Tag Archives: Aliens

A Review of The Fall Of Denver – A Tribute Story to the Original War Of The Worlds

Book cover for The Fall Of Denver - A Tribute Story to the Original War Of The Worlds By H.G. Wells’ by Richard Paolinelli. Image on cover shows a drawing of one of the many-legged alien ships from War of the Worlds crouching over a farmhouse. It is trying to suck up the people living there into its bulbous head. The farmhouse is in a western setting. There are a few tumbleweeds and hardy desert plants growing, but no grass, trees, or animals to be seen. The scene is dusty, dark yellow, and looks ominous, even the otherwise soft and gentle mountains in the far distance. Title: The Fall of Denver – A Tribute Story to the Original War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Author: Richard Paolinelli

Publisher: Tuscany Bay Books

Publication Date: May 24, 2022

Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Historical

Length: 44 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


The Fall of Denver takes place simultaneously with the events unfolding in England during Wells’, War of the Worlds. Doubtless, even as England was being invaded, so were all the other countries around the globe.In this story we will find out how the invasion of the United States plays out in general, and how it affects the men, and their families, stationed at a U.S. Army Fort near Denver, Colorado. For Major Daniel Wayne, an arrow in his knee has ended his career in the U.S. Army. Shortly after he arrives at Fort Logan outside of Denver, Colorado to hand in his retirement papers, word is received of an extra-worldly invasion of England. Before he and the Fort’s commander can begin to process this information, the first Martian cylinder lands to the east of Denver. Wayne is entrusted with the safety of the civilians at the Fort and in the surrounding area, taking them to the safety of the nearby Front Range even as the battle to defend Denver rages behind them. Wayne must keep the trust of his fellow officers to keep their familes safe, and confronts the ghosts of his own past, even as he longs to join the battle.


Content Warning: Death, disability, and a partial recovery from a painful knee injury. I will be discussing the last two in this post.

Women, children, and people with disabilities must stick together if they’re going to survive this war with aliens.

Some of the most interesting scenes in my opinion were the ones that explored Major Daniel Wayne’s career-threatening knee injury and how he dealt with the relentless pain and mobility issues that resulted from it. Living with any disability isn’t easy, especially at this point in history when there was less social support for people with disabilities and few if any accommodations for someone who found walking to be a struggle, much less anything more vigorous than that.  Regardless of whether you have personal experience with this topic or not, there’s something interesting to mull on here for everyone.

I would have preferred to see more attention paid to the romantic subplot of this tale. Because it happened quickly and under such intense circumstances,  I needed additional details about why the characters involved in it decided to pursue such things with each other while everything around them was falling apart. In no way was I opposed to these two individuals ending up together. They seemed like a great match, in fact. There was simply a lot of space here to expand the scenes that showed their blossoming romance.

With that being said, this was still a wonderful addition to this universe that I was thrilled to read. Learning about the alien attack from a different point of view showed me just how slowly information spread back then and how much folks had to rely on their own common sense and various life skills in order to survive when the military was being overrun and the federal goverment so far away that it could provide no realistic support for ordinary citizens at this time.

If you’re not already familiar with War of the Worlds, I’d recommend reading it before diving into this expansion of that universe.

The Fall of Denver – A Tribute Story to the Original War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells made me smile.


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The Best of Intentions: A Review of Abductors

Book cover for Abductors by Joe Vasicek. Image on cover shows a flying saucer flying in the evening sky above a rocky landscape. Title: Abductors

Author: Joe Vasicek

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: March 28, 2023

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 16 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars


Ever wonder what an alien abduction looks like from the aliens’ point of view?

The human was never supposed to see the space ship, let alone be brought on board. But when the crew’s bumbling incompetence gets the human caught up in the engines’ back-blast, and no one knows how to revive him, the ship’s engineer has to take matters into his own… appendages.

Includes a bonus story written with ChatGPT!


Content Warning: an alien abduction and a rectal probing (for medical reasons).

Too much curiosity can be dangerous.

The dialogue was pretty funny. None of the characters were expecting a human to be around when they turned on their spaceship, much less to become accidentally injured when the engine fired up. Their panic was totally understandable, and their wildly different ideas about how to treat the injuries were as touching as they were amusing. They only had a limited amount of time to make a difference, so every single moment counted as they quickly flipped through their options and picked what they thought would be the most helpful one.

There was so much more the author could have done with this premise. I found myself wishing he had dove more deeply into the alien crew, their relationships with each other, and why they were studying a species that they seemed to be so disgusted by. This could have easily been a novella at least, and it would have been stronger for it given how much information Mr. Vasicek had to lightly touch on or skip over until order to get to his punchline. If he ever decides to expand on this universe, I’d be excited to read more about it.

