Urban Fantasy of Good Battling Evil #urbanfantasy #paranormal #book #review

A cop in modern Albuquerque, with (as one reviewer said) a walk-in closet full of skeletons, is drawn into the battle between good and evil, where evil is magical creatures and monsters including “every god you can name,” and the good is science and reason.

Oddly enough, the forces of good seem to be magical immortals, just like those of evil, but they want to lock evil out of our dimension by helping humans become rational. This may sound intellectual, but the story is easy to read and full of action.

Most humans have a touch of magic and so are vulnerable to evil, but in a neat reversal of the usual trope, instead of secretly being a wizard or some such thing, the cop may save the world because he has no magic at all inside him. Oddly enough again, this allows him to wield a magic sword.

I found it easy to forgive the oddities because I like the bold premise. The story moves along with flawed characters who (most but not all) grow into heroes.

The first two main characters we meet are exceptionally attractive, and I groaned thinking this was all-too-typical. But there’s actually a point in the story to their good-looks, so kudos! The main immortal good-guy is fabulously wealthy, which helps to keep the plot moving by, for example, producing a private plane when needed.

The cop’s neuroses are explained in a believable manner and the story carried me right along as evil invades our world.

Modest spoilers – Expected amounts of violence and mayhem are present, but also a few possible triggers that you might want to know about. Religious believers may find it offensive to include their god with the evil gods. There’s a little preaching about this idea but it’s not heavy handed. There is rape, torture, and suicide, a child is endangered, and a bisexual character endures harassment at work. What sort of triggers do you think I should mention in a review?

The ending sets up the next book in the series, but isn’t an annoying cliffhanger – though some reviewers on Amazon thought it was too abrupt. Three books are available in the series.

What others are saying
The Edge of Reason earns a respectable, if not overwhelming, 3.5 stars from 23 reviews on Amazon. Those who liked the book enjoyed the provocative premise and the characters, nay-sayers thought the plot twists were trite and predictable.

Deadly Killer You’ve Never Seen #poem #poetry #ocean #evolution #plankton #marinebiology

“Little bugs have littler bugs
On their backs to bite ’em.
And littler bugs have littler bugs
And so on in ad infinitum.”

No! Only to a single cell,
Where there’s a fearsome hunter,
A dinoflagellate
That loves to eat its brothers.

It can harpoon or poison prey,
But that’s not all that’s weird.
It has an eye and wields a net
That planktons need to fear.

It takes a scanning electron microscopy
To see this tiny breed
An organic Gatling gun,
The littlest bug indeed.

By Kate Rauner

Thanks to livescience.com for their article on plankton. The quoted lines are often attributed to Ogden Nash, though the exact wording seems to have changed over time. Read more of my science-inspired poetry today.

I Sort of Read This Science Fiction Trip Through Space-Time #sciencefiction #scifi #space #physics #book #wormhole #review

Ring is the last of Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee Sequence, and judging by Amazon reviews, it’s the least popular book of the series with 3.5 stars from 57 reviews. I had trouble getting through it, not because it’s hard science fiction with characters who frequently explain physics to each other (as other reviewers complained) but because it felt repetitive. Surely, I thought, the book already told me this about photino birds, about how the spaceship will tow wormholes around, about the characters’ near-immortality provided by nanotechnology.

Great ideas I couldn’t stick with
Diving into the Sun is neat, the ginormous interstellar spacecraft are cool, and the craft left behind by the Xeelee are amazing, but the story felt tedious and I could only read for a short time before taking a break.

After reading all of the first few chapters, I began to skim the first sentence of each paragraph and then one sentence per page, stopping to read when something new was introduced. I would have given up but, as chance had it, I had no other new-to-me books handy at the time.

Others enjoyed the story much more, “I absolutely flew through this book! It was amazing,” and love the vast sweep of space and time covered by the book – to the end of the universe.

The day I checked on Amazon, there was a paperback edition in English available but the only digital edition was in German. I guess that’s what happens as publishers put their backlist on Amazon – Ring is copyrighted 1994.

Sad Victory Over Greatest Bird #nature #poem #poetry #birdwatching #birds

Passenger pigeons by Audubon

Once upon a time,
Once there was a land
Where one bird
out of every two
Was gray with throat of cinnamon.

Their flocks eclipsed the sun
When migration season came.
One shotgun blast would bring down
Two dozen,
Without the need to aim.

With numbers in the trillions,
A breeding colony
Might blanket fifty miles
With its sovereignty.

And we killed them all.

They could lay waste to fields
But someone must have seen
Their numbers falling fast
And known what that would mean.

It took us several decades,
Less than a century
Of ruthless persecution
Of this farmers’ enemy.

To kill them all.

Do any mourn today
An action so draconian
While viewing stuffed remains
Of the last one
In the Smithsonian?

The last passenger pigeon.

By Kate Rauner

The last passenger pigeon

Thanks to karlshuker for his post on the passenger pigeon. Visit http://reviverestore.org/ for a fascinating look into de-extinction. Reconstructing the passenger pigeon is their flagship project.

Their aim is to increase forest health and biodiversity, especially what’s been lost since the 1700s. Like wildfires, passenger pigeons were a major source of beneficial forest regeneration in eastern North America for tens of thousands of years.

