rather not hurt people, just take what they need to save up for retirement and, well, retire. So they can stop all the thieving. Speaking of vicious cycles, this book has many of them. Its twists and turns unfold at well-paced intervals to keep you turning the pages. Once the duo began traveling through time, I couldn’t put it down. Revelation occurs for the reader as it does for Violina, making it a pleasure to read. It was as if I was traveling with them, rooting for their survival.

The action goes by so quickly it’s not until you pause to come up for air that you realize there are deeper questions simmering in your mind. Mankind has built and destroyed how many civilizations? Yet we keep trying. Wow, humans are completely insane, or completely corrupt, with the ones who aren’t insane or corrupt just trying to avoid the crosshairs of the ones that are. Which pretty much sums up why everyone in a position of leadership and power is either insane, or corrupt, or both. Will we ever get it right? What does getting it right even mean?

I loved this read. It was quirky with charming, memorable characters. It’s a fast-paced, thrilling ride with surprising twists.

Check this one out at Inevitable Ascension.

Book Description:

If you knew your world would soon be torched to carbon, would you fight to save it?

…Or light a match of your own?

Violina, a girl polarized by love and loathing, finds herself thrown into a post-apocalyptic world with mankind on the brink of extinction. Discovering the means to travel back in time, she teams up with the ever-optimistic, pun-loving Lux and sets out to prevent the apocalypse from ever happening in the first place. But as her crusade advances, she becomes increasingly disgusted by humanity’s apparent *lack* of humanity and comes to a frightening realization: To build a new world, she must first tear the old one down.

Inevitable Ascension—The twisted jigsaw puzzle of a story with equal parts rapid-fire action, humor and charm. It’s got a host of twists that will literally make your brain explode! Actually not literally, you know, because otherwise that would be really gross.

About the Author(s):

We’re a husband/wife duo (Andrew and Sasha McAllister) with a unique approach to writing. We work simultaneously and in secret before combining what we come up with, resulting in dramatic and unexpected twists that surprise even us! Crazy? Yes, yes it is, but it’s surprisingly fun and effective. 🙂 We pretty much live for the Inevitable Ascension series and did just about everything ourselves—the writing, the editing, the publishing, the art (well, Andrew did the art, but Sasha provided invaluable consulting when it came to eyebrows), the audio book, the trailer—everything. We’re basically a one-man band, except with two people… and no music… so perhaps not the best metaphor, but we’re confident you get what we mean.

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Science Fiction: All About Genre

All About Genre #3

Science Fiction

By Leigh Holland

Science Fiction, or “Sci Fi”, is a difficult genre to pin down but incredibly easy to recognize when we see it. Perhaps it’s so hard to pin down because Science Fiction has no boundaries other than what we choose to give it. Let’s start by looking at how others have tried to define the genre in the past.

“To be science fiction, not fantasy, an honest effort at prophetic extrapolation from the known must be made.” -John W. Campbell Jr.

Realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method. To make this definition cover all science fiction (instead of ‘almost all’) it is necessary only to strike out the word ‘future’.” -Robert A. Heinlein

“Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible.” -Rod Serling

“Science fiction then is the fiction of revolutions. Revolutions in time, space, medicine, travel, and thought…Above all, science fiction is the fiction of warm-blooded human men and women sometimes elevated and sometimes crushed by their machines.” -Ray Bradbury

“Science fiction can be defined as that branch of literature which deals with the reaction of human beings to changes in science and technology.” -Isaac Asimov

“Science fiction is something that could happen – but you usually wouldn’t want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn’t happen – though you often only wish that it could.” -Arthur C. Clarke

Simply put, the reason it’s hard to define is because science fiction evolves as science itself discovers new facts and possibilities, which occurs daily. Just when we think we’ve got it wrangled into a neat definition, scientific knowledge expands, and a whole new world of speculation flows forth.

