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

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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.

Starship Mine by Peter Cawdron

A Unique Lens

Starship Mine by Peter Cawdron, 115 pages, March 12th, 2016, Genre: Science Fiction/First Contact. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland
Starship Mine is the story of a human being making first contact with an alien civilization. It’s also the story of a gay couple living in the Bible Belt, raising two foster kids. Casey and James love each other, even though they’re temperamentally quite different. Their kids, Angela and Robbie, are also well-loved and return that love. In fact, one of their greatest fears is that someone will come along and take their children away from them.
One Friday evening, most of the inhabitants of Earth share the same dream. It’s a dream about a blue gaseous planet surrounded by rings, much like the rings of Saturn. At first, James is baffled by what people are talking about. He doesn’t believe it to be true. Instead, he tries to find a rational explanation for the phenomenon. While at the church awaiting the kids to finish rehearsing for a performance, James has the dream while awake. To the others, it appears he has a seizure. In his own perception, he has floated in a distant galaxy, viewing a blue planet with rings. After he recovers, James is checked out by a paramedic and released to go home, so long as he doesn’t drive. The Reverend agrees to drive them home. Once home, James and Casey watch the news, trying to learn more about these strange events. James’ consciousness is transported far away to the distant galaxy of the strange aliens and their blue planet. James is given the chance to remain with the aliens or to remain with his family. James makes the only choice he believes will lead to his fulfillment.
If you ask, “Would you like to have the opportunity to meet an alien if such a civilization existed?”, most people excitedly respond they would. It’s the adventure of a lifetime, meeting an alien, seeing a new planet! And yet, here on this lovely green and blue planet Earth, many people are shackled to certain perceptions of ‘normal’ that too often cause us to disrespect those who are different from us. If we can’t become comfortable and accepting of those who are different from us, how can we hope to ever peacefully interact with an alien civilization?
I enjoyed reading Starship Mine. This book can be read in roughly an hour, making it an ideal lunchtime companion. While I won’t give away the ending, I wish that the book had been longer and the story had continued further along. It presented the adventure of first contact through a unique lens. This won’t appeal to science fiction fans who are looking for a fully immersive alien experience, such as “Dune”. I’d recommend this to science-fiction fans who enjoy stories that allow the reader to see humanity in a new way.
You can find this book at Amazon at Starship Mine.

Dating in The Apocalypse: Sarah “The One” by Christopher John Chater

Tougher than Tinder!

Dating in The Apocalypse: Sarah “The One” by Christopher John Chater, Chater Publishing, 62 pages, July 8th, 2016, Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Romance. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

Dating in The Apocalypse is the first novelette in a series. Each book focuses on the protagonist’s experiences with a different woman, or “date”. Dating in the modern age was already rough, trying to find love in the apocalypse is well-nigh impossible.

Human beings became immunosuppressed to the point they could no longer fight off basic diseases. Influenza wiped out huge swaths of humanity. Some remained immune and survived. The majority were men. Women are so scarce, they’re traded, fought over, and kidnapped as if they were oil. Most men would give up on love, but not Tom Collins. He’s determined to find “The One”. He’s sure she’s out there and isn’t “irradiated, diseased, or had anything amputated”. As Tom puts it:

“I’d made a list of her qualities and kept it taped to the door. I looked at it every day before I left the house.

Blonde hair. (Natural, of course. I’ll be checking roots, girls.)

Green eyes. (The color of Fenway grass, or those old 7UP bottles.)

Smart. (Coupled with the natural blonde part, this is indeed a rare specimen.)

Strong and independent. (She doesn’t shed too many tears over something as silly as an apocalypse. Can’t tell you how many drink dates turned into a bawling, apocalyptic catharsis: “Then we had to saw off papa’s leg…” Gets a little depressing.)

Caring. (Hoping this whole apoc thing hasn’t jaded her. Plenty of fish in the sea, but they shouldn’t be as cold as one.)

Worthy. (There are women these days who would whore themselves for a cheeseburger. A worthy woman knows she at least deserves fries with it.)”

Tom finally meets a woman who matches his description: Lady Sarah. There are just three problems. One, she’s entered negotiations to wed his rival, a marauder clan leader named Darryl who kidnapped his last three dates. Two, Sarah resides in an area forbidden to men. And three, Sarah thinks Tom is a bit of an idiot.

