Interplanetary Diplomat Tackles Conspiracy on Dystopian Worlds #scifi #sciencefiction #review #bookreview

Does your reading get repetative? Does scifi feel like the same handful of galactic wars and teenage battle-games over and over. Read an indie author with a different perspective. Here are two books by EJ Randolph, an author in my own little town of Silver City, that offer optimism with their action. I bet there are authors in your town, too, you’d enjoy reading.


Scifi by EJ RandolphWhen a bucolic agrarian world seems too serene, its people too complacent, there’s bound to be trouble. Sent on an apparently simple mission, diplomat Kate Stevens is soon fending off attempts on her life and digging into the royal family’s intrigues.

I enjoyed exploring the society with Kate and discovering both the good and bad. She’s a straightforward hero with an admirable team and spaceship to help her. They puzzle out what’s happening on this world where the end of trade with other planets means a technological slid backwards. Was that bad luck or sabotage? And will the elite kill to protect the answer?

The Dead Don’t Believe

scifi by EJ RandolphInterstellar diplomat Kate Stevens faces another puzzle. Three primary colors and three basic geometric shapes – what can the people hoisting them intend? And why is their planetary government willing to declare war over the movement? Joined again by the crew of spaceship Miss Appropriation, Kate travels to a new Federation planet to find out.

While rebellion and interplanetary war threatens and there’s plenty of action, Kate’s commitment to doing the right thing is the core of the story. It’s fun to find a scifi book with a unique view of societies as humanity colonizes the galaxy. There are also illustrations that my e-reader displayed very nicely.

Help an indie out! Leave a review, especially on Amazon (which is the Big Dog in book sales.) Like many indie authors (including me!) Randolph is just starting to accumulate reviews. Here are a few of the comments:

  • She and her courier crew avoid lethal violence to bring harmony back to a broken society

  • I read the book in one sitting until late at night. I don’t often do that.

  • I liked the allusions to history, and to ethnic backgrounds.



Teens Battle to the Death in Ruthless Dystopian Games – Latest Big Hit Contribution to the Genre #review #bookreview #dystopia #scifi

Teen Dystopian BookRed Rising is in the scifi/fantasy dystopian genre – the sort where teenagers fight and kill each other in “games.”  Like other stories in this genre, adults are generally corrupt or ineffective. The genre favors medieval sorts of weapons with flashes of high-tech and high-fashion. The main character must win the game to maneuver into a position to topple the evil society. You may think this has become predictable stuff, but Red Rising by Pierce Brown is phenomenally popular.

The story delivers all the requirements of the genre, and grandly. The underdog hero, Darrow, is a Red slave in a society of many rigid classes ruled by the Golds. He chooses to join the game to give meaning to his murdered wife’s death, bravely suffers a dreadful preparation, and doesn’t really know what he’s getting into. There’s lots of violence and suffering by all involved, more than any one of us could endure because the characters are supermen and superwomen.

Darrow repeatedly ruminates about his lost love, which drives him and makes him unwilling to settle merely for revenge. He feels guilt over some of the terrible things he must do to win and sometimes suffers consequences. He makes and loses friends and enemies. The story is well done and doesn’t devolves into merely a video game plot.

At one point I was getting a little tired of the violence, and laughed out loud when a character said that he was getting tired of the game. How about that – an author who can read my mind.

What others are saying
There are always some negative reviews. Darrow’s ruminations strike some as “rehashing” and “tedious.” Others noted this is more of a fantasy than hard science fiction (though the scifi genre has been stretched into fantasy forever.) The book is set on Mars but there’s only one grim element that says “Mars” to me – the planet’s been terraformed, so the story could have been set almost anywhere.

Others disliked similarities to previous popular dystopias. “I am very bothered, and even distracted… because it is following The Hunger Games in 2008 and Divergent in 2011 and Red Rising came out in 2014 which wholesale loots plots and character arcs from the previous two books.” Joel De Gan.

