Tag Archives: Science Fiction

A Hard Day’s Work: A Review of Bounty Hunter Stex

Every Thursday I share a list of free spectulative fiction books on Twitter. Last April, My friend Berthold Gambrel reviewed one of the books I mentioned, and now I’m reviewing it as well! Thank you for reviewing this book and nudging it closer to the top of my to-read list, Berthold! 

Book cover for Bounty Hunter Stex by Vesa Turpeinen. Image on cover shows a gunslinger and cowboy pointing a pistol while standing in front of a space ship on a dusty plain. Title: Bounty Hunter Stex

Author: Vesa Turpeinen

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: April 1, 2021

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 23 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Bounty Hunter Stex crashes his small plane hundreds of miles away from civilization while transporting a prisoner.

Stex and his prisoner end up face to face with an ancient evil as they look for shelter from a godforsaken ghost town in the middle of a desert.

This story is written by the award-winning author of the Amazon best-selling Pilot Career Series, Vesa Turpeinen. While he is widely recognized in the non-fiction world, this is his first attempt at writing fiction ”” and it won’t leave you cold!

The story combines science fiction, western, and magic, plus a little bit of Stephen King-style horror. It’s only about a 10-minute read and distributed for free. Enjoy!

Review:

Content Warning: Blood and murder. I will not be discussing these things in my review.

The less you know about this tale in advance, the better!

I adored the creative plot twists. As mentioned above, this is one of those stories that works best if you avoid all spoilers for it ahead of time. That’s going to make it a little tricky to discuss and critique here, but I’m always up for  a challenge. The coolest things about these plot twists were how often they happened and how many different genres they invited into the storyline in order to make everything tie together. I was surprised on a few different occasions, but everything was tied up beautifully together in the end.

This would have benefitted from another round of editing. The typos and punctuation errors happened often enough for me to give this a much lower rating than I otherwise would have chosen. It was distracting to pause and read those sections again to make sure I understood what the narrator was trying to communicate. With that being said, the plot itself was excellent. I am hoping to read more from this author in the future as his writing style was otherwise delightful.

The dialogue was nicely written. None of the characters were the sorts of folks who stand around shooting the breeze. I quickly learned that all of them had a strong preference to get to the point and then immediately figure out what to do next, so it made perfect sense that they’d keep their conversations to a minimum and plainly say what they were thinking when they did decide to speak up. Writing it that was a sensible decision, and I honestly wouldn’t have wanted those parts of their personalities to be communicated in any other way.

Bounty Hunter Stex was a wild romp through multiple genres. Do give it a shot if you love westerns, science fiction, or simply being surprised by clever storytelling.

 

Stex Freeman – MC. Bounty Hunter.

Lucas the Slayer – bad guy he just captured and is taking in.

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

Blurb:

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.

Review:

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.

Sweet Sleuthing: A Review of Junkyard

Junkyard by Lindsay Buroker book cover. Image on cover is of a spaceship flying above a forest and below a large moon above the planet. Title: Junkyard (a Fractured Stars Novella) 

Author: Lindsay Buroker 

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 5, 2019

Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery

Length: 81 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb:

McCall Richter works as a skip tracer, tracking down criminals, con men, and people who stop making payments on their fancy new spaceships. 

Her job description says nothing about locating vast quantities of stolen maple syrup, but thanks to her helpful new android employee, she finds herself tramping through a “sugar house” on a frosty moon full of suspicious characters. The only witness to the crime? The junkyard dog next door.

Junkyard is a stand-alone novella set two years before Fractured Stars.

Review:

Talk about a sticky situation! 

It only took me a few scenes to find McCall endearing. She was an independent person who knew exactly what she wanted out of life. I was intrigued by the quirkier aspects of her personality, too, and was eager to get to know her better. The short introduction to her was more than enough to whet my appetite for more from this character and series. 

I would have liked to see more time spent developing the mystery elements of the plot. The basic structure of it was there, but it was so simplistic that I didn’t have to put much effort into sorting everything out at all. There was a lot of space here to add nuance to the question of what happened to the maple syrup and who might have been responsible for the theft of it. This was the only thing preventing me from giving this tale a higher rating. 

Some of my favourite scenes were the ones that showcased McCall’s relationships with Scipio and the other non-human creatures she spent a lot of time around, especially given how much she struggled to relate to other humans at times. It was marvellous to see her relax and enjoy the company of a select few companions who understood her so well. I’d love to see more of this later on in this series if it happens to be included there. 

Junkyard would be a good read for fans of both the science fiction and mystery genres. 

A Review of This Time Around – A Canadian Werewolf Story 

This Time Around - A Canadian Werewolf Story by Mark Leslie book cover. Image on cover shows a city skyline at night. Superimposed on that photo is a photo of a wolf's head that's superimposed on a maple leaf in front of a full moon.Title: This Time Around – A Canadian Werewolf Story

Author: Mark Leslie

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: February 16, 2013

Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 70 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author 

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb:

Caught Between the Moon and New York City 

Being a werewolf isn’t all about howling at the moon.

