World UFO Day Flash Sale

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I can’t think of any better way to celebrate World UFO Day on July 9 than a flash sale of my latest release, The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51. Not only is it on sale for 99c, but A Dark of Endless Days, volume II of The Star Trails Tetralogy, is as well.

Why? Because that’s where The Terra Debacle began. Thus, if you haven’t read it yet, especially if you’re the type who’d like to get it all in context, you can grab that one, too, for a bargain price. (Note that since The Terra Debacle is a standalone book it’s not necessary, but it does fill in numerous blanks.)

So far, The Terra Debacle has been collecting great reviews. Here are some excerpts:

“Scintillating science and side-splitting humor.”

“Unique and titillating sci-fi entertainment.”

“Brilliantly conceived and finely crafted.”

“The research is profound and convincing.”

“Off-the-wall in a way similar to how Tom Robbins grabs the reader & shakes him.”

“A brilliant story, extremely well written and with great character development.”

“Easily comparable to a dark version of ET – The Extraterrestrial”

“Highly entertaining, suspenseful and thought-provoking”

“What an ending! What a story! I will always think differently about plant chloroplasts and bulbs in the future.”

And don’t miss the latest video, which gives you a glimpse of its darker side.

Happy reading! And remember: The truth is out there.

Book Descriptions on the Star Trails Website:

The Terra Debacle

A Dark of Endless Days

Buy Links:

The Terra Debacle

A Dark of Endless Days

The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51
Stock Photo Copyright:oorka / 123RF Stock Photo

N.J. Tanger’s “Ascension”: Masterfully Written Science Fiction

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This intriguing and suspense-filled tale intricately describes what it might take to reach an interstellar destination, both in the way of motivation as well as technology, to say nothing of the type of individuals who would assume such a feat.

Nathan Beauchamp, a member of the writing team known as N.J. Tanger, is the sole author of this episode in the Universe Eventual series which expands upon the workings of the interstellar vehicle, Chimera. The ship is designed to support a population comparable to a small city for years to come through hydroponics and other self-sufficiency techniques. It provides holographic scenery reminiscent of Earth; possesses a sophisticated power system; and includes a political structure drenched in intrigue.

The conspiratorial reason for leaving Earth is fascinating and smolders with much of what is seen in today’s corporatism-saturated world. Colonization is motivated by their destination’s rich deposits of ecomire, which I assume to be the next generation of uranium, i.e., it represents a powerful energy source rarely found elsewhere and motivates a power hungry (both literally and figuratively) corporation to finance the venture. Furthermore, they intend to maintain their tentacles in those making the journey through whatever means necessary. Some colonization efforts are about survival, others about profits, this one possessing elements of both.

New but intuitively familiar terminology provided a unique and convincing environment. For example, referring to the enforcement arm as “regulators” was cold and effective. The personal agenda of various characters provided plot complexity, but without over-populating the story. Yet, the massive dimensions of the ship, the number of those onboard, and their evolving culture and social strata were conveyed effectively. The main character, Ashley Samuelson, was credible and relatable, personalized further by the first person narrative point of view and the intimate details of his personal life and relationships, including a romantic one.

One of the most clever sci-fi elements serves as the mainstay of the plot and that is the means by which the Chimera is guided by its navigator with the support of a few assistants, one of which is Ashley. To travel through the esoteric, paranormal dimension described as “fractal space”, “stitches” are laid to form a connection between Earth and their ultimate destination through “The Everything”. Once this pathway is laid, other ships will traverse it more quickly, so the implication is that they are creating a wormhole. This is accomplished through the combined efforts of the navigator, who’s enclosed in a mysterious spherical work station, where he or she is psychically entangled with the ship’s artificial intelligence. This combination of thought energy provides the creative power to chart its course, stitch by stitch, an interesting play on the apparent consciousness/matter interface implied by quantum theory. Navigator assistants deal with resolving any paradoxes encountered along the way.

Not just anyone can perform this critical navigating function, so when their existing navigator dies unexpectedly of mysterious causes, it presents a significant threat, not only to their mission, but their very survival. The quest to find a new navigator combined with investigation into the death of the original one provides various provocative insights into the risks of AI as well as allowing it to interact with a human.

This complex tale is presented via a masterful style that demonstrates some of the most delicious prose I’ve seen. As a writer myself, I savored numerous vivid descriptions, such as a look of “distilled hatred”; “her angry, beautiful, treacherous eyes”; “stumbling my way into the truth”; “fear masqueraded as anger”; as well as several others.  I suppose the fact such jewels jumped out at me as exceptional descriptions could be considered throwing me out of the story, but for me it was in a good way. Some of the imagery was nearly blinding, which is not easily achieved without slowing down the story. However, the literary precision was such that the descriptions integrated with the action and increased the suspense, which made various scenes play out like a movie in my mind. The author’s skill itself made this tale a joy to read.

