On the Foreseeable Edge of our Future, Heroes Battle a Bloodcurdling Killer in Military Scifi Thriller #scifi #space #bookreview #review

Gripping Military ScifiEdge of the Future is an engrossing military science fiction story set on Earth and nearby space sometime in our future. Mark is a military scientist working on secret projects but not a combat soldier – at least, not until his lab is attacked by a mysterious villain.

Mark and his lab partner are put into protective custody with a pair of elite soldiers and Mark’s counterpart Axel trains him in self-defense. They become friends in a blunt combative manner befitting soldiers. In addition to hand to hand combat, there’s elite armor, cyber-hacks, mind-control, nifty weapons, and spaceships enough to keep a military scifi fan happy. I’ve never been in the military but the details felt very believable and the characters are well developed.

It becomes obvious the villain has not given up and operates a powerful organization that includes cyborgs. I won’t risk spoilers, but this is a powerful, resourceful, and vicious villain who’s willing to go to extremes to get the data she wants.

Especially the second half of the book is fast paced and flows. I read the last 25% in a single sitting – I had to find out how it ended.

There’s a real and satisfying ending – but some characters are still around so a sequel seems possible.

I always enjoy looking for an author’s little quirks. Stone’s characters take a lot of showers – perhaps because they’re sweaty and bloody so often. One quibble I might have is on the Lunar Base – Stone doesn’t show the effects of the Moon’s lower gravity as the characters deal with the good and bad that comes their way. But that’s easy to overlook.

If you like military scifi, this book’s for you.

All my books, including the On Mars series, are available at Amazon, 1st colony on Mars - read todayBarnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers, including Smashwords and Create Space for paperbacks. Read one today.

Start with Glory on Mars on Amazon and at your favorite on-line store

Looking for a short read – try my collection of science fiction and fantasy Short Reads in Scifi and Fantasy :)short, flash, and microstories.

Signup to receive an occasional offer and a piece of my flash fiction here – click now.

 

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Water on Mars Chap 1 #Mars #scifi #book #free

“The significance of our lives and our fragile realm derives from our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning.” Carl Sagan

Prologue

water-cs-cover-aug-2016-sizedSettlers arrived on Mars generations ago, sent by rivals on Earth. Kamp Kans was the first colony, established by visionaries from Europe’s Low Countries near the volcanoes of the Tharsis Bulge. Half a planet away, Fenghuang District was sent by a Sino-African cartel to the lowlands of Utopia Planatia. Neither Earther group could bear the vast expense of interplanetary missions for long, so the few dozen colonists joined together in a struggle to survive on their own. But survival of the Earth-borns wasn’t enough. If humans were to make the hostile planet their home, the colony had to grow.

Iron and copper was found near Kamp, and water and air were relatively plentiful at District. When prospectors discovered technology metals in the Tartarus Mountains, midway between the settlements, the settlers could finally fabricate more equipment, including squads of robots to work on Mars’ surface. From their new Cerberus Base, roboticists constructed a transit corridor to unite Kamp and District and, spaced along the route, they built burgs that each specialized in a vital technology. Now, no disaster at any one habitat could destroy the colony.

Finally feeling secure, the settlers had planned for everything except what happened.

Chapter One: Kamp Kans

Bliss stopped in the archway. The transit corridor was behind her and the largest city on Mars was in front, home to half the settlers on the planet, six hundred eighty-one people. She stepped through the arch. Now there were six hundred eighty-two. It looked like all of them were swarming through the plaza.

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Inspiration for how to design an underground colony – a shopping mall inside a Las Vegas casino – this is much nicer than Kamp on Mars

Apprehension tinged Bliss’s excitement. Kamp’s plaza was a standard colony bay, a hundred paces long, but at home there were only twenty-four settlers. In front of Bliss was a whirl of people like a human sand storm reverberating with sound. A man erupted from the throng and headed straight towards her at a gallop.

“Hey, you!” A woman in crisp khaki coveralls ran after him.

Bliss jumped back only to bump into someone behind her. She spun around, apologizing.

Whomp.

