Review: Chipped by David Olansky

Publisher: Booklogix

Publishing Date: February 2017

ISBN: 9781610057417

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.6/5

Publishers Description: What if there were a way to become faster, stronger, smarter, better? To achieve every task you’ve ever set your mind to? What if you could finally reach your ideal weight, master any language, or kick that one bad habit that’s been standing in your way—all at the cost of a chip in your brain. With the advent of a revolutionary neurosurgical procedure, the Chipped Program represents all the potential that humanity can achieve—for better and for worse.

Review: If I was a publisher seeking to rebrand this concept, I would first call it “The Burgeoning”. Except it never reaches fruition but rather languishes in an oratory state of incompletion. This compounded narrative that discusses and explains every nuance of chip technology wears on the reader because it is constant and subsumes the entirety of the novel. There are instances where you can breath free of the cloying narrative and endless dialogue but those moments are fleeting.

The opening chapters hook you because the social commentary has some funny moments. The humor soon seems forced and is lacking in brevity. There is a distinct and glaring absence of movement that leaves every character flatter than a roadside squirrel. Because of this, emotional outbursts and over-the-top personalities are used as development vehicles.

While the writing is good and thought provoking, it just wasn’t for me. I would have rated this work really low (1 star), but to be fair I think there is a larger audience that will enjoy it.

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Review: The Clock Work Dynasty by Daniel H. Wilson

Publisher: Doubleday

Publishing Date: August 2017

ISBN: 9780385541787

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.9/5

Publishers Description: In the rugged landscape of eastern Oregon, a young scientist named June uncovers an exquisite artifact—a three-hundred-year-old mechanical doll whose existence seems to validate her obsession with a harrowing story she was told by her grandfather many years earlier. The mechanical doll, June believes, is proof of a living race of automatons that walk undetected among us to this day. Ingeniously hidden inside the ancient doll is a lost message, addressed to the court of Peter the Great, czar of Russia.

Review: Ah June, where is thy sting? Much of this novel is a kind of see-saw through time; World War 1, the era of Catherine the Great, 3,000 B.C. China and on to the present.  Very interesting historical fiction with animated robots infused into the story line. Then onto the present and, well June. You just can’t connect with June for a variety of reasons. She lacks depth in that she never develops outside of her persona as a doll fixer/post-doc something/curious childhood to adult…thing. She is like a blank canvas that was never filled. She rants and says “Fuck” a few times and curls into fetal positions in tense situations but can kill a robot with superhuman strength. Although there is a ton of movement in this novel, June just seems to be along for the ride.

Peter and his world of anima-infused ancient robots was really interesting. Coupled with a great story line, constant movement and Peter’s ability to grow (albeit slowly) with said movement, made for a great read. His life leading up to the present was riveting in that the story told within pinnacle moments of history held you captivated. His constant internal struggle implementing the “Word” drives this novels world building. In a way, he is much like  Frankenstein. While June could have been built better and not just as some piece of fluff expediting the scenes, the rest of the players are riveting as they abide through time recounting their lives.

Review: The Longest Con by Bill Patterson

Publisher: Argus

Publishing Date: February 2017

ISBN:  4470990979501

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.0/5

Publishers Description: Aphrodite Station, circling Venus, crosses behind the Sun every year and a half or so. Only then could the longest of con jobs be executed. In 2144, a young group of buncos who call themselves ‘Coffey’s Conners’ are out to show their con-artist parents that they are mature enough to form their own crew. But the game the parents have in mind, ‘The Wire’, has not been pulled off in at least a century. With Aphrodite Station on the far side of the Sun, Coffey’s Conners are beyond help, beyond hope if things go wrong. If they get caught, the consequences are no further than the nearest airlock. 

Review: This was a really short novel er, novella? As a consequence the story line was compressed and the movement, a constant. With these novellas the characters usually get the short stick in terms of development. Emotive responses and character flaws are usually over the top and hardly believable. In this case the characters are interesting and highly plausible. This would have been a great novel if drawn out to a grand conclusion with many disparate spokes in the grifting wheel. Would have also better developed the characters that were interesting.

I never give a really good novella a higher rating than 3 due to the compressed format. I still would like to see this author’s expanded universe should he sit down long enough to write a NOVEL.

Review: Our Young Guardians: Seven and Two by Rodi Szoke

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Publisher: Rodi Szoke

Publishing Date: October 2016

ISBN: 9780997565911

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.5/5

Publishers Description: Seven journals were written but only five remain and are hidden, guarded by folk and charms, waiting to be retrieved so their story can be shared. Through the words of one of the children, we follow not only their adventures but also their struggles through adolescence as they become adults.

Review: Our hero, Jonek, longs to be a soldier/warrior and sneaks off to secretly watch the soldiers train. He and his friends stumble upon a maggoty beast that is an emissary of the evil that is coming to their land.

This was surprisingly good. High pace, good character development and constant surprises in magical form abound. The world(s) are epic and have a grand foundation in magic.  At every turn there is this creative inventiveness by the author to infuse new ideas and elements and weave them into the story line. Just when you think Jonek is topped out with surprises he goes and gets a magic lizard under his skin. It was those types of instances that made this novel enjoyable. I could not put it down and chastised myself for not doing so. I should not have liked the rampant use of magic that at times appeared in Deus ex machina fashion but was wholly entertained throughout.

The only problem I have is that this author does not have a publishing deal. GET THIS!