From My Readings: Alan Dean Foster: “Relic” (c) 2018.

From My Readings: Alan Dean Foster: “Relic” (c) 2018.

Epic sci fi : A tale of a journey across deep space to find humanity’s ancient homeworld, Earth. A fascinating tale of one man’s dreams, his hopes, sorrows, and adventures.

The human race has expanded across the universe, settling on numerous habitable planets. An interplanetary war leads to the development of a biological weapon, a genetically engineered smart virus. Referred to as the plague of the Aura Malignance, it spreads rapidly through all the worlds, wiping out virtually all of humanity.

On the world of Serobath one man survives: A relic of humanity. Ruslan believes himself to be the only surviving human being in the universe. He is an old man when he is found by a highly advanced alien race, the Myssari.

The Myssari are one of numerous highly advanced alien races from distant star systems, exploring the ruined human worlds, setting up xenoarcheology research outposts to learn of their civilizations.

The Myssari are kind and courteous and Ruslan leaves Seraboth for the planet Myssar, to become a resident of Pe’leoek, the Myssari scientific research complex along the coast. The Myssari are very excited to have found Ruslan. He is somewhat of a research subject, a valuable human specimen: they are interested in using his genetic material to revive the human race.

Ruslan accepts their idea of cloning, or even to search for other humans. But on one condition: to help him to find humanity’s original home, Earth. Ruslan has never been to Earth but it is humanity’s ancient home, something he feels very deeply within his heart.

So begin Ruslan’s journeys to other planets, with the Myssari scientific expeditions.
Ruslan is excited and his hopes run high when they discover humans in cryo-suspension deep inside a mountain. There is just enough power to keep the life-sustaining machinery functioning. The humans have left instructions for revival should they be ever found.

Ruslan is devastated and feels a deep sense of bereavement with the discovery that although the humans are physically alive their minds cannot be revived.

Then in an extraordinary encounter, on the planet of Daribb, Ruslan finds an 11-year old girl, Cherpa, and a teenage boy Pahksen. Both speak the intergalactic human language, as does Ruslan. They have learned to live, to survive in the ruins of the city, amongst ferocious and violent predators. Cherpa and Pahksen leave with Ruslan, to begin new lives on Mysarr.

Some years later, through artificial fertilization, Ruslan and Cherpa become the parents of 16 children. They both love the children while their relationship is like a father and daughter.

Both are very excited when the Myssari tell them that they have found Old Earth!

On Earth, Ruslan recognizes details he had only read about. He realizes that Earth is humanity’s homeworld but he misses his home planet of Seraboth and that of Myssar, planets where he has lived for so much of his life.

More importantly, he also realizes that Cherpa and the children could settle on Earth, and with the help of the Myssari, restore human life to Earth…


From My Readings: Alastair Reynolds: “Revenger” (c) 2016; & “Shadow Captain” (c) 2019.

Alastair Reynolds: “Revenger” (c) 2016; & “Shadow Captain” (c) 2019.

The Revenger series is a thrilling, dramatic and exciting epic space opera set in the far far future, a tale of two spacefarers, the sisters Adrana and Arafura Ness, as they journey through their home galaxy, the Congregation.

“Revenger” ( Book 1) is narrated by Arafura Ness,
and “Shadow Captain” (Book 2) is narrated by Adrana Ness.

Note: Book 3, the final book in the series: “Bone Silence” (c) 2020.

“Revenger” won the 2017 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book and was a finalist for the 2018 Philip K. Dick Award.

Summary of “Revenger” and “Shadow Captain”


18-year old Adrana and her younger sister Arafura Ness grow up on Mazarile, their home planet in the Congregation galaxy.

The Congregation consists of millions of worlds built from the rubble of eight old worlds, including Old Earth, and set in concentric orbitals around the Old Sun. There are both human and alien civilizations. There have been many Occupations in the past – settlements, expansions, decline; the galaxy is currently in its Thirteenth Occupation.

Adrana and Arafura are gifted Bone Readers:
Bones are ancient alien skulls with neural technology. Bone Readers are able to receive and transmit signals through the Skull, communicating with other bone readers on ships and worlds. Messages are like whispers; sometimes mere fragments; a word – perhaps significant or not.