“Hello, little lady.” Bliss had a glimpse of a scraggily beard and a grin full of teeth as the man grabbed her elbow to steady her, then disappeared down the corridor.

“So, you’re in league with that miscreant.” The khaki woman planted herself in front of Bliss, fists on hips. She interrupted Bliss’s confused stammer to point straight at her chest.

Bliss looked down to find a small bolt of fabric in her arms. The grinning man had slammed it against her and her hands reflexively clutched the short roll.

She held the fabric out, trying to explain.

“I’ve never seen you before.” The woman’s eyes narrowed but she made no move to take the roll.

“Give the girl a break.” A circle of people had formed around them and another man pushed through. “I was watching. That Basic dumped it on her.”

“If this is yours, please take it.” Bliss held the fabric out. “I don’t know anyone here. I’ve only just arrived from Hibes.”

“You nederlanders need to get smart in a hurry.” The khaki woman took the roll. “You’re in Kamp now.”

Individuals disappeared back into the crowd.

Bliss slid through the horde to stand with her back against the plaza’s central pond. Her heartbeat slowed as she regained her equilibrium.

The woman called her nederlander. She didn’t understand exactly what had happened, but that was no reason to tag her as stupid. Stupid because she came from a burg, one of the small habitats strung along the colony’s transit corridor.

She plucked at her own shapeless coveralls. She’d scrubbed the smell of Hibes’ fish farm from them, but the fabric was worn thin in places and patched in others. Maybe she was a nederlander, but she had the same Basic Education as anyone on Mars. She had her new adult-qualification badge and an internship. And she planned to find a permanent job. She’d be a real Kamper soon, part of the colorful crowd surging through the plaza.

If she’d somehow made a mistake this sol, she’d apologize to the khaki woman. But later. Bliss had been traveling twenty-four and a half hours a sol for five sols, stopping at transit stations only to grab a meal and switch to a taxi with a charged battery.

I won’t look for that woman now, she thought. It made sense to follow her original plan tonight and her enthusiasm returned with the decision.

Bliss wanted excitement in her life and her arrival proved this was no boring little burg like Hibes. This was the much-expanded home of twenty-eight Earth-borns who’d arrived on Mars eight generations ago. Named in honor of an old robotic mission by Dutch visionaries who launched the colony, it was Kamp Kans – Opportunity Site. The first habitat was once called a nederzetting, she reminder herself. It was an honorable term. But she was a Kamper now.

She squared her shoulders and tipped her chin up proudly, defying any doubts.

Bliss had planned this move for as long as she could remember, all through Basic Education. Now she was here.

***

Another view of a lovely casino shopping mall - settlers won't have it so nice

Another view of a lovely casino shopping mall – but Kamp is built of stone fabricated from the orange Mars sands

It was supper time and Kampers streamed by, headed through an archway that must lead to the cafeteria. Bliss smiled tentatively, but people hurried by without a sideways glance. When she did catch someone’s eye, they nodded back pleasantly enough. Most were dressed in khaki coveralls, clean even at the end of the sol, but there were frequent splashes of colorful shirts and bandanas. Kamp was a prosperous city and people had more than Basic goods.

Bliss leaned against a central pond built of waist-high stone and saw it didn’t simply house fish. Instead of aerators, a fountain burbled over decoratively stacked rocks at each end. Its sides were gleaming white, contrasting beautifully with the floor of massive stone fabricated from Martian sand in splotches of beige, brown, and orange. Fabricated walls curved to a barrel-vaulted ceiling that seemed higher than her home plaza, though she knew the bays were standard construction. It must be the colors and sounds that made Kamp’s plaza feel so big.

Bliss crossed the plaza with a light step, her pale auburn braid bouncing against her backpack. She was a city girl now, on her own for the first time, and she planned to enjoy every sol. She started by browsing kiosks selling Extras. It was like visiting every burg on Mars, only better. There were dates from Planitia Hamlet, apples from Olympus, and fabrics woven from Amenthes’ bioreactor outputs.

“Bliss!”

She spun around, startled at the sound of her name.

“Beeb, who’s calling me?”

