Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter – #BookReview

Hey all, Slick Dungeon here, back to review another book for you. This time I am reviewing Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne.

SYNOPSIS

In the late 21st century, humanity left Earth due to multiple resource shortcomings aggravated by an acceleration in climate change. They settled Echo, a planet that was nearly a carbon copy of Earth except for being devoid of all but the most basic life forms. Fast forward 1200 years later. Echo has endured over a thousand years of dark age. Corporations and government merged early on, becoming the oppressive authority known as the Regime. Military and police merged into the Department of Enforcement, their only mission to crush the huge network of rebels known as the Dissidents. Over half the planet is covered by decaying cityscapes and the elite live high above, removed and remote from the greater populace on the moon-city of Ascension. Hope lies in one man, a former Enforcer named Atriya. But before he can break the cycle of darkness and ignorance on Echo, he has to do it within himself.

REVIEW

4/5 STARS

Atriya is a Crusader. This means that he is part of an elite military force where only the best of the best are recruited. He constantly pushes himself to go beyond the limits of human endurance and is trying to reach the next level of performance and understanding.

Lately, Atriya is getting the feeling that something is wrong. Wrong with the Regime that controls Echo, wrong with the way his fellow Enforcers operate, and maybe, something wrong with him. He starts searching for answers from his mentor and starts to rethink everything he knows.

Echo is fast-paced and full of action. There are plenty of great scenes for those who love the mash-up of science fiction and the military. Atriya is an engaging character and the reader will easily root for him to stand out above the rest. The world that Wayne portrays is fully developed and highly interesting. It’s also clear that Wayne knows his military hardware so if you are a fan of that, there is plenty to love in this book.

Personally, I felt like there were a few too many info dumps about the military weaponry but I know some people really love that kind of thing. It would also have been nice if the book was a little longer, but even if you only purchase the first volume, you do get the next three chapters of the second volume so it’s well worth the price.

If you love futuristic military action, this is the book for you. And if you read the book and like it, you should follow the author at https://dirtyscifibuddha.com/

He has a ton of free stuff there and it’s a great blog that I follow myself.

Crusadingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Fifth Season – #BookReview

Hey all, Slick Dungeon here, back to review another book for you. This time I am reviwing The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.

SYNOPSIS

This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

REVIEW

3/5 STARS

This book is a little difficult to summarize but I will do my best. In this world, there are people who are capable of controlling and moving the very earth itself. These people are called Orogenes, or in a more negative conext, called Rogga. They are capable of preventing earthquakes but they are also capable of causing them. Therefore they have the potential for massive destruction. There are also people called Guardians who can negate this power that the Orogenes have. In addition there are giant obelisks that seems to have some sort of strange power that come out of the earth every once in a while. There are also stone eaters that, well, I guess, eat stone. Finally, there are the Stills. Stills are normal people without any of these powers. Every few hundred years or so, there is a calamity called a season that starts and people have to find ways to shelter themselves for centuries. The Fifth Season is destined to be the one that ends the world for good.

The book unfolds in three time periods. One period deals with Damaya, a young woman who, as an Orogene, is taken to a place called the Fulcrum where she is made to learn how to use her powers. The second is about a woman called Syenite who has left Fulcrum and is learning from a new master named Alabaster. The third period is about you. It’s told in the second person and you are left to wonder, exactly, who you are and what will happen.

While I found much of the story interesting, and I thought the system of powers in the book was fascinating, I honestly struggled with the second person point of view narrative. I am not a fan of that point of view unless I am reading a choose your own adventure book. By the end of the book I understood why the author chose it and I was a little more okay with it, but I really had difficulty finding my bearings in the story.

I don’t want to give too much away because I do think it is an interesting book but I feel like if that second person point of view was removed, it would not hurt the story at all. All three time periods do interrelate, I just would have preferred it not be told in second person at all.

I found the story of Damaya the most interesting and I think I would not have minded a whole book about her experience from start to end. The other two sections didn’t work quite as well for me, although, I can see why some people love this book. There are twists and turns the reader does not expect.

I plan to give the next volume a read, just because I want to know where the story goes from here but this was not my favorite fantasy book this year. It, however, is unlike most other fantasy books on the shelves, so it is nice to have a unique story. It just was not entirely for me.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

Elizabeth Harvest – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here back with a movie review for you all. Elizabeth Harvest is a movie with a huge house, a small cast, and a lot of blood.