Revive & Restore’s goal is “to hatch the first generation of new passenger pigeons by 2022 and begin trial wild releases ten years later.” Genome sequencing is already underway. Wow.

Can’t Beat Scifi & Fantasy Bargain – How to Fill a Short Break or an Afternoon #free #scifi #fantasy

If you missed ebook week – No problem! Hurry and sign up before April 1st to download a free short reads collection. Mining Jupiter’s atmosphere, a parrot in space, tiny craft’s mission to Proxima Centuri, and challenge for another Noah  – science fiction and fantasy, short stories, flash fiction, a few bits of microfiction – and excerpts from my On Mars series – the first colony on Mars, starting in the near-future with Glory on Mars.

You’ll receive a coupon code for a free download from Smashwords on April 1st (no fooling.) Get it now before Jupiter Diving moves to Kidle Select.

Humans Slaughtered Mammoths But Can They Save Us from Climate Change? #global warming #rewilding #elephant

Feral horse

Rewilding is “large-scale conservation aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas.” In North America and Europe, projects are underway to protect and reintroduce large wildlife, including predators, and reverse habitat loss.

Pleistocene rewilding seeks to restore ecosystems from ten thousand years ago – for example, by introducing elephants, lions, and cheetahs to protected areas in the American Great Plains.

Rewilding aims to save animals and ecosystems, but a project now underway in Siberia is “a radical geoengineering scheme” with a human-centric goal: to slow climate change.

During the last Ice Age, vast areas of grasslands beyond the edges of glaciers locked up huge amounts of carbon in Siberia (not something universal in the Arctic.) As today’s permafrost melts, release of all that carbon dioxide threatens to create a positive feedback that would accelerate global warming and make climate change worse for you and me – and our progeny. But returning these areas to Pleistocene grassland could slow or prevent the change by keeping “permafrost frozen by giving it a top coat of Ice Age grassland.”

All we need are the animals that created that grassland ecosystem. Horses, bison, musk ox, and reindeer have already been moved into what was once a Soviet-era gulag of gold mining, but the project needs something bigger – mammoths.

Cloning may jump into your mind, but it’s not likely. DNA degrades even when frozen and we may never find a viable mammoth cell. But mammoths are closely related to elephants, and scientists from across the globe are working to resurrect the mammoth by turning on genes that will adapt elephants to the Arctic climate by giving them heavy coats, thick layers of fat, and smaller ears, among other changes.

That seems like the easy part. If embryos are eventually created, they can’t be placed in surrogate elephant mothers – Asian elephants are endangered. So artificial wombs are needed.

A womb isn’t just a bucket of fluid.

The mammalian mother–child bond, with its precisely timed hormone releases, is beyond the reach of current biotechnology. But scientists are getting closer with mice… [There are] hopes to deliver the first woolly mammoth to Pleistocene Park within a decade.

Even if the technical problems are solved, there’s still a cultural issue. Elephants – and, no doubt, mammoths – are highly social animals.

Older mammoths would have taught the calf how to find ancestral migration paths, how to avoid sinkholes, where to find water. When a herd member died, the youngest mammoth would have watched the others stand vigil, tenderly touching the body of the departed with their trunks before covering it with branches and leaves. No one knows how to re-create this rich mammoth culture, much less how to transmit it to that cosmically bewildered first mammoth.

It’s an amazing, overwhelming undertaking. But there are people out there working on it. Perhaps we’ll see reconstructed, de-extincted mammoths in our lifetime.

Thanks to theatlantic.com for their article, with some help from wikipedia.org.

Absolutely Free Collection Short Science Fiction/ Fantasy limited time so this is your chance #shortstory #free #flashfiction #bookworm

jupiter-diving-web-ebook-24feb2017-267x400From a ship mining helium-3 in Jupiter’s atmosphere, Kelly launches a probe to search for life in the ocean of a Jovian moon. In the title story, Jupiter Diving, she finds more than she expected. If you missed out on ebook week earlier in the month, here’s another chance. I’m about to offer Jupiter Diving and other Short Reads on Amazon but you can download an advance copy for free.

Visit colorful and dangerous worlds in short stories and flash fiction. From an angel’s photo op on Mars, to the agony of a berserker warrior, a tiny craft’s interstellar mission, and an astronaut’s cries for help, you’ll find many new tales plus opening chapters and vignettes from my On Mars series, the multi-generational story of the first colony on Mars. Plus a few pieces of microfiction too 🙂

Perfect to fill a break in your day or an afternoon curled up in your favorite chair.

I’m going to offer the ebook on Kindle Select (I never used that outlet before but it’s supposed to be a good idea) but you can grab your free copy now. Sign up before March 31st to receive your book in April, before I let Amazon get its hands on it. Hurry – limited time offer.

You’ll receive a coupon code to download the book in your choice of formats, and to receive an occasional email from me with offers, a piece of flash fiction, and news about my writing projects. No spam and you can unsubscribe any time.

The code goes out April 1st (no fooling) so sign up before you forget and download your free book of short reads. I hope you’ll enjoy 🙂