The two sisters are hired by Captain Pol Rackamore as apprentice Bone Readers aboard his spaceship Monetta’s Mourn, a sunjammer, with ion drives and sails driven by solar photon winds.

The galaxy’s economy, its shipping, and commerce are based on a lucrative market for artifacts from the earlier occupations, including spacesuits and weapons. Ancient relics and other treasures are often hidden in “baubles” or rocky spheres protected by field shields that open at intervals. Baubles also attract space pirates who will jump unsuspecting ships or steal from opened baubles.

Monetta’s Mourn is attacked near a bauble, by the notorious and infamous space pirate Bosa Sennen of the Nightjammer, its black hull and black sails make it virtually undetectable. Bosa Sennen is on a search for a new Bone Reader, and she captures Adrana Ness.

Arafura evades capture. She is determined to rescue Adrana from a very perilous and dangerous fate:
Bosa Sennen is actually a succession of women pirates through the centuries. Each Bosa Sennen in her time imprints her skills, mind, emotions on the next Bosa Sennen. The current Bosa Sennen plans to turn Adrana into the next Bosa Sennen.

Arafura lures Bosa Sennen into a trap, and rescues Adrana. She captures the Nightjammer, and Bosa Sennen dies.

The Sequel: Book 2: “Shadow Captain”

The Ness sisters have captured Bosa Sennen’s pirate spaceship The Nightjammer.
For them to survive, they must avoid all associations with Bosa Sennen. They rename the ship, the Revenger. They disguise the black sails as best as they can with canvas solar sails, but the ship still looks very much like a pirate ship with its formidable weaponry.

Both Adrana and Arafura recognize they have been changed in dramatic ways by the terrifying and horrific encounter with Bosa Sennen. It affects their trust; they have doubts and qualms about each other.

Bosa Sennen had already started to condition Adrana to become the next Bosa Sennen. How much of an imprint had Bosa left on Adrana?. Adrana herself is alert to the intrusion of Bosa on her thoughts and emotions but she is able to fight back.

Aboard the Revenger Arafura finds a book about the history of the Occupations and hints of the existence of “Shadow Occupations”. She pores over Bosa’s logs and journals, the details of Bosa’s plunder, and in particular a bauble said to contain an unimaginable quantity of Quoins

Quoins are used as currency throughout the Congregation. Quoins are of unknown origin. They are metal bars of different weights, their value determined by the number of scored lines.

The Revenger has a badly injured crew member on board, and their first stop is at Wheel Strizzardy a world on the outer reaches of the Congregation. While on Wheel Strizzardy, they learn there is a bounty for the capture of the Nightjammer. There are suspicions the Revenger maybe Bosa Sennen’s ship, and there is a bounty for whoever is now the Captain.

The suspense in the story intensifies as Arafura and Adrana escape from Wheel Strizzardy. Knowing they are being pursued they head out to the empty reaches of the galaxy, to The Miser, a bauble holding Bosa’s cache of quoins.

The two sisters find common grounds in their quest, to explore the mystery of the far reaches of the Congregation and beyond. Arafura is curious about how the Congregation orbitals work. Adrana is curious about the origins of the congregation and the “Shadow Occupations.”

Reading poetry: “I know why the caged bird sings, ah me” from “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1899)

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906)
American poet, novelist, and playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Dunbar’s influence on writers and composers continues.

Maya Angelou’s title of her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (1969), is from a line in Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy”

/”I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,

/It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings–“/

“Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1899)

“I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals–
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting–
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,–
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings–
I know why the caged bird sings!”

This poem is in the public domain.


From My readings: Becky Chambers: “Record of a Spaceborn Few” (c) 2018; & S. A. Chakraborty: “The City of Brass” (c) 2017.

From My readings: Becky Chambers: “Record of a Spaceborn Few” (c) 2018; & S. A. Chakraborty: “The City of Brass” (c) 2017.

Sci Fi and Fantasy: immensely enjoyable: richly imagined and complex characters; quests; world-building

Becky Chambers’ novel “Record of a Spaceborn Few” (c) 2018 is a stand-alone science fiction novel in the Wayfarers Series. It is set in the same fictional universe, Galactic Commons, as “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” (2014) and “A Closed and Common Orbit”(2016).

The Wayfarer Series won the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Series.

The novel “Record of a Spaceborn Few” is about people living on The Exodus Fleet which is now part of the immense universe of the Galactic Commons. The fleet left Earth many centuries ago, bearing the last humans as Earth sinks into catastrophic disasters. The Fleet is currently in orbit around an artificial sun.

The Exodan way of life changes with each generation. There are many other alien civilizations and sapient species living in the Galactic Commons. Contact with these other species influences and changes the Fleet in various ways. Some people choose to continue to live within the community on the fleet ships, others leave to settle on planets, and some leave to travel and explore the Galactic universe; some return to the Fleet as there is nothing like it anywhere else.

The story is told from the viewpoint of five characters aboard the homesteader ship “Asteria.”

Isabel is the chief archivist. The archives are extensive, including Earth’s history; memories of Earth; the Fleet’s history – the outward journeys of the first homesteaders, the journeys beyond Sol history; and individual archives.

Eyas is a “caretaker” who performs the Exodan funerary services. The services are held in The Center aboard the ship, where the dead are buried in soil, to be recycled into compost for the plants that sustain the people. This is integral to the existence of the Fleet: it is people who keep the fleet community alive, and the dead remain a part of the community.

Tessa – a cargo handler; husband George; two young “spacer” kids. Her job will soon be done by AIs. She thinks of moving to a colony on the planet Seed.

Kip is 16 years old; he is uncertain whether he should remain aboard the Fleet or explore the Galactic Commons, or live on one of the planets.

Humans in the interstellar communities of the Galactic Commons have connections to one degree or another to people on the Exodus fleet:

Sawyer, 23 years old, is from the planet Mushtullo; his great-great-grandparents were the original homesteaders on the Fleet ship Al-Quam. He has recently moved to the Asteria to explore and learn more about the Fleet’s history.


S. A. Chakraborty’s novel “The City of Brass” is a great combination of fantasy, historical fiction and suspense.

Nominated for major awards. Book 1 of The Daevabad Trilogy.

A fantastic and spellbinding tale:

of the young Egyptian woman Nahri, who discovers she is part human and part djinn; of Dara, a Daeva djinn and an ancient warrior, and possessor of extraordinary magical powers; and of Prince Alizayd,, a Geziri and Ayaanle djinn whose father King Ghassan al Qahtania is the current ruler of the Djinn city of Daevabad !

The story begins in 18th-century Cairo:

Nahri is a poor young woman, with a gift for healing. Nahri however does not believe in supernatural powers. She knows there is something different about her, as she has a talent for learning many languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, Persian, Venetian and Swahili. And she speaks another language which is unlike all these languages and which seems unique to her. She has no knowledge of her origins, parents or other family. She becomes a skilled con artist, making a living by swindling the wealthy.

During a zar or exorcism ceremony for a young girl, Nahri speaks in the unknown language, and inadvertently summons an ancient warrior, a djinn, Dara. He realizes that Nahri is part djinn and part human.

Dara and Nahri flee form Cairo, as demons and ghouls appear, intent on killing them both. As they travel to the djinn city of Daevabad, Nahri learns more about herself from Dara, of the six Djinn kingdoms created after King Suleiman separated the Djinns into 6 tribes many thousands of years ago.

Nahri is the daughter of a Daeva djinn, from the Nahid family. The Nahids were healers and founders of the city of Daevabad.

In Daevabad, Nahri quickly discovers and becomes embroiled in the complex web of Djinn personal ambitions, political struggles, racial and religious conflicts and terrifying creatures — with a history that stretches back thousands of years!

The Djinn kingdoms in the novel are alternate worlds – fictional worlds drawn from the Sahara; Egypt; Arabia; Persia; Turkmenistan; and India.


“COVID-19” with apologies to “Jabberwocky” and Lewis Carroll (and Alice!)

“COVID-19” with apologies to “Jabberwocky” and Lewis Carroll (and Alice!)

“Beware the COVID-19!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The COVID-19, with corona of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.”

Original poem:
“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, from “Through the Looking-Glass, and
What Alice Found There” (1871).
In the public domain.