Rather than defining it, it would be more useful to examine some of its elements. Science fiction often involves one or more of the following elements:

  1. An alternative history that contradicts our present understanding in some way
  2. An alternative future or a setting realistically in the future
  3. Outer space setting, such as moons, planets, and spacecrafts
  4. Subterranean settings
  5. Characters such as aliens, mutants, robots, evolved humans who differ from present humans, and androids.
  6. Alternate dimensions or parallel universes
  7. New or different political and social settings blended with technology
  8. Time travel, wormholes, warp drive, advanced communications
  9. Future plausible technology
  10. Paranormal abilities such as telepathy, telekinesis, etc.

There are two general categories within Science Fiction, “hard” and “soft”.

Hard Science Fiction strives to ensure that close attention is paid to details of scientific fields such as physics, chemistry, and biology, so the fiction is as realistically and faithfully grounded in scientific fact as possible. Because of this attention to “getting it right”, an intriguing number of predictions within hard science fiction stories of the past have become reality since then. It’s not difficult to imagine that technology and other advances envisioned in hard science fiction today will one day be available to us in the future.

Soft Science Fiction focuses more on character, social structures, and emotion than hard sci-fi and stems from the soft sciences, such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, and political science. Utopian and Dystopian works are classified under Soft Sci-Fi.

What is the PICS focus for Science Fiction?

PLOT: 20%

IDEA: 45%

CHARACTER: 10%

SETTING: 25%

Are there “secret” Sci-Fi categories you can unlock at Amazon?

Yes, there are.

You can find more information about those helpfully here. The main reason to want to unlock these categories, if appropriate to your work, is because there is often less competition in these categories as they are not selectable at the outset of publishing.

Subgenres:

Click the link to learn more about the subgenre.

Adventure

Alien Invasion

Alternate History

Anthologies

Colonization

Cyberpunk

Dystopian

Exploration

First Contact

Galactic Empire

Genetic Engineering

Humorous

Military

Post-Apocalyptic

Short Stories

Space Opera

Steampunk

Time Travel

Assiyah Rising (Part One) by T. H. Ansz

Assiyah Rising (Part One) A Novella, by T.H. Ansz, 122 pages, June 24th 2017, Genre: Science Fiction/Metaphysical. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

Lt. Michael Grant is randomly chosen to be involved in the greatest revelation thus far granted to mankind: we are not alone. Michael works with Jennifer Smith, an attractive NSA agent, to bring in a bland, banal American civilian, Todd Miles, to meet the President. Everything is veiled in secrecy as it becomes apparent to Mike that the President doesn’t trust everyone in the chain of command. The message is revealed: We are not alone, aliens have been observing humanity for some time now, and they have an even more important message to deliver to the world leaders at a UN summit at a scheduled time and date. Mike’s superior orders him to put together a team to determine if the aliens are friend or foe, and what weaknesses they may have in the event they’re hostile.

I enjoyed that the aliens understood the sad but true state of human nature. They knew that the only way we’d ever stop destroying each other and work together to make the world safer and better is if we’re unified against a common foe. Without a common foe, we devolve into national, religious, and political tribes hellbent on destroying each other politically or literally (or both). If we cannot subdue this violent aspect of our nature, will we eventually destroy our own species? Our own planet? The theme is the central focus of this story.

In one scene, the President thanks Mike for making an outburst earlier in the scene, however it was the general that made the outburst while Mike passively observed. This confused me. Other than that, the novella flowed along well in a straightforward, third person style. As this was a shorter work introducing the reader to the beginning of a larger story, the characters are in the early stages of development and self-revelation. The primary viewpoint, and most defined, character was Mike.

Ansz’s Assiyah Rising was an entertaining, relatively quick read. It’s a promising start to the series and I’m interested to see where the author takes the story and characters.

You can find it at Assiyah Rising (Part One).

