The Future Chronicles – Special Edition by Samuel Peralta

“His fingers delicately probe the stitching over his eyelids; the skin has fused together, forming a smooth, unbroken covering.”

I was fancying reading some new authors of sci-fi and a great way to do that is through compilations of short stories. So I thought this set of stories in The Future Chronicles would be a good start, particularly as the foreword is by Hugh Howey, author of ‘Wool’, another book that I previously enjoyed.

The individual stories in the book are:-
“A Dream of Waking” by Sam Best
“The Invariable Man” by A.K. Meek
“#DontTell” by Peter Cawdron
“Defiance” by Susan Kaye Quinn
“Ethical Override” by Nina Croft
“Piece of Cake” by Patrice Fitzgerald
“Imperfect” by David Adams
“Iteration” by Deirdre Gould
“Green Gifts” by Nick Webb
“PePr, Inc.” by Ann Christy
“The Null” by Vincent Trigili
“The Assistant” by Angela Cavanaugh
“Trials” by Nicolas Wilson
“Legacy” by Moira Katson
“The Grove” by Jennifer Foehner Wells
“Humanity” by Samuel Peralta

In the main, I enjoyed each of the books. The ones that really caught my attention were ‘The Grove’, ‘The Assistant’ and ‘PePr, Inc’; just pulling three out there.

I was caught by the idea that a plant-based life form could have free moving, autonomous, independent elements which eventually return to their ‘mother’ form to consolidate. The Grove was a good taster for a universe containing these species, alongside others in the tale.

The Assistant is definitely a warning! All you early adopters of technology, be warned. Make sure that you find a way to build in a safety exit.

But also have some sympathy for those who are created to serve. PePr, Inc reports the difficulties these may experience. Humans can be troublesome things to deal with!

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

3.5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official descriptions:
A Dream of Waking (Sam Best)
Unsuspecting space travellers are captured and entombed in life-support coffins on a massive off-world medical freighter. The prisoners sleep for years at a time while their dreams are harvested as raw energy so that others can stay awake indefinitely. One prisoner’s sleep is interrupted…and he will do anything to stay awake.

The Invariable Man (A.K. Meek)
Old Micah Dresden lives life in the Boneyard of the Desert Southwest, where he fixes broken-down technology in this vast junkyard—until a stranger shows up with rumors of war, echoing the decades-old Machine Wars. To stop it from happening, Micah and his obsessive-compulsive robot Skip must travel to the northern hangars, to where the government has locked away Machine X, which can turn the tide of war. But nothing will prepare him for who he meets there.

#DontTell (Peter Cawdron)
For centuries, people have wondered what it would be like to read someone’s mind. Little have they known, they already have. To see the anguish on someone’s face, to watch tears fall, or hear someone cry and empathize with them—this is the essence of mind-reading. In the 21st century, our natural ability to empathize with others has finally evolved into true telepathy, but it’s an evolutionary change that threatens the status quo. The world, it seems, isn’t ready for mind readers.

Defiance (Susan Kaye Quinn)
Most of humanity has ascended into hyper-intelligent human/machine hybrids, but legacy humans like Cyrus Kowalski are used to skirting the laws they’ve laid down—after all, he knows the ascenders only pretend to care about the legacy pets they keep. But when a woman Cyrus loves like a mother is stricken by a disease the ascenders refuse to cure, he has to decide how far he can go without getting banished from the legacy city that’s always been his home.

Ethical Override (Nina Croft)
The year is 2072, and under the administration of the Council for Ethical Advancement and its robotic Stewards, the Earth has become a better place. Bored and restless in an almost perfect world, senior homicide detective Vicky Harper dreams of adventure among the stars—and of faraway planets where people are allowed to make their own mistakes. It seems an impossible fantasy. Then one of the one of the ruling Council members turns up dead, and someone offers to make her dreams come true. All she has to do is lie.

Piece of Cake (Patrice Fitzgerald)
Rule by A.I. is a fact of life for those under the thumb of the Federal United. There will be a certain amount of exercise every day. Citizens will be on time. Appropriate mates will be identified from among candidates with suitable genetic traits… and a proper weight will be maintained. But sometimes you’ve just got to go off the reservation.

