Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Myths Come to Life: A Review of Ambush Predators

Ambush Predators - a Post-Apocalyptic Urban Fantasy Short Story by Marina Ermakova book cover. Image on cover shows large reptilian eye superimposed on tree branches against a night sky. 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 her first field expedition to study Italy’s legendary animals, under the supervision of her mentor Gabriela. But being on the frontlines of discovery with these mysterious, dangerous animals comes with risks. Will Jordan learn to survive the local Roman monsters? Or will she join the countless others who’ve lost their lives to this unexplained legendary infestation? 

This short story is set in the world of Terrestrial Magic.

Review:

Content warning: snakes. I will be not discussing them in my review.

Would you risk your life to uncover the truth behind ancient myths? 

Jordan was intelligent, but she also struck me as someone who was pretty young and naive. The juxtaposition between her academic knowledge and what appeared to be limited practical experience in the field made her a fascinating narrator for this tale. She only seemed to know a little more about her assignment than the reader did, and there were plenty of things she found just as surprising as I did while I was following alongside her on her expedition. 

I know this story is part of a series and definitely wouldn’t expect all of my questions about this world to be answered in it. With that being said, I would have liked to see more conflict resolution in the final third of it. The beginning and middle were filled with exciting scenes that were never quite wrapped up by the last sentence. This abrupt ending actually reduced my interest in reading more because I wasn’t sure if this was something that would continue happening in all of the instalments of the series, and I’m not a big fan of cliffhangers. 

The world building was handled well. I learned exactly the right amount of information about Dr. Sanchez’s work and how Jordan was assisting her in learning more about these unusual creatures. They basically only had ancient myths and a few spotty reports from locals to go on when it came to understanding the physiology, behaviour, and possible weak spots of the animals they were trying to find, and that was assuming all of their sources were actually accurate. It was interesting to see them try to piece all of these things together. 

Anyone who loves mythology might enjoy Ambush Predators.

The Last Minute Decision: A Review of Clocking Time

Clocking Time A Time Travel Short Story by Mark McClure book cover. Image on cover is a stylized drawing of planets and outer space. 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 the life and times of a Japanese girl, Nina.

But as Briann’s feelings for Nina grow, he must overcome his fear of this unpredictable power and make one final jump before his time runs out forever.

A time travel short story about first love and tough choices.

Review:

Special powers were meant to be used, right? 

Briann and Nina’s growing relationship made me smile. I’m not generally someone who gravitates towards romantic science fiction plots, but these two made a great couple. I liked the fact that they’d already decided they wanted to be together by the time I met them. That was a refreshing take on the romance angle of it all! They also understood each other in ways that most other people did not, and their unfailing support of one another made me hope they’d get their happy ending. 

There were times when I found the world building a little confusing, especially when it came to Briann’s society. Everything people did there was tightly controlled, from what they ate to who they socialized with, to what forms of entertainment they used. I was intrigued by the many rules that had been created about how lower-class families like his were allowed to behave and wished the plot had gone into greater detail about that. If this portion of the storyline had been written as tightly as the rest of it, I would have felt comfortable giving it the full five star rating. 

Briann and Nina’s abilities themselves were explained well. The first scene went into plenty of detail about the precise steps they took to travel to see each other. It even went so far as to describe the breathing pattern Briann adopted just before the jump happened. This isn’t something that’s always explained well in some time travel stories, so it makes me happy when authors do get specific about how it all works. 

Anyone who loves time travel tales should check out Clocking Time.

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

Blurb:

“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.

Review:

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. 

Murky Moments: A Review of Fragments

Fragments - A Collection of Short Stories by Jachrys Abel book cover. Image on cover shows a purple fragment of glass drawn on a grey background Title: Fragments – A Collection of Short Stories

Author: Jachrys Abel 

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: November 21, 2020

Genres: Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical, Futuristic 

Length: 40 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author 

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb:

Fragments explores various facets of humanity through eight short stories—each of different subject matter, but with a shared undercurrent of what can best be described as honest humanness. 

There’s a gravedigger’s uptake of a small favor for his brother, a young boy teaching his friend how to survive in a haunted house, and a valiant king’s attempt to escape the clutches of death. There’s also the arduous endeavor of a nameless boy to prove his existence, and a young girl’s tortured wait for her partner’s return home. The daughter of a scientist uncovers why exactly the ocean waves, while a defunct human does penance for calculated murder. The collection then ends off with a rework of the author’s first ever published short which first appeared in literary magazine, Catch The Moment: a tale of how an invalid flees when his home is sieged, dragging along with him the village leader and her trusted advisor. 

Fragments is Jachrys’ first self-published collection of short stories. His other works have appeared in numerous literary publications, of which include A Philosopher’s Stone; Humanity Dawns; Catch The Moment; The Writing Cooperative; The Ascent; The Bad Influence; Storymaker; and Literally Literary.

Review:

Content warning: abuse and murder. I will not be discussing these things in my review.

Sometimes a single moment in time is all a character needs to reveal their true selves. 

I will briefly discuss a few of the pieces of this collection in my review. If any of them are interesting to you, do check out this book in its entirety. 

