Synchronic

Synchronic Book Cover Synchronic
Various
Time Travel
David Gatewood; First edition
May 2014
E-book
440

Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel introduces 13 varied and original takes on the pitfalls and paradoxes of time travel—from some of today’s most talented voices. 

From Michael Bunker’s story of a father, a son, and the legendary Santa Anna Gold, to Jason Gurley’s heart-wrenching tale of an astronaut forever torn from his young wife and daughter, these stories will keep you on the edge of your seat, and often have you guessing right up until the final word. 

You’ll meet a prison therapist who treats his patients by going back and preventing their crimes; a woman who can’t stop reliving her life, no matter how much it hurts; a space marine suffering from a time-altering brain injury; a woman who will betray the man she loves to correct a horrible mistake; a vengeful soul from ages past; and a time cop charged with preserving the timelines of multiple universes. 

You’ll experience a world where time travel is so common, reality itself hangs by a thread; a love story that overcomes the unforgiving barriers of time; a thrilling encounter with a pack of T. rex; a historian’s efforts to alter Roman history; and the first manned mission to the Red Planet—or is it? 

So sit back and enjoy. Just be sure you’ve got plenty of time.

My Review:
The collection is a treat if you are into time travel or just looking for some great speculative fiction short stories. I’m going to limit myself and use only a couple of sentences to sum up my impression after reading each story, because if I don’t I can ramble on for days, making my own short story.

Santa Anna’s Gold – Michael introduces us to a man who is out of his time and out of his mind. The story has a rugged feel to it, as rugged as the Texas land where it takes place.
Corrections – Susan writes an intense thriller of a person who relives moments in convicted murderers’ lives. I faced this story like when I watched Poltergeist as a child; with my hands in front of my eyes, peeking around the edges. It creeped me out.
Hereafter – Samuel writes a beautiful story of love between a traveler and an unsuspecting lady. Fine literary fiction within a speculative backdrop.
The Swimming Pool of the Universe – Forget his comparison to Hemingway. Nick is a modern day PKD. Enough said.
Reentry Window – Eric’s ability to spin a yarn about space flight makes me think I’m reading an astronaut’s memoir, that’s how sure and precise his writing is.
The River – Jennifer weaves a complicated story of regret and redo.
A Word in Pompey’s Ear – Christopher gives us a lesson, not only of history, but of pride.
Rock or Shell – Ann takes us for a metaphysical ride on a mattress. Her story has an ethereal quality to it, as fleeting as the fog.
The Mirror – A haunting story of a man, a woman, a mirror,  and a superstition. Irving writes the story predominantly in narrative, like it was pulled from a diary. It is compelling.
Reset – MeiLin gives us a story told not through the time traveler, but through her friend; a witness to the repercussions of reliving life. It’s a unique and interesting take on the typical time travel story.
The Laurasians – Isaac gives us a roller coaster, Jurassic Park-esque tale. The dinosaurs also win in this story.
The First Cut – Edward’s story is a glimpse of a future world, a disturbing occupation, and a good old whodunit.
The Dark Age – Jason weaves a tale of a family split by duty. It resonates with the pain of loss that transcends the story.

There are curse words spattered here and there, including one or two F-bombs. But the stories aren’t saturated in profanity. There’s also a couple of passing mentions of sex. Some violence, with one story (Corrections) having some particularly grotesque descriptions.

If you are shopping for entertaining, short, time-travel stories, then you definitely have to purchase this. Click that “BUY NOW” button now.

The Wasteland Saga

The Wasteland Saga Book Cover The Wasteland Saga
Nick Cole
Post Apocalyptic
Harper Voyager
October 2013
E-book
673

Nick Cole sends us on a suspenseful odyssey into the dark heart of post-apocalyptic America in this three-part adventure

Forty years after a devastating thermonuclear Armageddon, mankind has been reduced to sal-vaging the ruins of a broken world. In a style that's part Hemingway and part Cormac McCarthy's The RoadThe Wasteland Saga chronicles the struggle of the Old Man, his granddaughter, and a mysterious boy as they try to survive the savage lands of this new American Dark Age.

With the words of the Old Man's most prized possession—a copy of Hemingway's classic The Old Man and the Sea—echoing across the wasteland, they journey into the unknown through three incredible tales of endurance and adventure in a land ravaged by destruction.

Compiled for the first time in print, The Wasteland Saga comprises Nick Cole's novels The Old Man and the WastelandThe Savage Boy, and The Road is a River.

My Review:
This review covers the third novel in the Wasteland Saga, The Road is a River. You can find my reviews for the first two parts Old Man Review and Savage Boy.

So if you read the two reviews you’ll know I’m a fan of the series and of the author. Even though this is the third part, Nick saves the best for last. In my humble opinion, Road is the best because it follows the Old Man and the Savage Boy and their entwined story, finishing their journeys.