After escaping many dangerous situations during their “dinner date”, Tom extracts a promise from Lady Sarah that she will date him again if he can find a way to keep the marauder clans from raiding her city. The story ends on a cliffhanger which will set the stage for the next novelette in the series.

Although Dystopian, it is highly humorous. It’s a fast-paced, fun ride. I never imagined the apocalypse could lighten my mood and make me laugh. Chater juxtaposes a fool-for-love, reluctant hero whose primary weapon is his witty repartee against a surreal backdrop of a post-apocalyptic city. The characters were quirky and interesting. My favorite character was Lillith, Tom’s mother, a formerly frustrated fashion designer whose fifteen minutes of fame has finally arrived.

Witty and amusing, Dating in The Apocalypse wasn’t what I expected, making it a delightful read. It’s currently on sale for .99 cents at Amazon. It’s followed by three more books in the series. I’d recommend this novelette to anyone looking for an entertaining romp through the apocalypse that can be read in a single sitting.

You can find it at Amazon at Dating In The Apocalypse.

Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection by Jamie Le Fay

Epic, romantic fantasy!

Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection by Jamie Le Fay, 696 pages, March 8th, 2017, ISBN: 978-1370765775, Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Social Issues, Girls and Women. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

This is a story about true love between a star-crossed pair: Morgan Lua, a human champion for female rights, and Gabriel, a supernatural prince from a hidden, mystical realm. The scenes switch perspective between familiar Earth and the ethereal land of the Ahe’ey; the distant past and modern day; and between major characters. Le Fay weaves a magical tale with complex characters, hidden histories, political intrigue, and desperate desires yearning for fulfillment.

But this is no traditional fairy tale. We human beings vacillate between hope and despair, living in a world where simple deeds of loving kindness can move mountains, while simultaneously the worst acts of evil we can imagine are committed. We worry about which worldview and values will triumph and resonate throughout human history. In each generation, we stand at a crossroads, and we support those with power and influence whom we think can steer us in the best direction. Morgan Lua is not content to stand on the sidelines. As the leader of the Hope Foundation, she works to improve human rights for women and minorities around the globe. Morgan is opposed by the white supremacist, far-right wing politician Zanus, who is responsible for attempts on Morgan’s life. Enter Gabriel Warren, leader of the Ahe’ey Foundation, determined to stay by her side and ensure Zanus and his hateful agenda fails. Experiencing a natural chemistry and attraction they’ve never felt before; Gabriel and Morgan fall in love.

As the story progresses, Morgan learns that there’s more than meets the eye where Gabriel is concerned. After an attempt on her life that leaves them both at death’s door, Gabriel’s mother, Viviane Queen of Ange’el, brings them back to their hidden home realm to recuperate. At first, the land of the Ahe’ey seems like a blend of fairy and angelic realms, a celestial delight. Its people are beautiful, strong, swift, and magical, none more so than the pure blood royal family. The royals believe the power within their genes will one day save humankind. As a result, they intermarry to preserve their genetic purity. A matriarchal society, women appear to be in control, but lower ranking women are controlled by higher ranking women. The caste system limits the freedoms of both royals and non-royals, men and women, alike. Although the Ahe’ey traditionally guide humanity, we find they are every bit as much in need of saving.

          Ahe’ey presents many important themes and thought provoking ideas, such as nature versus nurture, the battle of the sexes, the meaning of sacrifice, the ethics of evil for the greater good, the loss of privacy in the modern age, and forging identity in a multi-cultural world. An epic, romantic, fantasy adventure, it nevertheless provokes deeper thinking on many issues facing us today.

           Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection was originally released in twelve separate episodes. Although the collection is formatted as a single novel, its episodic nature provides it with a slightly different structure and rhythm than a traditional novel. Currently, readers can find the first three episodes free at Amazon, with each subsequent episode at .99 cents. The entire collection can be found at Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection.I’d recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys romantic fantasy adventure with a social conscience.

Interview with Arthur M. Doweyko

Today on Author Spotlight, I’m interviewing Arthur M. Doweyko, the author of “As Wings Unfurl”. Thank you so much, Arthur, for taking the time to be interviewed.