“That is Nia calling you.” The colony’s Artificial Intelligence responded through her ear gel. “Her kiosk is to your right.”

Oh, yeah, Nia lived in Kamp now. She’d raised a family in Hibes and was an aunt to Bliss – her children were Bliss’s kinderen cousins. Last jaar Nia returned to Kamp, her childhood home, when her last boy adult-qualified. Only my parents, Bliss thought, want to spend their whole life in Hibes, smelling of fish guts and mealworm bedding.

She spotted the short, energetic woman and waved.

Nia kept ties with Hibes and bought their mealworms to sell, spiced using a recipe Bliss’s parents had developed. Bliss breathed in the familiar smell as she approached a sample bowl on Nia’s counter and reached for a worm. She had to admit, they were delicious, and reached for another.

“None of that, girl,” Nia said sharply. A tight pony tail emphasized her wide face and stern expression. “Your mother told me you’ve got a position in Kamp, so you can buy a bag like everyone else.”

Bliss gripped her pack’s shoulder straps with both hands to keep them from wandering back to the worms. A man waiting at the counter chuckled.

Nia handed the man a bag of freshly fried worms, reached into a tub behind the counter, and dumped a handful into a pan.

“Don’t be telling your mother they aren’t fresh,” she said as Bliss leaned forward and frowned at the pan. “I freeze them before cooking. Kampers don’t like to see their mealworms writhing when they hit the heat.

“When do you start your job?” Nia asked.

“In a couple sols.”

“I could use some help. Want a job in the kiosk until then?”

“Oh, no,” Bliss said. “I came early so I can look around.”

Nia harrumphed with a parental sort of disapproval. But Bliss clamped her lips together tightly, refusing to be swayed.

“Which job did you get?” Nia asked without looking up from her pan.

“Building a public park. The first one on Mars.”

“That’s Vance’s project, isn’t it? You’ll be working in a surface suit. Did you know that?”

“Of course.” The project sounded grand, though Bliss didn’t know much more than what she’d told Nia. The intern posting was vague. She hadn’t told her parents it required surface-qualification, though of course her father looked it up. With her mother, he tried to talk her out of taking the job, saying risks on the surface were too great for a recreational park, for anything non-essential.

She said goodbye to Nia without buying any mealworms and slipped back into the crowd.

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Join Bliss in her lava tube

Despite being a Kamper, Nia had fit in with Bliss’s parents at Hibes – practical like they were and always working. Bliss understood why there was little time for play. There were as many tasks vital to survival in a little burg as in a city. Life support had to be maintained with human hands – all those pumps and compressors and fans. Ignoring a rattle or leak could lead to a system failure. Mars was a deadly planet and technology kept them alive.

Beyond life support, wastes had to be recycled, clothes cleaned, food cooked – and then the fish and mealworms tended. While Bliss was growing up there were only eight adults in Hibes with their gaggle of children, so she learned to work hard, even if she couldn’t resist sneaking off sometimes to play games or view entertainments. She’d always felt guilty when her mother tracked her down in some corner, but she also knew there was more to life than raising fish and children.

Of course, one thing her parents never did was go out on the planet’s surface. Each burg had a squad of robots to construct new bays and harvest air and water from the scant supply in Martian sand dunes. Not a large squad like the one constructing bays for Kamp, just three bots controlled by the colony’s AI. But when they needed human maintenance, specialists came to Hibes.

A surface requirement added a thrill to the intern posting. Bliss was glad her parents had argued with her, because that gave her a reason to dig in her heels. Being contrary had advantages. It ensured she applied for the position, guaranteed she’d accept it, and made it easy to push any of her own misgivings aside.

People go out on the surface all the time, she’d told her parents with exaggerated patience. It’s perfectly safe.

###

Water on Mars coming in late November 2016two ways to ensure you don’t miss the release. Subscribe to my Reader’s Club or sign up with Smashwords. Don’t miss out! An in the meantime, catch up with the first three On Mars books.

