27 November 2017

Zombies at their best ... er ... worst

Horror (zombies) | Slow Burn boxed set | Bobby Adair

One would think that the zombie apocalypse has been done to death. But wait! Bobby Adair has written something that will have you flipping the pages as fast as you can read. Thank goodness I picked up the boxed set. Who could have waited to read the next and the next. I'd write a longer review, except that I need to go pick up the rest of the series. I understand there are already 8 books.

If you like thoughtful writing, fast action sequences, humour, zombies (duh), a likeable if somewhat crazy hero and other characters (his buddy has given him a superhero name: Null Spot, for good reason), frantic hopelessness mixed with diehard optimism, and strong characterisation, then this series is for you. Excellently edited, too, besides being very well written. The best part is that it actually gets better going from book 1 to book 3, not just in terms of zombie concepts, but also difficulty levels for the survivors, and in terms of moral questions. So you can be assured of lots of reading pleasure, and a side order of wondering how precariously modern civilisation is perched.

My small quibbles: The story is located in the USA, so you have more guns and shooting than you can roll your eyes at, a view that China is all third-world and a decidedly lukewarm attitude towards vegetarians (given all the cannibalism that a zombie book implies).

The book begins with a young man being bitten by an infected zombie on Zero Day of the zombie infection reaching the USA. Hauled up by the police for murder, he realises to his horror (and ours), that the crime wave is not due to bad drugs, but people going crazy. The hospital is not much help, because the Army has been called in to enforce quarantine. You have some good people, and as the story goes on, you have some less good people, and then some horrible ones.

If zombies could happen, it could happen this way. You will hold your breath as the Zed and his new friends tiptoe through the minefields of horror unleashed by a speedy breakdown of social order as most people succumb to the infection and civilisation starts going down the drain.

Now, let me go check out books 4 onwards, and see what new terrors the zombies can get up to.

Short, crisp horror

Horror | A Dozen Nightmares | Angel Wedge

Angel Wedge creates atmosphere and terror in the fewest words and the crispest sentences.

From everyday horrors like murderers to fantasy and sf horror to Lovecraftian stories that scare you by what they don't tell you, you can find every type in this short story collection. It starts with a bang, tears through different settings, urban and rural, reworks old concepts and startles with new ones, and ends with as big a bang.

If you like Lovecraft, Wedge is better, more modern. If you like Stephen King, Wedge is less wordy yet spares nothing. If you like Ray Bradbury horror stories, Wedge is crisper and comes to the point with speed and despatch.

Some of these tales are going to haunt me long years from now with their gentle telling of creepiest evils, heartless loves and fringe organisations.

Read and enjoy! Worth every penny. 

25 September 2017

A modern day Arabian Nights for the modern child

Children's Fantasy | Setara's Genie Faizah's Destiny | Marva Dasef

Setara's Genie is the first Abu Nuwas book. Abu Nuwas is a story teller. In this novel, he tells an eager audience the stories of Setara's Genie. Setara finds a genie (of the magic lamp type), but he is remarkably reluctant to do for her anything she can do for herself. Some of the magical things he actually does, result in great hilarity, like when she asks for (and gets) a handsome prince who loves her madly. Setara grows from a teen you would roll your eyes at to someone whom you really like.

A great book for pre-teens/young teens.

This is followed by the second Abu Nuwas book, Faizah's Destiny. How does he solve this second young person's issues through pertinent stories?

Marva Dasef has a light touch and brings a gentle world of fantasy to life. Her books for young teens are great.

Read on!

20 August 2017

A short story and a novella leave you feeling something is missing

Science fiction | Interview Room 9 | CP Sennett

It's part of a larger series, but fairly self contained for all that.

A well written and atmospheric piece.

However, while there are hints of retribution or justice, the crime is nowhere obvious. This detracts from the story. I guess things would be more obvious if you followed the series.

Find it here on smashwords.

Science fiction | Flipspace: the Flight of the Mockingbird | John Steiner

This is a space opera that's good for an hour's light reading. A distant research station stops reporting and a crew is sent for rescue and repairs. The story is suitable for filming with action scenes. The faster-than-light concept is cute.

The negatives are shallow characters introduced in detail in early chapters who do absolutely nothing thereafter, too much cuteness in fancy backronyms, and spelling mistakes, particularly of homonyms. The story is ok, but the characters don't engage with your emotions, nor is the tech sufficiently gee-whiz to compensate. The best part of the tech, the bio stuff, whizzes past in less than one page. Shame that.

However, the story picks up as it goes on, and becomes more interesting. The end comes up rather suddenly and the series moves to the next episode.

This was a good concept, with reasonable treatment, but it doesn't make me want to go back and read it again.

Find it here on smashwords.

12 August 2017

A space station goes 'dark' and other short science fiction stories

It finally occurred to me to do a lot of reviews of short stories together (nobody can accuse me of being too sharp 😝).

Science Fiction | Breaking Down | Lelanthran Krishna Manickum

What happens when an astronaut has a breakdown on a planet with curious locals?

By page 2, you can guess what's happening, but it's a fun story, and surprise isn't everything in life. You'll be grinning by the end.

What a nice cover, too. Get it free on smashwords.

Science Fiction | Lost in the Dark | J Alan Erwine

WW3 is no excuse for sending this inadequate astronaut out. Extremely implausible, which is not what one wants in sci fi. It's a very unsophisticated story.

If you still want to read it....here.

Science Fiction | The G particle | Y Correa

The Higgs Boson is dragged into the story unnecessarily. For that, and other reasons, I wasn't much impressed.

The concept has been done before, more elaborately.

It's an 'okay' story, not bad but not too good either. Good enough for a few minutes.

You can check it out here, if you want to.

Science Fiction | Letters to a File | James Hampton

A creepy little story (and I mean that as praise). Hair raising in the blandness of the Letters that go into the File. You sit there at the end, wondering exactly what the crime was supposed to be, while you see the greater crime that results from ... Compliance.

It's clearly part of a series, and makes you want to read more, but perhaps you daren't.

Find it here to see how "Folders in a storage room tell the story of a civilization's fall."

Science Fiction | Dra'Tribek Five: Or, How to Destroy a Planet From Within. | Mac McDonald

This is a lecture disguised as a story. The grammar and spellings are poor. The characters are simpletons and their mannerisms are no better.

This is the last sentence, for a sample: "Although the preceding is a fiction written my Mac McDonald, it does offer food for thought."

Definitely not recommended, but if you want to check it out, here.

Crime | Death Comes at Midnight | Adriana Mucea

An interesting enough story. It's based in the 22nd century, but reads like a 20th century story. Apart from being located implausibly in the future (paper reports, typing on a computer, really?), it's not science fiction.

Read it like it's a crime story, and you'll be fine.

Check it out here.

Science Fiction | Dark Station | Brett P. S.

Wow! What a breathless pace.

A space station hit by a ... zombie epidemic? Something has shut off contact, and the General wants the research recovered. Gebbley and the rest of the crew walk unsuspecting into hell.

A short novel that reads like a Hollywood movie.

Recommended for fans of space opera, zombies, or psychological thrillers. This is the best of the ones reviewed here.

Get it here

11 August 2017

Dignity in death

Science Fiction | The Star Creature | Kevin A Lyons

A story that has aged gracefully in 38 years, and still reads as fresh.

What happens when an alien finds a 'star creature'. Poignant.

I'm not adding the cover page, because, frankly, it has nothing to do with the story whatsoever.

Find it free on smashwords.