Deep Space Accountant by Mjke Wood

“Standing tall on the cliff edge; a steely adventurer’s glint in his eye; calculator in hand; an alien sky, albeit with only one sun and one moon; the wind-ruffled hair – not electron wind but near enough.”

I really love the underdog wins the world concept. And it’s hard to think of a less likely hero than an unassuming yet renegade accountant.

This was a great read. There were a few places where the author flexed his vocabulary a bit too obtusely – oleaginous? Passacaglia? But overall, this was a fun read – a quick paced adventure played out in a well-defined alternate universe. The imentor was a great concept – omniscient and caring yet reserved and (mostly) unwilling to intervene. I loved the concept of “smart” clothing. It made me wonder whether someday I might actually be trading my wearable tech (currently a Fitbit) for Smartipants? (Sadly, in the universe, if that happened I’d probably spend half my time waiting for my trousers to charge….)

I look forward to reading the next book in this series.

Heist (L is for Librarian Book 2) by Tom Bruno

“So the Library, eh?  You’re the guys who travel through time and steal books.”

More librarians in space – in this episode, exploring the limits of space-time, trying to cheat the Muse of History without triggering a Hawking crisis!  I’m really enjoying the L is for Librarian books. Not quite a series, each book is unrelated except by topic. In this book, future librarians travel back in time to rescue the holdings of the great Library of Alexandria before they’re destroyed.

I actually referenced the predecessor to this book (Bibliophile, L is for Librarian Book 1) in my own book (Self-Publishing and Libraries) as an example of the micro-niche of self-published books by librarians about librarians! I was thrilled to discover that it was part of a series.

The attention to historical detail in this episode and the neat little intertwining anachronisms really made this story a lot of fun. Fans (and alums) of Harvard will find this especially entertaining:

“….Harvard College Library’s collections, which at the time were overflowing their designated holding place at Gore Hall.  Widener Library, it was called, a living tribute to Harvard alumnus and avid bibliophile Harry Widener, who had perished along with his father aboard the British passenger liner Titanic….”  Except, of course, that he hadn’t! Widener is one of the main characters, along with Mehmet Sohrabi, a classics scholar who, “wasn’t prepared for many aspects of time travel, but the worst of it in his opinion was the lack of coffee.”

This is a great, fun read!

 

Tomoiya’s Story: Escape To Darkness by C.A. King

It’s amazing how many variations there are on the vampire mythology. In this one, the Golden Vampires cry diamonds like the fairies’ midwife, Queen Mab, who appeared in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, then later resurfaced in the mini-series Merlin.

Tomoiya’s Story combines that quite old mythology with a space faring society in a tale that seems somewhat unanchored in time.  If many ways, this could represent the origin story for much of vampire mythology; although the space opera context would create a future-past conundrum.

Regardless, Allaynie’s Story as it leads into Tomoiya’s Story is chilling but not how you would probably expect. The real villains here aren’t the vampires but the media. King nails their role in no uncertain terms:

“News – the fastest way to spread fear and hate. Journalists circled like vultures – thinking they were somehow doing their world a service. In reality, all they do is play into the hands of men with well-constructed plans….”

Excellent read. I look forward to reading more in this series.

Family Night on Union Station (EarthCent Ambassador Book 12) by E. M. Foner

This is the twelfth book that I’ve read in this series, which pretty much says it all. The characters are witty and colorful. The subtle swipes at the silliness of bureaucracy and politics intertwined with truly entertaining species (like the Tree-form Frunge, the protocol driven Vergallians, and the single-minded Gem clones) are sincerely a hoot. And the author manages to create drama and excitement without the doom and gloom or violence that permeates so many other space operas. If you’re a fan of snarky British dramas, you’ll luv this series. It’s like Yes, Minister in space.

Bibliophile (L is for Librarian Book 1) by Tom Bruno

Bibliophile is an adorable little book – a sci-fi tale discussing the importance of librarians in space! I actually referenced this book in my own book (Self-Publishing and Libraries) as an example of the micro-niche of self-published books by librarians about librarians! (Ya gotta luv the symmetry!)

The book itself is a wonderful read. Between references to Emerson and Plato, you’ll find Neo-transcendentalist settlers and anarchist librarians on the outer rim. The references to “future” authors were in themselves a hoot. I found myself thinking that I’d kinda like to read, “Hesprus, a fantasy writer from the Lesser Magellanic Cloud whose works had developed a small but cult following.  His Robar Trilogy detailed the epic struggle of good versus evil on a planet where humanity had awoken from millennia of cryogenic slumber to find that their dreams had manifested themselves into reality while they’d slept.”

Overall I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading the next two installments (currently out) in this series. My only complaint here is that the author needs a better proofreader. While there are only a handful of typos (“operating” instead of “operator”, “offer” instead of “author”) a work this length really should be typo free.

39 pages

Sanguine Starscapes by Justin Bohardt

The perfect book for readers undecided between paranormal and space opera – Vampires in Space!  Justin Bohardt answers the question of how vampires would survive, and feed, in a future world in which man had departed for the stars.

While novella length, Sanguine Starscapes is actually a collection of short (dare I say it?) “bite”-sized stories, each describing a different possibility.  Bohardt’s creativity really shines with concepts like the Drake Formula and the idea of a “ship’s therasan, a brilliant and expensive combination of psychologist and escort.”

Half the tales are wickedly creative, the other half are just plain wicked. “Starvation” is particularly cringe-inducing.  A worthy read for any aficionado of vampire lit!

Ignoring a smattering of typos, this is great!

Orion the Hunter by Clifford VanMeter

“What most people don’t understand is that integrity is a spectrum. On the one end, you’ve got complete narcissism on the other pure altruism. It just takes a nudge along that line to change our lives.”

This quote really sums up most of the characters in these stories. Lots of integrity amidst complicated situations. The characters are deliciously convoluted and complex, as is the world in which they exist.  The half-alien hunter Orion in particular is a bundle of contradictions set within a persona steeped in integrity, loyalty and pragmatism. Frequently, the author gives us an eternity of depth in the simple statement, “Hmmm…”

As in many space operas, the author presents humanity by showcasing its frequent absence in humans – in this case, termed “Terrachians”.  The light-hearted references were also entertaining – “While the brothers might have the largest crew on Mars, they were not the only game in town. The Little Green Men, or LGMs, were a well-established gang whose drug and prostitution operations were second only to Nico and Marco’s.”

I must admit – I absolutely LOVED these stories.  I loved the characters. I loved the depth of the world building. And I totally loved the complexity of the situations, the nuance between right and might.

What I didn’t love were the typos. What I see here is a world class storyteller in need of a proofreader. I’m hoping the author finds one soon. In the meantime, this is still MORE than worth the read.