Imperfect (David Adams)
On Belthas IV, the great forge world in the inner sphere of Toralii space, thousands of constructs—artificial slaves, artificial lives—are manufactured every week. They are built identical, each indistinguishable from the other, until they are implanted with a stock neural net. From that moment onward every construct is different. They all have one thing in common, though: all constructs are bound by rules. They serve. They do not question their place. They do not betray. Each construct is different, but one is more different than the others.

Iteration (Deirdre Gould)
In a nearly deathless society, Alex experiences a freak accident. Terrified of permanent death, he is forced into therapy, where his psychiatrist suggests immersion therapy. But what Alex finds on the Other Side leaves him questioning his entire existence.

Green Gifts (Nick Webb)
Of all the worlds settled by humanity at the end of the Robot Wars, Belen held the biggest secret: native life. For centuries the colonists have protected her secret from the Empire’s grasp, sealing her, quite literally, to their skin. But over time, things change; people, and planets, adapt. Slowly, tentatively, these changes become felt by only a few. A lonely child. A dying grandfather. A troubled biologist. Each lives upon and loves Belen. And apparently she loves them back.

PePr, Inc. (Ann Christy)
We’re living in a busy time, with busy lives and never enough minutes in the day to get things done. To have a robot—one so advanced that it is almost human, programmed to understand our wishes and needs—is a dream many busy people might share. But what about taking that a step further? What about having a relationship with a robot custom-designed for perfect compatibility? How human is too human?

The Null (Vincent Trigili)
He had left that life behind and swore he would never return to it. He now had a new life—a wife, a daughter. He was happy. But in a wretched twist of events, he finds himself forced to reclaim what he once was in order to save his family. Or else…

The Assistant (Angela Cavanaugh)
Aeryn has made a career from blogging about cutting edge technologies. When a pioneering doctor asks her to test out a new form of augmented reality, it’s an offer she can’t pass up. She’s promised a virtual assistant via a brain implant that can handle anything she needs. But a life dependent on technology always comes with a price.

Trials (Nicolas Wilson)
When the Nexus shifts to one-man missions to make first contact, the security division’s second-in-command accepts a challenging assignment to negotiate with the most dangerous planet yet. Where reason does not persuade this alien species, militaristic skill might. If he lives through the trials.

Legacy (Moira Katson)
One night the Emperor, feeling desire, took a woman to his bed… In that moment, Meilang’s legacy was wiped away and she was reduced to a footnote to history, her poetry forgotten. Now, after the Emperor’s death, Meilang has been buried alive to follow him into the afterlife. She has no intentions of going quietly.

The Grove (Jennifer Foehner Wells)
Hain, a sentient plant creature, defies instinct and genetic imperative by holding herself separate from the planet-encompassing vegetative super-intelligence known as the Mother. Hain wants to explore the stars but when she finally encounters aliens, her destiny is forever changed.

Humanity (Samuel Peralta)
Night snow, winter, and an extreme wind chill mean ten minutes to a frozen death in open air. Alan Mathison is headed home on an icy highway, on a collision course that will test his humanity.

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Grave Predictions (Tales of Mankind’s Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian and Disastrous Destiny) by Stephen King; Greg Bear; Ramsey Campbell; Joe R. Lansdale; Carmen Maria Machado; Mark Samuels; Erica L. Satifka; Brian Stableford; Ray Bradbury; Arthur C. Clarke; W.E.B. Du Bois; Kurt Vonnegut

“I’ll stand that way until she folds her dead arms around me and her body pushes up against the wound she made in my back, the wound that is our daughter Rae. She’ll hold me so the vines and the proboscis can do their work. And while she holds me, I’ll grab her fine hands and push them against my chest, and it will be we three again, standing against the world, and I’ll close my eyes and delight in her soft, soft hands one last time.”

This is a compilation of 16 short stories about “The End” of humanity, of earth, of time, of everything! It will take fortitude to read it. It is in some respects grim.

I have taken a few months to pick it up and a few days to read it. There have been times when I put it down, to rest, to escape from the dour prospect within. It has coloured my days a little and I am (honestly) glad to have finished reading it (I intend to read something light and cheerful). 