Book Description:

Assiyah (ah-see-YAH): Noun. The physical world we currently live in. A world of action. The fourth and lowest realm of existence. A place where the Creator hides from its creation. (Kabbalah)

A young Army intelligence officer, an NSA agent, a physicist, a DARPA biologist, and an unassuming man from the Midwest are swept into a powerful current of events cloaked in secrecy and driven from the very top of political power. They soon discover an intelligence that has descended upon the Earth, forcing humanity to reconsider their position in the world and in the cosmos itself.

The Moreva of Astoreth by Roxanne Bland

The Moreva of Astoreth by Roxanne Bland, 454 pages, Blackrose Press 1st Edition, November 3rd 2015, Genre: Science Fiction/Romance. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

I have a confession to make. I don’t believe in most ancient alien theories, the works of Zechariah Sitchin, or most of the theories proposed in “Chariots of the Gods”. However, I love the idea behind all of it. I’m a fan of Stargate. What if the gods of old, such as the Anunnaki, really did come from the heavens, literally? What if they weren’t gods at all but advanced aliens? What if they did breeding experiments on primates to create humans? What if they taught humans farming, warfare, pottery, and smithing? In short, what if mythology was fact?

Roxanne Bland shows us the world of the Anunnaki gods, their descendants, and the humanoid hakoi of other planets they claim to have created. The gods are about power and control, using their part-hakoi, part-Anunnaki children and grandchildren to keep the hakoi satisfied using religious rites. These descendants are the Morev, a priestly class. Astoreth is the goddess of love. Her favorite Moreva and grandchild, Tehi, misses services. Astoreth punishes her by assigning her to a post as Moreva on a “backwater” hakoi village called Mjor. Tehi does as she’s told, but sneaks her lab equipment along so she can continue working on the cure for the hakoi disease, red fever. While on Mjor as Moreva, she befriends Hyme, the local hakoi healer, and is irritated by the village’s leader or “Laerd”, Teger. As time passes, she learns to respect the hakoi, falls in love, and narrowly dodges trouble at several turns. The only element that I didn’t care for was the repetition of her daily meals, scheduled services, etc. to the degree they were repeated. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book.

My favorite characters were Tehi and Teger. Tehi starts off with flaws, but overcomes them as the story unfolds. She is dedicated to healing the sick and willing to risk her neck for others. As a priestess of the goddess of love, she explores the meaning and nature of love at different points in the story. Teger is direct and determined. Once he makes up his mind about something, there is no dissuading him. He’s supportive of Tehi but isn’t afraid to challenge her when he thinks she is wrong. He teaches her about identity, love, and self-love.

This book is a romance taking place within an interesting science fiction milieu. If you enjoy both romance and science fiction, you’ll love this novel.

You can find it at The Moreva of Astoreth .

Book Description:

In the world-building tradition of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Moreva of Astoreth is a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure in a unique, richly imagined imperialistic society in which gods and science are indelibly intertwined. It is the story of the priestess, scientist, and healer Moreva Tehi, the spoiled, headstrong granddaughter of a powerful deity who is banished for a year to a volatile far corner of the planet for neglecting to perform her sacred duty, only to venture into dangerous realms of banned experimentation, spiritual rebirth, and fervent, forbidden love.

About the Author:

I’ve been a fugitive from reality since forever. As a child, I constantly made up stories–some would call them lies–about my family, friends, neighbors and even strangers on the street. I had friends that only I could see. Oh, the adventures we had!

Learning to read was a revelation. Words fascinated me. Whole new worlds opened up, and since my parents forbade nothing, I read everything. Some of it I didn’t quite understand, but I didn’t mind. I read it anyway. I even read the dictionary. When I was a little older, I was big on mysteries. Agatha Christie and P.D. James were my favorites. Then I discovered horror. Whenever a new book came out by Stephen King, Peter Straub or Dean Koontz, I was first in line. I was reading a little science fiction at this time–Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and authors like them–but I really didn’t get into it until I was in college. The same with fantasy. I really got into high fantasy, like Lord of the Rings.

