Showing posts with label science fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science fiction. Show all posts

Book Review: Zombies of the World: A Field Guide to the Undead by Ross Payton

Zombies of the World: A Field Guide to the Undead by Ross Payton is a humorous reference book. Zombies have plagued humanity's nightmares for centuries, but fortunately, the scientific community has created this detailed and completely serious guide to the undead which reveals the undead to be a valuable part of our ecosystem and the key to new discoveries in medicine and technology. Zombies of the World uses captivating illustrations to document how evolution has led to a wide variety of species. Few outside the scientific community even realize that creatures like the Egyptian Mummy (Mortifera mumia aegyptus) are actually zombies. Some species are even harmless to humans. The Dancing Zombie (Mortifera immortalis choreographicus) only seeks to thrill humans with elaborate dance routines. Discover how our history has been affected by the undead and what we can learn from “scientific” research. 

Zombies of the World is an interesting take on zombie lore. Written as a non fiction book it is the story of zombie evolution, classification, and explanation. I think the illustrations were very well done, and a perfect pairing to the text. I like that the history and science possibilities are heavily featured. The approach is rather like the mermaid mockumentory from a few years back, that might have some readers wondering if there is truth in the book rather than fiction. I also enjoyed the dry humor that is inherent in this style of writing, but it might fall flat for those looking for a more obvious humor. The descriptions of the zombie varieties were my favorite part of the book, and the section I think are the most universally appealing. I rather liked the approach, but think that it is best suited to serious zombie fans.

Early Book Review: Jinxed by Amy McCulloch

Jinxed by Amy McCulloch is a middle grade series starter that is currently scheduled for release on January 7 2020. Lacey Chu has always dreamed of working as an engineer for MONCHA, the biggest tech firm in the world and the company behind the “baku”—a customizable “pet” with all the capabilities of a smartphone. But when Lacey is rejected by the elite academy that promises that future, she’s crushed. One night, Lacey comes across the broken form of a highly advanced baku. After Lacey repairs it, the cat-shaped baku she calls Jinx opens its eyes and somehow gets her into her dream school. But Jinx is different than any other baku she’s ever seen…He seems real. As Lacey settles into life at school, competing with the best students in a battle of the bakus that tests her abilities, she learns that Jinx is part of a dangerous secret. Can Lacey hold on to Jinx and her dreams for the future?

Jinxed is ba well written start to a new series. Lacey is a smart and determined middle school girl, who has her faults and makes mistakes but tries to to the right and best thing. The world and character building is well done, feeding readers the information they need at a good pace, neither overwhelming them with too much information at once or making them wonder if they missed something. I liked Lacey's character and the relationships she maintains or builds with those important to her- even if she makes some mistakes along the way. I liked the premise and the execution of it.  I thought that the technology in the story is well done, and not unrealistic when the story on how and why it was developed in considered. I would not be surprised if someone was already working on something of this nature. The implications of the technology is also well thought out and positioned in the story to be game changers.The characters are all complex, and even the ones we only see in passing feel complex and multi layered- leaving them plenty of room to play major roles in the upcoming books. My only complaint with the story is that it does end with a cliffhanger. The majority of the story is wrapped up and crisis managed, but there is a big new problem to deal with. I cannot wait for the next book so I can read all about what happens next. 

Jinxed is a very well written middle grade novel with great series potential. I am eager to see where Lacey and the other characters go from here. 