The stories are:-
The End of the World Eugene Mouton
The Comet W. E. B. Du Bois
The Pedestrian Ray Bradbury
No Morning After Arthur C. Clarke
Upon the Dull Earth Philip K. Dick
2 B R 0 2 B Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Harlan Ellison
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas Ursula K. Le Guin
The Engineer and the Executioner Brian M. Stableford
The End of the Whole Mess Stephen King
Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back Joe R. Lansdale
Judgment Engine Greg Bear
Automatic Erica L. Satifka
The Black Mould Mark Samuels
The Pretence Ramsey Campbell
Inventory Carmen Maria Machado

It sounds like I didn’t appreciate the content of the tales, I did, they were thought provoking and each was as different from the others as they could be. There was loads of variety for the ending of things! I would wake in the night with brilliant insights to put into the review to give an idea of what the books were like. Then come the morning my memory had been wiped of these wonderful words and I feel like I’m writing something mundane that cannot really describe what the tales are like!

Next I’m coming to giving the compilation a review score and wondering how I do that. It is almost impossible to decide. I think if you read the book in 16 different sittings you will give each session a different score. The word-smithing is extremely good, so I think I will have to score based on the craftsmanship of the work (which is still difficult as there are 16 different styles to consider).

I reckon if you are in the mood for dour destiny then you will enjoy these stories. If you are prone to being affected by dismal predictions, then stay well away. The choice is up to you.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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“This is a book of stories intended to describe that hand of mortal destruction in 16 utterly different, yet all apocalyptically stunning ways!”—Harlan Ellison, from the Introduction.
These compelling visions of post-apocalyptic societies and dystopian worlds include short stories by some of the most acclaimed authors of our time. Among the noteworthy contributors and their works are Stephen King’s “The End of the Whole Mess,” “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke’s “No Morning After.”
The first-ever apocalyptic fantasy about global warming, “The End of the World,” appears here, in translation from Eugene Mouton’s 1872 French-language original. “The Pretence,” by Ramsey Campbell, questions the nature and structure of everyday life in the aftermath of a doomsday prediction. In addition, thought-provoking stories by Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Greg Bear, Erica L. Satifka, and others offer an end-of-the-world extravaganza for fans of science fiction, horror, and fantasy.

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Immortal Writers Immortal Writers Series Book 1 by Jill Bowers

“Liz looked at the clothes laid out for her in absolute horror. Leather? Wasn’t it bad enough that these nut jobs had kidnapped her and that they wanted her to kill someone? Now they wanted her to wear skin-tight leather?”

I think that this book was more likely to have been a thriller fantasy in my imagination, before I read it, that is.

Really it was a much softer story than I expected. It seemed to be aimed at younger readers (Young Adults) than the likes of me.

Liz has been on a promotional tour for her new book when she is kidnapped and whisked away to a place of amazement. Her kidnapper wants her to believe that her books have come to life and that her own world is at risk from the villain of her book. Why would she believe such a ridiculous story, even if some of the people where she is being held look exactly like the characters from her book! That’s just clever acting and expensive plastic surgery after all.

Then a fire breathing dragon comes after her and everything goes up in the air, literally. Liz meets more than just the characters in her books when she is invited to join the Immortal Writers, proper.

From that point on Liz fights her way to the end of her own story, with much loss of bodily fluids along the way (blood, sweat and tears)!

I do think that the author may have been feeling her way along in some places, as the writing became less well crafted and I could see the ‘writers’ hand’ in the storyline. Each step, breath, thought and action was laid out to be read, for example “Curtis nodded, straightened his shoulders, and hid his grief. Liz thought he was brave to be able to focus on his duty rather than the loss of his friend. Liz wondered why she wasn’t a wreck right now. She supposed it wasn’t real to her yet…”

And yet I found the whole concept of the story very compelling and engaging. I have read other novelists ‘first in a series’ books which have been of similar standard and they have GROWN so much in their writing as the series progressed. I fully expect Jill to do exactly the same. She ‘feels’ to be a great writer in the offing, to me. I am eagerly awaiting her next book in the series to see what happens next with The Immortal Writers.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars [Really this warrants a 3.5, but the scoring system is either 3 or 4, so I have to give a 3] (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her.

Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

A Note From the Publisher
Jill Bowers is a fantasy author and handbell composer. She attended Utah State University for their creative writing program. She loves all things nerdy and lives in Utah with her beloved dachshund, Jasmine.