Fair warning that there will be spoilers below but I will keep them to a minimum.

Elizabeth is a new bride married to a brilliant scientist. He shows her around the house, introduces her to the staff, shows her how the biometric doors work and tells her that there is one room she is not allowed to go into. Yes, this is kind of a modern day Bluebeard story and when Henry calls Elizabeth “my pet”, tells her to “be a good girl” and feeds her with a spoon as if she is not a grown woman, it’s pretty safe to say, Henry is probably up to no good.

The movie does take on original twists, however, and becomes more intricate as the film progresses. It’s slow paced despite the large amount of violence in it. Parts of the film are disorienting and I do feel like some of the plot is dangling by the end but I don’t want to give that away in case anyone wants to watch this.

Abbey Lee who plays Elizabeth has an exceptionally difficult job here considering what the role calls for but she pulls it off perfectly. The concept of the film is not bad and the execution is decent overall, I just wish it didn’t remind so much of other movies where these kinds of events happen. The tone is ominous and threatening when it needs to be and I think the filmmakers made good use of the location they had.

Overall this is not a bad watch if you enjoy science fiction and horror but it’s also not so brilliant that it should be at the top of your watch list. If you’ve gone through all the other good stuff and need something to view this evening, it’s worth a view.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Lies, Inc. – #BookReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review another book from my July to be read list. I know it’s August but I was close. And boy have I got a weird one for you today.

SUMMARY

When catastrophic overpopulation threatens Earth, one company offers to teleport citizens to Whale’s Mouth, an allegedly pristine new home for happy and industrious émigrés. But there is one problem: the teleportation machine only works in one direction. When Rachmael ben Applebaum discovers that some of the footage of happy settlers may have been faked, he sets out on an eighteen-year journey to see if anyone wants to come back.

REVIEW

2/5 STARS

It is the far future and Earth has become overcrowded. To make matters worse, the planets in the solar system that might have been habitable could not for one reason or another be colonized. But one company has a solution. A satellite found a planet that did have a habitable environment. For years now, people have been stepping through a teleportation gate that will take them to this planet. It seems like a perfect solution and a perfect paradise with plenty of room. At least, that’s what the videos that come back seem to indicate. Not everyone in the world is convinced. One man, Rachmael ben Applebaum is convinced that the videos from this planet are fake. He happens to own a ship and wants to go to the planet and see if anyone there is dissatisfied and if possible bring them home. The problem? It’s an eighteen-year trip to get there.

While this sounds like a great setup and could have made for a classic Phillip K. Dick novel full of interesting ideas about the future and the meaning of life and governmental control. Instead, we got a novel full of bizarre images with a plot that just barely holds together and never quite works.

The opening lines are brilliant. “The Sub-Info computers owned by Lies, Incorporated had been caught in an unnatural act by a service mechanic. Sub-Info computer Five had transmitted information which was not a lie.”

This is the type of opening that makes the reader think we are in for an incredible ride. However, by the next page, our main character is hallucinating about rats because of this. It just gets stranger from there. There is a plot that can be followed relating to the planet and the companies that are competing for dominance on it but at least a good third of the book is a bizarre collection of hallucinations including a book that tells the present and the future and strange alien creatures that eat their own eye-stalks for food.

This was a missed opportunity for what could have been a brilliant deconstruction of government, authoritarianism, capitalism, and espionage. Those elements are there but they are not explored nearly as much as the odd hallucinatory monsters that our main character is infected with, creating a dizzying narrative that simply does not make enough sense.

If you like Phillip K. Dick’s books and want to read all of his work, of course, this should be on your reading list. But, if you are a casual science fiction fan and want an introduction to Dick’s incredible work, go with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Also known as Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) It’s a much more engaging read.

Hallucinatingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Petr – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

After years of living in his grandfather’s shadow Petr Drexel, a member of the space-faring nomadic Star Folk, is on a quest to prove his worth to himself and his family. On his first job, Petr’s shuttle is shot out of the sky in the middle of a Martian civil war. Ship repairs put Petr in debt to Alfred Zwinger, who offers Petr a deal he can’t refuse: pay off the debt by completing jobs for a powerful Martian noble named Rickard d’Helion.