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Hermit on Mars #scifi #books #Mars #colonization

Excuse me for crowing, but…

Yee ha! You can download my latest Mars colony story today.1-hermit-ebook-cover-29sep2016

I go the independent route, and there’s a lot of interactive work to get a book published. My rural internet connection isn’t up to it. I spent a day in town – thanks to the public library and Silver City’s coffee shops for their WiFi. That lets me spend hours in concentrated effort, wander around and get a snack, go back to work, and at the end of the day have the book launched.

Every book seems to present me with new errors to make, so inevitably I have to make corrections to the file and re-upload. More than once I’m sorry to say, so when it’s done I feel great. 🙂

Now I get a writing break – my husband and I are going to Carlsbad Caverns. Quite appropriate after writing a story about the Hermit’s cavern on Mars. Then on to Book 4 – which is already drafted! Watch for it with my quarterly Readers’ Club email.

Hermit on Mars is available as an ebook today at Smashwords, Amazon, and will be on Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and other major online retailers soon thereafter. The paperback is available on Create Space today and should turn up on Amazon next week.

The colony on Mars is thriving but Sig’s life is falling apart, both in the robotics lab and with his partner. An urgent call from his mother – who lives in the Hermit’s cavern, beyond the safety of the colony – seems like a fine chance to escape for a while. Sig yearns to recapture the freedom of his youth, but with freedom comes danger.

I think (hope?) I’m getting better with each book, but find out for yourself. Download a free digital copy from Smashwords using coupon code NB87T before December 31st, or get any of my ebooks for FREE in exchange for an honest review.

Each story in the On Mars series stands alone, so you can easily start with Book 3. But take a look atGlory w caption Book 1 – Glory on Mars. Here’s some of what real readers are saying on Amazon about Glory:

  • Science is most definitely there in all its glorious, taken for granted style. It is so flawlessly interwoven with the narrative… leaving the author free to tell a tale about life, love, strife and sacrifice.
  • What makes this story so enjoyable is its solid grounding in reality.
  • I love that I was able to sit down and read an engaging story… the true dangers of extraterrestrial exploration but of the fragility of human life.
  • Emma and her colleagues find that life on Mars requires all of their intelligence, ingenuity, and courage if they are to survive.
  • A page turning, problem-solving story.
  • Characters were rich and dynamic. It was interesting reading about their environment and adaptations. I hope there is a sequel, I will definitely check it out.
  • If you loved the movie “The Martian” then this story is a great follow-up.
  • Outstanding science fiction novel, I give this book a strong five stars.

Thanks to all my followers and visitors – I appreciate you stopping by to share my little efforts.

Mysterious Ways – flash fiction #scifi #fantasy #podcast goes live on Friday Sept 2nd

Strange women walking on mars

From NASA’a Curiosity – but is it just a rock? a digital artifact?

Listen to Mysterious Ways on the Sept 2nd podcast of 600 Second Saga starting at 6pm CST.

I’m happy to say my short short-story about an angel visiting Mars will be podcast next week. It’s exciting for me to hear one of my stories read aloud, and it’s perfect for your trip to work or a break during the day. Listen in and try some of the other stories, too.

Thanks to Mariah Avix at 600 Second Saga: Tales of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Choose your favorite way to listen:

New to 600 Second Saga? How to listen to podcasts

The 600 Second Saga team appreciates sharing, reviewing, and rating the podcast – this helps to reach more people. Please consider giving us a rating in iTunes.

Mariah is now accepting flash fiction submissions for future podcasts – let your favorite author know or (authors!) submit one of your own pieces.

4 Books on Mars white background (500x500)Read one of my books today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major on-line retailers. Books 1 and 2 of the On Mars series are available with books 3 and 4 coming in fall 2016. Catch up now.

Receive any of my books free – click here to find out how.

Great Premise and Writing Drew Me Into This #Scifi #Book #Alien #FirstContact #ebook

ARIAThe premise of ARIA: Left Luggage by Geoff Nelder is fascinating. An alien artifact is found in orbit, opened on Earth, and releases an epidemic that erases memories – starting from yesterday and eating rapidly back through your life.