Book Review: The Tracker (The Dregs) by Leslie Georgeson

The Tracker is the first book in the eight book (not all yet available)  Dregs series by Leslie Georgeson.  I’ve done despicable things. My soul is damaged. My body impaired. That’s what happens when you are a soldier for The Company. I was discharged a year ago. Now I am a dreg. Worthless. With a bounty on my head. I’ve become a creature of the night, hiding in an underground maze during the day. Because I’m not ready to die yet. She comes to me one night, needing my help to find her sister. The moment I see her, I want her. Her goodness calls to me, makes me yearn for the impossible. She brings life back to the deadness inside me. I’m no good for her. I will do nothing but corrupt her. But I’m a callous bastard. I can’t resist her. I try not to care for her, but somehow she slips under my skin. She makes me weak. And there is only one thing in this world I am afraid of. Weakness. I’ll never be good enough for her, so I have to finish this job and send her on her way. Before she destroys me.
The Tracker is a story that manages to get a lot of world building, character development, and other series groundwork laid down without having it completely overtake the action and romance of the story. I like that Jessica is a fully developed character with a mind and drives of her own. She is willing to do anything to save her sister, and is fiercely loyal to the dregs once they have gotten to know each other. Tracker and his teammates have serious issues to overcome, and I like that they own those issues and do not pretend to be perfect. I found Tracker to be well written and consistent with his past and position- and really enjoyed reading about the connections between the dregs.I was left wanting to see how it turns out for all of them, and want them all to find a happy ending. I will admit that there were a couple things that dragged a bit for me, but I think they were all necessary to set up for the conclusion of this book and the set ups for the future volumes.

The Tracker is a good start to a series with suspense, romance, and plenty of twists and turns. I have already downloaded the second book and added it to my 'to read' list.

Book Review: Sovereign (Nemesis) by April Daniels

Sovereign is the second book in the Nemesis series by April Daniels. I highly recommend reading this series in order, as character and story development in  the first book, Dreadnought, is vital to fully enjoying this book. Since I enjoyed the first book so much, I do not think it will be a chore for any that need to go read, or reread, that first.
Only nine months after her debut as the fourth superhero to fight under the name Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she's doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it's only going to get worse. When she crosses a newly discovered supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there's no trick too dirty and no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. She might be hard to kill, but there's more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

Sovereign is a complex and thought provoking book with character development that is impactful and  sometimes as painful as the physical battles the characters undergo. Danny is still struggling with the changes of becoming Dreadnought and the devastating battles fought in the first book. She needs to deal with the physical and emotional scars while trying to fight crime , keep her promises, get free from her parents, and deal with the social complications of her life. Despite the powers and her intelligence, Danny is still young and reeling from abuse and betrayals,  mistakes and assumptions are made making matters worse. I really enjoyed seeing Danny, Doc Impossible, Calamity, and the rest of the group come into their own and fight for what they think is right while trying to stick to their codes. I was floored by the honesty and raw truth of the characters- and how real the confusion, doubt, and complexity of their thoughts and emotions were. It is hard to get the balance of growth, feels, and action right- and this book hit it perfectly. 

Sovereign is a book that I put off reading for far too long. I loved the first book so much that I was worried it would not meet my high hopes, thankfully that worry was unfounded. However, my worry of wanting more right now from the author was well founded. I am hooked and want more. I highly recommend Dreadnought and Sovereign to readers from middle school age right on up to adults. The only people I think would not enjoy it are those with something against the LGBT community, and they might need to read it the most.

Book Review: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee is a space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. To keep the family safe, Min's mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She's counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds. When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name. Min's quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.

Dragon Pearl is so much more than I expected. It is a coming of age adventure full of science fiction, mythology, and more. I loved Min's character- she has her faults but is willing to admit them (at least to herself). While in most cases she is reactive to the world around her, she also takes steps in a proactive way when she can. I liked the collection of characters and that no one is fully what they seem- there is good, bad, and mistaken inside every character. I really loved the amount of fantasy and mythology that is woven through an adventure travelling between planets. Ghosts, goblins, dragons, other supernatural characters on spaceships and being people with flaws and the urge to help themselves and/or others made even the most unexpected character real. There were plenty of twists and turns along the way, and lots of personal character growth for Min. I simply loved the read and am sad only in the fact that I finished the book, and that it took me so long to start reading it!

Dragon Pearl hits all the right notes of science fiction and fantasy for me. The characters and adventure blew me away and I cannot wait to see what Min and Jun get up to next.

Early Book Review: Last Pick by Jason Walz

Last Pick by Jason Walz is the first volume of Jason Walz's dystopian graphic novel trilogy. It is currently scheduled for release on October 9 2018. The kids last picked are humanity's last hope. Three years ago, aliens invaded Earth and abducted everyone they deemed useful. The only ones spared were those too young, too old, or too “disabled” to be of value. Living on Earth under the aliens’ harsh authoritarian rule, humanity’s rejects do their best to survive. Their captors never considered them a threat—until now. Twins Sam and Wyatt are ready to chuck their labels and start a revolution. It’s time for the kids last picked to step into the game.

