Does the future of mankind lie in the stars? Does it belong on long interstellar voyages across the vastness of space? One science fiction author, Nathan Arkwright, believes it does and sets up a foundation, the Arkwright Foundation, to invest in technology that will further the field of interstellar travel and to launch the first interstellar space vehicle. What starts off as a chance meeting at one of the first science fiction conventions at the World’s Fair in New York will develop into a lifelong friendship amongst scientists and authors. All with a goal of getting mankind to the stars and to make sure that we survive as a species, even if we destroy our own planet.
Allen Steele is one of today’s modern masters of hard science fiction and it is truly at work here. Though each section is really a novella, and loosely held together by an overall plot. A couple of sections were printed previously in Asimov’s. And each section is its own self containing story. But Mr. Steele helps us reach towards to stars.
The Last Days of Magic: A Novel
In The Last Days of Magic Mark Tompkins has woven together a beautiful tapestry, the warp and weft a tumultuous crossing of pagan faith and Christian fervour, of all that was and all that would come to be.
This epic story, spanning centuries, lies nested within the story of Sara, a young college student whose family is more special than she knows. The inner, larger story concerns Aisling and Anya, two aspects of the triple goddess, Morrigna. Annan is the third, the deep heart of the sunder-souled goddess. Yet, like the goddess herself, there are more parts to this story. We also follow the mercenary Jordan, who works for the Vatican. Charged with eliminating the faerie-folk from Ireland, and establishing the rule of the Pope in those lands, Jordan has secrets of his own.
Most of the story switches between Aisling and the Irish, as distinct storylines play out, and Jordan as he helps prepare an invasion force to Ireland. Aisling and Anya, as human aspects of the Morrigna, must learn to harness and channels Annan’s energy, and they must do so before invaders arrive. Trouble strikes, though, crippling the twins’ power. Meanwhile, Jordan and his masters enlist the aid of traitor fae to breach the magical protections surrounding Ireland, as well as in getting past the Fomorians who guard the waters. What follows is a clash of cultures unlike any other, with reverberations echoing down through the ages.
This cover is beautiful, in stunning simplicity. I also loved the fact that one of the main characters bears the Gaelic version of my Welsh name. Aislynn= Aisling. Pretty neat since both are rather uncommon. While I am unsure of the historical accuracy, even for an alternative world, I found the dispersal of funds for the Irish campaign fascinating. It makes a perfect logical sense for the time frame. It’s the type of small detail that I find isn’t usually taken into account and I rather enjoyed it. I really liked that Patrick, while Christian, still respected the Old Ways, and did not berate the Irish their pagan roots, unlike Colmcille. One thing I did find a bit puzzling was Ty’s brief inclusion. It seemed a little random, with the sole purpose of serving one goal that could have likely been achieved in a different fashion. I thought he was a neat character, and would have welcomed the chance to know him better.
Tompkins has created an epic myth in The Last Days of Magic, couching the seed of truth regarding the destruction early Christianity wrought on the native faiths of the British Isles, and other places they encroached upon. This story makes me think of the movie Knowing, where people have encountered these beings through time, and seen them as fae, angels, demons, or even aliens depending on cultural perspective. I highly recommend this book to any fan of epic fantasy.
Resurrection – Americans Awaken
Resurrection: Americans Awaken is Book One in the Resurrection Trilogy by WH Wisecarver. When hired by a shady investment bank to find solutions to the imminent crisis that could affect the financial standing of the group, Kirk Danner thought it could be just a job like any other–except that he begins to notice the problem could be more than what he’s hired for, and having fought great battles in the course of a very long history, Danner is determined to find out what the problem is and to nip the evil in its bud before it escalates into far-reaching proportions. But will his resurrection–he who has been a formidable strength protecting his kind–be enough to save the nation from the sinister game The Order has designed against it? It is interesting to watch Danner and his team of winners plunge into a new kind of war that can determine the future of humanity.
Resurrection is a gripping story that will appeal to a diversified audience and it must be said that it absolutely takes superior skill to weave together an eclectic set of literary elements into a story without losing the interest of the readers. The iron-cast characters are very rich and compelling, and each comes across as a symbolic piece that falls into a powerful vision of the awakening of the American society, the drama is insanely intoxicating. The language is unusual, and the author has the knack for occasional bursts of philosophical insights and a social commentary that will excite the minds of many readers. The plot is gripping and moves very fast with breathtaking surprises. The author has a rare gift for characterization and readers will undoubtedly be fascinated by most of the characters. Wisecarver’s work covers a wide range of themes, including economic instability, social unrest, war, and heroism.
