Tag Archives: Time Travel

Review: Sphere

Sphere

by Michael Crichton

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Norman Johnson is a psychologist specialized in how stress affects group dynamics. He is often called out by the FAA to help survivors of plane crashes and their families deal with the aftermath. So when he’s escorted by the US Navy out to the South Pacific he assumes a plane has crashed into the ocean.

It turns out to be something far stranger.

Once upon a time, a younger Norman, desperate for grant money, wrote a report for the government about how to handle first contact with alien intelligence. He said abject terror would be the result when humans were confronted with the unknown. Now, he is about to put his hypothesis to the test. A thousand feet beneath the ocean, something has been found. A craft that has been down there for at least 300 years.

A team of scientists, recommended by Norman, and a group of navy personal are tasked with uncovering what is and, if anything is alive, how to communicate with it. Staying in cramped quarters, surrounded by the crushing depths of the sea where a small mistake could get them all killed, the pressures are incredible. Can Norman keep the group functional when the discover the Sphere lurking in the heart of the craft?

Crichton’s Sphere is an interesting take on the first contact with aliens story. It’s told from the psychologist point of view and it delves into many aspects of emotional reactions and Jungian’s theory of the shadow self. Personalities conflict and clash. The unknown lurks around them, affecting them all as they struggle to understand just what they have discovered.

And that’s before things start going weird. Cricton goes a great job setting up the mystery and how it affects the characters. The answers for the story are found if you read carefully. But that’s not what the story is truly about. It’s about how people handle stress and how they can rise to the occasion, or break beneath the strain. It’s about what people can do when they’re taken to their limits. The Sphere, the mystery of it, is merely the catalyst around which Crichton has penned this excellent character study.

One of my favorite Crichton novels, blending suspense, emotion, and wonder with a pervading miasma of dread hanging over everything.

On a side note, this is one of the worst book covers I have ever seen.

You can purchase Sphere from Amazon!

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Review: An Echo of Things to Come

An Echo of Things to Come (The Licanius Trilogy)

by James Islington

Reviewed by JMD Reid

After the dramatic revelation of who Caedon truly is after the end of the last novel, he has to remember what he’s done. Can he face the crimes of his past while uncovering the dangerous gambit he’s set in motion to defeat El? Will the demons of his past, the friends and allies he’s betrayed, prove his undoing? Or will his knew friends still trust them when they learn the truth?

Davian has traveled south, separating from his brief reunion with Asha and his friend Wynn. With Augurs no longer condemned to death but needed to save the Boundary, Davian has hopes that he and the others coming into their power will be enough to hold back the darkness. However, evil lurks in the hearts of men. Greed and ambition swirl around him as petty officials seek to use the crisis to further their own ambitions.

Asha, transformed into a Shadow, needs to understand just what she is. Why do her and the others like her exist? The answer to these questions go back to one dark truth: why did she survive the massacre? She will have to brave dangers on her own quest to find the truth.

And last Wynn is beset by political enemies. He has risen to the post of Northwarden and heads the Administration tasked with controlling magic users like himself. He faces resent me, even from those who should love him. Can he enact meaningful change to prevent the Boundary from failing? Or will his enemies tear him down out of fearful prejudice?

An Echo of Things to Come picks off where the last book left off. The entire balance of power has shifted with Wynn becoming Northwarden and changing the Oaths. As the danger of the Boundary nears, Islington delves into the past. He peels back the history of the world and the philosophy behind it.

How can you save the day when everything has already happened. When the past, present, and future were determined by El long ago? How can you stop inevitability from destroying world and does your actions even have consequences? Are you truly responsible for the crimes you commit if it is done at the will of God?

Islington delves into these questions. His philosophical discussion is woven into the foundation of his world. As he peels back the layers, it compels you to keep reading, to understand how Caedon hopes to fight this and if the glimpses of the future can be averted? Can you find redemption for being a monster? Can you save the world fated to die?

Fans of epic fantasy need to read this series. I am eagerly awaiting Book Three! I am glad I picked this one up, and you will be, too!

(Just don’t read the plot synopsis for book three as it spoils a major, and gut-punching, moment in this book. Sigh…)

You can purchase An Echo of Things to Come from Amazon!

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Review: The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy 1)

The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy 1)

by James Islington

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Two decades after the social fabric has been overturn. Once, the Augurs and the other Gifted controlled the world. But now the survivors of the war are chained to their nation, bound by oaths sworn on their behalves. Hated and feared, there are those who plot to restore their power to what it once was.

And to the north, an ancient evil lurks beyond the boundary.

Davian is in a panic. The testing is coming up. He is one of the Gifted, but he can’t access his magic. If he can’t learn to control it, they will strip it from him and make him one of the Shadows, forever marked. Without even his magic, he will be loathed by all. However, there are those in power who know what he truly is.

And they wish to see his destiny met. He can rise to meet it or he can gamble on gaining his power in time.

The Shadow of What Was Lost is an intriguing fantasy book. The world building is deep and the story flows fast. The plot twists and turns, with new revelations peeling back every few chapters. Islington builds up his story through his three storylines, dropping hints here, clues there as he builds towards the ending of the first book in his fantasy series.

An engrossing book that keeps you reading, wandering what happens next. With foreshadowing hinting at character’s fates via prophetic visions and time travel, these tantalizing clues keep you wondering what will happen to the characters to lead to these fates.

The plot turns can be shocking, but the story holds together well. It doesn’t feel haphazard but planned. Islington is in control, important when dealing with his themes of time travel and prophetic visions. The characters are heroic and villainous, cryptic and intriguing. I’m intrigued to where this story goes and glad book 2 is coming out next.

You can purchase The Shadow of What Was Lost from Amazon!

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Review: The Wastelanders by Tim Hemlin

The Wastelanders

by Tim Hemlin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

In the future, ecological disaster has struck the world.

51xGYBugSbL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The US has survived by building domes to protect their city and desalination plants to provide water. The great President Litz kept the country from sliding into chaos by bending the Constitution. The Cartel, the company that owns the desalination plants, is the greatest political power in the country.

Those that disagree with the direction of the US, who yearn for political or religious freedom, or have fled the rules of society  dwell in the Wastelands of the central United States. These Wastelanders are a diverse group of cults, opportunist, and criminals.

When Bernie Hawke, a former cop turned security officer, had a bad bout of food poisoning, his life was saved. Desalination Plant #23 in the Houston Bubble was destroyed and Bernie becomes the suspect. He was conveniently sick and, worse, his son Joseph had left the Bubble to join one of the ragged groups existing outside the control of the country.

Now Joseph is wanted for the terrorist bombing.

Bernie has to deal with the suspicious HomeSec while trying to discover if his son really is a terrorist.  As he searches, he stumbles onto a vast conspiracy that will change the direction of the country.

Tim Hemlin weaves the lives of multiple characters into his SciFi, political thriller. The plot twists and turns in a fully realized world. Tim has a varied and vivid cast, each with their own motivations and goals colliding together. If you’re a fan of Sci-Fi, thrillers, and a fast-paced plot, then you’ll enjoy this story.

You can pick up The Wastelanders for  from Amazon

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