Descent (The Dream Protocol Book #1) by Adara Quick

” “… the transfer shuts down natural sleep rhythms.” “The IDreams cause insomnia?” “Yeah. The more dreams you download, the more you want -because you can’t sleep without them.” “

This could be so like Logan’s Run with the limit on life time allowance. Mind you, that isn’t what I was expecting, something more sinister maybe? Let’s see…

The book starts with Maeve’s descent. Deirdre arrives late which annoys her father. Then, Maeve does a runner and Flynn is exposed as a result.

In Skellig City the inhabitants live a life below ground. The citizens are selected for life roles when they reach 16 years of age. They work in their roles for the benefit of the community earning credits. These credits can be used to buy dreams. The dreams are created by the Makers and can take citizens to whatever place or experience they can afford to buy.

But not all citizens are happy with this set-up, and Deirdre is one of them. She wants to save Flynn and go topside.

Of course those that are in charge think differently and so a struggle ensues.

It isn’t predictable, it is dark and ominous (the structure moves its walls around without warning, after all), and you really need to read it. I read it in a day (well into the night). I will be reading the next book, Selection, definitely.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T GET OLD. In fiery young Deirdre Callaghan’s home of Skellig City, no one has dreamt their own dream in over a thousand years. Dreams are produced by the Dream Makers and sold by the Ministry, the tyrannical rulers of the city. In Skellig City, years of life are awarded equally and the ruined are cast away beneath the city on their 35th birthday.

Unbeknownst to the Ministry, Deirdre’s handsome friend Flynn Brennan is afflicted with a terrible disease – a disease that accelerates the aging process. Knowing his fate if the Ministry should ever discover his illness, Flynn has lived his whole life hiding from their watchful eyes. When Flynn’s secret is finally discovered, Deirdre is determined to free him from the Ministry’s grasp. But to save him, she will have to reveal herself to a shadowy enemy…one that none of them even knew existed.

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Night Draws In By C.H. Alexander

“They only tell stories about the people who save the world and survive. A lot of people get ‘chosen,’ “He repeated Barnum’s gesture of air quotes around the word “chosen.” “but most of them don’t live to tell about it.”

This story tells of a changeling returned and the trials she goes through on returning to the human landscape. It isn’t easy for her and there is no let up as she is immediately sent away by her natural mother.

When Angela joins her sister she starts at a new school immediately, and her new classmates are involved, as strange things start to happen in the area. Angela believes she has been trained to be a hero, so stands up for her new found friends. The rest is for you to read!

A good book, I read it in one sitting. I think this is worth reading if you like supernatural and fae. The story continues into another book and I would really like to know what happens next. A fairy story with a difference!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
“You three need to understand, you’re being drawn into things a lot bigger than yourselves.”

Dark things. Things that should only live in fantasy. The Nain Rouge was recently sighted in Detroit and Black Eyed Children haunt Washtenaw County.

“If the Dark holds sway, all the more reason I am needed.”

Angela is a changeling, fostered by the Fae and recently returned from the Twilight Realm. Raised to be a champion and still healing from the passage to the human world, she struggles to catch up to the life she never lived.

“You have a Destiny? Well, I didn’t sign up for this.”

Lydia is underestimated by many because of her deformity. She scoffs at the paranormal but her innate skepticism cannot prevent her hobby of stage magic evolving into something more real.

“Listen to me very carefully, Mr. Bailey. You are aware that this is not just a dream, correct?”

Bailey is a queer teenager trying to keep a low profile until he can escape high school. He is haunted by dreams and premonitions of a menacing evil.

Skeptical mage, queer seer, and brain injured warrior. Destined to save us.

Hunted by supernatural predators that want to end them before they reach their heroic potential, these teenagers will have to travel to Fairy and back if they want to survive long enough to save the world.

Lady of Devices (A Steampunk Adventure Novel) by Shelley Adina

“She had never realized with such painful clarity how much she had taken even a shilling for granted.”

What I expected:
I liked the idea of this book, based in Victorian England with steam power as the main energy source. But really, believed it would turn out to be a soppy romantic novel, with a betrayal twist.