The Witch Who Came in from the Cold – Episode 12
Intel Log: Episode 12- She’ll Lie Down in the Snow
KGB. CIA. Flame. Ice. East. West. Wrong. Right. The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain. Perhaps the only thing that is certain is that both the Host and Tanya’s lives are in danger. However, in danger from who is as clear as the fog over the Vltava. Nadia is desperate and turns reluctantly to Alestair to help and his suggestion of including Gabe in their plans to save Tanya who has been sent to imminent doom by her KGB boss Sasha. Zerena is a Flame indeed but is playing on many sides, to what end is the question. Ultimately, the Host, Dr. Sokolov is in danger and must be protected. Many are working together to do this but who he is safe with is still a mystery. One mystery that is uncovered… chess it seems is more than just a board game.
Episode 12 of The Witch Who Came In From the Cold is heating up as the Flame appears to have ties every which way you turn. Zerena is playing helpful Flame operative to the Americans and the KGB. However, her coy manner leads readers to see there is more to her agenda than meets the eye. The interaction between characters who have and have not interacted before takes this serial to a whole new level. Where there were once clear lines defining East and West that were reluctantly crossed by various characters, blurred lines remain leaving these characters to go back and forth. Their alliance and loyalty to their countries and consortiums do not waiver. However, characters such as Gabe and Alestair, Nadia and Zerena and Dom and Sasha all know that in order to achieve their goals lines must be crossed for their greater good. The question remains still… at what cost? Catch up on episodes 1-12 as we approach the thrilling finale for the serial The Witch Who Came In From the Cold . You will not want to miss out on this.
A Gathering of Shadows
? Gathering of Shadows picks up four months after A Darker Shade of Magic. The version of London known as Red London—named for the crimson hue of the River Thames—prepares to host the extravagant Element Games. Magicians from London and neighboring countries battle for supremacy and bragging rights. Meanwhile, Kell finds himself haunted by the events of the first book. Lila joins a pirate crew as a master thief, but is soon drawn back to Kell. As Kell and Lila circle each other, a power awakens in White London—one previously thought lost forever.
Schwab has done it again. A Gathering of Shadows captures the spirit of the first book and ratchets everything up to 11. Lila’s character is fascinating to follow. She’s one of the few whose traveled across the worlds and finds herself in a strange world filled with magic and wonder. What does she do? She steals, she kills, and she thirsts for power. Tensions mount between Kell and Lila as both enter the Games in disguise, adding a lovely touch of suspense. Overall, the story follows characters bound by loyalty, honor, duty, magic, and above all else, love. Pick this title up—and the first book—you won’t regret it.
Masters of the Sea
There are some books that are made with the sole purpose of pure entertainment. Some are designed as window dressing for insights into the human condition, while others seem to linger in the realms of paperback pink stickers. There are very few true classics and to find them one usually has to turn towards the past. Jules Vernes left us with many such classics.
George Rios’Masters of the Sea, both a translation and adaptation of Jules Verne’s Mathias Sandorftells the story of the compelling Dr. Mathias Sandorf, a courageous Austrian patriot, who seeks to free his country from Germany and its policy of expansionism. He is betrayed and imprisoned. Yet after an escape, his bad luck holds when he is shipwrecked and marooned for 20 years on an island in the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite his remote location, Sandorf’s enemies continue to haunt him and make attempts on his life. In a brilliant crossover, the character Nicholas of Cape Matapan, the daring diver featured in Jules Verve’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, is also featured in the book. Sandorf finds allies in a group of Shaolin Chinese, who expand his views on medicine and the benefits of acupuncture. This book moves with a rush of energy, introducing to the reader a wide range of interesting concepts: Hundred foot tidal waves, cargo carrying dolphins, and a sea battle between the might of a manmade naval force against the creatures of the ocean’s depths.
George Rios must be congratulated for he has done something truly ambitious and audacious. Attempting to take something that belonged to Jules Vernes and transforming it into something not only new and updates. It’s a work of literacy with his own imprint. In that simply herculean task, he has been utterly successful. He also seems to go to great pains to not only honor Vernes, but to place a carefully tailored extension to his vast body of work.
The intriguing cover is of Verne’s tomb in Amiens. The now famed marble statue is the actual death mask of the writer, and depicts Verne breaking his own tombstone and emerging from the grave. The tomb, like the writer it houses, has become an important figure in science fiction.
George Rios is an accomplished appointed official with an impressive resume of public service. Yet, he demonstrates another rare gift for adaptation, a skill that is vastly easier than it looks.
The book is a perfect read for anyone interested in science fiction or looking to tackle the more lengthy Jules Vernes books like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or Around the World in Eighty Days. If you are a parent looking to expand your child’s love of reading, or simply a fan of Jules Vernes, this is a great addition to your personal library.