This story is part of the Universal Eventual series, yet stands alone. However, if you’ve read any of the other stories, it helps fill in a few of the gaps. It has been a while since I read Chimera and this makes me want to read it again. If you enjoy meaty hard science fiction with plenty of advanced technology and intrigue while maintaining a strong human element with philosophical implications as deep as you care to go, all of which is packaged with strong, skillful writing, I highly recommend this story.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

“The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51” Release!

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I’m happy to report that my latest novel has finally been released! If you’re a fan of UFOs, Area 51, or have read Beyond the Hidden Sky and/or A Dark of Endless Days, volumes I and II, respectively, of the Star Trails Tetralogy, you’ll enjoy this one.

Writing this story, which is a spin-off from the Star Trails Tetralogy, was quite a trip. Every time I thought it was done, I’d realize there was something missing. Usually that entailed more research, which took more time than the actual writing.

Nonetheless, it was an adventure and fun, especially getting to know a new character, Gabe Greenley, after spending so much time with the Brightstar clan.

For those of you who don’t know the premise of the story, here’s the Book Blurb:

In May 1978 a UFO lands at Hill AFB in Ogden, Utah. NASA astrobiologist, Gabe Greenley, is called in to investigate a strange plant found onboard. Psi-sensitive, he quickly learns the specimen is highly intelligent and potentially dangerous. Taunted by a ground-breaking discovery he can never share, his security oaths eventually result in an ethical dilemma with treasonous and deadly implications.

More information, including the promotional video, are on the Star Trails Tetralogy website.

I’m grateful to the author/bloggers who have given me of their time and talents in both reading, offering feedback, and ultimately reviewing the story, particularly Stephen Geez of Fresh Ink Group, who did a tremendous job editing, both the book and the video. You can read the blogs as well as some excerpts and find buy links to several online retailers  below. A button to add the story to your Goodreads TBR list is there as well. Remember reviews are always welcome and the best way to thank an author if you enjoy their work.

Reviews and Blogs

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From Scott Skipper’s Blog

John Reinhard Dizon’s Blog

Elle Klass’s “Troubled Oyster” Blog

Scott Skipper’s Blog

Ceri London’s Blog

Excerpts on Bublish

“An Alien Lifeform”

“Mutual Scrutiny”

“Experiment Ethics Present a Dilemma”

Buy Links

The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51

5-Stars for “Rarity from the Hollow”by Robert Eggleton

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At first I didn’t know how or where to begin to categorize this story. Two sitcoms, “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Third Rock from the Sun”, come to mind.  It’s clearly in the Sci-Fa genre, a mixture of science fiction and fantasy, always effective for establishing an environment ripe for just about anything to happen. I must say that once I got past the first third of the book, which could be a bit troubling due to the horrific living conditions and home environment of the young heroine, Lacy Dawn, that I laughed–a lot.

The author’s style is unconventional, which I consistently admire, at least when it works, which it did. Written in an omniscient viewpoint, it took a little while to get used to the inner dialog of all the characters. Each individual’s spoken statements were typically followed by an italicized blurb of what they were really thinking. While at first it was confusing, it was nonetheless effective in getting to know the characters.

The story itself is definitely unique as well. It centers around a young girl named Lacy Dawn who lives in poverty in a dysfunctional and abusive rural environment. This is not ever expressed in a horribly graphic manner and does a great job of setting the tone and setting, though there were times I was worried about whether it would get worse. Much to my relief, it didn’t. Her father, Dwayne, is a Gulf War vet with a severe case of PTSD. Her mother, Jenny, continually reminds her daughter (as well as herself) that Dwayne “used to be a good man.” Their neighbor, Tom, is a good friend of the family with a “secret garden” that he pays Lacy Dawn to tend.  The produce involved is not so much mystical as illegal, given that its marijuana.  Needless to say, numerous joints are rolled in the course of the story.

Lacy Dawn believes that it’s a child’s responsibility to fix one’s parents. This is certainly different than the usual practice to blame one’s parents. She’s not only highly intelligent, but has been chosen to save the Universe, a task for which she is being groomed by DotCom, an android who has arrived from elsewhere in the cosmos and lives in his spaceship on a nearby hill. At first it was difficult for me to figure out whether DotCom as well as Lacy Dawn’s conversations with the trees and her deceased friend, Faith, plus her ability to float “Roundabout” to visit her spacey friend, were simply part of a child’s vivid imagination. Either way, it was believable and contributed to the mood of the story.

I don’t want to get into spoiler territory so won’t say anything further about the basic story, other than to say that the remainder is entertaining. It’s loaded with plenty of raw humor along with interstellar jaunts to strange new worlds populated with numerous aliens. The characters were definitely well fleshed-out by their hilarious inner dialogs, reaction to various situations, and crude honesty.