The comparison wouldn’t bother the author – the Amazon description brags about the similarity to Ender and Katniss.

My bottom line.
I’ve read enough stories in this genre lately, and that may blunt my opinion. I’ve read that scifi is always about us today, so they make me wonder – do teens and twenty-somethings see school as an arbitrary game imposed on them by callous adults? And the real world on the other side of school as grim and rigged?

Red Rising is well done and if you’re looking for this sort of story, you’ll love it.

The Shape of Water is Weirdly Excellent – Go See It #reviews #theshapeofwater #movies #fantasy #moviereview

The Shape of Water movie poster fair use per WikipediaNo spoilers.

This movie is wonderful because it’s weird. It’s a fantasy, a monster story, a romance story, a buddy story, a spy story, with a few pornographic scenes and brutal, bloody violence. Then there’s a song and dance number. A couple scenes are fantasy even within the movie’s world. All pulled together into one story and definitely for mature audiences.

The settings are amazingly detailed and beautifully filmed. Set in the early 1960s (Mister Ed and Dobie Gillis play on TVs in the background – in black and white of course), the good-guys befriend each other despite having no hope of better lives in their grim, impoverished city. Most of the story takes place on the night shift, which adds to the darkness. The only bright colors are outside their reality, on a theater’s movie screen.

The military/CIA research facility is dingy and forbidding. No clean white labs here! Instead, a cavernous structure of gray concrete and rusty metal. The movie uses the familiar trope of evil government agents and this is the perfect place for them.

To further praise the visuals, the monster is excellent, even when he stands in full light.

The plot isn’t particularly inventive. Especially in the second half of the movie, things proceeded as I expected, and that wasn’t a problem. I held my breath a couple times wondering how the movie was going to get from point to point. Watching it unfold was thoroughly satisfying.

The villain doesn’t have a mustache, but if he did, he’d be twirling it. There’s a brief attempt in one scene to create some sympathy for him – but, no! I have no sympathy for the villain.

As a final measure of the movie, my husband and I talked about it the entire drive home, sharing the parts we especially noticed, and admiring the way bits came back to tie into the plot later.

No review would be complete without a quibble or two. A character holds a TV Guide, and it’s the modern large-sized magazine instead of the small size I expected. Also, in that dingy government facility, the bathroom has sinks mounted under-counter, under bright marble – that seemed odd, especially when everything else was so beautifully and depressingly “period.”

This movie is different – weird in a good way. If you’re okay with sex and violence (even torture scenes) then I recommend you see The Shape of Water.

View the official trailer here:

From master storyteller, Guillermo del Toro, comes THE SHAPE OF WATER – an other-worldly fable, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.


Colony on Mars – Someday Real Martian Settlers Will Tell Stories Like These – the complete series #Mars #scifi #sciencefiction #ebook #series

Scifi Mars Colony - Kate RaunerThe Box Set of Colony on Mars is now available at Barnes&Noble, Apple iTunes, Kobo, Scribd, and Smashwords. All five books from the first colony on Mars for hours of reading pleasure at a value price.

Look for the set on Baker & Taylor/Follett, cloudLibrary, Gardners, and Odilo this coming week.

I had a little trouble with the Table of Contents on Smashwords, so those of you who’ve already downloaded the set, if your Table of Contents has some dead links, go back and download the updated version. Sorry about that. It’s always something!

Colony on Mars - scifi by Kate RaunerOf course, if you prefer Amazon, the Box Set is there too, with a special Amazon cover.

From NASA to Mars One, real-life visionaries will send settlers to Mars. Go today in science fiction. Start with a fragile foothold and read on into the future. From the first twelve colonists struggling with a strange illness through the generations, follow one settler in each book as they face danger and build a life on Mars.


Want to Go to Mars? Why Wait? Take a Scifi Trip! Affordable Gigantic Set of 5 Books Will Make You Happy #scifi #series #top10 percent

Scifi Mars Colony - Kate RaunerYee ha! Colony on Mars Box Set – my complete 5 book series – has debuted on Amazon in top 10% of it’s science fiction category.