From childhood on, I was making up stories, but not writing them down. They were private. Besides, I thought my family and friends would tell me I was wasting my time, that I should be concentrating on my musical studies, and later, my college studies. In fact, the only story I recall writing was one that won a contest when I was in elementary school. That was my first clue, but it sailed right over my head.

So anyway, life goes on. I went to law school. After I graduated and entered the workforce, I finally started writing down my stories. I wrote a bit here and there, short stories that never saw the light of day (which was probably a good thing). Then I fell ill. I had the flu for a month. Bored out of my skull, I started writing a piece of fan fiction, though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. I showed it to a friend of mine who suggested I finish the story.

Well, that piece of fan fiction fell by the wayside, but in its place came a manuscript that would eventually become my first book, The Underground. I loved writing it, and it was then that I discovered my true avocation (maybe one day, my vocation). Slipping into that alternate reality for hours on end, there was a time in my life when it was called daydreaming and I got into trouble for it. Now it’s legitimate. And that’s the best part of all.

Dawn by Weston Westmoreland

For Freedom!

Dawn by Weston Westmoreland, 215 pages, May 26th 2017, Genre: Science Fiction/Colonization/Galactic Empire. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

A planet named Arweg is making its way the only way it knows how. Its people are advancing at a slow to moderate pace, focused on creating a better life, a happier future, for themselves. And while the government, led by the First Citizen Arzo Barr, is corrupt, it’s kept in check by its people, a natural balance for its power level. Until one day, a discovery is made in the wilderness. A beacon from the ancient craft goes out, summoning Goddess, a larger and more powerful ship. Goddess is there to offer societal advancement beyond the First Citizen’s wildest imaginings within a short time. Soon, the people are worked day and night, told this is what’s best for their society. But is it?

Brod begins to question the social order. If everyone is miserable, is it really worth it to advance so quickly? Who really profits from the Accelerated Adaptation Program? Brod and his friend Mara encounter Puwir Swardi, the Pilgrim. The Pilgrim is gathering those who oppose the program. He tells them the truth behind it- the Empire is returning to enslave the people and reap the resources they produce with these technological advancements. The Pilgrim hopes a rebellion can defeat the First Citizen’s forces and halt the expansion before the Empire is alerted and begins the return. Brod and Mara are joined by doctors from the project and Brod’s girlfriend, a scientist named Dunali. Can they defeat the corrupt government selling them out to a brutal empire? Can they survive against their oppressive government as it grows in power?

This book had sad moments of defeat and thrilling moments of heroism. The Arwegians are a noble people who’d rather die than allow the Empire to take over. Two of my favorite characters were Mara and Arlet Baro. Mara aligns his personal goal with the larger one: revenge against the Empire and First Citizen for the loss of those he loves, and defeating the forces trying to enslave his world. When Mara attacks, he does so in the name of his fallen brother. He won’t sacrifice the innocent in pursuit of his vengeance, though. Mara can be patient. Arlet Baro is the son of the First Citizen, assisting his father in pursuit of the Empire’s goals. Unlike his power-hungry, morally bankrupt father, Arlet has a moral compass. It’s very difficult to read his true intentions through most of the book. At times, he seems friendly with the rebels. Other times, he seems to be opposed to them.

Every one of the major and supporting characters is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for their people. I loved the climactic scene the best, surprised to discover who would prove the most heroic of all. I enjoyed Dawn and I’d recommend it to science fiction fans.

You can find it at Dawn.

Book Description:

On a planet forsaken by a pan-stellar Empire in times long forgotten, old stories tell of an infamous day when swarms of imperial starships clouded the sky and abducted all able men and women. Nothing was ever known of them thereafter. The planet, known as Arweg, was left stranded, inhabited only by orphaned children, the unlearned elderly, and the helpless. Years went by, the old died, and the children grew to become adults in an ignorant world surrounded by crumbling technology they were unable to understand and much less operate. After ages of darkness, civilization reemerged to a point where a small portion of the little technology preserved in time could be worked.

