Hard Sci-Fi in Western Disguise


I must say that this story started out a bit slow and even got to the point I consider monotonous. However, the fact it was so well written, nicely edited and rich with beautifully rendered descriptions coupled with enough suspense to make me wonder what was going on, I kept reading and was not disappointed.

The author did an excellent job of creating a new world to which Earthlings are immigrating to escape their own as it loses viability. The colonists have agreed to live a simpler lifestyle, similar to that of the pioneers who settled the American West in the 19th century. Settling a new planet is not a simple, matter, however, with a variety of new hazards including byproducts of terraforming including a marginally sentient species known as owylls, which are predatory yet seem to act at the command of a tall, mysterious bearded man. Colonists are being afflicted by an epidemic of a malady known as “The Lullaby” which renders its victims comatose while muttering a mantra that spreads the disease to anyone who hears or perceives it, e.g. in writing.

The characters aren’t particularly endearing and I thought any emotional or romantic development between them fell flat. Nonetheless, they were interesting enough that I’d like to know more about them and why they’re the way they are. The main protagonists comprise two brothers, Walter and Samuel Starboard, who are transporting their Lullaby-afflicted mother, Alma, to Marathon, the site where their transport ship is located. Rumor has it that a cure is available there plus they also hope to find their missing father. Bear in mind that this journey is essentially a trail ride through dangerous unknown and uncharted territory which involves horses for transportation, tethered mules, and a wagon carrying Alma.

Along the way they encounter the Bridge sisters, Virginia and Miriam, who join them. There’s a considerable amount of tension between them, particularly from Miriam who is clearly a bitter, angry woman with a reputation for using men. She does prove useful helping Walt care for his comatose mother, however. Hopefully in the next volume the author will reveal more about her, whom I suspect is a very wounded soul with an interesting past beyond what was revealed in this volume. The part that really bogged down the first half of this book was their tedious journey which provided graphic descriptions of the planet and a strong sense of place yet in my opinion dragged on longer than necessary; some readers may not make it to the best part.

But once things started to move, then move they did. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory so won’t go into it other than to say all the questions that arose during the story to that point were answered and the plot, premise and details of the society of which the characters are a part was exceptionally well-developed, intriguing and enough to make me want to read the next volume of this trilogy. The irony of the title comes through amid numerous clever twists and turns, cool technology, most of which is environmentally friendly, and all sorts of other technological and societal goodies hard sci-fi fans like myself want and expect in a good read. As a former rocket scientist I’m always critical of the feasibility of the science in such novels and there was only one thing in there that seemed a bit of a stretch, so the author did well on that score as well.

World building is not an easy feat and getting all the details in place presents a challenge for any author. Derry has done an outstanding job doing so, established an interesting world with a variety of fascinating possibilities reminiscent of other sci-fi classics in print as well as film I wish I could mention but they would undoubtedly constitute spoilers.

If you like sci-fi adventure stories populated by ordinary people in an evolving off-world environment backed up by great imagery and detail, you will probably enjoy this story. It moves slowly at first (thus I only gave it 4 stars) but I admit that I stayed up way past my usual bedtime to finish it once it started to roll.

You can pick up your copy at Amazon here.

Interview with Up and Coming Author, Elle Klass


Elle Klass quickly made it onto my list of favorite authors with her masterful ability to spin a suspense-laden tale with endearing real-life protagonists. “As Snow Falls,” a touching fictitious memoir is one of my all time favorite; her “Baby Girl” series is an enjoyable, suspenseful tale of a girl who was abandoned as a young adolescent and left to fend for herself; and her new series, “Eye of the Storm”, is a dark, sinister, paranormal thriller with tremendous potential you’ll definitely be hearing more about soon.

I’d read the “Baby Girl” stories as they were released and was delighted to read them again in their re-release format as a box set. Elle has added a few bonuses to this version including additional scenes which round out the story even more and awesome new covers. What I enjoyed the most about having the four episodes together was being able to read them all as a single, contiguous tale. When I read them separately with various other books to say nothing of my own writing in between I tended to forget who some of the supporting characters were and other important details. Thus, being able to enjoy the stories as an integrated saga enhanced my enjoyment considerably.

Elle’s characters are not only memorable but seem so real you expect to run into them at the grocery store. They quickly attach themselves to your heart as you vicariously share their adventures, heartbreaks, dilemmas and triumphs. If you’re looking for a gripping read that sucks you into the story to the exclusion of everything else, then look no further than one of Elle’s stories.