Go to the Box Set on Amazon or other favorite online stores. The set and the individual eBooks and paperbacks, are available today on Amazon and will be popping up everywhere else over the week.

Or, search for my name, Kate Rauner, or Colony on Mars on other platforms and favorite stores. Value priced for hours of reading pleasure on Mars – you’ll save even if you already bought one of the books at the regular ebook price 🙂

Scifi Mars Colony - Kate RaunerThe Amazon cover is above and the cover at other favorite online stores is below. Here’s the link to Smashwords, but the set should be appearing on B&N, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other stores this week. If you can wait 🙂

Available in Kindle and other eBook formats. Here’s what you get:

From NASA to Mars One, real-life visionaries plan to send settlers to Mars. Go today in science fiction, starting with a fragile foothold and reading on into the future. From the first twelve colonists struggling with a strange illness through the generations, follow one settler in each book as they face danger and build a life on Mars.

Glory on Mars – Emma wants to explore in her robotic walkabout suit, but something is terribly wrong as a strange illness threatens the settlement’s future.

Born on Mars – Jake didn’t ask to be born on Mars, into a failing colony. Perhaps he can save his friends and family by contacting new arrivals, but an earthly rival sent them, and they’re half a planet away.

Hermit on Mars – Sig’s life is falling apart when his mother calls for help. She lives with prospectors in the Tartarus Mountains, and the mysterious hermit no longer ensures their survival.

Water on Mars – Bliss thinks this is the best time to be Marsborn. She leaves her tiny burg behind for the biggest city on the planet, but her new boss is crazy, and threats inside and outside of the colony menace her plans.

Storm on Mars – Zeker joins the elite Tower Guilds to change Mars. But his neuroplasticity treatments may have failed, leaving his own impulses as his biggest challenge. Thrown out of the Towers, Zeker lands in a lawless burg filled with desperate people. Farther from his goals than ever, he must find a way back to the Towers, because more than his project is in peril.


Short Stories, Articles, and Poetry in Silver City Quarterly – and something by me! #story #shortstory #poetry #read

Painting © 2016 by Jenny Floravita What happens when a hurricane bears down on an endangered island nation?

Happy New Year! The 2018 winter edition of the Silver City Quarterly Review is now available. I’m thrilled to have one of my short scifi stories included!

The review spotlights local authors from Silver City and southwestern New Mexico, presenting their short fiction and non-fiction pieces, and poetry. There’s something for everyone and an archive too. Help encourage local authors and read for free – you can’t beat that.

City Hall, Silver City, NM, USA

Silver City is my home, a lovely little mountain town in rural southwest New Mexico, USA. Founded by a gold and silver rush in the late 1800s, we still have active copper mines, and a wonderful greenspace around old iron mines that you can enter from behind the courthouse (right in town!) for a lovely stroll. Silver is a gateway to the Gila National Forest and Continental Divide Trail, and boasts a growing artist community and the best coffee shops I’ve ever lounged around. Plan a visit sometime.


Christmas is Practically Here – eBooks are Greatest Last Minute Gift Bargains #ebook #book #giftideas

Join a near-future colony on Mars - AMazon and all major online storesTwas the night before Christmas –
Thought my shopping was done,
Till I sprang from the couch.
I’d forgotten someone!

No worries. Send an ebook at the speed of light – an affordable last minute gift.
Glory on Mars, Colonization Book 1: Emma wants to explore and build a new home, but something is terribly wrong on Mars. At Amazon or your favorite store. Read a preview on Amazon.

Someday soon you’ll be reading real-live tales of a colony on Mars. Until then, travel with science fiction. Each book in my On Mars series is a stand-alone story, so start anywhere. Hours of reading fun for teens and adults.

A book’s faster than eagles
On its internet flight.
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good night.