Quick Listing

  • Robert Appleton, GODIVA IN THE FIRING LINE
  • David Artuso, BEAR GODDESS
  • Dehanna Bailee, CALYPSO’S REVENGE: A TRAITOR’S HEART
  • Robert Burns, THE UNSELFISH GENE
  • E. Michael Fisher and James C. Bird, WHISKEY SHOTS VOLUME 15:  The Amish Time Traveler & Oedipus Tex: Beyond the Pale
  • Teel James Glenn and Jerry Kokich, THE EXCEPTIONALS: BOOK 1: MEASURE OF A MAN
  • Teel James Glenn, THE EXCEPTIONALS BOOK 2: ACROSS THE WASTELAND
  • Teel James Glenn, THE EXCEPTIONALS BOOK 3: ON THE GOOD SHIP CALIGULA
  • Teel James Glenn, The Horsed Thief
  • Bruce Golden, ONE OF NINE
  • Colin Harvey, VENGEANCE
  • S.L. Linnea, Beyond Eden
  • S. L. Linnea, TREASURE OF EDEN
  • Alex Marshall, The Crimson Tower
  • Brenda Munday Gifford, The Charon Covenant
  • Deborah M. Pratt, THE VISION QUEST: Book 1 – The Age of Light
  • Sarah Wagner, HARDWIRED HUMANITY
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GODIVA IN THE FIRING LINE
By Robert Appleton

Change always comes at a cost.

Godiva Randall is part of the Twelfth Lupine Corps and is being deployed to the Erratic system.  There is a fragile truce with the locals over Earth’s mining of one of the moons.

A simple deployment.  Keep an eye on the events and make sure everyone stays safe.  And since the introduction of the drug Celiba-C, men and women can serve safely beside each other; no one worries about sexual attraction getting people killed.

GODIVA is a military off-world science fiction story.  Mr. Appleton delivers a very good science fiction tale.  The characters are lively.  The action fast and exciting.  Overall a very good evening read.

However, GODIVA has an underlining story.  Is it about men and women serving together?  Humanity in general? Or, and the one I keep thinking about—who, what, are we without our emotions?

GODIVA IN THE FIRING LINE is proof positive a few words speak volumes.  Thank you Mr. Appleton.

BEAR GODDESS
By David Artuso

Can a Goddess be redeemed?

I ask this while only halfway through “Bear Goddess.”  Why?  Why write this before I finish the book?  My first impression, the start of the story, I was lost; however, I now feel there is a depth to the fantasy quest story.

Mr. Artuso offers a condensed fantasy quest using elves, dwarves, humans, and the mysterious stranger.  These characters are searching for the sacred relics of the Elf Goddess, Eldea and the Dwarf God, Dwardeus.  With these items—Staff of Eldea and War Hammer of Dwardeus—Awna, the human sorceress, will destroy the Bear Goddess and her undead army.

In “Bear Goddess” the evil one is known, the decision to vanquish her has been made, the objects of the quest are known as are the questors, and the relics’ location determined.  In most fantasy quests that would all be in book one.

What makes “Bear Goddess” different is who she is and how she became the evil one.  In the distant past the being Maydeus found and fell in love with Puldea.  While hidden behind a cloak of despair and darkness, Puldea was convinced by her soon-to-be-love, Maydeus, to explore the void beyond.  Deeply in love they created a world where their children, Eldea and Dwardeus, were born.  Puldea died during their birthing and from her children the Elves and Dwarves were created.

Eldea and Dwardeus had a major case of sibling rivalry, so much so that their own father dealt their final blow.  Here is where Puldea, again, loses herself in her cloak and over the years turns away from truth becoming the Bear Goddess.

At times Mr. Artuso’s story is told through Maydeus and it is here I became a tad lost.  Whose voice was speaking and where in the story were we.  I am still debating whether Mr. Artuso’s ending was too fast or just right.  As I stated earlier, there is more to this fantasy quest than just a quest.

For a first novel, this reader was left satisfied and curious.

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CALYPSO’S REVENGE: A TRAITOR’S HEART
By Dehanna Bailee

When is a traitor not a traitor?

Eight years ago, Brigadier Teah Valtamise fled Calypso and all she thought she stood for.  Was she a murderer or reluctant hero?

