Science Fiction

Tinker's Damn, a Short Story by Lewis Shiner

The computer building was in the center of the campus, within running distance of my classroom. And if it didn’t look quite the paragon of modern, efficient architecture when the sky was gray and the dead trees all seemed to be leering at it, at least it looked warm. When you’ve been a junior professor most of your life you learn to take small comforts where you find them. I sprinted the last few yards to the door, fighting the freezing wind, and got inside. The weather had made me ... (read more)

Review: Rebecca Crunden's A History of Madness

One of my favorite books as a judge in the first Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) was Rebecca Crunden's A Touch of Death, the first book in a post-apocalyptic series where the non-mutated humans who emerge from underground long after a nuclear conflagration end up in a totalitarian monarchy where freedom and history are outlawed. I reviewed A Touch of Death for File 770's SPSFC team last May and just read book two, A History of Madness, of my own free will. It's the first ... (read more)

Jasper Scott's First Encounter: A First Contact Nightmare

I love old paperbacks but am beginning to think I'm allergic to them. While I was recovering from a Defcon 1 sinus attack that might have been caused by a yellowing 1993 Francesca Lia Block fantasy novel, I dusted off my Kindle Oasis and read Jasper T. Scott's First Encounter, a science fiction novel about humanity's first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The book begins with the sunny utopian optimism of early Star Trek and then proceeds to crush the hopes and dreams of the ... (read more)

The Walking Dead Ends Unexpectedly

The Walking Dead issue 193 is worthy of a Hugo Awards nomination next year. It is a conclusion to the comic sprung entirely by surprise on the readership. To keep it under wraps, they solicited fake issues 194, 195 and 196 and made issue 193 a giant-sized finale at the regular price. Orders for those fake issues have been refunded. Without spoiling the content, it's a time jump that is intriguingly ambiguous about the proper lesson to take from the zombie apocalypse. I often find Robert ... (read more)

Review: 'Eternity Road' by Jack McDevitt

This post-apocalyptic novel occurs long after the fall of civilization. Humans in an agrarian society along the Mississippi River yearn to learn more about the Roadmakers, so named because of the enormous network of roads left behind. Little else survives other than six books and a lot of garbage impervious to decay. Ten years after a quest to learn more ends in tragedy, the lone survivor's death leads to a discovery in his belongings. This sparks a dangerous new quest by a small band to cross ... (read more)

Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers

This book was highly recommended by six avid readers on File 770 and they were right. Hailimi Mercedes Jaya Bristol, a gunrunner who left her family 20 years ago and never looked back, is brought home when the assassinations of her sisters and niece leave her heir to the empire. The story mixes palace intrigue with well-spun action as Haili struggles to survive long enough to figure out who's behind the attempted coup. The India-inspired, far-future society Wagers has created is richly drawn ... (read more)

Star Wars: Rebel Dream by Aaron Allston

As a fan of Aaron Allston going back to his earliest RPG designs for Car Wars and Champions in the 1980s, I liked this book but felt like his creativity was constrained by the plot requirements required of the 12th book in a 19-book series (which I haven't read prior to this installment). The novel follows the fall of Coruscant to the Yuuzhan Vong. Starfighter squadrons and Jedi commanded by Wedge Antilles must take and hold the planet Borleias to help Coruscant refugees escape and regroup. ... (read more)

Everything About You by Heather Child

An engrossing novel that explores where Amazon Echo, Facebook, AI and VR are taking us. I kept waiting for something big to happen in this near-future science fiction thriller, but I learned later it already had and I didn't recognize the significance. A twentysomething grieving for her missing and presumed dead sister begins using technology called a smartface that can mimic the personality of anyone through data mining their entire digital footprint, producing an effect so compelling that ... (read more)

Review: Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Enigma Tales

I picked up Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Enigma Tales on a whim after discovering it on a spin rack full of paperbacks at the Sadler Travel Plaza in Dunn, N.C. I don't know what was more surprising -- finding SF/F at a gas station in 2018 or learning that there are still new Deep Space Nine novels coming out. The book has an unlikely set of protagonists from the Trek TV shows: Elim Garak, the Cardassian tailor and former spy on ST:DS9; Katherine Pulaski, the chief medical officer on ST:TNG; ... (read more)

Free eBook: Planet Urth (Book 1) by Jennifer and Christopher Martucci

Planet Urth: Book One by Jennifer and Christopher Martucci is currently free in ebook format on Amazon for the Kindle ereader. The book is the first of five in a series that takes place 200 years in the future, when civilization has fallen and chemical warfare and other toxins have spawned a race of mutants hunting the last humans to extinction: The world has changed. It's dangerous, deadly. Inhuman creatures rule the planet. Animals have mutated. The land is hostile. But it's all I've ever ... (read more)