Now let’s get to know the woman behind them a little better…

MF: How long have you been writing? Was there anything in particular that got you started?

EK: I’ve been writing since I was a teen. It was something that relaxed me and I enjoyed it. I still enjoy it today. I started with corny poetry and moved into novels.

MF: Do your characters come to you fully developed or do you gradually get to know them?

EK: Gradually we get to know each other. I have a basic idea but once I start writing they take on a persona of their own. I go with it. If I try and fight it the book stalls and dies. The characters run the story and I’ve learned to let them. Cleo is a great example because she has not only developed but grown and matured through the course of the books. When I began writing the shorts I had no idea what twists and turns she’d take, often lollygagging as a teen/new adult.

MF: Cleo is a fascinating multi-dimensional protagonist who develops quite naturally through her adventures. Did she ever surprise you and if so how?

EK: Many times! She’s independent and won’t listen to me or succumb to her love interests. Meeting Fetch and her reaction was a huge surprise. She’s at Happy Trails enjoying a beer and starts dancing. Until that point I didn’t know she could then she gets hit on by a man beyond gorgeous and walks away. There are many times I feel the need to parent her but she won’t listen.

MF: LOL! You’ve gotta love strong-willed characters! So how are you like Cleo? How are you different?

EK: Like Cleo I’m stubborn and independent. My life hasn’t always been easy and I’ve learned to take the hard road. Even now I chose to be an indie author – one of the most difficult professions to make a living at, however, that doesn’t stop me. It’s my passion and the incentive that keeps me striving for more. Cleo uses her stubborn independence to track down the dirty details of her familial beginnings. Our similarities end there.

Cleo loves to cook – I hate it. She loses focus with her task – My sights are set dead on. She can’t let go of Einstein and her past – I let mine drop like a lead weight and have felt amazing since.

MF: Besides Cleo who’s your favorite character in this series?

EK: La Tige. Love him! As an ex-cop he’s got a tough man exterior, and has his own secrets which Cleo gets a glimpse of in “City by the Bay.” She’s too focused on finding answers to her mystery such that the information she finds slips past her. He tests Cleo’s limits almost to the point of his own pleasure yet he adores her.

MF: I, also, loved La Tige! Fabulous character. Did you know how Cleo’s saga would end from the start or did it evolve?

EK: I wrote a rough draft several years ago and the two parts I knew when I finished writing were the beginning and the end. The in between was raw but once I decided to work on the story it filled itself in. The Box Set includes an epilogue and prologue not found in the shorts. It is still very much like the original rough draft with editing. It is my original vision which started the series.

MF: Do you come up with a premise, i.e. “What if…” first or a character with a story to tell?

EK: “What if” comes first, the characters come in when I least expect it. Didier was a surprise, Kacy, Fetch, Halette, Slug’s brother. They weren’t even a thought when I first drafted.

MF: I love it when that happens. Walk-on characters add so much depth and reality to a story. What’s your favorite part of writing? Your least favorite?

EK: My favorite part is getting on my computer in my comfy stretch shorts or pants and drifting into my own world full of vibrant characters. Their actions and twists their choices make in the story keeps me pegged.

My least favorite part used to be editing but I’ve learned to enjoy it and use it as a means to write and learn more. I think my least favorite at this moment in time is the process of formatting and uploading. It’s not difficult to do and I feel a sense of accomplishment but it’s mundane.

MF: I agree that formatting can be a challenge. How do you think your writing has evolved?

EK: I’ve learned to write more action as opposed to prose. I catch a lot of my grammar crutches right away. I’m learning to use the known as a suspense builder and less description = more reader imagination. The story is meant to guide not tell.

MF: Your new “Eye of the Storm” series is off to a great start. Is there anything you’d like to tell us about it?

EK: “Eye of the Storm” is a paranormal suspense thriller that I’ve been told borders on horror. It’s the story that makes people double check their doors are locked at night before snuggling into bed. It’s unlike my other books and more my nature.




Print Copy:  http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Girl-Box-Books-I-IV/dp/1512343293/

Amazon Kindle pre-order- http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Girl-Box-Books-I-IV-ebook/dp/B00YDJX24K/

Smashwords pre-order: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/545931

Ebook Pre-order price is $2.99 until July 14th when it will jump to $4.99 so get it NOW!