CALYPSO’S REVENGE is a straightforward science fiction adventure story.  It has military and political ramifications mixed with strength of character, family loyalty, and a growing romance.

Teah was one of the best.  She followed orders without thought.  Until the one order which made no sense.  Why kill an innocent woman and child?  Just for the correct vote in High Council?  Teah couldn’t justify her orders and while protecting the innocents, she shot her partner.  Now there’s a bounty on Teah’s head.

Time and Commander Ryker, at least he was a Commander the last time Teah knew, have caught up to Teah.  She’s headed back to Calypso and her execution.

Sounds simple, right?  An assumed murdering traitor on the run, now caught, will she escape and redeem herself.  If only it was that simple.  Ms. Bailee has a few more surprises for Teah.

CALYPSO’S REVENGE is a character-driven story.  Teah is one of the finest leading ladies, I’ve read.  Teah is balanced with smarts, strength, and emotions.  Neither too feminine nor too overbearing.  Well, Ryker might differ on the overbearing part.  Ryker is a good counter-balance to Teah.  You wonder if they will ‘hook up’ and wish they would.

Ms. Bailee balances Teah’s justice with realistic legalities.

I wouldn’t mind revisiting Teah, Ryker, and a few other characters from CALYPSO’S REVENGE.

THE UNSELFISH GENE

By Robert Burns

A pandemic has killed everyone on Earth; those it hasn’t killed are walking dead – flesh-craving zombies.  Don’t worry some humans were immune.  The Moon has been colonized, but everyone’s developed some form of phobia/disorder and a whole new class system has emerged.  Soon a comet will crash into the Earth and destroy it and items the Moon colony need to survive.

Solution, send a team from the Moon to Earth and pick up healthy human DNA samples and as much equipment and medical supplies as possible before there is no more Earth.

Simple.  What do you think?

The heroes of “The Unselfish Gene” are the Moon’s underdogs, the lower class.  They didn’t ask to take over the mission to Earth.  This task was forced on them via sabotage and one of their own is the saboteur.

I truly like “The Unselfish Gene.”  It is a very different read for me.  The characters really struck a cord with me because they are the underdogs, the disposable ones.  Why should they bother helping a society that insists they do the work but not enjoy the full benefits?  Yet, our crew tries and maybe even changes a few rules along the way.

“The Unselfish Gene” is not a quick and easy read; however, it is a read you can’t put down…once you are within its grasp.  Yes, it took a chapter or two to hook me.  I was a tad lost between the characters on the space ship and the characters on Earth.

Mr. Burns incorporates old movie standards into the dialogue and character situations.  His characters, having limited entertainment on the Moon, have watched far too many movies.  So, instead of cliché scenarios that we see/read all the time, Mr. Burns develops these into acceptable aspects of his story.  His characters know they are walking into trouble; they know nothing good can happen if they walk into the dark room.  The characters are relatable.

The main story itself – Moon colonized, comet destroying the world, humans into zombies, sabotage, and characters falling in love during danger times – is good old fashion fun.

Based on “The Unselfish Gene” I would read Mr. Burns again.

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WHISKEY SHOTS VOLUME 15:  The Amish Time Traveler & Oedipus Tex: Beyond the Pale

By E. Michael Fisher and James C. Bird

I did not mix with this volume.

Interesting short story combination, time/dimensional travel starring an Amish farmer in one and a porn star in the other.

I enjoyed the “The Amish Time Traveler.”  It was an interesting read of how he affected ancient Babylon.  The ending was perfect.

As for the second story “Oedipus Tex: Beyond the Pale,” it was too much gutter sexual description.  A complete turn off.

THE EXCEPTIONALS: BOOK 1: MEASURE OF A MAN

By Teel James Glenn and Jerry Kokich

To state there is a new type of hero would be too cliché.  However, Mr. Glenn and Mr. Kokich introduce us to new heroes who, I believe, satisfy any lover of military/police-based champions.

I am unsure about these characters, right now.  Their abilities and personalities seem a little excessive.  However, isn’t that what we want in our superheroes?

To quote the book’s description, these men and women are “extraterritorial bio-enhanced bounty hunters, who could go anywhere, do almost anything in the name of the law.”  World Governments and the United Nations employ, train, pay, and generally sanction them and all their missions.    “The Exceptionals Book 1” follow The Bodyguard, the New York Exceptionals team.

