Book Review “Galactic Satori Chronicles, Book 1: EARTH” by Nick Braker and Paul E Hicks

This post is going to be a little bit different from my usual literary critiques because the novel “Galactic Satori Chronicles, Book 1: EARTH” (which I will refer to as GSC1E from now on) is a self published work that as far as I know is only available at Amazon or from the authors themselves. As it happens I met Nick Braker in Sweetwater Tennessee when I was there for the eclipse back in August (see post of 24Aug17), bought the novel and finally got around to reading it. The novel’s cover is shown below.

Cover, Galactic Satori Chronicles, Book 1: EARTH (Credit: Nick Braker, Paul E Hicks)

Let me start by saying that GSC1E is pretty much written to appeal to the fans of “The X Files” or UFO conspiracies in general. There are three distinct alien species, one good and two bad, men in black along with secret sites around the world where alien technology is being studied. All three alien species abduct humans, the good aliens do so to ‘augment’ four woman and four men, the bad aliens either swap minds with humans in a plot to destroy mankind while the other bad aliens are harvesting our organs!

The heroes of GSC1E are the eight augmented men and women and one man in particular, Asher. Together the eight have to learn to use their enhanced powers to stop bad aliens number one before they can kill us all. We’re not talking about thought provoking Science Fiction here; the plot of GSC1E is actually more like a Wild West shoot’em up. There are in fact plenty of flight scenes, with both fists and guns, along with almost as many chases.

The problem is GSC1E isn’t really very well written. In many places the plot and descriptions border on the juvenal. For example all the women in the novel are absolutely ravishing, every single one of them. Even the head of the World Security Organization the WSO is breathtakingly beautiful. The WSO is the official name of the men in black by the way. On the other hand the men are all filled to the brim with testosterone, so much so that after a while I wanted to yell at them to grow up. Really, people insulting and threatening each other all the time is not a sign of affection, it’s just bad dialog.

At the start of the story bad aliens number one have murdered Asher’s fiancée Beth and he swears revenge. For the rest of the novel we’re reminded every four or five pages of how much Beth meant to him, how no other women will ever take her place and how he will avenge her. Despite these reminders Asher still manages to hit on every, and I do mean every women in the book. It just doesn’t work, not very well anyway.

Then there was one episode, about three quarters of the way through the book where they just lost me completely. The four augmented men are now full fledged members of the WSO and they’re on a mission to France to investigate a series of murders by aliens in that country. A computer analysis of the murders points to a suburb of Paris and so they decide to drive around until they find someone who’s been abducted by aliens. Seriously, they decide to drive around in order to find an alien abductee, and the worst part is two paragraphs later they just find one! Now I know every novel has it’s ‘Oh, Come On’ moments. The moments when something happens that’s a little hard to believe and you say to yourself ‘Oh, Come On’ but for me that moment was just too much to take.

I tried to be generous, after all not everybody has my taste and if I think anyone might like a book I’ll try to point out it’s good parts for them. However ‘Galactic Satori Chronicles, Book 1: EARTH’ had a high school plot along with writing that could really have used some serious editing, maybe that’s the penalty for self-publishing. Still, if you think you might be interested in reading ‘Galactic Satori Chronicles, Book 1: EARTH’ click on the link below to be taken to the author’s webpage.

https://www.nickbraker.net/

Book Review: Death Wave by Ben Bova

Anyone familiar with Science Fiction knows that Ben Bova is SF royalty. Author of over hundred fiction and non-fiction books Ben Bova has received six Hugo awards, been the editor of both Analog and Omni science fiction magazines as well as a being a former President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. I need to take a breath after all that.

Death Wave is Bova’s latest title; actually he’s so prolific I may already be wrong about that. Death wave is a sequel to his earlier novel New Earth so I’ll have to catch you up on what happened in that story.

Death Wave by Ben Bova (Credit Tor Books)

Jorden Kell is the leader of humanity’s first expedition into interstellar space. The expedition finds the dead remains of alien civilizations, their planets sterilized by a wave of gamma radiation that has erupted out of the black hole at the center of our Galaxy.

Only a race of machine intelligences has managed to survive and they warn Jorden Kell and his crew that the Death Wave will reach Earth in 2000 years. The machine intelligences also give Kell the necessary knowledge to produce a force field type technology that can protect us from the Death Wave. In exchange for this assistance humanity is to send space missions to six nearby intelligent but pre-industrial alien species in order to protect them.

All that is back story to “Death Wave” which begins when Jorden Kell and several other members of his expedition have returned to Earth and try to convince the governments of the World of the danger to Earth and the nearby civilizations. But 200 years have passed since the astronauts departed on their mission and the World is not the one they left.

In particular Anita Halleck, the Chairwoman of the World Council is too busy trying to bring all of the Solar System’s bureaucracies under her control to concern herself with a threat to humanity 2000 years in the future, or any threat to alien civilizations at all. What does concern Halleck is her suspicions that Jorden Kell is trying to use his notoriety to supplant her, something she will prevent at any cost.

Add in terrorists who believe Jorden Kell is actually paving the way for an alien invasion, security personnel who do the Chairwoman’s very dirty work and a trip to an orbiting habitat for 200,000 humans and you get a pretty wild escape story. The problem is that most of the science fiction is actually left over from the first novel leaving “Death Wave” with little more than political machinations and a good chase sequence.

I don’t want to give away too much but I think that even Ben Bova felt that way because the ending comes as a bit of a letdown. The bad guys get the drop on the good guys then good guys turn the tables and it’s over!