Last Pick is a very well written and drawn graphic novel. Sam and Wyat are a team, the twins only have each other since the aliens took their parents. They are focused on survival, and the hope that Wyatt's skills will help them find their parents. Sam goes out on scavenging trips to find what they need, but she also helps others get food and whatnot along the way. They end up facing bigger challenges as more aliens appear and their actions make the aliens look weak.They need to stay free, find their parents, and help the others that remain with them find and keep hope. Tall order for two newly minted sixteen-year-olds, but they might have the skills, intelligence, and more that they need. I like that the relationship between the twins, and their natures, is shown. I like that while Wyatt is different, and his sister has struggled with that, she has his back and sees his good qualities as greater than her own 'normalcy'.  The aliens are also not all the same, or all powerful and evil, I liked the use of one that is more like use in mentality than different. I liked the action, and the introduction and building of the world and characters. I am engaged and still thinking about the world and characters, and eager to see what will happen next. Although, I am not thrilled with the level of cliffhanger.

Last Pick is a great start to a series. My biggest issue with the book is that it left me with too many questions and not enough answers. I wanted some kind of resolution, and felt like ?I was left we a bigger question than the one that started the story. 

Book Review: Space Cat by Ruthven Todd, Paul Galdone

Space Cat is a children's book originally published in 1952 by Ruthven Todd, with illustrations by Paul Galdone, that has recently been reprinted.Everyone goes to the moon in stories these days - why not a cat? So we have the ambitious young cat, Flyball, going off in a rocket and having extraordinary adventures. He is a delight in his space suit - a descendant perhaps of that famous adventurer Puss in Boots. On the moon he becomes, of course, a super-cat, rescuing his master and finding surprising things in a cave. Children will love Flyball's story - grown-ups, reading it aloud, will see in it a slight take-off on the popular science-fiction thread.
Space Cat is a fun adventure that is made sweeter by nostalgia. Adults that remember this book from its first printing, and readers new to the story, will be able to get lost in Flyball's perspective of the world and his adventures. I like reading about Flyball thinking about how he is in charge, even when denied his wishes. I think my cats have the same mentality. I think animal lovers, adventure fans, and science fiction fans will all enjoy this high flying adventure. The story is vintage, and fans of science fiction will be amused at some of the ideas about space travel, and the moon, from the story from the time in which it was written. I must admit that Flyball's little songs got a little tiresome, and by the end of the book I was just skipping over them. 
Space Cat is a product of its time, and a fun read for early chapter book readers that like space, adventure, and cats. Those looking to revisit a loved or remembered book from their childhood might also want to pick it up and see it it stands up to your memories.

Book Review: Geek Ink: The World's Smartest Tattoos for Rebels, Nerds, Scientists, and Intellectuals From the Creators of inkstinct

Geek Ink: The World's Smartest Tattoos for Rebels, Nerds, Scientists, and Intellectuals from the Creators of inkstinct offers readers a look at some cutting-edge designs from some of the most sought-after and acclaimed contemporary tattoo artists worldwide. These tattoo ideas feature themes from science fiction and fantasy, as well as a wide range of topics across science, mathematics, literature, and philosophy. It also includes commentary from creators of the Inkstinct project (which connects people with the finest tattoo art from 380,000 studios worldwide and has an Instagram fan base of more than 1 million) and interviews with world-renowned masters like Eva Krbdk (460K followers), David Cote (232K followers), and Thomas Eckeard (169K followers), this is the definitive tattoo inspiration sourcebook for hipsters, bookworms, scientists, academics, engineers, and, of course, geeks!

Geek Ink: The World's Smartest Tattoos for Rebels, Nerds, Scientists, and Intellectuals is a fascinating wish list for me. I have three tattoos, and one that I always wanted but never got. However, I am always looking at ideas for more ink that I will likely never get- because life and raising kids tends to eat up any discretionary funds before I can even consider spending the money on some more ink. I loved the chance to learn more about some of the most talented tattoo artists from all over the world and their styles. I love the art and the discipline that goes into this kind of work. The dedication and love of art is inspiring. As with any art form, some styles are more pleasing to me personally than others, but even the styles that do not speak to me are impressive. I just wish that any of the artists were local, and that I could afford them.