Underlying all this, however, at a deeper level, is a rather sad, even tragic, commentary on our society. The fact that such situations exist is no secret. Otherwise, the story would not have been so believable. Neither is there any magical or interstellar entity out there to rescue those caught in the trap of poverty, need and abuse. So often the thought patterns of those living in such conditions revolve around sexual satisfaction, a good cannabis harvest, and whether the food stamps will last until the end of the month.

My only criticism of the story itself, at least at the superficial level, is that toward the middle it felt a bit disjointed. The plot broke down somewhat with too many “shopping trips” to “The Mall” where momentum was lost. The ending, while satisfying, was slightly less than I’d hoped for.

Thus, you may wonder why I awarded this story five stars. That’s because it made me think. Very few stories I’ve read recently manage to do that. There’s sufficient symbolism to place this story soundly in the literature category. What better disguise for difficult topics than humor?

There’s Lacy Dawn, the child who’s been exposed to and seen things no ten year old should, who has genius potential and wise beyond her years. Fixing her parents versus blaming them, what a concept. Then there’s DotCom, the android from another world, who’s there to help Lacy Dawn achieve her destiny, yet he begins to evolve and become a bit too human under the influence of people who would best be described, albeit rudely, as white trash.

The materialism of The Mall, principles of capitalism, what constitutes a celebrity or inspires human motivation to excel or achieve can all be found lurking beneath a raw and sometimes vulgar look at the human condition. Even the ending holds a powerful message when looked upon more deeply. Who’s really in charge and is it a higher or lower lifeform? The answer to that is definitely politically incorrect, a term invented to cover up that which will ultimately destroy civilization if we continue to yield to its misguided allure.

If you want a cleverly orchestrated story saturated with sci-fi and fantasy and packaged with plenty of crude, bathroom humor, you’ll enjoy this book tremendously. If you can’t deal with coarse language, don’t even bother. If you enjoy reading stories at a deeper level and analyzing what they’re really trying to say, you’ll likewise enjoy it, probably even more. Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ecopy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

***** Review of “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers

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Join the multi-species crew of the tunneling ship, Wayfarer, for a wild ride through intergalactic space.

This story started out a bit slowly, but when all was said and done, I absolutely loved this delightful spaceopera.  If a book can make me both laugh and cry, plus keep me entertained inbetween, it will invariably earn five stars.  I would actually give this one more, if it were possible. It has definitely earned placement on my list of favorites.

The story is character driven and thus maintains a steady pace as you come to know each of the characters that comprise the crew of the Wayfarer. If  you’re looking for a fast pace, nail biting suspense, and unending action, then you’ll probably be disappointed. This is not to say there aren’t a few exciting scenes, because there are, but much of the suspense is more subtle. If you want to be sucked into a story so you feel as if you’re living it, then you’ll not be disappointed.

Each crew member is not only a distinct individual, but many represent an entirely different species whose appearance, behavior, quirks and cultures were exceptionally well-developed. Indeed, I felt as if I were a member of this diverse crew, observing the relationships and sometimes culture clashes between them, as I have done in the workplace. (I swear some of the people I worked with at NASA were a different species.) Those you spend the day with at work often become family and, of course, onboard a space vessel where you’re together 24/7, this will be even more pronounced.

The author captured this feeling of comraderie between coworkers, some friends, some not, in a detailed, often heart-warming manner. You felt as if you knew each one, their individual personality and secrets gradually coming out as the story progressed. Their cultures and backgrounds were developed in a fascinating and imaginative way, including unique family structures right down to physical issues such as the discomfort of molting.

A major component of any workplace is its environment and the technical aspects of maintaining an aging spaceship as well as its function, to drill wormholes to connect different parts of the Universe, were addressed in a convincing as well as feasible manner. I’m quite particular about the technical side of science fiction and feel strongly that speculation into advanced technologies needs to be believable. It should not violate the known laws of physics, even if the author speculates on those we haven’t yet discovered. This was done in an outstanding manner that never jerked me out of the story as some have when they describe situations that were totally impossible, such as F-15s operating in the space environment. Such a faux pas in a story makes me growl.

I find such mistakes nothing short of sloppy writing at its worst. It’s not that hard to do a little research on Wikipedia and, when you get beyond your level of expertise or comprehension, that’s where experts and beta readers come in. Accuracy enhances a story and adds to its credibility, which even stories in the fantasy genre need to maintain, and often provides additional ideas for plot twists. As far as new technologies are concerned, it’s better to not explain how it works at all, rather than get it entirely wrong or inconceivable. This story handled that aspect beautifully as well.