Two young Arwegians unearth a metallic capsule and trigger a chain-reaction. The strange pod will relay a signal into deep space and summon an immense octopus-shaped starship known as Goddess. The Empire is back, and it wants to restore Arweg to its former status as a full member of the Confederacy. It is the Dawn of a new Era. Or is it?

A voice from the past will warn the Arwegians the real purpose of the Empire is to modernize the planet only to make it suitable for a renewed colonization and slavery. Some will believe it and some will not. The Revolution has begun.

Dawn follows a small group of characters from both sides who will be drastically changed—those who survive—through war, love, loss, courage, hate, compassion, and friendship as the years go by, extreme events take place, and hope is almost the only thing left…

About the Author:

Weston Westmoreland was born in the spring of 1972. He is married and father of two kids.

Weston earns a living working by himself as an engineer, teacher, and freelance photographer, but not from writing. In all honesty, even though he enjoys writing in different forums and used to blog every now and then, he does not see himself as a fiction writer. Dawn is his first work of this kind, which is the reason why he invested in it far more effort and love than it probably deserved.

Avid reader, lone traveler, slow trail-runner, passionate photographer, terrible guitarist and worse singer, amateur modeler, persistent sketcher, weekend trekker, occasional painter and sculptor, self-taught gardener, committed father and husband, and first of all, a curious man… you can learn more about the way Weston sees life through his old but still current blog at:

http://InspiringThoughtsAndImages.com

You can also see his pics at:

http://WestonWestmoreland.com

Mother and Monster by Rob Stoakes

Mother and Monster by Rob Stoakes, 286 pages, Akasha Publishing Ltd., June 29th 2017, Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Space Opera. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

As a toddler, Samantha O’Summer witnessed a massacre by space pirates. Her mother died protecting her. Samantha managed to temporarily defeat the monster, scurry away, and escape in a pod. The Fladres known as Kauldus never forgave or forgot that an infant bested her in front of her crew. Samantha’s pod landed on Danegeld Four, home of the Ansaxo, a peace-loving, kind-hearted race. She was adopted by Elder Omleth, from whom she later takes her mercenary name “Huntress Omleth”. As she grew to maturity under his wise and caring eye, Samantha learned the ways of the Ansaxo, using their technology to protect the prey of the jungle from the predators. Sadly, the pirates return to destroy the Ansaxo while she is off-world. Elder Omleth is among the dead, but remains in contact with her through a holographic form. He exacts a promise from Samantha that she’ll never return to Danegeld Four.

Samantha embarks on a mission, crossing paths once more with her never-ending enemy, Kauldus. The pirates gather and raise Pheliapods, a strong, carnivorous species used by the pirates to wipe out civilizations, including the Ansaxo. Samantha saves their prisoners, the food for the beasts. While there, she finds an infant Pheliapod who imprints on her. This imprinting creates a telepathic bond between them and grants healing and strength to Samantha when acting in defense of her Pheliapod “child”, Gertrude. Realizing who Samantha is, Kauldus makes it her goal to find her, destroy her, and take back the Pheliapod. While Samantha isn’t destroyed, she does lose Gertrude. Samantha heads back to Danegeld Four to rescue Gertrude and avenge the death of her parents at the hands of Kauldus. Will she succeed? Will she survive against such superior foes?

I very much enjoyed this novel. This is a fascinating story about revenge and what we owe those who raised us. Ultimately, this story is about two worldviews clashing: one that states the strong must devour the weak, and the other which says protecting the weak and innocent is the greatest virtue the strong can aspire to. It was fast-paced with a lot of action and well-written, exciting battle sequences. The motives and designs of various factions and characters were well-woven. As the stakes went increasingly higher, I was on the edge of my seat wondering if Samantha could walk away with her life, much less overcome. Samantha’s journey ultimately leads her to better understand herself. She’s freed from the shackles of others’ expectations and embraces who she is deep down- a true hero. I’d recommend this book to science fiction readers.