Some of the best scenes in my opinion were the ones that explored the vast cultural and physiological differences between humans and aliens. Of course it would be almost impossible to take care of a creature who physiology is wildly different from yours and who has no idea what you’re trying to do to him. It reminded me of how hard it can be to convince a pet like a cat, dog, or rabbit to take medication when they’re ill, but multiply that by a thousand and erase every ounce of information you have about how this other creature’s body works, which parts of their anatomy are sensitive, and how they might react to standard medical treatments.

I did not enjoy the bonus story that was included about a man who met a stranger in a dream and was convinced she was a real person from somewhere. It felt dry to me, and I struggled to connect with the characters. I hope that Mr. Vasicek will not continue to play around with ChatGPT or other artificial means of creating stories in the future. He has plenty of his own talent to put to use!

Abductors was a humorous take on the subject of alien abductions.


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Better Days: A Review of The Old Mountain Biker

Book cover for The Old Mountain Biker by Robert Adamson. Image on cover shows a bike rider sitting on their bike on the edge of a cliff at sunset. They are looking over the edge of the cliff at the ground far below them. There is a pine forest in the distance. Title: The Old Mountain Biker

Author: Robert Adamson

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 10, 2022

Genres: Science Fiction, Contemporary

Length: 28 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


In this SciFi short story, an old mountain biker encounters aliens from another planet that rescue him after a fall. They cure his injuries but also restore his youth. 
Then they offer a similar gift to the entire planet, but with conditions.


Content Warning: A bike accident that causes a minor injury.

Everything is going be okay.

The main character was an intelligent and resourceful man who thought through his decisions carefully. He was exactly the sort of levelheaded person I’d hope would represent all of us during first contact with beings from another planet. I immediately formed a warm and positive opinion of him and would have loved to know more about him.  It’s nice to click with a protagonist that quickly!

My only criticism has to do with the character development. There wasn’t a great deal of it in this story due the short length of this piece and how much time the author needed to devote to explaining what the aliens wanted from humanity and what they hoped to get from us, too. I would have gone for a higher rating if there had been more character development, and I hope the next instalment in this series gives me the opportunity to do just that!

One of the other things I appreciated about this short story had to do with how the aliens were portrayed. Too often, science fiction assumes that our first meeting with aliens will be violent or unpredictable, so it was refreshing to have a story in which nothing like that occurred. I can’t say much else about the plot without giving away spoilers, but it definitely has encouraged me to keep an eye on what Mr. Adamson comes up with next. He has a gentle and kind worldview that is sorely needed not only in science fiction but in storytelling in general!

I relished the peacefulness and hope of The Old Mountain Biker.

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First Contact: A Review of Fractals

Book cover for Fractals by G.S. Jennsen. Image on cover shows a pink swirl of stars in the night sky. They all appear to be emanating from the same spot and are slowly spinning out into space in a wide loop. Title: Fractals

Author: G.S. Jennsen

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: February 20, 2019

Genres: Science Fiction, Action/Adventure, and just a pinch of romance.

Length: 22 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars


A mysterious signal coming from deep space attracts the attention of humanity’s scientists and the soldiers who protect them—the kind of attention the originators of the signal will do anything to avoid. When the two converge, first contact doesn’t go the way either side planned.
FRACTALS is set in an alternative universe from the Aurora Rhapsody novels and short stories, but it features several of the same characters.


Content Warning: A space battle (but no injuries or deaths were described during it). I will not discuss it in my review.

Following protocol doesn’t always work well in situations that humanity has never experienced before.

Alexis and her coworkers struck me as people who had memorized all of the rules but didn’t always know why those rules had been put into place or when they could be reasonably bent. Their disagreements about how to react to what could possibly be first contact with an intelligent alien species were as humorous as they were true to all of these characters’ personalities. Honestly, I wouldn’t have expected anything other than a few professional but sometimes terse arguments along the way as they figured out what they wanted to do next.

This would have benefitted from another round of editing in my opinion. The narrator switched between verb tenses so often that I became confused. There were also some characters who were introduced with very little explanation of who they were or how they were connected to anyone else. While I certainly didn’t expect to have everything spoon fed to me during my first introduction to this world, this would have been easier to understand if the narrator had been a little more assertive about filling the readers in on the basics of what we needed to know due to the author’s comments on Amazon about this being a series that didn’t need to be read in any particular order.