By the time I finished this book I felt as if I’d done a tour onboard the Wayfarer. I was emotionally invested in its crew and comfortable with its setting. In some respects, the sense of place reminded me of the Alien movies, though without the gore, which was replaced with such things as bureaucratic response coming at glacial speeds, which can be even more frightening.

If you’d like to immerse yourself in the future and get some idea what it might be to work on a spaceship, day in, day out, and mingle with those of not only other races but other species, then I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I look forward to its sequel with great anticipation.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Describing a Sci-Fi story as “Unbelievable” is NOT a Good Thing

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** Review of “Return of the Sagan” by Neil Patrick O’Donnell

I don’t enjoy giving a book a bad review. As an author myself, I know it hurts, unless someone has such an iron-clad ego that they don’t believe it and thus fail to heed what it’s saying. Thus, when I do so, I try to stick to the facts of what a book’s deficiencies are so the author knows what to fix. Of course any review will always have a high level of subjectivity, but I try to judge a book as fairly as possible, based on its merits.

This story got off to a good start and has tremendous potential to become an epic saga of a starship gone for 300 years and now returning to Earth, only to find the human population extinct. That’s a big story. The main character, anthropologist, Francis Burns (no relation to Frank Burns of M*A*S*H fame), is believable and endearing with his OCD and quirky obsession with Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was a nice affirmation for gender equality that men and women shared high military rank in the story. The names of the vessels were well-chosen and credible. Authors are always advised to “write what you know” and O’Donnell did a great job with OCD and the geography of the Niagara region as well as military jargon and protocol. Generally, I believe that the world of “fandom” would particularly enjoy this story and would make a good target audience.

However, there are numerous things that need to be fixed before this story can be taken seriously by true science fiction fans. It’s important to note that “fandom” comprises individuals who are very well-versed on details and to earn their loyalty and respect you’d better get the particulars right. Unfortunately, I would give an “F-“ to some elements in this story, which I’ll explain farther down.

I must say that I truly hope the author can take my comments as constructive criticism as opposed to bashing, which is not my intent. I believe this story deserves serious editing at the line, copy and content levels so it can become the great saga for which it holds promise. If I were its editor, here are some of the things I would suggest to bring it to its potential glory.

1. It’s best to open a story with the main character, not someone who will largely disappear or be absorbed. Furthermore, there were too many characters, especially in the beginning. They weren’t all faceless, but most didn’t have a distinct personality. Due to the scope of the story, several characters are justified, but they need to be humanized and developed to hold the reader’s interest.

2. The author’s writing style is reasonably good, almost to the point of what I would call “strong.” However, there are few relatively easy to fix stylistic issues that would result in considerable improvement. Probably the most noticeable would be to eliminate the repeated use of the POV character’s name. Interestingly enough, this didn’t occur until later in the story. It’s distracting for a name to be repeated a half-dozen times or more in a single paragraph, especially in places where the person in question is the only one involved. That’s why we have pronouns. If there are two people of the same gender involved in a scene, a reminder of who’s talking or doing what from time to time is useful, but effective pronoun use is essential to readability. You don’t want the reader thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I know it’s him already!” or, conversely, having to stop and reread a section to figure out who’s speaking or prevailing in a fight scene.

3. Typos are almost inevitable in any novel, my personal favorite in this tome being “zero-gravy” which would probably slip past a spell-checker, but some were grating such as the consistent use of the wrong homonym. One or two I can handle, but this was excessive. I’ve never seen so many. I suspect a good grammar checker would catch these since in most cases they represent an entirely different part of speech. For example:

solar flares, not flairs

waver in the limited light, not waiver

reigned in magnificence, not reined

soul was allowed to leave his care, not sole

waved Francis to take his seat, not waived

pour out of the satchel, not poor

higher branches, not hire branches

fell from the satchel right past Francis, not passed

4. The military jargon and procedures were convincing and came across with an air of authenticity. Good job there. However, the technical aspects were so far beyond feasible that it detracted from the rest of the story. One minor example is the use of paper onboard a starcruiser, which is beyond doubtful.

5. And speaking of a starcruiser, no matter how much of a conspiracy buff you might be with regard to UFOs, it would be more credible for the ET’s from Zeta-Reticuli to provide Earth with a ship with interstellar capability with the volume of three aircraft carriers than for us to suddenly acquire one, much less populate it with F-15E Strike Eagles. I would think that most people, particularly sci-fi fans, would know that these aircraft could not possibly fly in space. Just out of curiosity and as a detail-oriented person myself, I asked a friend who’s a former pilot about that. Here is what he said:

“The F-15 could not be controlled outside the atmosphere as the airplane’s control surfaces depend on air flow to cause changes in roll, pitch, and yaw.  Thrusters are required to maneuver in space.  If it had thrusters, I suspect that the structure would overheat and breakup during reentry.  Initial reentry mach is far higher and would generate far more heat than the F-15 materials could withstand.  The engines are air breathers and can’t burn the kerosene without oxygen.  Then there’s the little issue of gravity.  The fuel tanks, lubricating oil tanks, and hydraulic reservoirs depend on gravity to operate.  The pickup points are in the bottom of the tanks.  The fuel tanks have baffles to keep a small amount of fuel available for negative-G use.  The engines are okay with the oil on them for a short time and there is pressurized hydraulic fluid in the system. 

