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Laurel C Kriegler

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Hell Divers
Hell Divers
Price: £5.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Need More!, 19 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hell Divers (Kindle Edition)
Aaaah, what it is to pick up a book by Nicholas. Even knowing you're going to go on a hell-ride (no pun intended...) with him, you pick it up and read it, because it's going to be that good. And Hell Divers is no less. Oh no. Within a sentence or two Smith had sucked me right in to X's world and life on board the Hive - one of the last two airships floating above a devastated Earth.

And what a fascinating scenario. Humanity survives solely in huge airships that fly around above a totally devastated, radioactive Earth. These airships are far from airworthy, and are pretty much staying up there by their bootstraps. To keep these massive colonies in the skies, Hell Divers must parachute to the surface of the devastated Earth for supplies, then ride back up to their airships on helium balloons. As the book opens, we meet X, by far the most experienced Hell Diver on his ship with a total of 95 jumps to his name. It's clearly pointed out that the average most divers make is 15 jumps. This man surely knows his stuff. And the motto of the Hell Divers is one of the coolest I've come across: "We dive so humanity survives." That's their whole existence right there, in a nutshell.

It's really difficult to make any sort of comment on this book without heading into the realm of spoilers, so I'm going to keep to the bare minimum. One of the things I really liked about this novel was how Smith introduced various threads, and how those threads developed as the story progressed. Another thing I really liked was this, and I quote:
That was the thing about extinction: every move became a life-or-death decision, with the fate of entire species on the line.

That particularly caught my eye, having recently seen a documentary on the extinction of the northern white rhinoceros, and how that was precisely the issue - every move made becomes a critical decision.

This book has one of the most beautiful covers I've seen in a good long while. Very relevant to the story, and puts one quite in the scene for what happens in the book. Great fusion there.

Without a doubt, Smith is becoming a master storyteller. I guess that begins to happen when one has more than ten novels under one's belt. Each successive book of his that I read is a step up from the previous one, and his ideas are no less inventive. I look forward to picking up the next Hell Divers novel. Please get writing!


Outzone Raider: A Postapocalyptic Novel
Outzone Raider: A Postapocalyptic Novel
Price: £2.06

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent post-apocalyptic fare, 24 Jun. 2016
First there's a world war, and then the American soldiers return home to a divided country, which leads to the secessionist wars. A new state is created in the mid-west, New Haven, and this story is set in the years before a wall is built between New Haven and the Outzone, the latter being a lawless territory where those who wish to try their luck at survival.

Vikki Gurin is feisty exo-robot operator in New Haven's Industrial Zone. It's a gritty, hard place to work, but she likes her colleagues and the hard work. She is also a pair of eyes for Dima Aslanov, an Outzone bandit who likes to raid warehouses in the IZ for supplies. One night she hears of supplies of shelters, an order for the federal government that's located in the heart of the IZ, and she decides to tell Aslanov about it. However, she leaves out information about the destination of the supply.

Dima Aslanov has one rule: if he's to steal anything from the Industrial Zone, it must not be destined for the federal government. His raid for the supplies is successful, but it turns the eyes of the government and the intelligence organisations on his activities. It isn't long before things heat up - for both Dima and Vikki.

This is a well-crafted post-apocalyptic thriller. Sheridan easily drew me in to the gritty world of Vikki and Dima, bringing the characters and their lives to life. It was good to get back into this setting and get to know it better through the eyes of a new group of people.

Things definitely do not come easily in the war-torn Americas, and one must take chances to get ahead. But which chance will be a step to far? Excellent post-apocalyptic fare, with great action and nail-biting suspense.


Pirate Bound: A Prequel (Telepathic Space Pirates)
Pirate Bound: A Prequel (Telepathic Space Pirates)
Price: £2.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Death wars with love, 23 Jun. 2016
The Talented Pirates have suffered loss. Some years ago a deadly virus swept through the female Pirates, decimating them. Now the Pirates face extinction since they have few viable females to bear talented children. Then the Pirates come across two female Talented, Sanah and Nayla, exhausted and wary, who have escaped from a Talented organisation known as Veritas. Nayla is a biokineticist, able to heal on a cellular level, who's Talent is required by their brother Niall - working for Veritas - for it's killing abilities.