The ending made me chuckle. No, I won’t spoil anything about it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way Ms. Jennsen veered off into a totally new direction with it. What a creative take on the idea of how first contact with an alien species is supposed to go. Not only did she clear up some of my questions about what was going on, she made me wonder what other surprises might be hidden in this universe.

Fractals was a wild ride.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Do You Believe in Aliens? Why or Why Not?

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A little green alien flashing a peace sign. I’ve been looking forward to this week’s discussion ever since Long and Short Reviews first released their 20222 list of topics!

My answer to this question all depends on what you mean by the term alien.

Do I believe there are little green people running around on Mars? Not at all.

Do I believe that aliens in shiny spaceships have visited Earth? No. Among many other factors, sending organic beings on longterm space missions is horribly dangerous due to all of the radiation they’d be exposed to during that trip. It takes years to travel between planets in our solar system and prohibitive amounts of time to travel between solar systems with our current technology. I can’t see other sentient beings attempting, much less actually making, that trip here. At best they might send a probe…but who knows if even a probe would survive such an arduous journey!

Do I believe that aliens abduct people, create crop circles, or kill livestock in bizarre ways? No. There are perfectly rational scientific and medical explanations for experiences like these. My first impulse is to believe simple, ordinary explanations of extraordinary events wherever possible.

Do I believe that aliens currently exist (or have existed in the past)? Yes. In fact, I think we could find the first evidence of life on other planets or moons very soon given how many probes we’ve already sent or will soon be sending to places like Mars, Venus, Titan, and Mercury.

You see, I think the kind of alien life we are most likely to find out there is microbial. Some of it may have already gone extinct and will only reveal itself as tiny little fossils, but I’m hoping we’ll find at least a few unicellular aliens that are still thriving deep underground or swimming happily in salty, half-frozen puddles somewhere.

Titan seems like the best place in our solar system to find larger and possibly even (slightly?) intelligent forms of life due to it’s vast methane oceans that may be protected from radiation and other dangers by its dense atmosphere and the thick layer of methane ice that sits on its surface. Only time will tell if that hunch is correct and if we’d have any practical way to communicate with those creatures if they do exist.

It’s difficult for me to believe that life exists on Earth and nowhere else, especially when small creatures like tardigrades have been known to survive long-term on the moon and in outer space. I think there must be something out there that exists now or used to exist in the past. Here’s hoping we’ll someday confirm my suspicions no matter how big or small the aliens might be.


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Quiet Lessons: A Review of Foresight

Book cover for Foresight by Matilda Scotney. Image on cover is a planet with rings around it and three golden moons in orbit around it. Title: Foresight

Author: Matilda Scotney

Publisher: Off the Planet Books (Self-Published)

Publication Date: February 21, 2021

Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Length: 61 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author

Rating: 4 Stars



Starlight, star bright,
The very first star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish, I wish tonight.

A metaphysical tale…


Not only are there two sides to every story, sometimes there are far more sides than that!

The subtlety of the first scene made me smile. There are precious few tales out there that are set in December but are purposefully not about Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or any other holiday that occurs during that month. I was impressed by the way the author captured the beauty that can be found at the end of the year, from the crisp, clear skies to the sharp nip of the wind as autumn slowly turns into winter. These descriptions might not seem to be related to the themes of later scenes at first glance, but give them time to grow. They have a message to share with any reader who is patient enough to keep going and to avoid making assumptions about what might happen next.

I would have liked to see more character development in this short story. It included such a large number of characters that it was difficult to get to know anyone well, much less to spend enough time with them to take note of the ways in which they were changing as a result of their experiences with the alien vessels. There was so much more space here to explore all of their personalities and backstories. If that had happened, I would have happily gone with a full five-star rating.

With that being said, I was delighted by the wide variety of perspectives the author included. I can’t say much about the alien vessels the characters were discussing without giving away spoilers, but it was fascinating to see how differently everyone reacted to them. Some characters viewed them as a threat while others had much more creative reactions to the idea that humans might not be alone in the universe after all. Absorbing everyone’s reactions to them was just as interesting as listening to the the reasons they gave for believing these visitors were anything from a security threat to a muse for creative expression.

Foresight is a must-read for anyone who appreciates thoughtful science fiction.


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A Calculated Risk: A Review of Go Outside

Go Outside by Adam Vine book cover. Image on cover shows someone standing on a rock while looking at a beautiful sunset and the beginning of a bright starry sky at night. Title
: Go Outside

Author: Adam Vine

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: March 1, 2021

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 8 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


Cal has the opportunity to travel across the stars to the world of the enigmatic and enlightened Hosts… but doing so will mean leaving behind everything he has ever known.


Content warning: Grief. I will not be discussing it in my review.