“The fighters and trainers that I flew were limited to 30 seconds negative-G or inverted flight.  Zero-G is not negative-G, I’m not sure if there would be any difference.  The F-15 cabin is pressurized to 5 psi above ambient at altitude.  (It is unpressurized to 8,000 feet, maintains 8,000 feet until it requires 5 psi, then maintains 5 psid.)  There should not be any issues with DCS if the pressurization were functioning but it won’t be because it uses bleed air off the jets and the jets won’t work in a vacuum.  Therefore, the crew is exposed to vacuum with probable deleterious results. Another issue: the generators are driven by the engines and if the engines aren’t turning you are down to battery power which will only power essential systems for a short duration.  The longer I think about this the more reasons I come with as to why the F-15 isn’t a spacecraft.”

 

Yes, there are readers who are acutely aware of such facts and inaccuracies of this magnitude detract from the story as a whole. It would be more credible to make up an entirely new craft (think X-wing or Tie fighters) than use one inappropriately. Even a mention of the aircraft being retrofitted would have helped, even though that would be extremely unlikely due to what it would entail.

6. Some plot angles, such as the potential for a conspiracy on the part of political figures, were dropped. If this will be developed in a sequel then that should be implied more clearly.

If I were to deduct one star for each of the above points, the book book have a negative rating. Of course all the work the author put into it is worth something and it did have some redeeming value, even though reading much of this book was downright painful. Nonetheless, I persisted to see how it would end, which was handled reasonably well and provided fertile ground for a sequel.

As noted earlier, the premise is interesting and has tremendous potential, but the execution left far too many shortcomings if you’re picky about the science being accurate and expect proper grammar and style that doesn’t keep tossing you out of the story, shaking your head. These issues require attention to pass muster with the ranks of true science fiction fans. Besides some good editing, a cadre of good beta readers are a valuable asset that I highly recommend.

If you’re so inclined, you can pick up a copy on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Return-Sagan-Neil-Patrick-ODonnell-ebook/dp/B00SP4BOZS/

Why I’ve Been Off the Blogmobile

terradebaclefronttI’ve been off the blogmobile for a while, as you may have noticed. Why? Because I’ve been doing what authors do, which is, in case you’re not aware, write. I’m in the process of finishing up my latest novel, “The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51” which chronicles what happened to Thyron and Aggie while they were at Area 51, which occurred in Star Trails Volume II, “A Dark of Endless Days.” I thought it would be another short story like “The Sapphiran Agenda” but, as it turned out, it became a novel, though only about half the length of the books in the series. It’s in the final phases at this point with my planned release date December 1. I’ll let you know when it’ll be available for pre-order on Amazon.

Meanwhile, here’s a peek at the cover as it currently stands and a short excerpt. If you haven’t read the series, then you need to know that Thyron is a flora peda telepathis, or telepathic walking plant. You can learn more about him in “The Sapphiran Agenda” which is free on Smashwords. You can pickup a copy in the ebook format of your choice here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/575910

Onboard Impounded UFO

Hill AFB

Ogden, Utah

May 28, 1978

1445 MDT/2045 GMT

Thoughts cloaked, Thyron sat perfectly still on the bench occupying the Cerulean Nimrod’s lower deck where Creena had witnessed him tromp the ‘troid in a tysa game during their journey, one of his most cherished moments of botanical victory. Before him, a bearded man with dark hair teased with grey straddled the bench, scrutinizing him with curious, green eyes while a small group of uniformed humans clustered around.

“Clearly it’s a botanical lifeform,” the man stated, removing a small light source from one of many pockets in his tan jacket.

Invisible within his carefully arranged, multi-faceted leaves, Thyron rolled his eyes. Classifying these people as morons was far too generous.

“Strange,” he went on.. “It looks like an oxalis palmifrons – gigantea hybrid. A type of wood sorrel. Quite common in Brazil. South Africa and Mexico, too, as I recall. I wonder if it was brought here or harvested?”

“What do you suggest we do with it, Doctor Greenley?” asked an older soldier of considerable rank, judging by the plethora of decorative patches and dangling metallic ornaments on his chest. His uniform, unlike the others, was a shade of blue similar in color to coagulated Sapphiran blood.