You can find this book at Mother and Monster.

Book Description:

Mercenary Samantha Omleth was one of the victims of a planetary assault by a vicious band of pirates. Rumours emerge of the pirates trying to breed dangerous animals on the planet she once called home, so when she is hired to investigate she eagerly returns to exact her revenge. Samantha finds that her deadliest enemy is no pirate but her own past.

About the Author:

Rob Stoakes is a writer currently based in Hull, UK, having lived there for most of his life. Ever since leaving school at the age of sixteen, he has been pursuing the arts in one form or another. At college, he studied video games development, and at university in Scarborough he studied digital arts.Both during and after this time he has written short stories across the web, starred in and worked on short sci-fi films and made video games that have been shown at several conventions. He is also a keen sketch artist, and has written articles for several websites.He is currently the co-producer of film and video game based podcast Battleship Potemkast as well as a film reviewer for Movie Metropolis UK. He spends most days writing in local bars, or training in Muay Thai kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Dawn of the Dreamer by L. J. Higgins

Dawn of the Dreamer (Dreamer Trilogy Book One) by L. J. Higgins, 290 pages, Creativia, 3rd Edition, December 22nd 2015, Genre: Young Adult/Mystery/Science Fiction. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I read a news article in which employees allowed themselves to be microchipped by their employer. The employees volunteered and spoke of its advantages, such as not having to replace lost or worn badges, not having to keep track of a badge, and not having to turn one in after no longer employed as it could simply be deactivated. The article also represented opposition to the concept as being born from a sort of religious hysteria, while reinforcing how innocent the wrist chips were. How we should trust them not to do anything dangerous. A friend asked me if I’d ever allow a chip to be inserted in my body. My response was “Over my dead body.” And no, it has nothing to do with religious reasons. It’s a carefully developed distrust of powerful people and organizations seeking even more tools for power. That includes corporations, governments, etc. They may be benignly trying to make our lives easier, but given how rarely that proves to be true, why risk it?

Dawn of the Dreamer shows precisely why no free thinking person should support such an idea. It’s 2023 and the MMC (MultiMind Corporation) has implanted the wristochip in human beings. It regulates sleep and during sleep, makes the person smarter, sharper, better. Touting itself as the next step in human evolution, the rare segment of the population who are immune to the writochip are called the dreamers. They are social pariahs, inferior to the rest of them. Their friends and families turn them into MMC, who imprisons them in the name of ‘curing’ the dreamers. We follow Amelia, a dreamer, as she navigates a world in which she must hide her immunity to the wristochip. Her status affects her self-esteem, which in turn affects her relationships. She believes she’s inferior and behaves as such, playing the subordinate to her best friend, Sarah. Two men are romantically interested in Amelia: Cameron, her nurse at the sleep center, and Joe, a man Sarah dated. When Sarah discovers Joe likes Amelia, Sarah turns Amelia in for believing something may be wrong with what MMC is doing with the wristochips and wristcuffs. No more outpatient treatments for Amelia- she’s kidnapped and placed in a research wing to be used as a guinea pig in MMC’s attempts to “cure” all remaining dreamers. As the stakes are raised, Amelia and other dreamers find their very existence at risk.

My favorite character was Cameron. He remained devoted, both to Amelia and the cause of freedom, throughout. He was a rock for Amelia in troubled times. I wished we would’ve learned more about the four primary and supporting characters in this installment of the trilogy, but their characters may be explored further in future books.

The creepiest thing about the article I read a little while ago was the statement that it would be another fifty years before humanity would willingly accept the “wristochip”, because currently there is too much opposition, but that opposition will disappear by then. That’s from real life, not a science fiction novel. Dawn of the Dreamer comes at the right time to remind us why we need to remain opposed to attempts to implant devices within our very bodies, and why we need to continue to teach our children to resist all such efforts. They may tell us they’d never use them for tracking, spying, control, or remote assassination. But how do you really know until it’s too late? Why risk it? I’d rather risk inconvenience from losing my badge.

I enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to sci-fi audiences. You can find it at Dawn of the Dreamer.

Book Description:

In 2023, MultiMind Corporation releases the Wristcuff, giving its wearers pleasant dreams and improved health. At least this is what the majority of Earth’s population believes.

For the Dreamers, this technology fails to work, and they’re shunned because of their inability to adapt and evolve like the rest of the human race.

Amelia is a Dreamer. When she meets someone who helps her see through the veil of MMC’s lies and secrets, her world is shaken and changed. Amelia has to decide whether to fight for the freedom to dream, or take the ‘next step in evolution’ with the rest of society, at the risk of losing her ability to think and dream for herself.

About the Author:

L J Higgins writes fiction with an intriguing twist. Stories that remind you to open your eyes, minds and hearts. Hailing from Queensland, Australia, she is a wife, and stay at home mother of two young children.

Always intrigued by dystopian worlds, the advances in technology, and what those might mean for the future of the human race, L J Higgins enjoys creating stories that explore these ideas. She is also passionate about helping teens through some of the battles they face as they go through high school, and writes stories to empower them, while showing them how their choices can affect the lives of themselves and others.

Invinciman by R. T. Leone

Invinciman by R. T. Leone, 424 pages, Leoneum Inc, March 9th 2017, Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy/Superheroes. Warning: Contains Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

      Invinciman is a story in the “Superheroes” genre. At it’s heart, it’s about a protagonist fighting a villain, and the journey each took to get there. Naturally, Ray Martin and Daniel Darque were best friends. Both men went to college together and became engineers. Each one’s strengths were different and they complemented each other. They worked together to build Robox, the most popular gladiator show in the world. Robox features advanced robots, designed to represent various nations, facing off in a ring. Ray and Daniel have different moral and political agendas, leading to a struggle between them.

       First, what I liked about it. The plot, writing style, and structure remained true to what one would expect of a book in this genre. It’s quirky. The book is written in an alternating timeline style. One timeline is in the present and the other recollects the past. As the present moves forward, so does the past, and the two streams finally meet at the climactic moment. Events unfold and the motives of the characters are revealed. Pacing was fairly even and the desire to understand how the past led these men here kept me turning the pages. I had many questions, such as “How did Ray survive a bullet to his head, being buried alive, getting his arm hacked off, and nearly bleeding to death?”, and “Is Ray a robot?”, and “Wait-who is supposed to be the hero here?”

        Leone presents Daniel Darque in a sympathetic light. He’s a man seeking justice in an unjust world. I found myself agreeing with a couple of his ideas. If I’d faced the things he suffered, would I have turned out to think the same way? Likewise, Ray Martin is a bit of a privileged, upper middle class guy. He’s never suffered. He’s had the luxury of maintaining his code of principles most of his life. It’s clear he believes he’s morally superior to his best friend. When their worldviews crash into each other, it leaves the reader questioning which man is the hero. Who is betraying whom?

      Now, what I think could be improved. It never explained where Ray got his amazing superhuman ability to live through things no mortal man can survive. Indeed, this was what I considered the first hook that kept me reading. I wanted to know how Ray survived. While it’s not an absolute genre requirement, it helps suspend disbelief over the long haul to give an explanation, even if it’s only an acknowledgement that he doesn’t know how he survives such things but always has.

       The reader has a reasonable expectation that a book will have a beginning, a middle, a climactic moment, followed by resolution. This story builds the reader’s excitement up to the climactic moment. The climactic moment never occurs nor does the resolution. Instead, the book is followed up with an afterword by the author in which he explains why he’s letting the reader decide which ending they prefer.

This book can be found at Invinciman.