What is the biggest risk you’d be willing to take?

This is one of those stories that works best if you know as little about the plot in advance as possible, so I’ll need to be careful about how I word this review. I did like the way the author gave the audience more information in small doses here and there. It made sense to write the exposition that way given what we learned about the main character and how busy he was with critical tasks when we first met him.

There were a few times when I wished the narrator went into more detail. Cal gave brief descriptions of his reasons for travelling so far away from Earth, what the Hosts were like, and what they hoped he could do for them. I certainly wouldn’t have expected the narrator to go into vivid detail about any of these topics given the short length of this tale, but I did find myself wishing I knew a little more about all of them so that this setting and these characters could become more vivid in my imagination. This was a minor criticism of something I otherwise enjoyed quite a bit.

The ending was well done. While I did still hope for more information than what it provided, it did answer my biggest questions in a pretty satisfactory manner. I also liked the way it balanced wrapping things up with leaving space for a sequel if Mr. Vine ever decides to write such a thing. There were certainly plenty of topics he could cover, and I’d be thrilled to read more about Cal’s adventures if the author ever decides to revisit this character.

Go Outside was a delightful glimpse into a unique corner of the universe.


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A Review of Apeiorn – Tales of an Argonaut 1

Apeiron - Tales of an Argonaut 1 by M.P. Cosmos book cover. Image on cover shows person reading a book in a blue bubble in outer space next to the milky wayTitle: Apeiron – Tales of an Argonaut 1

Author: M.P. Cosmos

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: November 28, 2020

Genres: Science Fiction 

Length: 25 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author. 

Rating: 3.5 Stars


“It’s the 20th millennium.

Humankind has extended throughout the galaxy fighting against alien species to earn its place.

Millennium after millennium, humans managed to conquer almost all the Milky Way.

Much time has passed since the golden age of humanity; even though some colonies retain their splendour, most live in isolation.

Backward and unaware of having others like them through a galaxy that they once possessed.

I’ve been wandering from planet to planet since the beginning of time;

observing the magnificence and the horrors of this galaxy.

Watching over humanity until the time of action is upon me.”

This is a collection of 4 ten minutes stories.


Does human nature change? That is the eternal question. 

I’ll briefly review all four of the stories in this collection. The same narrator was present in all of them which provided a nice link between worlds and characters that would otherwise never have reason to be mentioned in the same place. 

In “The Price of Regret,” a scientist name Scaf and his wife worked for years to design robotic bodies for themselves that would never age or grow sick. As soon as Scaf figured out how to get his idea to work, he transferred his consciousness over to his artificial form without delay. This tale was interesting, but the ending puzzled me. I never quite did figure out what was happening with it, much less what the fates of the characters might have been. It would have been helpful to have a clearer understanding of what was going on there. 

The planet Koinon had transitioned into a state of global winter after a global war in “The Rise of the Machines.” As a result, all of the living things that survived that conflict now lived deep underground. The society humans built on this badly damaged planet was a fascinating one, especially when it came to how people handled the practicalities of doing everything they needed to not only survive but thrive so many miles below the surface. This could have easily been expanded into a full-length novel. It certainly had enough conflict for one, and the basic facts I learned about evolution of human society over time in this world only made me yearn for more information about it. 

“The Barrier” took place on a planet called Xatanvi where a man named Andrew had to decide whether to continue donating part of his meagre wages to help update a planet-wide barrier that not every human agreed was cost-effective or even necessary anymore. Humans can be good at minimizing the risks of things they haven’t personally experienced, so I was curious to see what he’d decide to do and how his personal decision might affect the lives of everyone around him. 

Last but not least, “The Thing Lurking” was about a man named Clotho lived on a feudal planet called Zoi. He was a simple farmer who dreamed of a more exciting life. When a mysterious stranger offered him a deal too good to be true, he decided to take it without a second thought. While I did find the plot twists in this one to be pretty predictable, I still enjoyed finding out what happened to Clotho. 

If you’ve ever wondered what humanity’s distant future might look like, Apeiorn – Tales of an Argonaut 1 could be right up your alley. 


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6 Toronto Urban Legends for Halloween

Since most of the people who read this site don’t live in Toronto and Halloween is my favourite holiday of the year by far, this seemed like the perfect time to share some of our spooky local urban legends.

Blurry photo taken of a moving subway trainThe Lady in Red

Lower Bay subway station was built in 1966 and shut down six months later because the Toronto Transit Commission realized that any delays at that stop would shut down our entire subway system.

A new subway station was built on top of it, and the original one is only rarely available for public viewing.