In this first look at The Bodyguard, we witness their skills as would-be-exceptionals-turned-criminals overtake The Bodyguard headquarters.  Encounters with Captain Mephisto and his raiding pirates act as comic relief to the serious mission to Cambodia, where more shocks and secrets discovered.  Will the team ever be the same?  Hey, I had to leave you something.

I still have a few questions about the characters and the action sequences.  However, after looking up Mr. Glenn’s resume I am convinced on the fighting skills.  I found the quieter information research and discovery, the interactions between the characters, and the secrets made a more compelling read than the action.

“The Exceptionals Book 1” was a slow start, for me; however, I want to what happens next.

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THE EXCEPTIONALS BOOK 2: ACROSS THE WASTELAND

By Teel James Glenn

Is it in our future to a step back to tribal times?

“Across the Wasteland” is a much stronger and more involving read.  The Exceptionals characters, mostly Lastshot and Skorpion, were easier to believe and accept.  They are the new heroes of a very disturbing future.

“Across the Wasteland” travels with us to a part of our world turned into a wasteland due to via a massive whole in the ozone layer that we caused.  This area “the zone” is a virtual dead man’s land.  Nothing electrical works within its ozone free boundaries.  The solar radiation can and does kill.  Even Lastshot and Skorpion feel this area’s weakening powers.

However, as renegade Exceptional, Rokk, knows, life is always hidden deep inside Mother Earth.  Rokk is “a full blood Seneca, a citizen of the Original Nation Confederacy” as well as an Exceptional.  Mr. Glenn introduces an interesting future for North America and her Native Peoples.

Rokk knows the Law and Justice are sometimes opposites and, sadly, he has taken the law into his own hands to delivery justice.  You will need to judge him for yourself.

The base story of “Across the Wasteland” is the survival of Lastshot and Skorpion as they strive to deliver Rokk to the proper authorities while keeping the civilians, whose plane was commandeered for Rokk’s transportation, alive.  Within the Wastelands, our group encounters the locals, who were force to band together into warring tribes, packs of radioactively mutated wolves, and their own internal battles.

I like Lastshot here more than in Book 1 of The Exceptionals.  Here he is faced with someone, Rokk, who is very much like Lastshot, but has crossed the very narrow line dividing the legal from the illegal.  How Lastshot accepts or doesn’t accept Rokk made for a deeper reading of what is an adventure series.

This time around Mr. Glenn has produced one storyline and has run with it to my satisfaction.  So, what’s so great about it being to my satisfaction?  I’m no longer going to read Book 3 because I’m curious or because I’ve accepted the review request…I’m reading Book 3 because I want to revisit this series.

Well done, Mr. Glenn.

THE EXCEPTIONALS BOOK 3: ON THE GOOD SHIP CALIGULA

By Teel James Glenn

This is not the Good Ship Lollypop, but their God Emperor Maximus Caligula the Second is a little lolly--as in gone around the bend a few times. Can The Bodyguard save two of their own from Maximus’ gladiator games?

 I’m enjoying the escapism Mr. Glenn’s world offers and I’m a little surprised that I am.  Mr. Glenn has created over-the-top super human heroes meshing natural abilities with technologies from some modern Six Million Man world and it WORKS.  Not my normal reading choices, but I’m now looking forward to each new story.

 In this book three of The Exceptionals, a tsunami of ‘27 sent the aircraft carrier, the California, crashing into a small village just north of Columbia.  Now called the Republic of Nova Roma and ruled by said Maximus Caligula, who has brought back the life and death (mostly death) games of ancient Rome.  Very lucrative games. 

 Exceptional Temper, Tori Yagyu, was tracking black market nuclear arming triggers when she ran into the games.  What connection is there between the games and nuclear missiles?

 Undercover, Exceptional Lastshot, Connor Le’Schott, goes in to bring Tori home.  Is this the final face off between him and…like I’m going to tell you.

 The Exeptionals is pure entertaining escapism.  It’s the good guys against the bad guys and let the bodies fall where they will.  It’s fantastical over the top situations that could just be a teeniest bit futuristically real.

 Yes, I want more.

