Publisher: Pelican Group
Publishing Date: August 2014
Publishers Description: Severely abused as a child, Dr. Grant Chapman is a multi-phobic computer genius who believes in NASA’s mission to far space, but is too afraid to make the trip. His best friend—NASA rogue, con artist, and trouble-shooter, Billy Jepler—drugs Grant and launches him into space.
Review: To say Grant is too afraid to go into space is underselling the character. The dude walked 1,000 miles to go to a new job because he won’t ride in cars, trains or planes due to phobias stemming from childhood trauma. If he even thinks about doing any of those things he blacks out. And will keep on blacking out upon waking. This guy is fupped up beyond belief. So when he is shanghaied into space to replace a computer whiz that got sick, he is suddenly in the worst place he can be for his type of phobia…nothing under his feet but empty space. Or is it empty?
When Grant awakens he finds all the crew members dead and must overcome a constant urge to blackout in order to maintain life support systems. What follows is a wonderful discovery of inner-strength and spirituality that transforms a once maudlin character into a kind of hero whom finds his place amongst the stars.
Publisher: Open Road
Publishing Date: August 2016 (1977)
Publishers Description: Raised, but never loved, by the barbarian valley people of Jaydugar, a planet of two suns, young Aleytys has always known she did not belong. Abandoned by her space-traveling mother and barely tolerated by a superstitious primitive tribe fearful of divine reprisals, Aleytys is forced to flee for her life following the catastrophic appearance of a fireball in the sky.
Review: As usual, Jo Clayton delivers an epic scifi novel that is built around superb characterization and world building. Aleytys, the offspring from what I would call a rape, as her father the head clan leader buys her mother from a slaver for a bunch of horses. Her mother is an off world alien as are most of the residents on Jaydugar. Before her mother leaves the clan, she shows her alien powers and promises destruction if anything should befall her daughter. Fast forward 16 years and young Aleytys is considered bad luck, and as an omen shoots across the sky, the superstitious people seek to burn her at the stake prompting her to follow a map that her mother left for her.
The character development is great as it rides in consummate fashion with the movement and Aleytys grows into herself as trials rise to the fore while on her quest to find her mother. The disparate communities are thoughtfully done as are the changing landscapes and the endemic wildlife. There is some weird shjt that skirts the edges of believability but doesn’t wander too far off an ingrained story line.
A reboot from the science fiction 70’s, Jo Clayton’s Diadem still delivers decades later and her work will always remain relevant.
Publishing Date: November 2015
Publishers Description: After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday.
Review: A short novella that follows the self-indulgent and hopelessly myopic and narcissistic life of a coed that constantly rails about her boyfriend Paaatwick. See, she wakes up hungover after a fight with hunky Patwick and has to go to history class where she learns about Joan of Arc, Lucrezia Borgia all from a man named Totle. Blah, blah, blah…continuum of learning…blah, life lessons and we are done. The Assault Rifle rears its liberal head in the this novella as well. It is labeled so by liberals when in fact, AR stands for Armalite Rifle Co.
There really is no character development in this novella in spite of the ego centric world that revolves around Amanda. Additionally, the authors take on Lucrezia Borgia is antiquated and at best, false. Lucrezia was not the poisoner in her family. Her brother, Cardinal Cesare is likely the family assassin while Lucrezia was used to curry favor and power through different marriages. She was lauded by Pope Leon X for her character and pawned all her valuables during the famine of Ferrara to feed the poor and publicly washed the feet of 160 peasants. She died at age 39 with about 8 children. Sound like a poisoner?
Publishing Date: July 2016
Publishers Description: Alexander Drake, Investigator for Hire, doesn’t like working for the Nobility, and doesn’t prefer to take jobs from strange men who accost him in alleyways. A combination of hired muscle and ready silver have a way of changing a man’s mind.
Review: This was a short novella mystery set in the Victorian era?? The reviews are all over the place on this. Some thought it lacked depth and the mystery was too obvious. Others thought the supporting cast were cardboard cutouts. Others thought it was a cunning mystery set in a Gaslight world of wonder. Mmmmkay.
Me? I am in the middle somewhere, and not because it’s politically convenient. I loved Drake as a main character. Smart, tough, ornery, funny, obstinate and snerky are just a few of the descriptors for this rascal. Even the supporting caste were good and would have grown to maturity had they had enough story line to work with. The sad fact is that novella’s limit what the author can do with character development and are usually left with trending more towards the movement side in order to compact the effect. Yeah, the mystery was a non-starter but the werewolf element added to the impact. All in all a fun short, well written novella that deserves full length world building and in-depth character development.
P.S. To the reviewer Ann Benjamin who gave this novella two stars and said “..Also why were there almost no female characters?”. Well Ann, there either is, or is not female characters. Are you trying to say that there should have been more female characters? In the parlance of Chuck Borris (an old guitar player), “Go milk your own cow”.
Publishing Date: July 2016
Publishers Description: Jiro Tazeko is a ronin samurai – tied to no clan and scorned by many. A hard-drinking mercenary and master swordsman, he is looked down upon by his fellow samurai, thinking him without honor.
Review: Well I finally made it to the end of a very long and interesting tale of a disgraced samurai whom likes to drink the sake….a lot. This was really good but was flawed with sequencing mistakes and a storyline that sometimes drifted and hopped around. This lack of cogency puts the hard test to the reader to follow along but once you slip into your comfortable shoes, the writing style grows on you.
Tazeko is a wonderfully flawed character that grows and changes through the course of the novel as life impacts him in a myriad of ways. These instances help define the persona and drags the reader along for a sympathetic and jovial ride.
“So why you no give 5 stars!”. At times, the novel had sequencing issues where the story line jumped around and lacked connectedness. In one instance, Tazeko and Yazu are poisoned and Tazeko wakes up in a cemetery but there is no mention of what becomes of Yazu, yet he mysteriously re-appears in the story line. In another, Tazeko loses his sandals and arrives at his destination barefoot, then proceeds to remove his sandals when he enters the domicile. This disappearance and reappearance of people and items occurs throughout the novel. Still, a riveting novel that gets a solid metric.