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a scientist. Most recently, my work centered on the discovery of new drugs. I developed cutting edge software to provide three-dimensional models of drug-target protein interactions. This work led to a variety of new drug analogs in the fields of immunology, anti-inflammation, and anti-cancer therapies. In 2008 I was awarded the Thomas A. Edison Patent Award for the discovery of a new cancer drug on the market today.

I’ve been writing science fiction and fantasy stories all my life. I even passed around short stories in high school trig class (and got caught). My love for the arts also included painting and sketching. When I retired, I gave writing a serious effort, culminating in two award-winning published novels and short stories, many of which were honored with awards, including Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future competitions.

Leigh: So, what have you written?

 

Algorithm (Pub. 2014, E-Lit Books. A novel of two books: The Medallion and The Makers): A story of DNA, our purpose and destiny.

As Wings Unfurl (Pub. 2016, Red Adept): The redemption of an amputee Vietnam veteran.

About two dozen short stories published in a variety of venues, both e-zines and in print.

Leigh: Where can we buy or see them?

Algorithm Book 1 – The Medallion  – Is available as a free read on Wattpad: Algorithm Book 1: The Medallion at Wattpad. 

and on Radish (for iOS and Android devices):  Radish Fiction

The books are also available through Amazon:

Algorithm: Algorithm at Amazon

As Wings Unfurl: As Wings Unfurl at Amazon

Short stories are available either as free reads on my website (www.ArthurMDoweyko.com) or as part of published anthologies on Amazon.

Leigh: What inspired you to write “As Wings Unfurl”?

I always liked the old school film noir feel of detective movies and wondered how that motif would feel if it had a science fiction element thrown in. In addition, I’ve seldom seen a hero that was an amputee. And since I grew up in the Vietnam era, and recalled how badly those veterans were treated, I felt the time had come to give one such unsung hero a chance to shine.

I wrote an essay on the subject: The Disabled Hero: http://www.arthurmdoweyko.com/blog/the-disabled-hero

Leigh: What are you working on at the minute?

I’m putting the finishing touches on Wind-In-Trees, a novel-length work loosely based on an award-winning short story, Andrew The Last –  Henry Wind-In-Trees is a Lakota Sioux native American. He is also a cyborg made of metal, plastic, tubes and wires, except for his human brain. An asteroid strike and a viral outbreak that followed left few humans alive — those that were lucky to have their brains encased in impervious titanium skulls. At least that’s what the radio broadcasts said before they stopped. Henry will discover the truth, but in no easy way. He, his ghost of a wife, a robot aide and an alien colonist will take a roller-coaster ride through a post-apocalyptic world where nothing is as it seems.

Leigh: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters from your most recent book?

The characters are in their early twenties, so the choices would be limited to young actors. Jennifer Lawrence as Angela and Daniel Radcliffe as Applegate Bogdanski come to mind.

Leigh: When did you decide to become a writer?

As mentioned earlier, I’ve always been a writer, or at the very least, a story teller. I still remember making up stories as a preteen and holding an audience of colleagues in awe as they sat on a park bench. The looks on their faces were unforgettable.

Leigh: Where do your ideas come from? Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

Like any creative endeavor, artwork or writing, the ideas generally result from experience and roaming thoughts which knit themselves into new thoughts. I hate outlines. I start with the plot idea, work up a story idea, and keep in mind a fuzzy idea of how it all comes out as I write. If I run into a problem, I’ll bite the bullet and write a short outline.

Leigh: What is the hardest thing about writing?

To do it well you need to write every day. Regardless of whether you are inspired or bored, you need to write. And that is the thing that’s hardest to do.

Leigh: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? What book/s are you reading at present?

I like the classic sci-fi writers: Asimov, Heinlein, Farmer, Lem, Clarke, the list goes on. Right now, I’m reading Mike Resnick’s Buntline Special (another classic).

Leigh: What is your favorite quote?

“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemmingway

Leigh: I love that quote too. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website: http://www.ArthurMDoweyko.com

Blog: http://www.ArthurMDoweyko.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arthur.doweyko

Twitter: https://twitter.com/aweyken

Lnkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arthur-m-doweyko-37320813/

Amazon Author Page: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/profile

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7541508.Arthur_M_Doweyko

Leigh: Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview. I’m going to have to keep an eye out for the release of “Wind-In-Trees”.