“We need to secure it in a sealed environmental chamber to assure its safe arrival at the Nellis lab, Colonel. It looks rather hardy, but we don’t know what its heat tolerance level is, which could be exceeded during the trip across the desert, and it shouldn’t be exposed to contaminants like molds, fungi, bacteria and such, that could prove lethal. Fortunately, I brought along an environmental control chamber on loan from NASA’s Life Sciences Exobiology Branch.”

“Great. Let’s do it. We need to get this vehicle off the tarmac. The crane’s ready to load it up on a flatbed and secure it in a hangar until departure tonight at oh-three-hundred.”

Greenley removed a small, notched strip of metal from one of his pockets and handed it to the nearest soldier who had hair the color of iron-rich dirt, which Thryon found rather pleasing. “Here’s the key to my rental car, airman. It’s in the trunk. Two of you should be able to handle it.”

Airman? Thyron thought. Odd. He didn’t look as if he could fly.

“While you retrieve the ECC, I’m going to take a sample to study in the astrobionics lab when I get back to Houston,” the botanist continued, reaching into another pocket. “Then I’ll be able to determine conclusively whether it’s a native species or extraterrestrial.”

Take a sample?

Instantaneously, an ancestral defense mechanism lurking in his DNA activated that Thyron had never experienced before. His cytoplasm tingled as it gathered sulfur dioxide stored deep within his primary bulb and started to combine it with water stored in his lush, divided leaves. Fortunately, the burning sensation tipped him off to what was happening just in time, preventing a toxic cloud of sulfuric acid fumes from injuring and possibly killing everyone within ten meters.

The mental concentration required to perform this humane action precluded cloaking his concurrent mental response, however. As soon as the thought escaped, all he could do was hope that no one within range was psi-sensitive.

He was wrong.

The botanist’s eyes widened and jaw dropped, hand gripping the cutting device frozen in midair.

“What’s wrong, Dr. Greenley?” the officer asked, stepping closer. “Are you all right?”

The scientist closed his mouth, blinked a few times, then turned his head in the speaker’s direction. “Holy guacamole! It just refused. Rather adamantly. I swear. To be exact, I had the distinct impression it said, and I quote, ‘Like hell you will.‘”

Several more mouths fell open amid a few chuckles of disbelief.

“What’s that smell?” one of the airmen asked.

“Well, it wasn’t me,” Greenley stated, somewhat defensively. “Whatever this species is, Colonel Jenkins, I suspect it’s intelligent, perhaps even dangerous.” He straightened and stepped back, returning the cutting tool to his jacket’s hip pocket and securing the flap. “I’ve seen thousands of botanical species, from the tropics to Antarctica, from mountain tops in the Andes to the depths of the Mariana Trench. But this specimen’s entirely different from anything I’ve ever encountered anywhere on Planet Earth.”

The colonel took a deep breath and blew out his cheeks. “Yeah. I’d say that’s intuitively obvious, doc,” he said. “Intuitively obvious.”

* * *

The Star Trails Tetralogy Box Set is available at most online retailers through the links below.

For more information about individual books and reviews visit the series’ website at http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com.

Start the Star Trails adventure with “Beyond the Hidden Sky” for FREE!  http://startrailssaga.com/a-family-saga-at-warp-speed-2/get-beyond-the-hidden-sky-for-free/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1kAJxRn

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/550675

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set/id1007498996

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set-marcha-fox/1122157702

Review of “The Star Agency Chronicles Book 2: The Voyages of the Seven”

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This second book in the “Star Agency Chronicles” series does a great job of expanding the cultures of the alien worlds to which “the seven” have been transported. In this story, they embark on specific journeys that resemble interstellar “sightseeing” in some respects and yet transform more to quests for others. The characters are further developed, at least some of them, as they meet the challenges thrust upon them inherent to their specific missions, greatly adding to the suspense and intrigue. Ruby’s situation is particularly fascinating and her evolution and growth especially well done. At this point, she is my favorite character. I love her spunk and courage coupled with emotional vulnerability, easily seen as a person who is hard on the outside yet soft on the inside.

The relationships between the various youth are credible and demonstrate nicely the complexity of teen emotions as they interact with each other, especially those of the opposite sex. Some have romantic possibilities while others are simply platonic. Jealousies arise as romantic interests are not reciprocated but directed elsewhere. The characters and their personalities are integrated nicely into the story, giving it more depth.

The aliens are definitely more enigmatic versus the first book, though I would have liked a few more reminders of what they look like. The interactions between the different alien worlds are further developed as well, introducing their various agendas that introduce numerous new plot twists, conflict and mystery in which the young characters are entangled.