During his first job for d’Helion Petr’s shuttle is stolen by Henrietta, a Star Folk Navigator on the run. Petr retrieves his shuttle only to discover the work he was hired for isn’t as simple as it seems. Deliver mining equipment – and fight off an army to protect the site; capture a rogue Star Folk mech pilot – only to discover it’s Henrietta’s brother, and that Henrietta isn’t who she appears to be. Petr and his motley crew quickly become entangled in solar system spanning intrigue, and now Petr’s problem is no longer just paying off his debt, but whether he will survive at all.

REVIEW

3/5 Stars

Petr Drexel needs to prove himself worthy of his tribe and his family name. He is a space pilot and on his very first job, his shuttle is shot out of the sky, making it a whole lot more difficult for him to earn a living, let alone a name for himself. Repairing his ship puts him in debt to a wealthy merchant named Alred Zwinger. Petr finds three mercenaries and a navigator who may be hiding secrets to accompany him. Together the team travels throughout the galaxy, performing jobs big and small, from recovering lost goods to stopping highly skilled thieves. As the jobs play out, it becomes more obvious that there is something going on behind the scenes and Petr is determined to find out what that is.

The book is action packed and a fun ride. It’s the story of nomadic viking tribes in space which makes for some entertaining situations. Petr is a charismatic leader and his band of mercenaries provide for not only enjoyable action but humorous scenes as well. The problems in the book stack up for Petr as not only is he indebted to a ruthless loan shark, his shuttle is stole right from under his nose.

At times the politics of the space galaxy could get confusing in the story and it wasn’t always clear what those politics meant for Petr. However, the rest of the book makes up for it with plenty of space fights, power armor, and intrigue. The story of how the mercenaries come to respect and trust Petr is interesting and plays out naturally. There is even a romantic entanglement to deal with. The combination provides for a story that is well worth reading.

If you enjoy military space fiction or books that deal with explorers and mercenaries traversing new territory while trying to survive, then Petr is for you.

Space-ily Yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

The Garden and Other Stories – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

With The Garden and other stories, his first exciting collection, author Aaron Ramos skilfully weaves tales of powerful human emotion, modern scientific concepts, and ancient myths and legends within eight beautifully diverse stories.

In Elevated, a young man living in a dystopian future struggles with personal development and romance. In Zero, an elderly woman is confronted with a robotic visitation in small town America. By the Light of the Fire is one woman’s journey to peace with her father in the mountains of ancient Norway. Knocking on Heaven’s door sees a man come face to face with both the Devil and God in an effort to question what it means to be human. In the title story, a father and daughter try to make sense of prejudice, love and what it means to be truly happy in a post apocalyptic universe.

Ramos’ detailed and sensitive imagining of both future and past is an invitation to readers to consider who they are against the vast backdrop of multiple universes.

REVIEW

3/5 Stars

The Garden and Other Stories is eight different short stories, varying in both length and subject matter. Most of the stories have some element of love, be it romantic, parental or even societal. While some stories might be stronger than others in terms of tale weaving, there is certainly something here to satisfy any reader who enjoys science fiction or fantasy stories.

At times the stories focusing on myth and fantasy felt a little more contrived in my opinion, but the stories dealing with technology were fascinating. Other readers might find the opposite is true, as it all depends upon one’s taste. Again in my opinion, the strongest stories of the bunch were Zero and Knocking on Heaven’s Door. Both dealt with futuristic technology and what that means to humankind. Zero is a more serious tale about artificial intelligence while Knocking on Heaven’s Door takes on the very idea of creation in a humorous and thoroughly entertaining light. The centerpiece of the book, The Garden is able to blend technological advances with the love a father has for his daughter. An unconditional love that is refreshing to see in a short story.

A nice through line in the stories was how most of them did have to do with love in some way. Even in the stories that were not the strongest, Ramos is able to pull the reader in emotionally. We can all relate to longing or yearning, or familial love and this is what makes this collection stand out. Even inside of fantastical settings full of monsters, myths and technological wonders, the protagonists are decidedly human. The one drawback to this book is that it would have been nice to have more stories in the collection. For that reason, I am looking forward to more from this author.

This is an impressive debut collection from a new author. If you enjoy short story collections such as Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman or the short story collections of Isaac Asimov, then at least one of these stories is sure to entertain.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

The Vast of Night – #MovieReview

It’s Like a Long Twilight Zone Episode and I’m NOt Complaining

Hey people out there catching my signal, it’s Slick Dungeon. I’m back again with a movie review for ya. This time I watched the sci-fi, quiet horror film that is getting all the buzz lately, The Vast of Night.