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The Horsed Thief

by Teel James Glenn

Blurb:

In the virtual world of Old Basra a thief who loved a Princess learns to see with more than his eyes and changes the real world in the process.

In Old Basra the thief Asad El-baha falls in love at first sight with the beautiful Princess Fatinah, but it is a forbidden love. In the real world the office is a hotbed of bullying and unrequited love. The two worlds collide when the evil wizard-emir who transforms Asad into a horse, and the game goes horribly wrong.

My Review:

Mr. Glenn always tells a swashbuckling tale. High action, fast-paced, and classic-voiced. I know this sounds like a bunch of catch phrases; however, this is what I’ve come to expect when I open one of his books. Why I look forward to opening them.

It’s easy to rewrite the storyline and delve into the nitty-gritty of structures and style. But lately I find myself moving toward a simpler voice. Surprisingly, moving away from the catch phrases and impact words to the plain fact…I enjoy Mr. Glenn’s writing.

I know, I know, even wrote it in another review, just saying I like a book isn’t enough. If it was all my reviews would be ratings and nothing more. Kinda of boring, really.

When I open a book from Mr. Glenn I expect to be swept away. To find myself in another world in the midst of adventure and full make believe. Actually, I think that hits it on the nail…reading Mr. Glenn is very much like playing make believe. I can plant myself in the middle of the story and literally have to pull myself out into reality. This is different from escaping into a book. This is watching a stage play calling me up on stage and taking me along as everything unfolds.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading “The Horsed Thief.” I kept thinking the land of Aladdin. Then I would be back in my old office cubicle waiting to escape to my daydreams…my books. Here I wonder if we’re escaping to a time past or future present?

When and how does the virtual become reality and reality, virtual?

I don’t really know, all I do know is I had fun reading “The Horsed Thief.”

ONE OF NINE
By Bruce Golden

Do you remember Jackie Robinson?

A difficult review to write due only to story volume.  ONE OF NINE is about baseball and two players.  It touches upon the very challenge Jackie Robinson faced and won.  It does so with a science fiction twist…an artificially created human, an androne.

How does Mr. Golden approach this new barrier?  Will humanity face this barrier or do lessons from our history present themselves?

If created artificially does an androne escape being human?

ONE OF NINE will satisfy the baseball and science fiction lover.

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VENGEANCE

By Colin Harvey

You’ve heard of the Hounds of Hell, the Hounds of Baskerville, now meet Spellhound and whatever you do, do not touch that spell.

I am not sure how to review Colin Harvey’s “Vengeance” because I didn’t quite understand it all.  However, I loved the ending.  Which, you know, I won’t share.

The basic premise is a detective story.  The rich power hungry client wants his stolen spells back.  The client is Stanislav Duff.  Duff wants any who touches or uses his spells killed.  The detective is Jocasta Pantile and her partner/tracker, the Spellhound.

Spellhound is also the killing tool.  Each spell is imprinted with Duff’s scent and Spellbound will sniff down the individual smells.  Spellhound is more possession than partner to Jocasta.  One day he might be able to earn enough, along with the right, to buy his contract from Jocasta.  Theirs is a complicated relationship.

Simple enough, right?  And for the most part I got it; however, parts of the tracking storyline lost me.  I became confused as to why and what was happening.

My gut reaction tells me there is something here for a science fiction fan; however, I didn’t get it.  And, that happens; sometimes a reader just doesn’t get the telling whereas others do.  Knowing Mr. Harvey’s writing I believe this is what happened here with “Vengeance” and me.

With that said, I suspected some of the end surprises, but Mr. Harvey blew me away with his final conclusion.

I want to say I enjoyed “Vengeance’ however, I did get a tad too lost in the spell hunting.  I feel that is more me than Mr. Harvey’s writing.

“Vengeance” is a strange read, but there is something very secretive about the concept of vengeance.  A little more than meets the eye, if you find it.

Beyond Eden

S.L. Linnea

What would you do if you discovered the Garden of Eden exists?

Army Chaplain Jaime Richards has returned to ‘terris,’ or our part of the Earth, after living the last two years in Eden.  She’s back to find the kidnapped children of Eden’s descendants.