I wish the author had not given two of the characters such similar names, i.e. Larissa and Lara, especially since Theo has taken to calling Larissa, Lari, which makes it even worse. The two are clearly different people, but it’s still slightly confusing, sometimes yanking me out of the story as I figure out which one is involved when all the characters are together. Maybe in the next volume one of them can acquire a nickname that will make each stand apart more clearly.

You’ve gotta love Lara, who shows signs of being slightly autistic, probably afflicted with Asperger’s syndrome. Her inability to filter what she says adds tension as well as raw honesty which adds to the interpersonal dynamics of this chosen group of youth. Larissa, though you see more of her in this story, is not nearly as well fleshed out as a character. A few of “the seven” have not gotten to “show their stuff” yet, which I assume will occur in the next book.

I give four stars to this entertaining and imaginative hard sci-fi series suitable and undoubtedly directed to teen and young adults.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Review of “The Star Agency” by R.E. Weber

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I thoroughly enjoyed this story about Theopolis James Logan’s grand adventure, which has barely begun, since this is the first book in a series. He’s a somewhat typical 13 year old, highly intelligent, a bit too outspoken for his own good, bored with school as the highly intelligent usually are, and generally disaffected by his life. Sound familiar? Whether you’re someone who has already survived the teen years or are dealing with them yourself, you will relate to Theo.

The suspense is well-sustained and keeps you turning the pages. The author has spun a great science fiction tale and created a vivid world. This story is a clean read with plenty of adventure and believable characters. While suitable for young readers, it’s an enjoyable “stress free” read for adults as well. However, remember this story is designed and targeted for younger readers, for whom it’s an excellent introduction to the world of sci-fi, but may not be what you’re looking for if you’re expecting a more sophisticated story/writing style populated with adult characters.

I appreciate the fact that the author stated that this book took years to write. I have to admit that I can truly relate to that, since mine did, too. To fully confess, I, too have written a young adult science fiction series and I believe that anyone who enjoys Weber’s story would enjoy my Star Trails Tetralogy and vice versa.

Pick up your copy of The Star Agency on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2aJcEjL

You can find my Star Trails Tetralogy Box Set on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1Sk1gpy

Last Day! Star Trails Tetralogy Box Set 99c!

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Today is your last chance to get your ecopy of the entire Star Trails Tetralogy for only 99c! The box set includes “Beyond the Hidden Sky,” “A Dark of Endless Days,” “A Psilent Place Below,” and “Refractions of Frozen Time” as well as “The Star Trails Compendium.” Descriptions of the individual books can be found below as well as at the series’ website, www.StarTrailsSaga.com.

STAR TRAILS TETRALOGY DESCRIPTION

Close families share everything.  Including consequences.  When one of the HIO’s premier terralogists refuses a job offer from a wannabe despot the chain of suspicious circumstances which quickly follow scatter his family across the galaxy.  Torn apart by space and time, will each survive long enough to be united ever again? 

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Volume I: BEYOND THE HIDDEN SKY

A move to another planet that goes horribly wrong.  A power hungry man’s obsession with another’s abilities.  Suspicious circumstances that scatter a family across the galaxy.  Will rescue efforts succeed or make the situation even worse?

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When the Brightstar family leaves fog-shrouded and predictable Mira III for Cyraria they have no idea their comfortable lifestyle is about to end forever.  Even before the starcruiser arrives, shocking events transpire that comprise a parent’s worst nightmare.  Not only is their fourteen year old daughter, Creena, missing but it’s clear her father’s ruthless and power-hungry nemesis plans to exploit the situation to promote his own selfish ambitions. Formidable and lethal challenges await as increasingly suspicious circumstances scatter them across the galaxy.  Will they survive long enough to be together again?

“Sneek Peeks” on Bublish:

REVIEW SAMPLES

“The story begins at warp speed as space travel and its theory weaves throughout the tale of a family separated by mishap and kept apart by intent.” – Editorial Review

“The author’s colorful and animated word sketches give the reader the feel of actually watching or being right in the mix of the story. She brings personality and quirks to the characters as they develop through expressive descriptions and dialogue.” – Amazon Reviewer

“I am an author as well as having taught junior high science for a number of years and think this read would be a fabulous addition to classroom libraries as well as “the hungry for sci-fi lovers” personal bookshelf.” – Amazon Reviewer

“Although geared for the YA market, it is suited for sci-fi audiences for all ages who will thoroughly enjoy the talented professional writing of Marcha Fox’s wonderful expeditions.” – Amazon Reviewer

“All her characters, even creatures on the planets, are outstanding examples of a writer totally in touch with the depths of the subconscious mind, all interacting with their roles of good and evil with hidden spiritual messages as one experiences their own individual growth of consciousness.” – Amazon Reviewer

 ALL AMAZON REVIEWS OF BEYOND THE HIDDEN SKY

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Volume II: A DARK OF ENDLESS DAYS

Opposition’s lethal temperatures are more than a simple ballome can’t withstand.  Designing and building a heat-exchanger is the only way they’ll survive.  Obtaining the needed components, however, is another story.