The film takes place in the fictional town of Cayuga, New Mexico and is about Everett and Fay, two characters caught up in things they can’t explain in the 1950’s. Fay is played by Sierra McCormick and Everett is played by Jake Horowitz. Both performances are fast paced, tense and low key brilliant.

Just a warning that there will be mild spoilers in this review but I won’t give too much away.

The film starts off with us looking at a television screen and getting an opening that essentially mimics The Twilight Zone. That sets the tone immediately as we transition into the town of Cayuga, where everyone is abuzz with getting ready for the high school basketball game. We met Everett immediately and it’s clear that he is the smartest guy in the room considering that everyone at the school wants his attention on a number of random things, including fixing scoreboards, setting up recording systems and repairing cables that have been chewed through.

One of the people wanting Everett’s attention is Fay. She has just bought a new fashioned tape recorder and wants Everett to show her how to use it. The dialogue in these scenes if fast paced and cigarette filled and it takes a moment to get your bearings as the viewer. We find out quickly that Fay would be a good match for Everett because she is able to talk about science in a way that impresses him. In fact, for me the scene that really got me into the film is when Fay starts describing these far in the future science articles that perfectly describe smart driving cars and cell phones. After that I was all in on this film.

Fay

Everett is not going to the basketball game because he hosts a radio show and needs to be at work. Fay works the telephone switchboard and is also unable to attend the game. They are about the only ones in town that won’t be there.

Every once in a while the movie reminds us how this begins by pulling back and showing us, or someone or something, watching the events unfold on a screen.

Things really get going once Fay starts to pick up an odd noise on the phone lines. She thinks it’s odd and has Everett listen to it. After that he plays the sound on the station and asks if anyone can identify it. Things get really interesting once a caller says he can.

I don’t want to give the story away from here but let’s just say Everett and Fay spend the rest of the night trying to understand what is going on. Whether or not they do, you’ll have to watch the film to know.

The film does miss on one point, it does not really address some of the injustices that were prevalent during that time period. While this film is not about that, I think that any film taking place in that time period produced now has a bit of a duty to at least address how bad it was for anyone who was not a straight, white, man at the time. There is a little bit but it barely brushes by the audience. But I digress.

The only other thing that really bothered me about this film is one that I have seen in multiple films, books and even in songs. The town is in New Mexico but the radio station is called WOTW. Not to put too much geography on you here but that’s west of the Mississippi. Any station west of the Mississippi is supposed to start with a K. I know how easy it is to make this mistake if you are from the east of the Mississippi. As someone who lives on the west of that river, it is always 100% confusing to see a station in New Mexico start with the letter W. So please, if you are east of the Mississippi and you make a movie on the west coast, start your stations with a K and if you are west of the Mississippi and you set your movie on the east coast, start your stations with a W. There are some people like myself who would really appreciate the effort.

The performances are outstanding and I felt like it was a really gripping, if a bit long episode of The Twilight Zone. Lucky for me, I love that show, so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this. The tension is quiet and builds very well. Enough happens to keep the viewer engaged while still allowing for a low budget film.

Right now the place to find this is on Amazon. It’s a worthy 90 minutes to spend if you want to watch a bit of eerie mysteriousness. For my money it’s definitely worth a watch.

Mysteriously Yours,

Slick Dungeon

Equilibrium – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here, back to tell you about a dystopian country where feelings are not allowed, Sean Bean, does what he does best, and people are not able to shoot each other because of angles.

Equilibrium is a 2002 science fiction film starring Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Taye Diggs and Emily Watson. Now, don’t get me wrong when you read this review. I really enjoyed the film. The film feels oddly prescient for the time we are in now. The action is really good and all of the performances are engaging. But I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t over think this by a million degrees. So just because I am pointing out inconsistencies and giant plot holes doesn’t mean I didn’t like it or that you shouldn’t watch it.

Fair warning that there will be spoilers ahead. I mean, this was made in 2002 so I think the expiration date on that warning is a bit old but I can’t continue the review in good conscience without mentioning that.