I’m not saying “Death Wave” wasn’t good. In fact it was quite exciting. It just wasn’t as interesting as “New Earth”. There is a third novel coming in the series, “Apes and Angels” which may already be available. This third novel is going to follow one of the expeditions to rescue the alien civilizations and I think there will be more SF in it. I’ll be certain to let you know after I read it!

 

Book Review: Luna, New Moon by Ian McDonald

First Published back in 2015 the Novel ‘Luna: New Moon’ is an exciting, fast paced tale of five powerful families fighting for control of the industries that keep humanity’s lunar colony alive. The author Ian McDonald has himself described Luna as ‘Game of Domes’ and ‘Dallas in Space’, I think I’ll call it a space opera.

Novel, Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

The plot revolves around the Corta family who control the He3 production on the Moon that powers the fusion reactors back on Earth. Rich and powerful, the Cortas are involved in a large number of rivalries and struggles both between themselves and with the other four families that basically run the Moon.

Although there is technology aplenty this story could just as easily have been set in the Italy of the Borgia’s or among the Frankish Merovingians. In other words it’s a story of human passions and mostly bad ones at that. The technology is basically used as scenery or to facilitate the human interactions rather than driving the story.

I do have one little criticism to mention. In the novel there are a number of individuals who were born on Earth along with many who were born on the Moon itself. Now the Moon born are stuck on the Moon, their bones and muscles are too weak to be capable of surviving Earth’s gravity. Now, that may very well turn out to be true but in ‘Luna: New Moon’ the people from Earth also can never return to Earth after they’ve been on the Moon more than two years.

That is almost certainly not true! In my post back on 15Feb17 I mentioned the medical studies being carried out right now on the Astronaut Scott Kelly who had spent an entire year in zero gravity! While astronaut Kelly did require several days to adjust back to Earth gravity and scientists studying him have found some minor changes in his physiology he is well, healthy and back to living a full life. If returning to Earth after one year in zero ‘g’ is not a problem at all can two years on in Lunar gravity be so debilitating.

Based on Astronaut Kelly’s example, and others, I have no doubt that a person can return to survive returning to Earth after more than two years on the Moon or Mars.

Aside from that minor point I did quite enjoy Luna: New Moon and do recommend it but with a warning. There’s quite a lot of pretty graphic sex in the novel so if you’re the type who doesn’t want to read about ‘dried semen stains’, well you decide for yourself.

One more thing; Luna: New Moon is actually the first part of a two novel story. The second novel, Luna: Wolf Moon is supposed to be published this month. So if you do read Luna: New Moon don’t expect any conclusion, in fact the ending is very much a cliffhanger, and don’t buy Luna: Wolf Moon until you’ve read Luna: New Moon.

Now the big question. If Luna: New Moon reminded me of ‘I Claudius’ as much as anything else, if the science is just scenery then is Luna really a science fiction novel? I’m not the first person to ask this question but I’ve thought a lot about it and I’m planning on a future post, or more likely a series of posts discussing just what is science fiction, what are the GREAT THEMES OF SCIENCE FICTION and where is the crossover between science fiction and other literary genres, Fantasy in particular. It won’t be too long, I’m working on it so keep watching for it.

 

Book Review: Dark Secret by Edward M. Lerner

In a nutshell the novel “Dark Secret” a novel by Edward M. Lerner, is the story of a spaceship crew who escape the total destruction of the entire solar system and have to re-establish the human race on a new planet. Familiar territory but “Dark Secret” does manage to bring some new twists to the theme.

Dark Secret by Edward M. Lerner

 

We begin aboard the spaceship Clermont, named for the first steamship because this Clermont is testing a new form of propulsion, the Dark Energy Drive. Since DED derives it’s thrust from dark energy it requires no actual fuel, and that’s all we ever learn about Dark Energy Drive. That’s the first problem I had with this novel, I just never got a feel for the spaceship.

Anyway, while stopping at Mars for resupply, the crew of the Clermont is seized by Martian police and taken to meet the Martian President and his Chief of Staff. The President then informs the crew, and the reader of course, that a astronomer measuring gravity waves has calculated that a nearby Gamma Ray Burst will destroy all life in the entire solar system in three years. The President’s plan is to build a fleet of ships equipped with DED which will colonize a new planet around Alpha Centauri. The Clermont will leave first to scout the new planet.

While the Clermont is being modified for its interstellar mission the Martian Chief of Staff shows up and informs the crew that the astronomer has updated his calculations and the GRB is going to happen in eight months. He throws some equipment, and three new crew members onto the Clermont and orders her to take off, the modifications can be completed while the ship is fleeing the solar system. I don’t know about you but I don’t get a good feeling for this mission.

I don’t want to give too much more away, and there are plenty more twists and turns and conflicts, but while every science fiction story asks its reader to accept a few things out of the ordinary “Dark Secret” is really a strain on credibility. There’s one part where the entire crew goes into hibernation leaving the autopilot to navigate around a cosmic string! Ah, yea, right!

Things get a little better in the second half of the novel when the ship, now renamed the Endeavor, finally reaches a new planet over a thousand light years away, (remember that cosmic string). Here one of the crew who was added at the last moment decides she knows exactly how the new human race should be organized; Hint, she’s no fan of Thomas Jefferson and all man being equal. Even on the new world however, the only real problem the crew encounter in colonizing a new home for what’s left of humanity is the would-be dictator. Again, that’s a little bit hard to take.

I’m not saying “Dark Secret” is a bad novel. I read it through in less than two days so it certainly kept my attention. There is something new on just about every page. It’s just that “Dark Secret” seems to brush past some real problems and descriptions in order to get on with the CONFLICT in the story. In doing so however it also brushes past a lot of the details that would give a real feeling to the story.

Well, that’s my opinion. What’s yours?