Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Last Man by James Bailey

Three Stars
"Satisfying sci-fi short"

Elim is piloting a ship through the depths of space, as his species has left a dead world in search of life elsewhere. Carrying a thousand people via stasis tubes - effectively freezing them in time - and having traveled for thousands of years, resources are low and hope is dwindling. According to the ship's monitors, there are few habitable planets left, but Elim is rejuvenated when he eventually finds signs of life. Bailey does an excellent job of building the story to its eventual climax. The ending, however, falls a little flat. While I am fine with the way the story resolves itself, and it may catch some readers by surprise, I found it to be fairly predictable. Also, given the length of the journey and how much focus Bailey places on it, the ending seems rushed. I would have loved to see it drag out longer, giving the reader a false sense of security in the process. In any event, this is a well-written story that satisfied me for the most part.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Grip by Griffin Hayes

Four Stars
"Solid sci-fi/horror/psychological thriller"

Stuck on an outpost at the edge of the solar system, Lt. Cready's lone companions are a computer and an engineer named Chavez. With no word from Earth in eighteen months and isolation finally taking its toll, Cready's mind begins to wander. There were rumors that CENTCOM, the organization he works for, had been experimenting and studying the feasibility of replacing men with moids (artificial humans) prior to the start of his mission. What transpires is disturbing but - more importantly - the reader is left to ponder what is reality and what's not. Is Chavez really human? What about Cready? Furthermore, is it possible the computer, despite its synthetic tone, possesses the most human traits of them all? Hayes has an engaging and smooth style to his writing, and the pace and build-up in this story is excellent. Some readers might be turned off by the lack of answers Hayes provides, but his ability to make you think is powerful. This book is currently available for free, though I would have gladly paid to read it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Baby by Karen A. Wyle

Four Stars
"Whether you're male or female, it makes you think."

First of all, I think the author did an injustice by revealing too much in the book's product description. Instead of being stumped and trying to unravel the mystery, the reader knows what's going on from the very beginning. There could have been a lot of shock value if it were not for this. However, the story is written very well, which helps make up for this drawback. Being a father who has lost a child and is currently raising another (a seven-month-old boy), I can certainly relate to this story. Anyone who has lost a loved one or been a parent, whether you're male or female, can likely make an attachment as well. I have to admit, though, that taking the viewpoint of the wife/mother (in this case Ellie) is a much more effective route. Imagine losing your husband and giving birth to his clone. I won't give away too much, but Ellie faces some interesting dilemmas in this regard. It makes you wonder just how far you'd go to bring back someone you love. Overall, I found this story to be unique, thought-provoking, and even creepy. The book is currently available for free, and I would definitely recommend it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Single Blade of Grass by Amy Cross

Four Stars
"Left Me Wanting More!"

This sci-fi short by Amy Cross is an intriguing read. Despite his claim of not being near grass for years, Nick wakes each morning with a mysterious blade of grass on his foot. Curious as to whether or not it's real, Nick confides in his friend Malcolm as he searches for answers. However, Nick may not like - or even believe - what Malcolm has to say. In fact, Nick comes to realize that some things are better left unknown. Cross does an excellent job of hooking the reader from the start and keeping them engaged throughout the story. Her clean writing style, sharp dialogue, and contrasting characters add to the allure of the book. If not for the abrupt ending, I would have given this story five stars. That being said, if her plan was to keep the reader wanting more, she certainly succeeded.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Daily Book Reviews

I will be posting daily reviews of short stories over the next few weeks. This upcoming week will consist of random authors, while a 14-day period from June 3 to June 16 will highlight some potentially familiar faces. Though I have a blog tour lined up this week for a book of mine, I have gotten to the point where I want to put my self-promotion aside for a while and focus on other writers. In other words, I'd like to get back to the what truly inspires me as a writer - reading the works of talented colleagues. While some of these stories are considered horror, there is a nice mix of genres I will touch on. Below is a preliminary schedule. I hope you'll give these authors a good look. Thanks.

Sunday, June 3: Lori R. Lopez - "The Wraith"
Monday, June 4: Kat Yares - "Paranoia"
Tuesday, June 5: Bryan Hall - "The Vagrant"
Wednesday, June 6: Taylor Grant - "The Silent Ones" from Horror for Good: A Charitable Anthology
Thursday, June 7: Richard Salter - "Yestermorrow" from Solaris Rising: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction
Friday, June 8: Mandy DeGeit - "She Makes Me Smile"
Saturday, June 9: Rena Mason - "The Eyes Have It" from Horror for Good: A Charitable Anthology
Sunday, June 10: Georgina Morales - "Francis" from Isolation: An Anthology of New Horror Fiction
Monday, June 11: Marcus Blakeston - "Warrior in Woolworths"
Tuesday, June 12: Erik Gustafson - "My Lover, My Garden"
Wednesday, June 13: Billie Sue Mosiman - "Frankenstein: Return from the Wasteland"
Thursday, June 14: Jo-Anne Russell - "Moon Dance" from Scarlet Letters (a charity anthology for horses)
Friday, June 15: Rick Schiver - "Music of the Gods"
Saturday, June 16: Joel M. Andre - "Tea With Death"

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A review of Orange Rock by Lacerant Plainer

Four Stars
"Enjoyable Sci-Fi Read"

I'm always up for some off-world exploration and a quick read. Orange Rock offers both. This novelette centers around teleportation, which has not only had a profound impact on science, but politics and religion as well. The writer is not preachy or overbearing in any way, though. Instead, the subject matter is touched on sufficiently as to provide a purpose for the story. There are some cool twists and turns along the way, too, including alien life forms. There are a couple of minor things, however, that keep me from rating this book five stars. One is telling us about the characters and not showing us, particularly with Chris. I also found the dialogue format a little strange. The actual dialogue is fine, but you have two or more characters speaking in the same paragraph on several occasions (you usually have a separate paragraph for each speaker), and there seems to be a lack of punctuation in certain places. Regardless, I enjoyed this story and it definitely gave me my sci-fi fix for the day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Movie Project

I have received some exciting news. A fictional story of mine based on real-life characters (my family) has been accepted for a movie titled The Day. There will be four total stories featured in the movie. The premise revolves around the loss of a loved one and what you would do if you could spend one day/24 hours with them one last time. My story focuses on the loss of my first child/son Aydin, who was stillborn at 36 weeks on August 28, 2010. Production is expected to begin in 2013. It is a very exciting venture, and I can't think of a better way to honor the memory of my son.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Earthly Forces Giveaway - Winners Announced!

Since I will be away most of the day on Monday, I decided to end the giveaway a few hours early this evening so I don't leave everyone hanging tomorrow. The top three winners are listed below. I will be getting in touch with everyone (including those not listed), as I have something for each one of you. Thanks to everyone for entering. I will have more opportunities like this down the road. 1st Prize - Mina Gerhart 2nd Prize - Karen Cote 3rd Prize - Edith Parzefall