It’s the early twenty first century and world war three has just happened. I should mention this film is fiction. A dystopian society much like you would find in 1984 or A Brave New World or even Fahrenheit: 451 has developed. I should reiterate that this film is fiction. As a result, there is a menacing and vaguely defined police force that is cracking down on insurgents for doing such things as looking at art, loving one another, and reading poetry. I should again mention that this film is actually fictional. It was made eighteen years ago but a lot of this film feels like right now is feeling. And it was even more striking when the villain, who turns out to be leading the whole thing says this, “…it is not the message that is important, it is our obedience to it.” He says this to get a law enforcement officer (Christian Bale) to commit an unlawful act. So yeah, spot on to how this moment in America is right now. But let me remind you, this film is fictional.

Enough with my tangent, on with the plot. The whole idea of this society is that we need to suppress our human emotions chemically, to maintain peace. It’s illegal to feel anything at all and those who break this rule are subject to imprisonment and ultimately death. Christian Bale plays John Preston, a “Grammaton Cleric” who is trained in advanced weaponry and fighting skills. It’s his job to seek out and bring to justice, “Sense Offenders”, who are basically anyone that feels an emotion. Preston is good at his job and is ruthless about meting out his twisted version of justice, up to and including, burning the Mona Lisa and killing his partner for reading a volume of Yeats poems in the first ten minutes. R.I.P. Sean Bean. Again. He’s really good at getting killed in the first act of anything isn’t he?

Preston’s back story is tragic because his wife who seems to have loved him, was executed by the same police force he works for. He has since dedicated his life to stamping out all those who feel emotion and is very good at spotting anyone who does. But, he ends up missing a dose of his emotion suppressing drug and starts to feel. Meanwhile, Taye Diggs, who plays Andrew Brandt, a replacement Cleric for Sean Bean’s character, is starting to suspect something is up with Preston. There is a bit of cat and mouse and Preston does some things he’s later not proud of. He ends up meeting Mary O’brien who is played by Emily Watson. It turns out she was dating the Sean Bean character. Preston brings her in but his world view is starting to change.

The movie continues with a bit of action, some subterfuge, some back and forth and lots of gun violence and slick action sequences. In the end, we of course want to see Preston beat “Father” who is the man behind the totalitarian regime. We also want to see Preston show some emotion to his own children. I won’t tell you quite how we get those answers but I don’t think it’s spoiling too much to just say the good guys generally win.

There is also this stark contrast from the beginning of the film, full of drab and dark colors, including the uniform the Clerics wear, that changes at the end when Preston dons a white suit, because, you know, good guy and all.

As enjoyable as the film was, I still wanted to know a few things.

  1. Okay, so emotion is bad but even these Clerics go around talking about being proud or feeling guilt or whatever. The also say things like good morning. Good is pretty subjective and an emotion could be attached there so are these Clerics just exempt or what? It doesn’t seem like it since they have to take the drugs too. How do they define emotion? I didn’t see the consistency here at all.
  2. The Clerics are specially trained to be total killers. They go through this rigorous program and are able to beat hordes of people shooting at them. How do they do this? Because they train to counter the angles of gunfire that are most probable to come at them. Essentially the point is that they would use probability and physics to best their opponents. While that sounds and looks really cool, uh I have a question here. Has no one ever killed one of these guys because they held their gun at a weird angle, got off a random shot accidentally, or you know, found out this secret method of training that seems to happen in the middle of the public and like, lowered their gun by three degrees? I mean really, it seemed to me that maybe James Bond wouldn’t have a shot at killing these guys but what about Mr. Magoo? How did that Cleric die? The guy couldn’t see that well so he shot at a 34 degree angle and well, what can you do about that am I right?
  3. My next question is about the emotion suppressing drug. How the heck did they get that formula so perfect? It seems to be an absolutely identical injection for every human taken at the exact same time. No one has a weird reaction to this? Not a single person feels no effect from this? Heck, we can’t even give Tylenol to the entire human population without huge problems for a good portion of people so, whoever made that drug, give them a raise.
  4. Back to the Cleric emotion thing, there is one point where Taye Diggs’ character and Christian Bale’s character are facing off in a fight, in front of the head honcho of the dystopia. Diggs, great actor that he is, is clearly angry during the whole kerfuffle. I mean no question from his body language and what he says. How did he not get fired for that?!?! I mean that is an emotion! Anger is an emotion, so what the heck. And to believe the dictator here, what he wants is to stomp out these negative emotions that caused war in the past. I can’t say for certain how WWIII starts in this because they don’t say but I bet you anger was involved. Come on evil megalomaniac if you are gonna make that big a stink about reading poetry, get rid of people getting mad too.
  5. Christian Bale lives in this drab apartment with no decorations on the walls and no sheets or blankets or pillows on his bed. They show him at least twice sleeping on his bicep. So, uh, are pillows just to emotional in this world or what? Like, no you can’t have a pillow because you will cause a war if your neck is comfortable. Burn that.
  6. There are a ton of hidden rooms in this movie. Preston is really good at looking at or feeling a wall and punching through to find like a secret room with all kinds of art. Who built this stuff? I mean how do you get a secret contractor so you can build a room where you look at art and play a phonograph? Vinyl was really in during this whole movie too btw.
  7. My last questions get kind of involved and give a bit of a spoiler for the end so again be warned before you read on. The guy who was supposed to be Father is really a sort of simulation that is run by another guy we have seen earlier in the film. This guys plan is to get Preston to start to feel something so that he would be able to join the resistance so that he can get to the resistance to wipe them all out. So Preston does do that, then they trick Preston into coming to where this guy is in a ruse to make it seem like the resistance wants Preston to kill Father. But it turns out that Father brought Preston there so he could kill Preston, knowing that a. Preston is deadly and b. there are still members of the resistance out there. I have two questions about this. First, wasn’t there a freaking simpler way to get to the resistance? You had a woman who was taken prisoner you could have just let her go and then followed her. Pretty sure you could have found them then. Secondly, why would you bring Preston to you to kill him? I mean Taye Diggs’ character had like thirty-seven opportunities to just shoot him at point blank range. Why do that though, when you can bring him to your bunker so that he can just mow through all your dudes and kill you right? I mean, I guess that’s what we needed for the movie to happen? Classic bad guy stupid move and in my opinion it takes what was a smart movie and makes it dumber than it should be.