Book Description:

Rise Against the Machine!

In this psychological thriller, you become Ray Martin—an engineer left for dead and looking for answers. Don’t take too long, though! As life drains out of your body, you find yourself hunted by both the government and a terrorist organization. Are you a solution to the problem, or THE problem to their solution? Meanwhile, you put the pieces of your puzzled life together, and find that your best friend is at the root of your suffering. Once upon a time, you two built a robot-fighting empire that became the biggest thing in the world. Superpowers like the United States, Russia, and China resolved world conflicts in your sport, but something was off. Consequently, you took the fall. Now you must rise.

Do You See the Arc?

A switch must be flipped. You have the tools at your disposal. You must design, engineer, and build your robot as minutes run out in your life. After all, you’ll need to transfer your consciousness into it! You need to become the superhero you were always meant to be, because that’s the only way you’ll stop them. You’ve dealt with self-learning artificial intelligence before, and know what challenges lie ahead. The question is: once you get to the end, will you flip the switch? Or will your journey change your destiny?

A Superhero to Save Us All

Invinciman is a modern-day folktale with universal themes that have always existed throughout time. Loyalty, betrayal, honesty, and injustice. R. T. Leone delivers an introspective adventure that sees the hero start from nothing, and work their way to the end—using environmental analysis, problem-solving, and strategic decision-making: a video game in a book. The author succeeds in intoxicating the reader with a hypnotizing story, causing them to question everything, as he ultimately pens a dazzling novel that will stand the test of time.

Are You Ready to Enter the Maze?

 Then, stop. Take your deepest breath. And…

INITIATE!

About the Author:

Ricky Tony Leone is an ultramodern author based in Toronto and best known for his debut novel, “Invinciman.” The psychological drama follows a protagonist, targeted in a mass conspiracy, who looks to rebuild himself in robotic form as the world disintegrates. Leone’s education in design and engineering has created a fusion of creative and logical thinking which informs his fable making, and allows Leone to achieve his desired innovation in the literary world.

Check out other reviews at:

Invinciman at Speedy Reader

John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars by Roland Hughes

John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars by Roland Hughes, 274 pages, Logikal Solutions, 2012, ISBN-13: 978-1939732002. Genre: Dystopian. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

*I was given a free copy of the e-book in exchange for my honest review.

This book was written in an interesting format. The last known survivor of the Microsoft Wars is John Smith, an elderly man who survived the cataclysm by hiding out in a bunker. Susan Krowley interviews him. The book is a back-and-forth interview between the two characters.

Susan Krowley is a young journalist, a profession she inherited from her father. In the future, after most of the world’s population was wiped out in the cataclysm, people inherit their jobs from their parents in a master and apprentice relationship. Because the cataclysm was so sudden, a vast amount of human knowledge was lost. Because so many lives were lost, entire skill sets disappeared from the species. She interviews John Smith.

John Smith is one of the oldest people on Earth and is a survivor of the war. He has a cache of books and a computer that works but due to not being able to get another one, doesn’t use it often. He has large amounts of valuable data on CD that humanity will likely not be able to build a machine to gain access to. Humanity has been taken back to the 1800’s after the cataclysm. He condescends to Susan much of the time, as he knows a lot and she knows so little of history. He explains that mankind’s history goes through cycles. During each cycle, we reach a technological apex, bring catastrophe on ourselves like Atlantis, and lose most technology and knowledge. Then we must begin anew anew. So the cycle goes on, ad infinitum. John presents a vast array of conspiracy theories and myth, mashed together as truth, leading to the inevitable conclusion at the end of each cycle: destruction of civilization by those human families who continue to try to control it.

The premise, myths, and theories presented were fascinating.The idea was original and thought-provoking. I would’ve enjoyed the story more had the information been presented in another format other than an interview. I’d recommend this to science fiction fans provided the reader doesn’t mind the interview style the book is written in.

This book can be found at John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars.