Sci-Fi and Fantasy: Space Opera: (1) Patrick S. Tomlinson’s “Gate Crashers” (c) 2018; (2) Alex White’s “Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe” (c) 2018.

Patrick S. Tomlinson’s “Gate Crashers”

A very imaginative and quirky space opera: Character-driven story – both human and alien; science and politics; well-crafted with a great sense of humor.

In 2345, the starship Magellan or Maggie is on a journey of over thirty light-years to the planet Solonis B.

Captain Allison Ridgeway and her crew discover an unusual alien artifact. It is stationary, and emitting a weak signal. Soon enough, Ridgeway and her team realize the object is a space buoy.

An Artifact Research Team (“ARTists”) is set up on Earth to work together with the Magellan team (the A-team) to figure out the technological workings of the buoy.

Felix Fletcher is the major researcher for the team on Earth. He has the talent and skills to work on real-world applications of theoretical physics.

The interest in the space buoy ratchets up exponentially when Ridgeway’s A-team decodes the inscription on the buoy. It is an alien message inscribed in 6 different alien languages:

The buoy marks the perimeter either limiting or warning of human territory! (“Human Wild Life Preserve”). As it turns out the buoys are a network set up to monitor any incoming or outgoing spaceships by the Assembly of Sentient Species.

The Magellan and the Bucephalus journey into deep space … The story turns and twists … the humans meet the Assembly of Sentient Species…

Alex White’s “Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe” is Book 1 of the Salvagers Series.

Fantastic sci-fi and fantasy space adventure story: of magic and technology; of people born with magic glyphs, ordinary and extraordinary; and of spaceships and race cars.

The crew of the Capricious sets out across the galaxy to search for the legendary warship the Harrow.

Nilah Brio — born with a mechanist’s magic art. She is a galactic champion race car driver.

Orna Sokol – a spacer and ferocious fighter, born with a mechanist’s magic art; talented and skilled Orna builds her own exoskeleton, Ranger.

Elizabeth Elsworth, or Boots, is a former space fighter for the Arcan space force and a space salvager. Resilient, a survivor, salvager of ancient treasures, and knowledge of obscure planets. Elizabeth is one of the few in the galaxy who has no magic glyph.

Epic Sea Fantasy: R. J. Barker’s “The Bone Ships” (c) 2019.

R. J. Barker’s “The Bone Ships” is a fantastic sea saga, of ships that are made of the bones of sea dragons.
It is a vivid and richly imagined tale of remarkable and courageous characters: Captain Meas Gilbryn, her officer Joron Twiner and the crew of the Bone Ship, the Tide Child.

“The Bone Ships” is book 1 of the “Tide Child Trilogy.”
Book 2: “Call of the Bone Ships” (2020) and book 3: “The Bone Ship’s Wake” (2021).

“The Bone Ships”
The story is set in the Seas of the Scattered Archipelago.

For many centuries the people of the Hundred Isles and Gaunt Isles built their ships from the bones of ancient sea dragons, called arakeesian or keyshan. The Hundred Islanders and Gaunt Islanders fought battles to capture the sea dragons, build better ships, and control the Seas.

Then the dragons disappeared. The Islanders now fight to capture ships, for the dragon bones to build new ships.

After many centuries, a sea dragon, a keyshan, is sighted again.

The Tide Child is a bone ship of the Hundred Isles. Its crew is made up of criminals condemned to death. The crew consists of both women and men.

The Captain or Shipwife of the Tide Child is Meas Gilbryn. She is the daughter of the ruler of the Hundred Isles. Meas is known as the greatest Shipwife to sail the seas. But she is now captain of the Tide Child as punishment for a crime. Meas Gilbryn is a formidable character. Courageous, and undaunted, she transforms the Tide Child crew from one that is without hope, into one that is loyal and disciplined, ready to sail the high seas.

Jonor Twiner is the DeckKeeper, or officer, second in command to Meas. Jonor is of the Hundred Isles. He grows up with a love of the sea, sailing on his father’s fishing boat. He is condemned to sail on the Tide Child after he kills a fleet captain’s son in a duel. Joron learns from Meas how to sail the Bone Ship and to be a ship’s officer who can work with the crew, to turn them into a loyal crew.

The Tide Child sails into the high seas to search for and protect the keyshan.

A great sea story, well-crafted, well-written!


Fantasy & Murder Mystery: Sarah Gailey: “Magic for Liars – A Novel” (c) 2019.

Sarah Gailey: “Magic for Liars – A Novel” (c) 2019.

Well-crafted and compelling fantasy and murder mystery, a story of mages, and a family story of twin sisters Ivy and Tabitha Gamble.

Ivy is born without the gift of magic. She has never wanted that ability. She has been a PI for 14 years.

Her twin, Tabitha, is born with a gift for magic. She is a teacher of Theoretical Magic at the Osthorne Academy of Young Mages.

The two sisters have been estranged for about seventeen years, since the death of their mother.