All that being said, there was some sweet, sweet sword fighting going on, so all good.

I hope you are all staying safe out there and that you enjoyed this review. If you want to feel like you are living in the film, you know, turn on the news. The film is better though, it’s fictional.

Equilibrialy Yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Bastion Awakens – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

A sovereign empire, the Consortium, defies both science and religion in its race to colonise the Solar System. They carved a God from ones and zeros.
It searches for the Devil.

A hidden planet, Bastion, lies home to a descendant colony of humanity. Its original inhabitants are thought long gone.
But something stirs beneath the surface.

TAREV is a harvester. A moonblood. His life, indebted to the Consortium, entails trudging along the harsh, icy surface of Saturn’s moon, Titan. A life of struggle, harvesting methane for the rest of the Solar System to use, until he and his brother, Sevastian, discover something buried deep within the ice.

Something that will change their lives forever.

ELIA is a Weightless, a gravity wielder, after being injected with the biometal that litters the alien planet on which she lives. She’s also the genetic reprint of an ancient hero, a Catalyst, who paid the ultimate sacrifice over two hundred years ago. Elia struggles to live up to the expectations that come with being a Weightless. She struggles to live normally, while wearing the face of a Catalyst.

She struggles to live, when her planet refuses to die.

REVIEW

5/5 Stars

Bastion Awakens is almost two books for the price of one. In one story we follow Tarev, a methane harvester from Titan. His life is not easy and he and his brother Sev do the best they can to make a living. Things seem to be set to improve when they find a huge pocket of methane to mine but they discover something completely unexpected while they are at it. The other story deals with Elia, a so called Weightless from Bastion, a hidden colony that has no contact with the other colonized planets. Elia not only is able to wield and bend gravity to her will, she is also a genetic imprint from an ancient hero, a Catalyst, who died over two hundred years ago. Needless to say, she has huge shoes to fill and is doing the best she can to live up to enormous expectations.

It takes a little while to get your bearings in the book (at least it did for me) but once you see how the stories reflect one another and start to understand the nature of the current state of civilization, the book is utterly gripping. It’s a huge space opera that touches on thematic elements from expectations brought about by ones surroundings, to grief, love, loss and self sacrifice. All this while still having a ton of action and life threatening situations to keep the reader engaged the whole while. And while a reader might wonder what the two stories have to do with one another, by the end, all is made clear, while still leaving questions out there that make one instantly want to read another volume in the saga.

To anyone who loves a good space adventure with intricate complexities and deep human emotions, you have got to read this book. While I am tempted to compare this to something like Dune, in that it takes place in space and there are complex politics happening,this stands in its own right as a unique story. By the end of the book the reader cares deeply about Tarev and Elia and can sympathize with all they have been through, gained and lost. To me this can stand with the best of space fiction and is an absolute must read.