  • What would I do if I woke up on an airplane with a horrific hangover and no memory of how I got there or where I’m going? What if self-control eroded so everyone was increasingly violent?
  • Suppose I knew I was infected and realized what was coming? Where would I go? What notes would I leave myself to compensate for my life slipping away?
  • If I was lucky enough to escape to a doomsday prepper’s hideaway without being infected, would I kill anyone who approached? How would I try to help humanity?
  • And as the world fell apart, would I wonder who did this? Why? Where are they? And what’s next?

I wrote those questions in first person because this story drew me in – I could identify with the characters – those escaping and those losing their memories, which is a version of losing their minds. Nelder shares characters’ discussions and planning as well as the action with readers.

While the first half of the book shows various groups trying to deal with the disaster, in the second half there are more complications, discoveries, and things go terribly awry for the main characters. Yet there is (perhaps?) a glimmer of hope.

This is the first book in a trilogy
Be prepared for the final pages to set up the next book rather than bring the story to a conclusion. Solving the “big” mysteries of the story has to wait. For those of you who hate to start a series without knowing it will conclude: the second and third books are available now, and (as the description says, so I’m not a spoiler) “we finally meet the aliens.”

What others are saying
Reviewers agree that the book is engaging and makes them wonder how they would react in such a situation. You won’t find many negative comments on Amazon, and even a rare unfavorable review said “looks like it would make a hell of a movie.” The author refers to the International Space Station and Space Shuttle, but in the story these have capabilities beyond the real-life craft – that’s a small complaint about a science fiction story in my mind.

Check out my own science fiction here.

On Mars 3 covers over planet (298x300)

 

Interstellar Colonization or Soap Opera? #scifi #space #interstellar #review #bookreview

arkwrightArkwright – the name of a pivotal character and a wonderful title – is a story based on interstellar travel that is rooted in real physics, limited by the speed of light. No warp drives here. Author Allen Steele divides the story into four “books” plus one “interlude,” each separated by at least a generation. While the interstellar project spans the whole story, each “book” stands alone.

Book One, the first third of the story, follows a science fiction writer who gets rich and uses his money to create a private foundation dedicated to interstellar travel. This section is set in the world of 20th century scifi, though it could really be set in another industry, and – considering the money the writer must accumulate – probably should be. If you read classic scifi the name-dropping will be fun, but the famous names are only background noise.

The characters’ various relationship issues are featured but don’t follow through the entire story.

My favorite quote comes from a character complaining about science fiction stories.

Everyone who writes about space travel gets it wrong… the people who write it either pay no attention to science or simply get it wrong…if you want to distinguish yourself from all the other fellows who are writing science fiction… get the science right.

Steele embraces this advice and offers his fascinating premise for getting space travel right. It’s a grand idea backed up with awesome technology, which I won’t spoil here. This doesn’t mean the rest of the story’s science is ho-hum. Robotics, artificial intelligence, and especially bioengineering and terraforming exceed our current abilities, but don’t seem to violate getting the science right. There’s even a bibliography if you’d like to check for yourself.

Relationships and hook-ups are featured (Sex mostly occurs “off-screen”)
Given Steele’s nod to the early 20th century’s Golden Age of scifi, which is often considered short on characterization, it seems odd that he spends most of his writing on relationships. Discussions of the starship are fairly short and often feel incidental. This seems doubly odd since the book’s description calls Steele a “highly regarded expert on space travel and exploration.” I would have liked more from his space travel expertise.

If you’re keen to follow the starship plot, you can skip Book One and Book Three. There’s enough recap in the other sections that you won’t miss anything – perhaps this reflects the story’s beginnings as a serial.

Steele has a habit of shifting back and forth in time as he writes, using flashbacks or a structure where a character tells you the outcome and then goes back to relate the events. I got used to the style easily enough. It does result in characters “telling” their story which is a supposed no-no for modern fiction where “show, don’t tell” is the writing tip.

What others say
Arkwright has an Amazon Sellers Rank in the top 16% of its category of Hard Science Fiction – that’s a popular book. There are 65 customer reviews that average 3 1/2 stars – not bad. Complaints reflect my review – too much soap opera instead of the starship promised in the description.

Even reviewers giving the book 5 stars note that the “science fiction doesn’t start until well into the book,” but if they liked the cross-generational family dramas, they liked the book.