Ivy Gamble is hired to investigate the murder of teacher Sylvia Capley at the Osthorne Academy.

The teachers and the high-school students are all mages, having magic gifts to one degree or another.

Ivy puzzles over the clues. How Sylvia Capley was killed involved magic. A mage was involved one way or another. Was the mage who murderer Sylvia still on the campus? or …

Was Sylvia trying out magic beyond her knowledge or abilities? Was it a spell that spun out of control, with horrific consequences?

As Ivy investigates Sylvia Capley’s death, she also struggles with her own inner quest to come to some kind of peace and reconciliation with her sister Tabitha.


Sci-Fi: Post-Apocalyptic thriller: Adrian J. Walker’s “The End of the World Running Club” (c) self-published in 2014; 2016, 2017.

Post-Apocalyptic thriller: Adrian J. Walker’s “The End of the World Running Club” (c) self-published in 2014; 2016, 2017.

Gripping and heart-wrenching: a story of the human spirit, of a transformative inner journey, the will to survive, a story of hope and love.

Earth is devastated by innumerable asteroid strikes.
In Edinburgh, Edgar Hill, his wife Beth, and their children, 3-year old Alice and baby Arthur are in a survivors’ camp at the nearby Castlelaw barracks, together with other civilian survivors, and a few soldiers.

Ed and some of the men are out foraging for food and whatever can help them to survive a rapidly deteriorating situation when rescue helicopters arrive at the Castlelaw barracks. Ed’s family is evacuated, together with most of the other survivors. Their destination is Falmouth, Cornwall, 450 miles away, where ships await, to take them to safer havens in the southern hemisphere.

Left behind at the barracks are six men and one woman: Three are soldiers – Laura Grimes, Yuill, and Henderson; and four civilians – Ed, Bryce, Richard, and Harvey.

Ed and the others leave Edinburgh, in a Jeep, to begin with. Ultimately there is no choice but to go on foot across a chaotic landscape – of fires, ash, rubbles, canyons, and craters. Along the way, they face perilous encounters with other survivors.

Ed comes to an unspoken decision: he starts to run. He still has over 300 miles to get to Cornwall and he must get there within three weeks. He wants nothing more now than to be reunited with his family.

The others with Ed come up with a plan to walk and run. And they will have to stop to rest, forage for food and water…
The soldier Laura Grimes, proves key to their survival more than once: courageous, quick, and able to think on her feet.

They meet an old man, Lord Rupert Bartonmouth, 80; somehow he and his mansion have survived. Barely. He asks how they’re planning to get to Cornwall.
When Ed tells him they are running to Falmouth, the old man coins a name for them: “The End of the World Running Club”.

A fascinating thought-provoking character-driven story.

Thriller: Jennifer McMahon: “The Winter People” (c) 2014.

“The Winter People” by Jennifer McMahon is a gripping and haunting mystery thriller, its suspense heightened by a tangled web of reality and the supernatural. Can the dead return to the living world as real people?

The story is set in West Hall, a small New England town in Vermont, a town haunted by strange disappearances and mystifying legends. The story unfolds along two timelines – 1908 and the present day.

In 1908, Sara Harrison Shea, 31, was found murdered at her family farmhouse. Her niece, Amelia Larkin, discovers Sara’s hidden diaries & journals. As a young girl, Sara was cared for by “Auntie” a Canadian Native woman from Quebec, after Sara’s mother died in childbirth. “Auntie” spoke of portals through which the dead could return to the world of the living.

Sara was grief-stricken when her young daughter, Gertie, was found dead at the bottom of a deep well. Gertie had dreams of meeting dead people whom she called “winter people,” dead people wandering at the edge of real life.

In her journals, Sara wrote of her longing to bring Gertie back from the dead. Sara claimed that people could really come back from the dead, that “Auntie” had given her written instructions on summoning the dead, and directions to a portal in the woodlands near the West Hall farmhouse.

Amelia published Sara’s journals & diaries as a book, “Visitors from the Other Side – The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea.” She could not find any of Auntie’s written instructions on summoning the dead or where the portal was located. People read the book, and anyone finding the missing pages stood to make a fortune.

Present Day:

Ruthie Washbourne, 19, lives in West Hall, in Sara’s old farmhouse, together with her mother Alice and younger sister Fawn. One day, Alice disappears, without a trace. Ruthie is puzzled. This is unlike her mother. Ruthie decides to wait a few days, perhaps her mother will return soon.

Ruthie and Fawn search the house for clues about their mother’s disappearance. And they find a copy of “Visitors from the Other Side – The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea.” Ruthie is fascinated.

Ruthie and Fawn’s lives take a sudden turn into a terrifying and perilous experience. Two women turn up at the farmhouse on a cold wintry night. Both have lost loved ones. Candace lost her brother in West Hall. Katherine’s husband Gary died in a car accident on the highway to Boston, after a puzzling stop in West Hall. Both Candace and Katherine have read “Visitors from the Other Side – The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea.”

A fantastic well-crafted chilling thriller!