Space Operatically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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An Interview with G.E. Hathaway Author of Burn

Hi everyone, Slick Dungeon here and guess who crawled into my dungeon! G.E. Hathaway, the author of the spectacular book Burn about a post apocalyptic Tucson, Arizona, that you should all go and read, right after you finish reading this post. She was kind enough to let me ask her a few questions about the book, about Tucson and about her writing process. Welcome to my dungeon, G.E., and thank you for joining me! Without further ado let’s get into the interview. 

Slick: Let me start with the obvious question. How does it feel to have a book out that is post apocalyptic while we are in an actual worldwide pandemic currently?

G.E. Hathaway: I have to admit, it’s a bit strange to drive around an empty downtown Tucson- like I’m a character straight out of the book!

I’ve been doing a lot of observing. There’s the world I imagined dealing with a large-scale emergency in Burn, and then there’s our actual reality dealing with COVID-19. I think the fears associated with living in a desert city are quite consistent with the reality. Water and shelter are essential against the heat, and we started hitting three-digit temperatures this week. If the power grid gets overwhelmed, outages occur. Something I’ve been greatly encouraged by, however, is the way people have come together to support each other during this difficult time. Even when things seem the most divisive and hostile, there’s always the helpers.

Slick: Your book is set in Tucson and it’s clear from reading it that you have a love of the area. What about the area inspires you and how did you decide to set your story there? Was there any consideration of setting it somewhere else?

G.E. Hathaway: I was greatly influenced by my time living near downtown Tucson and the University of Arizona campus. It’s a very old neighborhood, first of all, with a unique charm that you don’t find in many other places. With the development of the downtown area, you have an interesting combination of worlds; modern industrial and traditional Sonoran styles. As a result, the culture is delightfully mixed, and there’s great support for artistic expression. I wanted to present the city in a way that is recognizable to the locals today, and not just as another cowboy western. Tucson has evolved, but at the same time, I knew I needed to introduce it to new readers in a way that may be accessible to them, hence the idea of the “new wild west.”

Slick: What is your writing process like? Do you dedicate time to it every day or do you wait for inspiration to hit?

G.E. Hathaway: I write full time in a different industry and I’m a parent, so my creative writing goals are structured for maximum efficiency, which sounds so dry and uncreative! Basically, I keep a journal of writing concepts, and once I think a concept has enough legs to keep my own attention let alone someone else’s, I flesh out the beats. I sit on it for a while, making edits as needed, and if it continues to hold my interest, I outline the chapters. It takes a couple months before I’ll even sit down for the first draft, and by then I’m dedicated to a full writing schedule. I try not to go too long without writing during this time, because I don’t want to lose momentum.

After I complete the first draft, usually over a couple months because I write straight through without editing, I put it down for another month. Then I revisit it, edit it as best I can, then submit it to beta readers. I want to catch huge plot holes and narrative issues early before I send it to a professional editor.

Slick: Do you remember when you first got the idea for Burn? What was that like and why did you feel the need to tell this story in particular?

G.E. Hathatway: I was driving across town near the end of a very dry, hot summer, when the first monsoon storm hit. The monsoons here are gorgeous. The clouds roll in like a wild animal. Similar to how someone in the Pacific Northwest may come out to enjoy a sunny day, everyone in Tucson will go out to watch the rain. As I watched the first storm roll in, I realized wanted to capture that transition and heighten the stakes of what that relief means for the locals. I imagined the opening scene of the book that day. While the rest of us humans are enjoying the rain, there’s an actual battle going on between the weather, and I wanted to personify that. Although in those early days of brainstorming, the fight between the gods happened in the open desert instead of a convenience store!

Talisa

Slick: In Burn there is a technology called the Grid, which seems to be a renewable power source that doesn’t rely on any traditional power supplies. How did you come up with the idea? Do you think this sort of technology would be something that could exist in reality in the future and, if so, do you think it would be a good idea to use it?

G.E. Hathaway: It’s funny, after I started distributing an earlier draft of Burn to readers, I started getting articles from them they’d found on experimental technology that supposedly generates electricity from ‘thin air,’ either through microbiomes or water vapor. The future is here! I think one of the biggest things to think about is how to set up boundaries to the technology and keep it contained. Similar to dropping a boom box in a bathtub, how can you use the energy without having residual effects somewhere else? I’d also be curious about its finite conditions. If there’s no catastrophic fallout, I think it would be cool to see.