What a fantastic story. Each of the main characters, and a few of the secondary characters, are well developed with differing personalities, goals and desires. Dem's qualities as a protective hero make him very endearing, and I enjoyed his internal battle with his Talents. That really made me chuckle. Cannon was an extremely insightful Pirate King who really keeps his finger on the pulse. It would be nice to one day read more about him, and also about Treon, Dem's enigmatic brother.

Inventive and well-written, I hope to read many more books about the Telepathic Space Pirates. This is excellent stuff right here, reminiscent of the best of Anne McCaffrey.


Zululand Snow (The Cruikshank Chronicles, Book 1)
Zululand Snow (The Cruikshank Chronicles, Book 1)
Price: £2.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure story for all ages!, 8 Jun. 2016
What a great book! I've just closed it a few minutes ago, so the closing passages are still running around in my head.

Boyhood adventure gets mixed with Zulu superstition and beliefs in this fantastic tale of the search for the Inkatha Yesizwe, "The Soul of the Zulu Nation". I loved the way that half way through the book one's scratching one's head as to how various elements could possibly add up, and at the end of the story it's all neatly tied up with bows on top and one can rest easy. But oh, the shenanigans those boys got up to! Makes me remember life as a child in the Eastern Cape, which at times could be very similar - heading off into the veld without a care in the world. Just as a child's life should be!

Very well written, and vivid, Tennent doesn't spare one the harshness of circumstances back in the time when this was set (I'm aiming for 1980s/90s, I imagine), but nevertheless he imbues the story with adventure, danger, excitement and the thrill of the chase. A fabulous read that I'll be recommending around, for sure!


Escape: A Short Story (Sticky Fingers Book 2)
Escape: A Short Story (Sticky Fingers Book 2)
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and Imaginative, 8 Jun. 2016
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As one can expect from Lawrence, you aren't going to get an ordinary story. And this short is no exception!

I have absolutely no idea how to categorise this story on my bookshelves. It's rather confusing. Could one call a story written in first person from the perspective of a suicidal toddler noir? I'm not so sure. But I have nowhere else to put it.

Clever and imaginative, Lawrence raises enough questions in the first few paragraphs to keep one reading. As one reads, one figures out exactly what is going on - but the ending comes as a complete surprise. Just as a short story should be written.


The Bones of the Sea
The Bones of the Sea
Price: £0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reminiscent of Titan A.E., 25 May 2016
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In The Bones of the Sea, we get a glimpse of Ulto Marinos, a mysterious world on which stranger things exist - namely, the Bones of the Sea. Ulto Marinos is the predominantly marine world Gethyon, Quin's son, travels to as a teen in Pippa Jay's novella, Gethyon.

Myasi has been contracted to blow up an artefact known as The Bones of the Sea, some artificial structure that is getting in the way of seagrafters. She lays the final charge and returns to her ship - but a charge explodes prematurely. Myasi is sent back to learn why the charge blew, and discovers that the structure's door has opened thanks to the concussion, and a whirlpool sucks her in.

This is a well-crafted short story in that - and typical of Pippa Jay's writing - one is left to muse over the final events in the story for a good while after one has finished reading it. Not everything is quite as it seems, and sometimes what one intends to do doesn't quite give the results one aims for. Which is quite amusing, really.

A quick read, very well-written, and somewhat reminiscent of Titan A.E.


The Raft
The Raft
Price: £4.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Social Scifi in the finest tradition, 11 May 2016
This review is from: The Raft (Kindle Edition)
What would happen if you suddenly lost all of your memories? Worse, what if EVERYONE lost their memories?

These questions are only the starting point for The Raft, Fred Strydom's epic dystopic scifi novel that, well, pretty much questions everything. Meaning, purpose, evolution, creation, God, humanity, freedom, and perhaps even life itself. Couched in an Inception-like package with dreams, stories and conversations as the breadcrumbs, The Raft is a tapestry of images and impressions that is skilfully woven by Strydom's pen. With some well-crafted characters and much food for thought, this is nevertheless a vividly written page-turner. It's pretty gentle - there isn't much suspense here - but the images pile up as one reads, taking the reader on a trip that spans worlds and galaxies. And the human psyche.