In the gallery portion of the book I loved the variety and artistry that was on display. The collection is organized by theme, making it easy to find the perfect piece of art to lust after. My personal favorites can be found in the animal, fantasy, science fiction, and literature sections. However, there were beautiful and artistic pieces in each section that might inspire readers. I did not find a tattoo to beat out the one that has been on my mind for years now, but folks in need of tattoo inspiration might find something perfect for their own next work of inky art. 

Early Book Review: Badass Braids: From Vikings to Game of Thrones, 50 Maverick Looks for Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fanatics by Shannon Burns

Badass Braids: From Vikings to Game of Thrones, 50 Maverick Looks for Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fanatics by Shannon Burns is currently scheduled for release on April 3 2018. When she’s not studying for her PhD in social neuroscience, Silvousplaits (a.k.a. Shannon Burns) is creating and posting weekly instructional videos on her YouTube channel of DIY hair art that mimics the hairstyles of valiant men and women in the best historical, sci-fi, and fantasy shows and movies. Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Vikings, and The Hunger Games--oh yeah, she's done them all. In Badass Braids she shows you how to transform your hair step-by-step. You'll look just like your favorite heroes and heroines in no time. With an introduction to the styling techniques for different kinds of basic braids, interviews with behind-the-scenes stylists and actors, and original styles inspired by fan-favorites.

Badass Braids: From Vikings to Game of Thrones, 50 Maverick Looks for Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fanatics has me wishing I had my long hair back, and willing to go through the awkward regrowth process so that I can try more of these out. This book offers readers a good deal of information on the tools and tricks for perfect braiding. I liked the amount of detail given about the different combs, brushes, other tools and decorations that could be used and how or why you might want to use one or another. The tips and instructions are all well done and very detailed, but never talk down to the readers, which sometimes happens in how-to books of every variety. I also like that there is information on the character each style is based on with each style, both including who they are portrayed by and some information on the real character from history, literature, and so on. The combination of photographs, illustrations, and step by step instructions make the process easy to follow on your own.

Badass Braids: From Vikings to Game of Thrones, 50 Maverick Looks for Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fanatics is a wonderful book for hair and braid lovers, and those looking to emulate the characters from various shows and movies. It could also be helpful for cosplay, conventions, and other costumed events. While not everyone needs this book, anyone wanting to expand thier knowledge of hairstyles in general, and braiding in particular, would do well to get this book. 

Book Review: Future Threat (Future Shock) by Elizabeth Briggs

Future Threat is the second book in the Future Shock trilogy by Elizabeth Briggs. To fully appreciate and understand the characters, you really do need to read this trilogy in order.

Six months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future where they brought back secret information—but not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena’s dealing with her survivor’s guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she’s done with time travel and Aether Corporation, but Aether’s not done with her, Adam, or fellow survivor Chris. The travelers on Aether’s latest mission to the future have gone missing, and Elena and her friends are drafted into the rescue effort. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events. But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lost or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything, including their relationship, to save their friends.

Future Threat is a book full of adventure, twists and turns, and people struggling to come to terms with the world. I understood Elena's stress and struggles, and think that they were completely consistent with her character and what she has gone through. The growth of Elena and Adam's characters, and their relationship is very well done, and a cornerstone to the story, and was as compelling as any of the action. The new characters, and the varying futures, were well designed and slowly revealed their depth as the story continued. I found the twists and turns of the trips to the future to be very dramatic, and had me holding my breath on a few occasions. I loved seeing some of the possibilities and worried over the changes as the story continued. I will admit that I rather suspected the guilty party of all the bad things that happen to the team pretty early on, but the journey the story takes us on as Elena puts the pieces together was very suspenseful and gave all of the characters room to grow and show their true selves to the readers, and each other.

Future Threat is a solid follow up to Future Shock, and I enjoyed the read. I like that while each book seems to build perfectly on the previous, the ending of each book feels complete- with only hints that more might follow. I already have the third book waiting on my Kindle for me- since it took me way to long to pick this one up, and I am confident that the third book will continue with the same or maybe even higher quality. My biggest regret with this book is how long it took me to get reading.