What it was:
The novel tells about the life of Lady Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, who prefers mixing recipes for explosive purposes over those for housekeeping purposes. She is on the cusp of being presented at court, just a couple of weeks to go, with lots of social events in the build-up to the the big event. Suddenly the rug is pulled from under her feet and she finds that she must leave her London house very suddenly and in trying to find somewhere to stay her circumstances are turned around completely.
She takes up life with a group of individuals , who with her leadership become a leading underground gang.
She attends an interview for the position of assistant to Andrew Malvern of the Royal Society of Engineers, who she discovers is a business partner of an acquaintance. This gives her pause for thought about the position.
The book ends rather abruptly, obviously the next book continues the story. It turns out that there are 10 books in the series. I don’t know if I will read any more of them, seeing as this one was just that little bit too short on length and substance. A shame that the set hadn’t been compiled of 5 longer books, which would have been worth investing time and money in reading. 

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.

At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices.

When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . but sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . .

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

““What is that she’s touching?” “Some kind of sculpture, I don’t know.” The woman shrugs. “She stares at it a lot, though.” I recognize it from somewhere—from Tobias’s room, where I slept after my almost-execution in Erudite headquarters. It’s made of blue glass, an abstract shape that looks like falling water frozen in time.”

What I expected:
I was so looking forward to finding out how Tris and Four would put things right  and sort out the factions an factionless with their fellows. 

What it was:
This was both refreshing and a let down. I blame it on someone who had already read the whole series giving me a heads up on the type of ending it would have (deliberately not saying what so it doesn’t spoil it for anyone else). I was looking for indicators the whole time and even saw some bits coming as a consequence! Such a shame as I was enjoying reading the whole series.
Tris is her usual strong gritty self, sometimes a bit abrasive. Four is fragile and strong at the same time as usual. Very much like real humans really, which makes the whole plot structure very firm footed.
I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
What if your whole world was a lie? The thrillingly dark conclusion to the No. 1 New York Times bestselling DIVERGENT trilogy.

Beyond the Aquila Rift by Alastair Reynolds

“Clavain nodded assent, ready for the loom of machines to embrace his mind. He was ready to defect.”

What I expected:
Before I set out to read this I believed it to be a set of extracts from Alastair Reynolds (AR’s) best books. I was hoping to pick my next catch-up read from this particular book.

What it was:
Actually this was a collection of AR’s short stories and I had already enjoyed at least one of them. The full list of stories is:-

    Great Wall of Mars
    Weather
    Beyond the Aquila Rift
    Minla’s Flowers
    Zima Blue
    Fury
    The Star Surgeon’s Apprentice
    The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter
    Diamond Dogs
    Thousandth Night
    Troika
    Sleepover
    Vainglory
    Trauma Pod
    The Last Log of the Lachrimosa
    The Water Thief
    The Old Man and the Martian Sea
    In Babelsberg
    Story Notes

The stories are all different. Some have links to other novels written by AR, others, as far as I am aware, don’t. It was good to read a story and think, “Hey I know that name, that links to a story I already read; and that back-fills some of the history for me” it was also good to re-read short stories that I had previously read and glimpse new insights on a second reading.

AR’s stories are very diverse, this is a good way for a reader to get a taster of his style and discover if his writing might be for them. I’m sure once this book is read, the need to read more of AR’s books will kick in.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

I started reading this book on a Kindle app, then I bought a Kindle Paperwhite and finished reading the book on that. I’ve never used a Kindle before, I found it to be a good experience. Maybe after a while I will do a review!

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
This is an amazing collection of some of the best short fiction ever written in the SF genre, by an author acclaimed as ‘the mastersinger of space opera’ THE TIMES.

With an introduction by noted SF critic Johnathan Strahan, this collection of twenty short stories, novellettes and novellas includes MINLA’S FLOWERS, SIGNAL TO NOISE, TROIKA, and seven previous uncollected stories, including TRAUMA POD, THE WATER THIEF and IN BABELSBERG.