“Beyond Eden” is the second book in Army Chaplain Jaime Richards’ saga, and I do wish I had read the first before “Beyond Eden.”  One reason is simply to find out how she found Eden and more information about Eden and its people.  The other reason is because without it I didn’t quite ‘get’ this current story.

There is quite a bit to grasp in “Beyond Eden,” but I did finally find my way.  So, you don’t need to read the first book, I just wished I had.

Other than that, “Beyond Eden” is a multi-layered story.  S.L. Linnea takes you through personal beliefs that are twisted to satisfy the demands of others.  Then there is the blind need, at any cost, of a mother to save her son from dying and the greed of those who want to live forever.  And let’s not forget Jaime Richards who tries to put everything she ever thought about life and friends together with what she’s learned while living in Eden.  At the same time dealing with falling in love with another Agent of Eden and saving the kidnapped children of Eden’s children.

The idea of having your heroine an Army Chaplain serving in Iraq is a bold move, in my opinion.  With this heroine, Jamie, you have someone who believes in a higher power and the fabled Garden of Eden.  She is also in the middle of one of the USA’s most controversial wars.  How will Jamie combine her beliefs…both religious and military…with everything she learned in Eden?  How do you leave perfection for the hell on Earth?  Can she walk away from perfection?

This novel is set during a very limited timeframe…approximately four days of army leave.  Taking us, the reader, into the kidnapees’ minds and their situation adds to the depth and need to find them.  We are party to Jamie’s desperate search and the upcoming execution of the kidnapped.  It was when the story turned to the kidnapped that I was most engaged.  The self-discovery of certain characters here and the friends found gave me the most hope.

While not a quick and easy read, “Beyond Eden” is intriguing.  The race to save the kidnapped and stop the existence of Eden from being discovered is just plain fun.

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TREASURE OF EDEN
By S. L. Linnea

Only a believer knows a treasure’s worth.

“Treasure of Eden” is the third in Ms. Linnea’s series featuring her character, Army Chaplain Jamie Richards.  Book One, which I have not read, was Jamie’s discovery of Eden.  Book Two, which I did read, brought Jamie back to the Terris world, our world, and to her first assignment and in Book Three Jamie stumbles into a ‘current critical’ mission surrounding a long lost messenger box.

What mysteries are within this Six Sister jewelled encrusted box?  For the Gardeners of Eden it may be the valued last communicates between a Gardener and Jesus; for a Bedouin clan is has been their good fortune talisman; for another the key to Eden for which he will kill to obtain.

There is another treasure…Jamie’s heart.

I don’t know why I’m not connecting with “Treasure of Eden.”  Ms. Linnea’s series concept is different, something I look for when reading.  I am interested in Jamie’s first trip to Eden, she’s a strong levelheaded female, a favourite type of mine; however, I’m not connecting with her.  If pressed, I find her too removed from our world.  Sometimes, I feel like the people of Eden are alienated from the Terris world they are trying to protect.

Their, people of Eden, mantra “Who rules Eden rules the world” leaves an unpleasant taste, to me.  Why?  It isn’t due to any religious prejudice, that’s far removed from Ms. Linnea’s writing.  Total acceptance and tolerance.  I’m just not connecting.

Maybe I’m missing something for having not read the first book?  Each book is presented as a stand-alone and is self-contained; however, maybe the relationship with Eden needs to be understood to fully connect.

I am curious to hear from other readers, please.

The Crimson Tower

By Alex Marshall

Blurb via Publisher’s website:

On the shattered, war-torn Earth of the far future, an aged scientist wearied by grief tries to break the vicious cycle of bloodshed and revenge which has consumed the planet. At the brink of despair he must strike a blow for humanity and right the wrongs he and his kind have visited upon each other throughout an ages-long slide into darkness.

My Review:

Sometimes the best dark fiction lies within the realities of our times…our potential future.

Do you believe in coincidence? Since I started reviewing I’ve also become a published writer, a blogger, and an editor. Today on my writer’s blog I revisited with a book I edited. What does this have to do with this review? Simply told, both look at time and how writers examine its possibilities.

But, this might be giving too much away from Crimson Tower’s tale.

At the heart of this story is mankind’s need to dominate. To be right, at least on the right side of whatever issue we wage our wars on. What if…no, that would be giving the story away.