Book Review: Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn, Molly Knox Ostertag

Shattered Warrior is a graphic novel written by Sharon Shinn and illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag.  It is ten years after Colleen Cavanaugh's home world was invaded by the Derichets, a tyrannical alien race bent on exploiting the planet's mineral resources.  Most of her family died in the war, and she now lives alone in the city. Aside from her acquaintances at the factory where she toils for the Derichets, Colleen makes a single friend in Jann, a member of the violent group of rebels known as the Chromatti. One day Colleen receives shocking news: her niece Lucy is alive and in need of her help. Together, Colleen, Jann, and Lucy create their own tenuous family. But Colleen must decide if it's worth risking all of their survival to join a growing underground revolution against the Derichets. 

Shattered Warrior is a graphic novel that begins as a story about survival and struggles in a world as a second class citizen. I liked Colleen's resilience and strength- and while she is not afraid of taking risks for what she deems the greater good she is not overly reckless. I liked the character development and the extended cast of supporting characters. I think the us verses them was a little too easy- even though there were good and bad people among every group in the book, the Colleen and the resistance too easily dubbed the Derichets as worthy of death. While that might have been for effect- the current political climate makes me a little too sensitive to this kind of attitude. Although, it could very well have been part of the author's intention to open people's eyes to the dangers of this kind of attitude I have found those with that mindset see nothing wrong with that idea and would take this as further validation. 

Shattered Warrior is a thought provoking graphic novel, but I think there are issues that could have been further or better explored. The artwork, characters, and conflicts are well done and interesting. It was a good graphic novel, I just thought that it could have been even better and was hoping for more.

Book Review: Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy by Gareth Wronski

Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy by Gareth Wronski is a middle grade novel. Holly Farb is not the Princess of the Galaxy. She may be top of the class in every subject, but she can’t even win a school election, never mind rule the Milky Way. The aliens who kidnapped her have gotten it all wrong. Unfortunately Holly’s alien pirate kidnappers believe that she’s the princess they’ve been looking for, and so she finds herself hurtling through space on an alien pirate ship together with her teacher, Mr. Mendez, and Chester, the most annoying boy in her class. Now all she has to do is escape the pirates, find the missing princess, and get back to Earth in time for her big test on Friday. But it turns out that space is a pretty big place, and before they can go home, Holly, Chester, and Mr. Mendez must face down space cruise liners, bounty hunters, giant worms, perky holograms, cosmic board games, sinister insectoid librarians, and a robot who is learning how to lie. Between running from space pirates, defying the President of the Universe, and meeting a host of rather unusual new friends, Holly starts to wonder if there might be more to life than being top of the class after all.

Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy is the adventure of one young lady that has never felt in control, but has always tried to get her attention by being smart- because that is what she is good at. All she wants is to be important, to matter, and she does not even seem to get that at home. When pirate kidnap Holly, her teacher, and the new kid the real adventure starts. I loved the twists and turns, and while I expected a twist as to who the princess was, that twist was only one of the several possibilities that I had considered. I liked that while I knew something was coming, it was not so completely obvious that it was my only thought. I also liked how interconnected, but unusual, some of the turns the story took. The only thing that happened that I completely expected was the President of the Universe's attitude when push came to shove. While Holly began as a pessimistic and self pitying character, her actions and thoughts were understandable and I liked how much she changed and grew as the story continued. Chester, while not what they seemed at the beginning, changed and grew with Holly. I think it was their relationship and changing understanding that really pushed the book forward, even more so that the danger and adventure from space pirates, asteroid belts, the criminal element in a dive bar, and more that they faced along the way. I really liked that even in the moments of highest drama and danger there was an underlying sense of humor and fun. I love a story that does not take itself too seriously, and this book hit the balance of fun, danger, and emotional growth very well.

Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy is a middle grade adventure with a coming of age story arch and sense of humor that appealed to me, and that I think will appeal to many other readers that have ever felt as isolated and 'other' as Holly. 

Book Review: Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn is a stand alone science fiction novel for young adult. I have read the Kitty Norville series from Vaughn, but it has been awhile, so I was not sure quite what to expect. I came in with pretty high hopes, which might have colored my reaction to what I found.

