Review of “Mara’s Awakening”


Promotional image for Leo Flynn’s novelette, “Mara’s Awakening”.

Disclosure, I was asked by the author via email to review his short novelette Mara’s Awakening. Interestingly enough, when I tried to post a review on Amazon, I received a notice that it wasn’t eligible to be reviewed. I have no idea why.

I did manage to post a review on Goodreads.

I had a tough time understanding this very short book. I imagine the author was trying to inject some mystery into who Mara is and why she’s been in prison for six years when she used to be some sort of popular fighter, but she was too “mysterious.”

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Waiting for Dana


© Ted Strutz

Joel Carpenter dozed in his rental car waiting for the ferry. Ten hour drive from San Francisco to Boise. Ditched the car, switched IDs, then an hour flight from Boise to Seatac, and another hour to rent a car and get here. What they were doing was beyond illegal. This had better be worth it.

Bainbridge assured him it would be, once he got onto the island, drove another 20 minutes to his gated estate, got past security, and transferred the rest of the money.

It had been eighteen months since Virginia had gone missing during a scuba dive near Fiji. Joel thought he would lose his mind with loss and grief. The worst thing was he just went on living.

Bainbridge was the finest robotics engineer of the century. The AI was bleeding edge, total human simulation. In another hour, he would have his fiancée back, or at least the next best thing. He’d excuse her absence as a long sabbatical. Now they could be married.

I wrote this for the 178th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 166.

I’ve recently seen the 1983 film WarGames which includes a ferry ride to find a reclusive scientist on a forested island (in Oregon rather than Washington). Reclusive scientists made me think of the 2014 film Ex Machina, which, of course, is about humanoid female robots.

I’ve written this sort of story many times before, but I didn’t get much sleep last night, and the muse needs more coffee.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

Demon With A Glass Heart

demon hand

From the 1964 episode of “The Outer Limits,” “Demon with a Glass Hand” starring Robert Culp and Arlene Martel

18 October 1964

“My name is Trent, and at last I know who I am or rather what I am. It will be dawn soon and I’ve accomplished my mission here. I retrieved my missing three fingers, stopped the Kyban incursion from a thousand years in the future, and destroyed their time mirror. Now I have to leave the building before people start to come to work, and especially before she comes back.”

Standing outside of the Bradbury Building, he looked at his reflection in a display window. He could pass for a man about thirty or thirty-five, but the fact is, he’s only ten days old. No, make that eleven with the sunrise. His jacket, pants, and shirt are all various shades of light gray. His hair is dark and his face is clean-shaven, although he’s been designed to not grow body hair beyond his current appearance. He’s handsome, but not particularly outstanding. In fact, the only thing that might draw someone’s attention to him is the dark glove on his right hand.

Trent started walking southwest for lack of anything better to do. He didn’t feel hungry, but in the past week and a half of his life, he never experienced hunger or thirst. Strangely, he has experienced fear, anxiety, anticipation, and even love.

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robot and woman

Credit: Willyam Bradberry – Shutterstock

“I know you lie…’cause your lips are movin’…talking circles with your tongue…”

“I love you, Amelia. I have always loved you and I will always love you.”

“I wish I could believe that, Nick.”

“But, why can’t you?”

All of her friends thought Amelia was being totally unfair to Nick. They’d been seeing each other only for a couple of months, but he seemed like the perfect man. He was handsome, charming, successful, and very romantic, but not so much that he seemed creepy.

However, Amelia knew a lot more about Nicholas Tucker than any of them could possibly imagine.

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Loose Nuts and Bolts

“So that’s where I left you.” He addressed the pristine pieces of metal on the kitchen table.

Sunder Paz had been assigned some DIY problems by Dr. Reuven as a test of his reasoning abilities as well as how he functioned independently. He had been performing a routine maintenance task when he was distracted by the doorbell. Dr. Reuven was teaching at the university, so Sunder had the place to himself.

It was the UPS delivery person and he required a signature. Sunder signed his name (he thought having a name was a wonderful thing) and accepted the package. However by the time he closed the door and put the parcel on the coffee table, he’d quite forgotten what he’d been doing before. It took Sunder over fifteen minutes of searching the house before he rediscovered the small collection of nuts, bolts, and washers.

“I’m glad I found you. Now I can finish re-assembling my short term memory unit. Dr. Reuven will be so pleased.”

I created this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a small tale of 200 words or less. My word count is 165.

When I saw the photo, it seemed so sterile that for a moment I was stuck for an idea. Then the phrases “losing your marbles” and “loose nuts and bolts” popped into my head and my story was born.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to



Image: Natalia Drepina

Her hands, so petite, so delicate, in those lacy coverings, yes he would miss her hands. They were on their bed together kneeling, he was holding her gently from behind. His eyes were hot with tears.

“Don’t be sad, Gerald. You will be fine when I’m gone.”

“I don’t want you to go, Leigh.”

“We have no choice, darling. My diagnosis, I’m terminal.”

“There’s got to be something…”

“Hush, my darling. I’ve only got moments…moments…”

The world’s first humanoid companion robot went offline Thursday, January 13th at 10:55 a.m., a victim of atmospheric contaminants that toxified her cybernetic brain.

Written for Photo Challenge #147 from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.

I don’t know if I managed to capture the emotion of this moment in a mere 98 words, but I hope so. I’ve written similar (and much longer) stories about a man falling in love with an artificially intelligent humanoid, principally The Perfect Woman.

Next Steps in Writing a Novel: The Table of Contents



I finally hammered out the Table of Contents (TOC) for my proposed science fiction novel (I’m stuck on giving the book a title at the moment). You wouldn’t think a TOC would be hard to put together, but I had to consider the appropriate “building blocks” for the book. What information would I need to present, and in what order, to create a cohesive storyline taking place over maybe a century or so?

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. Note that I’m not revealing the names of all the chapters:

  1. The Machine That Loved God
  2. The Maker Dilemma
  3. The Good Android
  4. Uncooperative Neighbors
  5. The Rescuers
  6. – – – – – – – –
  7. – – – – – – – –
  8. Vesper 21
  9. – – – – – – – –
  10. – – – – – – – –
  11. – – – – – – – –
  12. – – – – – – – –
  13. Epilogue

The Epilogue is somewhat controversial since it changes the end of the novel. Depending on whether I include or exclude it, the whole meaning of the story alters, and rather drastically, too. If I leave it out, I promise a lot of religious people, mainly Christians, aren’t going to like me. I think secularists, atheists, and the average science fiction reader would be more than OK with it, though.

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