Legend has it that a woman wearing a red dress wanders around Lower Bay station, but no one knows who she is

. There are no records of accidents that might explain why this spirit spooks TTC employees and the occasional film crew that wander around down there.

We do know that this patch of land was once a Potter’s Field whose coffins were partially cleared out when the city wanted space for public transit, so she might be the ghost of someone who either had no next of kin when she died or who was abandoned by them.

The Underwater UFO Base in Lake Ontario

Multiple people have reported seeing lights shimmering over, plunging into, or leaping out of Lake Ontario. These sightings have given rise to the legend that there is an underwater UFO base located in the bottom of this lake.

Perhaps the aliens come from an aquatic planet and wouldn’t do well out here on dry land?

Nessie Lives in Lake Ontario

You’ve heard of the Loch Ness monster, right?

The Seneca First Nations tribe were the first people to record sightings of our own sea monster. As early as the 1850s, white settlers claimed to see something much bigger than the average fish swimming around in Lake Ontario as well. They described it as a blue-grey serpent that was about 50 feet long.

A Haunting at Old Finch Road

There are many different versions of this tale. They all tend agree that a girl was murdered on Old Finch Road, possibly near a bridge.

Many versions say she died on her birthday and will appear to you if you sing Happy Birthday to her because the person who murdered her wrote “Happy Birthday, Susie” on a nearby rock after killing her. (Although the victim’s name changes quite a bit depending on which version of the story you hear).

Some people have also claimed to hear screams and moans when travelling along this road.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Island

gibraltar point lighthouse on Toronto Island in Toronto, Ontario

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

Mr. John Paul Rademuller was the first lighthouse keeper on this little island back when it was still a peninsula. In order to make some extra money, he was a brewer and bootlegger as well.

Legend has it that two drunken sailors came to visit him one day to buy some of his beer. When Rademuller refused to sell it to them, they killed him, dismembered his body, and buried pieces of it around the island.

In some versions of this tale, it is said that parts of him were eventually found but that his head was never recovered at all. Other versions say his ghost still continues to wander the island because his killers were never punished for their crime and not because parts of his skeleton might still be waiting to be found.

Allegedly, there were some bones found near the lighthouse in 1893, but investigators didn’t yet have the scientific tools to tell if they belonged to Mr. Rademuller or not.

Mrs. Jemima Howard’s Last Days

The unique thing about Mrs. Howard is that we have many historical records that document her life. She was the wife of John G. Howard, and they both gave the land that would later become High Park to the city of Toronto after their deaths.

Mr. and Mrs. Howard lived happily in Colborne Lodge for many years. They never had children, but they doted on their nieces and nephews who temporarily came to live with them while  finishing their educations.

Sadly, Jemima Howard was diagnosed with breast cancer long before we had any treatments for it other than morphine and laudanum for her pain. She died at home in her own bed surrounded by loved ones. If she looked out her window, she could see the spot where she (and later her husband) would be buried.

Their headstone is the only one allowed in High Park, and it’s a beautiful, peaceful spot a short distance from their home.

Some visitors to Colborne Lodge have reported seeing a woman peering out of the second story bedroom where Jemima spent her last days. Others have reported cold spots and poltergeist activity.

Maybe Jemima never left home after all.

What is your favourite urban legend from your city, town, or community?


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Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Why I Love First Contact Stories

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A caution sign with the outline of an alien giving a peace sign on it. Y’all have no idea how hard it was for me to narrow this reply down to only one topic.

I desperately wanted to write at least six different posts in response to this prompt because there are so many specific things I love reading about.

But I will follow the rules and only gush about one of them!

Aliens are something that always make my ears perk up when I see references to them in blurbs or excerpts, especially if they’re written as something other than an antagonist.

1.  They make the universe seem friendlier. Since life evolved on Earth, it makes sense that it would develop on other planets and moons, too!

2. They stretch our imaginations. Sentient, humanoid aliens are interesting, but I’m even more interested in the ones that don’t feel familiar at all.This summer I’ll be reviewing a film called Life here about this precise topic.

3. They are thought provoking. How would people really react to new life on Mars, Europa, or some other faraway place?

4. They make learning from history mandatory. To tie into #3, I think we’d need to do a lot of soul-searching as a species when it came to how we’ve treated people from other countries and continents if we were to have any hope of not repeating the many mistakes of the past.

5. They say more about us than they do real aliens. Too often, alien stories assume that beings from other planets would be violent and cruel. I see no reason to believe that assumption is correct.

6. They give me an excuse to use this gif.

Man saying "I'm not saying it was the aliens...but it was the aliens."

And what could possibly be better than that?


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