This book is social science fiction in the finest tradition. A literary work rather than genre, it is nevertheless clearly dystopic scifi, and hands out a hefty dose of deep thinking. It definitely made me ask questions of the extant world we live in, of my own beliefs, and other existential considerations. Unashamedly South African, but at the same time unhampered by some of the political and cultural tendencies some South African authors enmesh their work in, this novel propels Fred Strydom to number two in my list of favourite South African authors (a list that currently only has three encumbents, and Geoffrey Jenkins inhabits the number one spot - sorry, he's difficult to beat) and onto my "must-watch authors" list.


Winter's Edge: A Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian Adventure: Volume 1 (Outzone Drifter Series)
Winter's Edge: A Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian Adventure: Volume 1 (Outzone Drifter Series)
by Mike Sheridan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyable, 10 May 2016
This story opens with a news clipping about the murders of a mother and daughter, Sarah and Jessica Brogan, at the hands of three Outzoners. They are survived by husband and father Frank Brogan, a lieutenant in the New Haven police force. Frank elects to abandon his job in the police and head into the Outzone in search of the murderers.

This story really comes alive once Frank hits the Outzone. His time spent in New Haven within Strata State carries scant details. We don't really get a sense of the actual environment within which he moves. But we do gain an understanding that it is relatively hi-tech in some ways.

The Outzone, by contrast, is low-tech and gritty. A relatively lawless region in the American Mid-West (or thereabouts), it is largely run by tribes, clans, gangs and oficinas. For some people fighting and dicing with death is part and parcel of their way of life, while others find ways to live a more peaceful existence. I really liked that we met people on both sides during the course of the story.

I've discovered lately that I often have a pervading image that runs through my head while reading a book, and this one is of semi-arid desert, with small, low bushes and plenty of rocks and pebbles visible inbetween. Of course there were areas the characters go to that were vastly different from this - this is just what got stuck in my head.

An excellent debut in the post-apocalyptic dystopia genre, with clear depictions of events and a compelling main character in Frank who one roots for throughout. There is also a well-defined group of secondary characters, each of whom plays an important role in the story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Winter's Edge, and look forward to more from Mike Sheridan.

*****

Minor spoiler: There was one moment of violence in the book where Sheridan caught me off guard. I'm used to reading violence (prefer reading to watching), but this was sheer genius. Took me a while to recover from it too. Kudos to Sheridan for that one!

*****

For fans of post-apocalyptic and dystopia.


Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened
Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened
Price: £1.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sweet story, 24 April 2016
The concept is pretty much what it says in the blurb. A young man, Connor, wakes up to an ICU, having been unconscious for a year, and a relentless Mentor AI that pushes him through rehab. I'm not sure we find out why he was in hospital. He has no memories, and the world outside has changed. A bioweapon was unleashed - one he and other coma patients remain unaffected by - and the locals have become zombie-like. We learn nothing of the world outside the city - Connor's lack of memories reinforces this. And it appears no contact is possible. But then he meets Zombie Girl.

Pippa Jay is a writer who brings stories to life. This is probably one of her calmer stories - her usual modus operandi is to torture her heroes, and there's relatively little of that in this tale - but it's no less vivid or poignant for that absence.

I wouldn't say that Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened is Jay's most tightly-written novella, but it is a delightful - if at times a teensy bit gory - tale nevertheless. What do I mean by tightly-written? From what I could detect, there weren't multiple levels of meaning or complexity to the story, which I am more used to from Jay's other novellas. It just appears to be a rather sweet account of what happens after Connor wakes up. There's nothing wrong with this; it's quite a pleasant change to read something simple that doesn't tax my brain too much. I really liked the way it wrapped up, and it would be interesting to see what happens next in this world.


Quickshot
Quickshot
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing story, 24 April 2016
This review is from: Quickshot (Kindle Edition)
What an intriguing story! So many questions!

And this is what I like about Jay's shorter stories: it's often more about what's not said than what is. This one seriously set me to wondering if Devin's human at all, or a very cleverly-designed robot. And then one has to wonder why humans with cyborg enhancements are treated so harshly. WHY is Devin apparently on the run?

Quickshot is called that for many reasons, and I'm pretty sure that at least one of them is that this really is a snapshot into the life of Sal, the main character. Being short, we don't get overly much happening growth-wise, although this story does include a massive moment where Sal has to trust someone other than herself. To be fair, she's pretty cornered and out of options.

A very quick read (*sigh there's that word again...), fast-paced and vividly written.

Definitely for persons 18 years and over.


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