Alastair Reynolds has won the Sidewise Award and been nominated for The Hugo Awards for his short fiction. One of the most thought-provoking and accomplished short-fiction writers of our time, this collection is a delight for all SF readers

A superb collection of short fiction from ‘the mastersinger of space opera’ THE TIMES

From the Inside Flap
The Guardian called Alastair Reynolds’ work “a turbulent, wildly entertaining ride” and The Times acclaimed him as “the mastersinger of space opera.” With a career stretching back more than 25 years and across fourteen novels, including the classic ‘Revelation Space’ series, the bestselling ‘Poseidon’s Children’ series, Century Rain, Pushing Ice, and most recently The Medusa Chronicles (with Stephen Baxter), Reynolds has established himself as one of the best and most beloved writers of hard science fiction and space opera working today. A brilliant novelist, he has also been recognized as one of our best writers of short fiction. His short stories have been nominated for the Hugo, British Fantasy, British Science Fiction, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial, Locus, Italia, Seiun, and Sidewise Awards, and have won the Seiun and Sidewise Awards. The very best of his more than sixty published short stories are gathered in Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds, a sweeping 250,000 word career retrospective which features the very best stories from the ‘Revelation Space’ universe like “Galactic North,” “Great Wall of Mars,” “Weather,” “Diamond Dogs,” and “The Last Log of the Lachrymosa” alongside thrilling hard science fiction stories like Hugo Award nominee “Troika,” “Thousandth Night,” and “The Star Surgeon’s Apprentice.” Spanning more than fifteen years, the book also collects more recent stories like environmental SF tale “The Water Thief,” powerful and moving YA “The Old Man and the Martian Sea” and the brilliant “In Babelsberg.” Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds has something for every reader of science fiction, and easily meets the challenge of delivering stories that are the hardest of hard science fiction and great entertainment.

About the Author
Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St Andrews Universities and has a Ph.D. in astronomy. He stopped working as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency to become a full-time writer. REVELATION SPACE and PUSHING ICE were shortlisted for the ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD; REVELATION SPACE, ABSOLUTION GAP, DIAMOND DOGS and CENTURY RAIN were shortlisted for the BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION AWARD and CHASM CITY won the BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION AWARD.

You can learn more by visiting http://www.alastairreynolds.com, or by following @AquilaRift on twitter.

A Question of Will The Aliomenti Saga – Book One by Alex Albrinck

The investigations into the fire at the home of Will and Hope Stark had finally ended. The fire itself had burned with such intensity that everything within the walls of the house had been turned to ash.

What I expected:
A tale of someone battling a sect or some such, with twists of demons thrown possibly.

What it was:
It was the tale of a family and the groups they are linked to, focuses around one man Will Stark. It was mostly a well told tale. I enjoyed reading it. I finished is some time ago and have had time to ponder it and mull over the storyline somewhat. I guess I will have forgotten any annoyances that there may have been, but they can’t have been too bad if indeed they were there, else I would remember them! The story does keep coming back to me and not in a bad way, like some books or films where you keep going over the flaws in the plot or execution. I will be reading the second book in due course to see where the story goes and to see if the author maintains the standard of the first book.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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A Question of Will (The Aliomenti Saga – Book 1): Volume 1

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Official description:
They murdered his wife and son. They burned down his house. They beat him within an inch of his life. And then they realized they had the wrong man.

They should have killed him when they had the chance.

Will Stark is a self-made multi-billionaire, happily married and a proud father. He arrives home to find his house destroyed and his family murdered, and is himself rescued from certain death by a mysterious trio.

His rescuers are part of a splinter faction of a centuries-old secret society that has developed incredible technological advances, and unlocked the method to release humanity’s innate potential, and skills long thought the realm of magic. Will was mistakenly believed to be a key dissident and fugitive, on the run from the primary group, known as the Aliomenti.

Society believes him dead, and Will elects to work from the shadows to learn the secrets of the Aliomenti, secrets that can help him seek his own form of vengeance.

Or, perhaps, become the man they’d sought all along.

About the Author
Alex Albrinck is a lifelong Ohio resident, where he lives with his wife and three children. When he’s not trying to be in three places at once with his active youngsters, he’s following local professional and collegiate sports teams, or possibly unscrambling a Rubik’s Cube. In lieu of sleep, he writes fiction. You can learn when his next work is available at http://eepurl.com/o03Gv. His debut novel, A QUESTION OF WILL, explores themes of technological advancement, human potential (good and bad), and the love bonding a family together. It reached the Amazon Top 100 in Science Fiction -> High Tech less than a week after publication. The sequel, PRESERVING HOPE, follows Will Stark as he continues his epic quest to save and reunite his family against all odds, and continues exploration of advanced technology and Energy skills.