But it’s the beauty through the destruction that is most remarkable. Through the lawlessness, through the savagery, there is still a remnant of individuals that realize there is more to the bombed-out life than the immediate situation. There are still things in the world worth sacrificing self for, and there are still some individuals that deem other lives more valuable than their own. Nick’s story weaves the idea of self-sacrifice into Road, making for a compelling read, one that transcends a typical post-apocalyptic story.

Every story should end with the message Nick has put into Road.

If you’re considering purchasing the Wasteland Saga, then take the plunge and pick it up, no matter the cost. It will be money well spent.

Pennsylvania Omnibus

Pennsylvania Omnibus Book Cover Pennsylvania Omnibus
Michael Bunker
Amish Sci-Fi
Refugio Publishing (April 29, 2014)
Apr 2014
E-book
431

Young Amishman Jedidiah Troyer is now a traveler. He's signed up for an emigration program that is colonizing the planet of New Pennsylvania. He just wants to start a farm and homestead on affordable land in a new Amish community. Space pioneering isn't as easy as it sounds when you're "plain." Jedidiah and his new friend Dawn arrive on New Pennsylvania in the middle of a rebel uprising, and TRACE, the resistance group that is rising up against TRANSPORT, has taken on the mission of getting Jed from the City to the Amish Zone. Being a stranger in the old world doesn't even compare to being a stranger in a new world... a world that is at war and where nothing is what it seems.

My Review:
I’ve posted reviews of Pennsylvania, Parts one and two, and now this review is of the five installment omnibus, the novel. I will gloss over many of the finer plot points because I don’t want to be a spoiler for anyone. 🙂

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I’m a fan of Michael Bunker. So he would have to do something completely out of character in his story for me to have issues with it. But like always, he is consistent, and the remaining three installments of Pennsylvania lives up to my expectations.

Since this was my first Amish Sci-Fi, I didn’t know what to expect. Would everyone be named Yoder (although there is ONE Yoder family)? Would the story center around quilting and wood furniture sold to tourists? With those caricatures aside, I find the story to be entertaining, while at the same time showing a segment of religious stalwarts thrust against a technological future and having to find their niche in a hostile world. I also find Pennsylvania refreshing because it’s a science fiction story has room for God, and not in a derogatory fashion. While the book isn’t Christian fiction, it shows a people that rely on their faith and their God while having to deal with the actions of others.

When Bunker speaks of the “plain” people, you can tell that he has taken pains to pay due respect to a people that has resisted societal ebbs and flows. His writing is genuine concerning them, and it makes for a realistic story foundation. The story itself moves along well, with many plot twists and turns. For a while in the thick of it, I found myself second-guessing character actions and motives. I think that makes for some good reading.

There are a couple of d*mns and h*lls, and several instances of battle violence. I appreciate Pennsylvania not because of this, but at how sparingly Bunker used them. I didn’t have to worry about hard cursing, graphic violence, sex, zombies, or vampires. It makes for a novel that I would have no trouble recommending to my mother (if she ever asked me for a good Amish Sci-Fi book). So in all, if you are looking for a good science fiction read, then pick up the Pennsylvania Omnibus. You will not be disappointed.

From the Indie Side

From the Indie Side Book Cover From the Indie Side
Multiple
Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Feb 2014

A man who remembers the future and a veteran haunted by his past. A witch ignorant of her powers and a vampire achingly aware of his emptiness. An unmaimed man, a cursed queen, a troubled marriage, a family just trying to survive.

From an abandoned convent to a Martian classroom, an open-mic reading to a New Mexico mountaintop, these fantastical and imaginative tales will take you on a journey through impossible worlds, all-too-possible futures, and disquieting glimpses into the other side of reality.

Packed with original short stories ranging from sci-fi to thriller to the supernatural, "From the Indie Side" brings together some of the biggest authors in independent publishing today. Be prepared for a great ride--and don't be surprised if you discover your new favorite author in these pages.

Featuring Michael Bunker, Peter Cawdron, Kate Danley, Anne Frasier, Sara Foster, Jason Gurley, Mel Hearse, Kev Heritage, Hugh Howey, Ernie Lindsey, Susan May, and Brian Spangler; and edited by David Gatewood. Includes a foreword by Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of WOOL.

"When I read indie fiction, authenticity oozes from the page. Sample some unique and talented voices . . . sit back and enjoy the ride." - Hugh Howey

". . . it is a great book. It is one that you will want laying in the stack next to your bed or chair or sofa or desk--wherever you read--because you will want to read it over and over throughout the years." - Michael Bunker, bestselling author of WICK and Pennsylvania

My Review:

I enjoy a good story. To help alleviate my ongoing dilemma of finding good stories, Michael Bunker, one of the featured authors in this anthology, provided me an Advance Review Copy of From the Indie Side (FTIS).