Slick: I loved the interplay of nature and technology in the book. Do you feel that the two can coexist well together or do you have more of an affinity for one or the other?

G.E. Hathaway: That’s exactly what I hope to explore in follow-up books! I think the big question I’m trying to address is: how can the two coexist in a way that isn’t detrimental to the other? I think having this story take place in the desert is perfect, because the environment is so fragile to begin with. On the one hand, our existence as a species is dependent on the health of the environment, but on the other hand, we need technology to survive the brutal heat. As a Tucsonan, I’m in a place that needs both.

Noah

Slick: To me, this book feels kind of like a cross between The Stand by Stephen King and American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Were you influenced by those authors at all? If not, who are your main influences when it comes to writing?

G.E. Hathaway: American Gods definitely served as an influence because I wanted to explore the deities in this book by how they evolved and are defined by the existing society. I love Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. Their world building is magical. Other authors I love include V.E. Schwab and Jason “David Wong” Pargin.

Slick: What are you reading right now? Any great books you can recommend to people who like Burn?

G.E Hathaway: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai is amazing. I keep going back to that one. A time traveler who lives in the ideal futuristic scifi world we originally envisioned from the 50s accidentally changes the past, and creates the present we currently know and recognize. The science fiction in this book is so interesting, with the time travel machine powered by the Earth’s axis. I also highly recommend Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by Jason “David Wong” Pargin, which looks at a dystopian future where our own social media engagement enforces a surveillance state. It’s also supremely funny and smart.

Liam

Slick: Three of the main protagonists, Liam, Ellie and Noah, all find themselves face to face with Gods and Goddesses. Was it difficult to personify these Gods and Goddesses while still making the interactions believable for the human characters?

G.E. Hathaway: I had fun with this one. Each character is driven by their environmental purpose. The Sun God is ruthless and unforgiving, much like the sun in Tucson. Alternatively, Winter is indifferent to humans, more peaceful. Winter doesn’t have the damaging effects in Tucson like it does in other parts of the world, but it does provide relief from the summer. The Rain Goddess gives life to the region, so I saw her as a motherly figure, and therefore more empathetic to humans. Those characteristics fed their interactions with the main characters. Hopefully trying not to give away too much, the stranger the humans meet in the desert was both the most fun and saddest character to write, because it aligned with how humans interact with the area wildlife as both a threat and a treasure.

Slick: Will there be more books involving these characters and, if so, what are the plans for the next book?  

G.E. Hathaway: Yes! I have book 2 outlined, with ideas for book 3 in development. I just hope my pandemic anxiety calms down enough for me to stick to a writing schedule! Book 2 is going to answer a question that Book 1 leaves hanging. I’m excited about this one, because it will introduce more gods as well as give the readers a glimpse of a modern and active Grid city.

Slick: In the book we find out what happened in Tucson when the Grid goes down but we don’t see what happens outside of Arizona. Will we get a glimpse of that in future books?

G.E. Hathaway: Yup! Our heroes will go outside of their comfort zones and visit the capital Grid city, which is located outside Arizona. Readers will also get to see what politics looks like since we’re in a future where a powerful corporation, Utopian Industries, has merged with the government system.

Ellie

Slick: The book is cinematic in scope and I could see this working as a graphic novel, movie or television series. Have you put any thought to trying to adapt it into any other kind of media?

G.E. Hathaway: I would love that! My hope is that the book picks up some steam in the indie world and attracts the attention of those who could make that happen. I actually have another manuscript with an agent at this time, so maybe if that one takes off, I can bring attention to Burn.

Slick: How can readers buy the book and how can they get in contact with you?

G. E. Hathaway: Burn (Desert Deities, Book 1) is available now on Kindle devices at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086FZ9K4C. I hope to get it formatted for paperback soon.

My website is https://gehathawayauthor.wordpress.com/

Email: g.e.hathawayauthor@gmail.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/g.e.hathawayauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gehathaway

Thanks so much for stopping by my dungeon! Now if you could just show me the way out? Oh, um I think she left. Anyway go read the book!

Inquisitively yours,

Slick Dungeon

Note: all art in this post was created by Sofia Bjerned and are property of G.E. Hathaway and can be used for personal/non-commercial use. They cannot be modified/edited for commercial purposes.