Mr. Marshall has captured much within these thirty electronic pages. Through his writing, his characters and world showcase dehumanization that is all too possible.

Reality in the hands of a dark fiction writer always equals a real fear read.

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The Charon Covenant

Brenda Munday Gifford

My child is not dead.

Brenda Munday Gifford indicates, on the back cover of “The Charon Covenant,” that this story is “based on a recurring nightmare she had while expecting her first child.”  That was some nightmare.

Why were so many newborns taken, their parents told they had died?  Who exactly is talking in Dara’s head?  And did everyone succeed?

Okay, I admit those are strange questions to ask without any back-story told.  Well, a quick synopsis is this…Dara Drew is told her newborn son died.  She does not believe the doctors as she’s hearing her son and a strange woman’s voice in her head (her ESP is waking up).  Since destroying the Earth, we’ve settled on the Moon; however, we’ve turned ourselves over to a governing body and have forgotten to think for ourselves.  It is here, within the hospital halls, that Dara discovers just how much she and everyone has been manipulated by ‘the Inner Circle.’  Dara and her friends discover that the ‘Inner Circle’ has been replaced by an alien race…one that intends on taking over humanity. Now the question is – can Dara and her friends save Dara’s son and all of humanity?

“The Charon Covenant” is a very creepy nightmare to have while pregnant.  It is also a strangely mixed read.  There are questions I would have liked answered in the telling, scenes I would have preferred fleshed out a bit more.  However, these aspects are what keep the novel in my memory.  The reason “The Charon Covenant” sticks with me is because of the pieces missing.

Even scarier, I can understand how humanity would hand over its control of itself to a governing body…given the circumstances of starting all over again.

I’ve been told that any good science fiction should leave you thinking.  Brenda Munday Gifford’s “The Charon Covenant” has left me thinking, I just wish there was a tiny bit more within the pages.

THE VISION QUEST: Book 1 – The Age of Light

By Deborah M. Pratt

What do you get when you mix androids with human DNA?

“The Vision Quest” is the start of a new world and a new world battle.  Mother Earth has recreated herself through quakes and the unveiling of Atlantia.  She has changed world coastlines and shifted her axis.  She has reclaimed humankind’s pets and forced all humanity to rethink, refind itself.

Once again, humans have messed it all up.  Now the battle between human and the creation meant to protect humans has started.

Lazer watched as the Black Guard, biodroids, massacred his father and his father’s co-workers.  The same Black Guards who nearly murdered his mother.  Lazer has promised his mother he will finish his Rite of Passage journey, but once it is over he’s coming home to Atlantia for his revenge.

“The Vision Quest” offers a world that tries to meld the spiritual nature of all humankind and those genetically spliced with human and animal DNA with the technology of machines.  What happens when the biodroids become self-aware?  What secrets or powers do the mysteries orbs hold or weld?  What will happen if Five, the self-aware and self-elected leader of the biodroids, finds a way to open these orbs?  Why do the orbs react to Lazer?

I’m not sure how successful this series will become.

This book one was a slow read for me.  This review even harder to write because I don’t think I can do justice to the full intent of this series based on only one book.  “The Vision Quest” is a gathering of history and set up of characters.  It’s a starting base for the meat of the series to spring from.

Given Ms. Pratt’s experience, co-Executive Producer and Head Writer of the television series “Quantum Leap,” I am curious as to where she will take us.

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HARDWIRED HUMANITY

By Sarah Wagner

How far will we go before we become machines?  How close are machines to being human?

Ms. Wagner asks some very thought-provoking questions in her collection of short stories, “Hardwired Humanity.”  Questions that developed into interesting stories.

“Switch” asks what does it take to be alive, to be loved and to love.

“Venus and the Birth of Zephyrus” is a little confusing for me, but it has an element that scares me just a little.

“When Closed Eyes Open” is something I hope never ever becomes reality.

“Canned Man” is lonely.

“The Wreck of the Griffin” is a science fiction start over…would you ever really want a true restart?

“Evolution of a Shadow” might just be the next evolution of humankind…would we dare?

Normally, I am not a big Science Fiction fan; however, Ms. Wagner’s work haunts me, just a little too much.

Yes, go read “Hardwired Humanity” before it’s not just Science Fiction.