The title of “A Gravedigger’s Tale” tells the readers most of what we need to know about it right away. The gravedigger in question had been doing this job for a decade and knew all of the tricks to avoid rousing the dead when digging a new grave or taking care of the grounds. Simple things like name and gender identity were never made clear, and yet I felt like I knew them well because of how much time they spent explaining their life’s work to the audience and giving hints about the latest grave they were digging and why it was such an important one. 

There were a couple of stories in this collection that I thought could use a bit more development. Yes, they were fragments of fiction and therefore not meant to be as well fleshed out as, say, a novella or longer short story, but I would have enjoyed them more if their narrators had gone into a little more description about their plots and meanings. “The King’s Escape from Death” was a good example of this. After the king received word of something terrible that was to happen to him at a specific time, he ran away from home for the evening to avoid it. I was intrigued by his plan and sure would have liked to see him explain how he thought it ought to work in greater detail, especially since the warning he received was such a vague one. 

“Why the Ocean Waves” made me smile. It followed a conversation between a young girl named Aleandra and her father about why waves exist. After hearing his scientific explanation for it and finding it unsatisfying, she shared her own theories about why waves exist and what they mean for humans. It was heartwarming to see how he paid attention to her as she thought through her answer carefully .

Fragments gently drifted between literary and speculative fiction. It should be read by anyone who appreciated the numerous grey areas between genres.

What Bears Do in the Woods: A Review of The Ursus Verses

The Ursus Versus by Nathan Waddell book cover. Image on cover is of a cartoon bear standing behind a tree stump, peeking out, and waving. Title: The Ursus Versus

Author: Nathan Waddell

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 29, 2020

Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Length: 66 pages

Source: I purchased it.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

Do you like bears and black holes and squid monsters and dragons and cowboy dragon slayers and riding your bike all around town looking for something to do? Because that’s what I like and this is my chapbook which captures that spirit of fun and terror and the comfort of a good fun book.
This is the first in a series of chapbooks containing poetry and flash fiction and short stories with themes ranging from those mentioned above to deeper explorations of humanity. But honestly the themes mentioned already are all about that too.

Review:

Now is the perfect time for lighthearted science fiction.

Ordinarily, I’ll pick out a few short stories, poems, or essays from collections like these and share my thoughts about them. There were so many funny themes covered here that I thought it was best to allow other readers to discover them for yourselves without spoilers, especially since the later entries often referenced earlier ones.  All you need to know is that this is heavily based on science, science fiction, fantasy, and mythology. Start at the beginning, relax, and enjoy.

This is the sort of young adult science fiction that easily crosses over into adult audiences. The humour in it is tongue-in-cheek and does rely on a certain amount of understanding of the types of scientific concepts generally taught in high school, but it explains most of them well enough to appeal to preteens who haven’t taken Biology yet or older adults who might have last thought about the Paleozoic era half a century ago. In other words, don’t spend too much time thinking about whether you’re “Young Adult” enough for this collection. If you’re interested, there will almost certainly be something here that appeals to you.

Some of my favourite sections were the ones that relied on puns and jokes. Yes, there were the usual quips about what bears do in the woods, but that was the only the beginning of the many reasons to laugh while reading this collection. Honestly, what could be better than finding the humour in speculative fiction no matter which branch of it the narrator happens to be visiting at the moment? I sure can’t think of many things.

Be sure to read the author’s explanations of why he wrote select pieces of this collection. The explanations are all located at the very end, and it was really interesting to read their backstories.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series. Everything published here was first written about twenty years ago, and Mr. Waddell’s writing style has evolved quite a bit since then. If you want to follow along as he shares that journey, The Ursus Versus the perfect place to start.

Vintage Science Fiction Month: Unusual Food and Drinks

Vintage SciFi Month was created by Little Red Reviewer and is moderated by Red Star Reviews. Any science fiction film, short story, play, or book released before 1979 is eligible for this celebration of classic science fiction. Click on the links above to participate, read other entries, or for more information in general.  One of my favourite things… Read More

Flickering Hope: A Review of Richard Rex & the Succubus of Whitechapel

Title: Richard Rex & the Succubus of Whitechapel Author: Seth Tucker Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: January 25, 2013 Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Historical Length: 27 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 5 Stars Blurb: A murder in Whitechapel is not uncommon, but the state of the body requires someone… Read More

Suburban Gothic: A Review of The House on Abigail Lane

Title: The House on Abigail Lane Author: Kealan Patrick Burke Publisher: Elderlemon Press (Self-Published) Publication Date: June 17, 2020 Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror, Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary Length: 68 pages Source: I bought it. Rating: 3.5 Stars Blurb: From the outside, it looks like an ordinary American home, but since its construction in 1956, people… Read More

Rural Frights: A Review of Cabin for Rent

Title: Cabin for Rent – A Short Horror Story Author: Seth Tucker Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: February 19, 2018 Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Contemporary Length: 19 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 5 Stars Blurb: Learn about the macabre history of the cabin on the lake, as you take a… Read More

A Review of A Bit of Pickled Pumpkin and Other Short Horror Stories 

Title: A Bit of Pickled Pumpkin and Other Short Horror Stories Author: B.A. Loudon Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: September 12, 2019 Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary Length: 45 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 3.5 Stars Blurb: Review: In this collection of stories, all is not what it seems…Broken… Read More