Or running carelessly through boundless fields feeling the wind in your fur.

Not when you live in the most populous city in the US.

For Michael Andrews, a Canadian living in Manhattan and afflicted with lycanthropy, there are odd side effects to being a werewolf in the middle of a bustling metropolis.

Such as waking up naked in Battery Park with absolutely no memory of the night before as a wolf and trying to figure out why there is a bullet hole in his leg.

Just another day in the life of a man living with the odd side effect of his werewolf affliction.

(This 10,000 word short story is the original short story written by Mark Leslie that eventually inspired the full length Mark Leslie Novel: A Canadian Werewolf in New York)

Review:

Content warning: blood and brief violence. I will briefly mention the former in my review.

If you think you know what it’s like to be a werewolf, think again. 

Humour wasn’t necessarily something I was expecting to find when I began reading about Michael’s adventures here, but it was exactly what he and I both needed. Some of the scenes were subtly humorous in ways that nodded at Canadian culture. While they certainly had universal appeal as well, it was nice to see the author acknowledge his character’s background like that. 

The only thing that held this story back from a much higher rating were the typos in it. I can ignore the occasional grammatical or punctuation error, but they happened so often here that I felt compelled to mention them. With another round of editing, this would have easily been a five-star read for me. I loved everything else about it. 

This was such a unique take on werewolves. The plot showed how Michael coped after waking up naked and covered in blood in a park after spending his night in his wolf form. Obviously, that’s not the ideal way to start anyone’s day, and somehow things only became more complicated for him from that point. I was immediately sucked into his quest for clothing and, eventually, answers about what happened to him the night before. The author went into the perfect amount of detail about what this sort of experience is like for a shifter and how many different things they must consider as soon as they revert to their human form. 

If you enjoy lycanthropy fiction, definitely do check out This Time Around – A Canadian Werewolf Story.

Placid Revelations: A Review of The Lake

The Lake by Tananarive Due book cover. Image on cover is of lightning striking a lake in the middle of the night. Title: The Lake

Author: Tananarive Due

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: August 11, 2011

Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Contemporary

Length: 21 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

A free short story taken straight from the pages of THE MONSTER’S CORNER, an all original anthology from some of today’s hottest supernatural writers, featuring stories from the monster’s point of view.

In THE LAKE, Abbie LeFleur, a lifetime Bostonian, who hides her scales, webbed feet, and an incredible hunger for people, has relocated to Graceville to start her life anew when she sets her eyes on a young student in her English class.

Review:

Every town has its own unique way of doing things.

Abbie’s character development was well done, especially given the short length of this piece. I loved picking out new clues about how she was changing as she adjusted to her new job and home. Sometimes they were subtle, but they always made sense given who she’d been in the beginning.

There was one small thing I never understood about this story, and it had to do with the way the citizens of Graceville reacted to a new person moving there. In my experience, secrets are nearly always quickly exposed in small towns whether they belong to the newcomer or those who were born there. It didn’t make sense to me that Abbie could have lived there for as long as she did without anyone stopping by to welcome her and give her advice. Whether or not this character would heed their warning was an entirely different manner, but I struggled to understand why it was never given in the first place.

The ending made me shudder. While this was firmly rooted in the horror genre, but it wasn’t bloody or gory at all. Instead, the author relied on hints about what might happen next to frighten her audience. I love this sort of horror and had a wonderful time imagining what a sequel might be like. If the author ever writes it, I’ll read it for sure!

The Lake is a solid summer read for anyone who enjoys psychological horror.

The Last-Chance Mission: A Review of Project Hail Mary

Title: Project Hail Mary Author: Andy Weir Publisher:  Ballantine Books Publication Date: May 4, 2021 Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery Length:476 pages Source: I borrowed it from my local library. Rating: 5 Stars Blurb: Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that… Read More

First, Do No Harm: A Review of Restore

Title: Restore – Stories of Singularity #1 Author: Susan Kaye Quinn Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: May 2, 2015 Genre: Science Fiction  Length: 42 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 2.5 Stars Blurb: Restorative Human Medical Care Unit 7435, sentience level fifty, is happiness level five out of ten to serve… Read More

Myths Come to Life: A Review of Ambush Predators

Title: Ambush Predators – a Post-Apocalyptic Urban Fantasy Short Story Author: Marina Ermakova  Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: September 30, 2020 Genres: Science Fiction  Length: 18 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author.  Rating: 3 Stars Blurb: Mythical carnivores that prey on humans…and the researchers who study them. New graduate student Jordan begins… Read More

The Last Minute Decision: A Review of Clocking Time

Title: Clocking Time Author: Mark McClure  Publisher: JFR Publishers  Publication Date: October 31, 2020 Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult  Length: 31 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author Rating: 4 Stars Blurb: Two teenagers share a secret superpower: clock jumping. Confined to his house by the authorities, remote viewer Briann enters into… Read More

A Review of Apeiorn – Tales of an Argonaut 1

Title: 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 Blurb: “It’s the 20th millennium. Humankind has extended throughout the galaxy fighting against alien species to earn its place.… Read More