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On a hostile planet like Cyraria terralogists are in high demand and Laren Brightstar is one of the best.  Regional governors compete for positions at the territorial level based on their economic achievements, allowing those with terraforming skills to demand a high price.  Refusing to work for those with devious intent, however, has an even higher price.  Thus the Brightstar family discovers when they’re plunged into a web of political intrigue on a planet cursed with lethal weather where survival can never be taken for granted.  Will their missing daughter return with help or will she remain trapped forever on an alien world?

“Sneek Peeks” on Bublish:

 

REVIEW SAMPLES

“Young people can identify with the children in the family, but this series is for people of all ages. Marcha does transport you to outer space, way into the future, and you will believe you are there with the Brightstar family.” – Amazon Reviewer

“In the vein of old science fiction literature this story could end up as another classic. Its original, with all the components, technology, other world and races, and a contact with Earth.” – Amazon Reviewer

“Written in a technically proficient yet engaging style this book is sure to captivate science fiction lovers of all ages!” – Amazon Reviewer

“Fox once again does an exceptional job building character and making her created universe a reality. I can’t turn a page without picturing the story in my mind and visualizing each character.” – Amazon Reviewer

 ALL AMAZON REVIEWS OF A DARK OF ENDLESS DAYS

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Volume III: A PSILENT PLACE BELOW

Taking refuge in the Caverns is like a dream come true.  But the dreams generated by their mysterious depths promise death or worse.  Is forewarned really forearmed?  Or another lure into the Integrator’s grasp?

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Going underground to escape Cyraria’s harsh climate brings more than a few surprises besides the hospitality of an indigenous race known as the bnolar.  The caverns feel strangely like home, but shortly after their arrival prophetic visions in the form of veridical dreams alert them to upcoming danger.  Incarcerated in a territorial prison, Laren Brightstar is about to receive and refuse Augustus Troy’s final offer, after which he’ll be exiled permanently to a place from which there is no return.  Will Dirck and Win’s rescue succeed?

“Sneek Peeks” on Bublish:

 

REVIEW SAMPLES

“The specific and very detailed description of the places and of the characters say so much about the author’s capacity to depict all of it with words, making your imagination start running freely in the process.” – Amazon Reviewer

“[The author] has created an entire world and its inhabitants along with various languages and races that each have unique abilities and qualities. Her extensive knowledge in science is evident in the explanations that are utterly believable.” – Amazon Reviewer

“A highly intelligent and prolific read, you really get a feel for the authors experience given she had a career at NASA. Speaks to the insight and depth of the book, well thought out and concise.” – Amazon Reviewer

ALL AMAZON REVIEWS OF A PSILENT PLACE BELOW

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Volume IV: REFRACTIONS OF FROZEN TIME

A discovery that links two dimensions of time.  A prison ship’s dirty little secret.  Esheron has answers but can they access them before it’s too late? 

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The discovery of a mineral that manipulates space and time provides the potential to reunite the Brightstar family at last.  Controlling it, however, is another matter.  With the Integrator closing in on the ability to destroy anyone for whom they have a mindprint, finding the secret of manipulating the two dimensions of time becomes a matter of life and death.  But is time their ally or another enemy?

“Sneak Peeks” on Bublish

REVIEW SAMPLES

“Author Marcha Fox has a gift for explaining the science. The detailed world she creates in the Star Trails Tetralogy is genius, so well thought out and crafted. As the Brightstar youngsters observe and understand their surroundings, their conclusions can be coloured by their Miran schooling, but when they break old habits and open their minds in order to survive this hostile planet they now call home, these children achieve the incredible. Quite Beautiful.” – Amazon Reviewer

“What sets this apart from run-of-the-mill ” space operas is Fox’s experience during her tenure at NASA. She draws upon her technical expertise and enhances it with fact-based theory that gives this as much of a ‘what-if’ perspective as you can expect within the genre. The moral and philosophical questions also give us much to reflect upon.” – Amazon Reviewer

“[The author’s] creativity and imagination never fall short but always leave me wanting more. Each character has been carefully crafted and developed. I enjoyed watching the children develop and grow from bickering teens to collaborative young adults. The final climax had me shivering as the forces of dark and light came hurtling together into an unexpected and shocking end.” – Amazon Reviewer

ALL AMAZON REVIEWS of REFRACTIONS OF FROZEN TIME

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BOX SET BUY LINKS

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1kAJxRn

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/550675

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set/id1007498996

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set-marcha-fox/1122157702

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