Beneath Burning Sands by P R Adams

“His training classes had taught him the basic premises behind hibernation: blood drained and stored, a brine-like injection replacing the blood, filling the digestive system, and surrounding the body. Then the freezing. Upon thawing the blood would be reconstituted and the injected fluid drained. All excess fluids would be held in a reservoir for analysis, then eventually recycled.”

Reggie wakes from hibernation sleep, noting his slack muscle tone and bemoans the loss of all his hard work sculpting his body.
Then he has to focus on waking his team, or as many as can be woken on the power remaining in the reserve batteries. How does he choose? How and when will he mourn the loss of those he didn’t wake?
And what on earth is making that awful banging sound at the hatchway?
Reggie will find out only too soon!

And he really does. The system that controls the complex has woken his team, and now they must deal with whatever caused the banging. As well as the situation that the project controllers have left them in. And get all the mechanisms, that support life in the habitat, running again.

Reggie doesn’t feel in control, though he really should be. His belief in himself is wavering. Can he get his team through and find out what is going on?

I enjoyed reading this. I had started the proof copy, but re-started once I had the final copy. It was so engaging I didn’t mind reading the first third of the book twice. It is the sort of book that I am able to visualise well because of the quality of the writing; that always enhances the read for me. All in all a truly good story and I am looking forward to the next book coming out.

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

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

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Official description:
Earth is dying and humanity’s only hope of survival will be somewhere among the stars. Ambitious MBA graduate Reggie Lee thought defense contractor Frontierza was a perfect fit for his first job. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Frontierza’s work on advanced hibernation technology for sleeper colony ships isn’t sexy, but what matters to Reggie is that he will have an extremely visible role leading the first team to test the technology in a month-long cryogenic sleep. The proposition is simple. Succeed and humanity has a real chance of finding a new home before Earth’s ecosystem completely collapses. Fail and … you don’t wake up. For someone who lives on the edge, the upside outweighs the risk.

But the world Reggie wakes to is nothing like he expected.

Pick up your copy of this suspenseful post-apocalyptic tale and see what lies Beneath Burning Sands.

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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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Official description:
“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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Nirvana (Nirvana Series Book One) by J.R. Stewart (final edition)

What I expected:
I already read the proof copy, so I was pretty clued up on most of the plot for this one. Nonetheless I looked forward to reading this the final version to see how the story had evolved in the final rewrite. 

What it was:
The story is the same but totally changed. There is more to it and the subtleties enhance the reading experience.
The appearance of different characters enhance the story, for example, Andrew whom Kenders loves and misses most in the world makes more of an appearance, due to Nirvana episodes. Whereas Paloma didn’t feature in the first draft, but creates quite an impact in this final version, in her own callous way. Lexie is one of Kenders band and it is good that she features more in the final version, it gives a more rounded edge to Kenders character.
I knew the story, but until I read this, the final version, I didn’t really know the story. And I enjoyed it so much when reading it again in a different way. 
And the ending…!

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.

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

Official description:
If you enjoy futuristic what-if books like The Hunger Games or The Matrix, give this series a read.
– Victoria Harvey, Ivy’s Ecclectic Reviews

“Intriguing meld of virtual reality, species extinction, and corporate evil.” – Wendy Stephens, Director, United States Board on Books for Young People

5-star rating
– Jessica Waggoner, Books-a-Million

“The author stayed true to the dystopian grimness of the world and kept my attention. I think I finished it in about four sittings!”
– Julie Short, Julie Short review blog

When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized – even visits with Andrew.

Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.

Nirvana is a fast-paced, page-turning young adult novel combining elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance. Part of a trilogy, this book introduces readers to a young woman who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so. Are you ready to enter Nirvana?

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Nirvana (Nirvana Series Book 1)

Wool by Hugh Howey

I enjoyed reading this book. I finished it yesterday evening and today I find that my mind is still pondering the happenings in the silo and wondering on where each of the threads that are left will weave themselves.
I’m sure lots of others will summarise the plot so I shan’t bother.
However, I did find that parts where I thought something would happen in the plot did happen, but not as I expected!
Good eh!
I think I must have read the omnibus edition as it was way longer than 56 pages!!! Go get that version folks – it is worth it.

5/5 Stars

Official description:

This Omnibus Edition collects the five Wool books into a single volume. It is for those who arrived late to the party and who wish to save a dollar or two while picking up the same stories in a single package.

The first Wool story was released as a standalone short in July of 2011. Due to reviewer demand, the rest of the story was released over the next six months. My thanks go out to those reviewers who clamored for more. Without you, none of this would exist. Your demand created this as much as I did.

This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.