Polly Newton has one single-minded dream, to be a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. Her mother, the director of the Mars Colony, derails Polly's plans when she sends Polly and her genius twin brother, Charles, to Galileo Academy on Earth—the one planet Polly has no desire to visit. Homesick and cut off from her desired future, Polly cannot seem to fit into the constraints of life on Earth, unlike Charles, who deftly maneuvers around people and sees through their behavior to their true motives. Strange, unexplained, dangerous coincidences centered on their high-profile classmates begin piling up. Charles may be right—there's more going on than would appear, and the stakes are high. With the help of Charles, Polly is determined to find the truth, no matter the cost.

Martians Abroad has a reasonable premise for a solid science fiction story for middle grade to young adult readers. Teenagers sent to a new world for a tough boarding school where they are bound to face the trials of fitting in, but some kind of adventure or danger in the process. That is all there, although not at the speed I would have liked. I found the start fairly slow, and Polly to be a bit of a brat. She acted more like a petulant ten year old than the teen she is supposed to be, and her brother Charles is pretty much a sociopath. I feel like neither really made an effort to fit in, both rather doing what they wanted. This goes especially for Polly, who I envision stomping her feet and pouting a lot. I also felt that there was not the underlying humor and fun that I seem to remember from the author's other work. I missed that.

Now that that is off my chest, lets talk about what I did like. I enjoyed the amount of world building that was included. Little things like Polly's build and gut bacteria having an impact on her comfort and ability to do things in a different environment. I also liked that while Polly is not my favorite character, she does have a selfless quality to her, and is always willing to jump in to help others. 

Martians Abroad was  a book I really wanted to love, but I kind of fell flat for me. I think part of this was because of my high expectations.

Book Review: Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi  by John Scalzi collects 25 years of at his briefest and best, and features four never-before-printed stories.  These four stories, along with fourteen other pieces, have one thing in common: they are short, sharp, and to the point—science fiction in miniature, with none of the stories longer than 2,300 words.

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi is exactly what you expect from the title. This collection of short works from John Scalzi will entertain readers that are long time fans, and give readers that have yet to explore his novels a good idea of the combination of science fiction and humor that they are missing out on. I was crawling through a reading slump and having trouble getting through much of anything, even material from my favorite authors. This book's short, highly entertaining works, help break me out of that slump.  Yogurt taking over the world, Pluto speaking out about its change of status, superheroes with booking agents, alternate histories tells you all the various ways Hitler has died, a lawyer sues an interplanetary union for dangerous working conditions,  and four artificial intelligence's explain, in increasingly worrying detail, how they plan not to destroy humanity- whats not to love?

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi is a great read for fans, and those that are not quite ready to commit to a Scalzi novel yet. I am still thinking about several of the stores, and think I will be for a good time to come. 

Book Spotlight: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest

 “Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”
    Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

. "…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy." -- Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)

“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” --Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)

“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author

“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” -- The Baryon Review

About the author:
Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. Locally, he is best known for his nonfiction about children’s programs and issues, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997. Today, he is a retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome maltreatment and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines. 

Excerpt from chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:
            …..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.
            I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me? 
            “Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods. 
            Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.
            I will always love you guys. 
Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.   
            Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 
            Jenny looked to the left of the path.
            There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 
            She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.
            “All right, you mother f**ker!”
            “Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."
            DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.   
            "Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.
            “Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”
            “You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.
            Stay between them.
            “Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.” 
            “You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce. 
            “MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”
            Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.
            He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.   
            “DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”
            Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.  
            “Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.” 
            I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.
            “Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”      
            Jenny's left eye twitched. 
            DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…    
            …(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”
            "He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.
            “What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”
            “Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.
            Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.
            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.
            "What's that?" Jenny asked. 
            She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.
            “But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.
            “Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”
            “Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more…. 
            It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on herThat's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thingHell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby. 
            “What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.
            “I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”
            “My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said. 
            They both glared at him. 
            "Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said. 
            “Okay, Mommy.”
            “I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her. 
            “I love you too,” DotCom said.
            Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.   
            Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”

Excerpts of Two Book Reviews – Gold Medal Awards
Awesome Indies:
“…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.

Readers’ Favorite:

“…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity From the Hollow sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved… Robert Eggleton is a brilliant writer whose work is better read on several levels. I appreciated this story on all of them.”