Review of Leo Flynn’s Revised “Mara’s Awakening”

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Promotional art for Leo Flynn’s “Mara’s Awakening

Last year, indie author Leo Flynn asked me to review his SciFi story Mara’s Awakening, part 1 in the 3 part saga. I did review it and as much as I wanted to be nice about it, I didn’t think much of the story. It was too short and there was almost no story or character development.

Then last April, Leo contacted me again. Apparently, a number of people provided him with similar comments, so much so in fact, that he reworked the tale completely. He asked me to review the updated version.

I love it.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it was. Mara, Ishali, Mallory, feel more like real people. Leo takes much more time to flesh out his protagonist and her circumstances. Prison feels a lot more substantial, and the reader experiences Mara’s anguish and frustration at being unjustly incarcerated for life.

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Book Review of “Skin Traders: A 224-Verse Book”

skin trader

Cover art for Gregg Cunningham’s novelette “Skin Traders”

I just finished reading Gregg Cunningham’s short novelette Skin Traders: A 224-Verse Book.

Gregg and I share a table of contents in a number of anthologies including Raygun Retro and World War Four and we know each other somewhat online. He was one of the people who turned me on to the 224-Verse to begin with, so I was anxious to read this tale.

It is a short and violent story about a hostile planet Portia where cybernetically enhanced Lawmen are sought after for their implanted technology along with their skin, organs, muscles, and everything else. Life is brutal and Dark Orbit affiliated gangs of pirates plunder the seas and skies.

A Lawman sky ship is shot down by the pirate vessel Skin Trader and those Lawmen (men and woman) unlucky enough not to die immediately are captured and viciously brutalized. Sergeant Bayker is as helpless as the rest of the survivors but desperate to find a way for he and the crew to escape.

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Book Review of Denton Salle’s “Sworn to the Light”

light

Cover art for “Sworn to the Light”

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Yes, I’ve been remiss in reviewing my (online) friend Denton Salle’s novelette Sworn to the Light: The Avatar Wizard – Book 1 (of four).

However, I did download it onto my Kindle Fire last month and last night I finished it.

Excellent work. A very compelling YA Fantasy work that I think my grandson would enjoy (although he prefers audio books).

A lot of Denton’s works are based on Slavonic wonder tales he learned from his grandfather, so you need to know that going in. The local is rather “Russian” in its architecture at least.

Eleven-year-old Jeremy visits his father’s homeland with his parents, in part because Jeremy has a problem. He spontaneously turns into a panda bear cub. He can’t control the change and he can’t control the bear once he’s transformed.

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More Social Media Dabbling: Video Reviews and Commentary

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Okay, fine. I’ve made another two TikTok videos. The first is a three-minute whimsical review of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s 2018 science fiction novel Children of Time. My written review of the book is more straightforward and detailed. TikTok videos are brief by design, so I had to compress everything into a max of three minutes. As I wrote my script, I realized there was no way I could deliver anything serious in such a short time period, so I punted and this is the result.

@james.pyles

I’m doing a series of three-minute SciFi book reviews. Today, it’s Adrian Tchaikovsky’s 2018 novel “Children of Time.” These are fast and whimsical reviews. To tead longer versions. Go to https://poweredbyrobots.com/book-and-film-teviews/ #bookreview #sciencefiction

♬ original sound – James

This morning…

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Book Review of “Dream Park” (1981)

dreampark

Cover art for “Dream Park” by Niven and Barnes

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I had originally read Dream Park by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes in the early 1980s, not long after it was first published.

I decided to re-read it because I was looking for material from which to construct my one-on-one role playing games I play with my thirteen-year-old grandson.

Long story short, the novel was too involved for me to mine anything useful for what I had in mind. But having only a vague recollection of the book, the re-read was thoroughly enjoyable.

Imagine a future where role playing games have evolved with such sophistication, they can be played out live in a huge, high-tech amusement park. Games are big business because Dream Park, which puts a bunch of money into them to begin with, recoups its dough with movie, book, and other game deals based on the live-action game. The players must be in relatively good shape since, although lives are never lost and most of the danger is simulated, they must still withstand the stresses of “camping out” in a (simulated) wild environment for several days amounting to hard labor. There are also personal and professional reputations on the line.

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Book Review of “OceanSpace”

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It wasn’t until I started reading Allen Steele’s 2000 novel OceanSpace that I realized I’d read it before, and probably not too long after it was originally published.

As I was reading certain scenes, I recalled having read them before. The saving grace was that I didn’t remember what came next, so it was usually a surprise until I got there.

Two-time Hugo winner Steele put a great amount of research into his writing as evidenced by extensive list of sources at the back of the book. I’m also a sucker for diagrams and Steele’s invention of the sea platform Tethys 1 and 2 were great.

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Read “The Haunting of the Ginger’s Regret” for Free

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As I’ve already announced, my latest novelette, “The Haunting of the Ginger’s Regret,” a 224-verse book, is now available at Amazon for a mere 99 cents. However, since it’s the first of a new month, and since I’m trying to promote my book and the 224-verse and its books in general, I’m making you an offer. Yes, you.

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Film Review of “Eternals”(2021)

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It was six minutes into watching Eternals (2021) when I first realized I was bored and at 47 minutes I did what I didn’t expect myself to do. I turned the movie off and returned the disc to its case.

I checked the movie out from my local public library, so it didn’t cost me a dime, but at a run time of two hours and thirty-six minutes, it would drain away that much of my life to watch. It didn’t “do it” for me.

Unlike the other Marvel movies I’ve watched, I had no connection to the original comic books. I’ve never read any of them. So there was no nostalgia to drive me forward. The movie lived or died on its own for me. Well, it died.

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Film Review of “The Matrix Resurrections” (2021)

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I just finished watching The Matrix Resurrections (2021). I found it in the “new movies” DVD section at my local public library, so renting it costs me nothing. Watching it cost me time (2 hours and 28 minutes) which I’ll never get back.

First of all, I went in with not great expectations. Actually, I didn’t know what to expect.

What I found was that for the first half to two-thirds of the film, I toggled back and forth between interest and boredom.

I probably missed a lot of references to the previous trilogy. While I’ve watched the original The Matrix (1999) dozens of times, I’ve only watched the two sequels one time each. I wasn’t particularly impressed and didn’t see the need to re-watch them, let alone buy the movies.

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Review of “Rogue Protocol,” Part 3 in “The Murderbot Diaries”

rogue

Cover art for the novella Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

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I’m continuing to thoroughly enjoy Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series having just finished Rogue Protocol, the third novella in the collection (and still incredibly overpriced, even for such quality). I’ve already reviewed All Systems Red and Artificial Condition.

Side Note: I’ve mentioned this before in one of the previous reviews, but even though the security unit/murderbot has no gender, even though partially organic, I can’t help but hear her voice as a “her.” Maybe it’s because I’m aware that the author is a woman, or maybe it’s because Wells projected a “female” personality into her voice during the writing, but that’s how I think of “her.” I know some people are going to object to this (for gender identity reasons), but for this and other reviews, the SecUnit is a “she” to me. That’s what I’m going to call her.

In this “episode,” our SecUnit who sometimes goes by the name of “Consultant Rin” when posing as an augmented human security consultant, continues to pursue clues as to her past and the lost portions of her memories. To that end, she stows away on another robotic spacecraft, convincing its AI that she belongs there, and travels to a station orbiting the planet Milu. There, she plans to travel to an abandoned orbiting terraforming station that is not what it appears to be.

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