Arthur M. Doweyko Bio:

Arthur has authored 100+ scientific publications, invented novel 3D drug design software, and shares the 2008 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award for the discovery of Sprycel, a new anti-cancer drug. He writes hard science fiction, fantasy and horror.

His debut novel, Algorithm, which is a story about DNA and the purpose of humanity, garnered a 2010 Royal Palm Literary Award (RPLA) and was published by E-Lit Books in October, 2014. His second novel, As Wings Unfurl, a story of guardian angels that are not angels, forbidden love, and the secret fate of humankind, took 1st place as best pre-published science fiction novel of the year at the 2014 RPLA competition and was published in 2016 by Red Adept Publishing. Many of his short stories have been honored as finalists in RPLA competitions, as well as achieving Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contests. His current project is Wind In Trees, a story about the last creature with a human brain, and what it means to be human in a post-apocalyptic world where nothing is what it seems to be. Wind in Trees was recently honored with a 2016 RPLA award.

He lives in Florida with his wife Lidia, teaches college chemistry and happily wanders the beaches when not jousting with aliens.

As Wings Unfurl by Arthur M. Doweyko

Fast Paced Action!

As Wings Unfurl by Arthur M. Doweyko, 234 pages, July 19th 2016, Red Adept Publishing LLC, Genre: Science Fiction. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland

“There are no atheists in foxholes”, stated a military man on the field of Bataan in 1942. When people are under fire and in extreme survival situations, we usually wish fervently for the aid of a higher power. We’re all hoping we have a guardian angel. People across many cultures and time periods have created artwork of angels, integrated them into architectural designs, and even tattooed angel wings on their bodies. Angel wings are symbols of protection, comfort, hope, faith, and love. In As Wings Unfurl, the symbolism is fitting, as guardian angels seek to protect their charges on the battlefield of Earth itself.

Set in New York in 1975, this is a story about good versus evil, about a war for the fate of mankind. The primary protagonist is Applegate “Apple” Bogdanski, a Vietnam Veteran retail bookstore clerk whose only injury from the war more traumatic than the loss of his foot is the damage to his sense of self-worth. His boss agreed to hide some compromising photo negatives in one of the books for a private detective. Unfortunately, these were negatives of an angel, Dane, and the angel Dane will stop at nothing to prevent them from becoming public. Angela, Apple’s guardian angel, arrives in time to prevent Dane’s goons from harming Apple and getting their hands on the negatives. Finding the negatives, Angela and Apple are on the run from a group of renegade angels hellbent on destroying mankind. Numerous battles take place in various locations across the city as Angela fights to protect Apple, with whom she has fallen in love, and to discover Dane’s sinister plot to destroy mankind. Angela is aided in her quest by other guardian angels led by Quinn; a Tibetan man named Shilog; and Shilog’s new friend, a Yeti named Yowl.

The story is filled with action and is fast paced; a series of chase and battle sequences with little time for the characters to rest in between. The settings include New York, Vietnam, and Tibet. Although action oriented, the characters are developed a little at a time as the story progresses and we learn more about them each step of the way. The conflicts and themes include good versus evil, man versus the supernatural, soldier versus enemy, the overpowering nature of love, and fate versus choice. Although the angels, both the guardians and foes of mankind, overshadow the human characters in power, it is ultimately the choice a human being, Apple, makes in the end that determines the fate of humanity. Apple realizes that if humanity with all its flaws is worth saving, he too as a person with all his flaws is worth saving and is worthy of Angela’s love, of her protective wings shielding and supporting him.

My favorite supporting characters were Yowl the Yeti and Shilog of Tibet. To me, they represent soldiers drafted into a war they had no personal stake in, transported through some fluke of fate to a distant battlefield, missing their wives and kids back home. Shilog wants nothing to do with the suspicious and malicious ‘deva’ and the Yeti certainly has no personal stake in the fate of a species that displaced his own. However, when they realize that the stakes are higher than a squabble between a handful of deva, that billions may suffer, they are willing to risk everything to fight and save mankind. Self-interest melts away in the face of a higher purpose.

I enjoyed reading “As Wings Unfurl”. I was hooked by the end of the first scene. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves science fiction, especially mash-ups with mythology, and action-oriented stories.

You can find Arthur M. Doweyko’s “As Wings Unfurl” at As Wings Unfurl.