What is Hard Science Fiction?
Since both fans and critics notice the emphasis on relationships, it makes me wonder about the Hard Science Fiction category. Certainly the notion that hard science fiction is mostly about detailed technology is wrong. How many technical terms must authors throw in – or replace with common English – to gain or shed the category?

In my own series about a colony on Mars, I try to get the science

Join the first colonists https://books2read.com/u/bQZp1eright. Settlers have technical training to keep their life support equipment and robotics operating (the robots are rather cool if I do say so myself). Some have relevant university degrees, but they’re people, not walking technical manuals. Their mission is more like the real-life Mars One and less like NASA. They face danger, have conflicts, and explore the Red Planet as they try to build a home on Mars. Some of my readers today may step foot on Mars tomorrow – or morrowsol as Martians say – and will be able to tell me how well I did.

Reviewers who have commented on categories, though, call Glory on Mars hard science fiction, so I followed their lead and added that category on Amazon.

Subscribe to my readers’ club and I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Check out all four of the On Mars books, post reviews, and let me know: are they hard science fiction?

Weirdest Planet Ever :D in #scifi #books

Inverted WorldHere’s a science fiction tale where it helps to know your concave from your convex, spheroids from hyperboloids, centrifugal forces from angular velocities, and what  y=1/x means. But if you don’t, just follow bewildered Future Apprentice Helward as he joins a secret directorate in a city built on tracks. The tracks are continuously ripped up behind and laid down in front, because the city must keep moving or be destroyed.

I had never before read Christopher Priest’s classic from 1974, Inverted World. The book contains more thoughtful speculation than violent action, and It’s 40 years old, so don’t expect cutting edge physics.

I found the gradual reveal of this truly weird world fascinating. Conveniently, apprentices are kept in the dark, told they have to experience the strange time and space effects outside the city for themselves to understand. That trope allowed me to travel with Helward as he learns both puzzling and terrifying things about his planet. Things that threaten his life, his city, and his relations with friends and family – including the wife in his arranged marriage. Like many works from that era, the restricted women’s roles dates the book.

The story opens with a prologue that seems to have mistakenly landed here from a different book, but have faith – towards the end it all comes together. Helward is often puzzled by what he sees (me too!), but I found events interesting enough to keep reading. Just when I thought the weird world had been explored and the tale would end, a twist opens up a new aspect of strange physics. In the end, Priest does explain what’s going on.

I’ll avoid spoilers. Late in the book, women finally take some independent action in this male-dominated world. It’s a woman who discovers what’s happening and explains it to them. She admits she’s no expert, and Helward counters with contrary evidence – since I just went through those experiences with him, his arguments are compelling. But there’s evidence for the explanation, too.

Priest leaves even more up in the air – the ending is uncertain and you can decide for yourself what Helward finally believes and what’s likely to happen next.

That may sound like a knock on the story, but I’m still thinking about it – still going back in the book to re-read sections. What’s real and what’s perception? Does the final explanation truly account for Helward’s experiences? If not, what’s actually happening? The rulers’ secrecy serves the story well, but does it make sense from a social point of view? Whether being left with questions is good or bad depends on your tolerance for ambiguity.

I’d love to talk to someone about the story.

What others say
Inverted World gets 4 1/2 stars from 41 Amazon customer reviews. Most readers love the “topsy turvy” physics and the final twist, but not all of them. Complaints say the final twist was too rushed. This probably comes from the heavy use of “explaining” in this part of the story. “Explaining” or “telling” in storytelling is not in favor at the moment, but remember the book is a classic.

Others say the physics was fantasy rather than science fiction (though I think this is pretty common in modern scifi, too.) Some readers had better ideas about dealing with the social problems in the city than Priest had.

Join the first colonists https://books2read.com/u/bQZp1eIf you prefer your scifi with feet firmly on the ground – even if that ground is on Mars – try my story. Eight settlers have journeyed to Mars to establish a colony. Now Emma and her team are about to join them. Days before the launched, one of the colonists commits suicide. Something’s not right on Mars.

Available on Amazon and your favorite online store.