FTIS is an eclectic anthology of short stories, written by some of the premiere names in the indie author movement. Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe not. Either way, the authors, for one reason or another, decided to self-publish their work, not going the “traditional” publishing route. This freedom of movement adds to the dynamic nature of the anthology.

Like any good collection of shorts, FTIS offers a wide range of styles and genres. From the looming planet on the cover (also designed by one of the authors-these guys and gals are talented), you get the impression that sci-fi is a common thread throughout the collection. While this is the case, sci-fi is where the similarity begins but also where it ends. Just as every author has their own voice, so every story carries its own unique vibe. If you’re looking for quirky, it’s there. You’ll also find young adult, post-apocalyptic, dystopia, and urban fantasy. Maybe even a vampire or two. Even though these terms can help define sub-genres, they only paint a one-dimensional portrait of the quality of writing. True to the indie initiative, the stories defy pigeon-holing into a simple genre or sub-genre. They are dynamic and entertaining, crossing conventional boundaries of typical, formulaic stories. That is the heart of indie. If this is what you’re looking for, then pick up a copy (download to Kindle) of FTIS.

What’s more, I enjoyed the author comments at the end of each story. Some talk of the inspiration for their story. Others provide a hint of an underlying idea woven in the fabric of the words (you know those authors, always planting subtle ideas in their stories). Each one speaks with pride for their work. You can feel the care and passion they put into their craft.

I have my own tastes. I liked some stories more than others and liked some writing styles more than others. But then, isn’t that the beauty of anthologies? You get to try and experience a wide range of authors. But as a whole, FTIS is a worthwhile, entertaining investment. So if you’ve heard of indie authors and have wondered what the buzz is about, then grab a copy of FTIS and see for yourself. You will not be disappointed, and you will mostly likely end up with a list of many more authors to follow.

No. 38

No. 38 Book Cover No. 38
Kevin G. Summers
Fiction
Happy Cat Studios
January 2014
E-book
14

When a young man finds a rare comic book in his late grandfather's attic, he dreams of the fortune that will soon be coming his way, but he soon discovers that life doesn't always work out the way we plan.

No. 38 is a coming-of-age short story by Kevin G. Summers, the author of The Bell Curse and The Paladin.

Review:
I downloaded this on a recommendation from Michael Bunker. I figured since I’ve enjoyed Michael’s writing, I might enjoy this.

This is the first work I’ve read of Kevin G. Summers. It won’t be my last.

It is a story of a man finding a rare comic book. Well, that’s the basic storyline, anyway. There are no explosions, no alien encounters. But there is more to the story than you first think. Like any good fiction, there is the story, then there’s the story within the story. That’s the one that makes you stop and think. No. 38 makes you do that.

While not giving away the story, I can say this is as good as any other literary fiction I’ve read. What’s more is the limited words Kevin uses to get the idea across. Kevin G. Summers gained a new reader in me, and I look forward to reading more of his work.

There are a couple of instances of cursing in the story. Otherwise, enjoy a quick, fun read.

Against the Rising Force

Against the Rising Force Book Cover Against the Rising Force
Prelude to Resistance (Pax Humana)
Endi Webb
Space Opera
Feb 2014
E-book
17

40 years ago, the Corsican Empire invaded Earth, just in time for Emperor Justinian's Golden Jubilee.

Now, in 2675, the Resistance rises again, but the enemy strikes first, taking fighter pilot Lieutenant Jacob Mercer by surprise. As he flies out to meet the enemy, he learns of the existence of a secret that could change the course of the war.

A secret that might mean a quick end to the fighting, or a quick death for them all.

Against the Rising Force is a short story of approx. 5200 words, or about 25 pages, and is the first in the short story trilogy Prelude to Resistance, which paves the way for The Pax Humana Saga, a ten part series of novels set for release in March 2014.

My Review:

For the sake of transparency, I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I have been on a binge of dystopia lately, but decided to take a brief interlude and read Endi Webb’s Against the Rising Force (AtRF), the first of a short story trilogy, set in the Pax Humana universe. We are thrown in the story following Jacob Mercer on a galactic spaceship. He oozes testosterone. “Fast motorcycles, faster women, and blazing fast fighters” is his self-proclaimed motto. We see him on the brink of a great battle, and follow him through tense combat as he flies against a mighty Imperial fleet. The story is quick, and the action is plentiful.

Endi defines AtRF as a space opera. I agree with that. I would even add sweeping to that definition. The battle is on a massive scale. Think Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer, X-Wing and Tie Fighter massive. You can tell from this first story that Mr. Webb has plenty of fodder for many more stories in this universe. His writing is crisp and clear, non-stop and action-filled. There is some crude language and a few curse words. The violence is typical for space battles, such as exploding ships. No gore.

If you are looking for a quick read with plenty of action, then consider picking up AtRF.