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!


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!


Urban Fantasy Anthology: P. N. Elrod (ed.): “Dark and Stormy Knights” (c) 2010.

Rich with imagination and well-crafted urban fantasy stories about the paranormal:
Supernatural knights; vampires; shapeshifters; magic.
Twisty stories & unexpected endings.

Nine authors

Ilona Andrews; Jim Butcher; Shannon K. Butcher; Rachel Caine
P.N. Elrod; Deidre Knight; Vicki Pettersson; Lilith Saintcrow; Carrie Vaughn.

Summary of selected stories

Rachel Caine: “Even a Rabbit will Bite”

Lisel von Haffenburg-Martin has been a Dragonslayer for the last 742 years. A dragonslayer must have a quickness of mind and body. She is old, tired, and cranky. She lives in retirement in Phoenix.

There’s only one dragon, Karathrax, left in the world. He is a shapeshifter, clever, and extremely dangerous. And he is old, tired, and cranky. He has retired to a warm Egyptian desert.

Lisel is assigned to train a new Dragonslayer, a young woman, Ellen Cameron (chosen by the Pope!).

Shannon K Butcher: “The Beacon”

Ryder Ward inherits the ability to locate Beacons, humans that attract evil occult monsters, the Terraphages. He has killed 17 Beacons, all of them men.

He tracks a Beacon to a coffee shop in a small Minnesota town. The coffee shop’s owner, Jordan has a young daughter Anne.

And Anne is the Beacon for the Terraphages!
Ryder will have to kill the Terraphage.

Carrie Vaughn: “God’s Creatures”

Cormac is a hunter, like his father, and grandfather. He has the ability to track the undead and nonhuman.

A rancher contacts Cormac to track down the savage killer of his cattle.

Cormac finds telltale clues of a werewolf killer.
The werewolf’s tracks lead back into the nearby town of Lamar, to a Catholic church & its reform school for girls.

Ilona Andrews: “A Questionable Client”

Kate Daniels’ job with the Mercenary Guild involves fighting and killing monsters in a world where magic waves come and go.

She is assigned as a bodyguard to a high-profile client, Saiman, a shapeshifter.

Saiman has stolen, and swallowed, an acorn from the Russians, one which will grow into the World Oak Tree, according to Russian mythology. The Russians send monsters to retrieve the acorn.


All the best for the days ahead. Notes re: my current & recent reading from Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Literary fiction.

Thanks very much to all who follow/like/visit my blog.

Continuing to read but I’m afraid the blogging is lagging, and my “to-read” list is expanding faster than I can read!

Reading — Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Literary fiction.
Spellbinding; richly imagined; complex characters; terrific novels!

Currently reading: Genevieve Cogman’s “The Invisible Library” (c) 2016. Sci fi & fantasy.

  • Completed readings:
  • Charles Stross: “The Atrocity Archives — Laundry Files Series, Book 1” (c) 2004. And book 6: “The Annihilation Score” (c) 2015. Sci fi & Fantasy.
  • Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven” (c) 2014; post-pandemic and apocalyptic novel with embedded sci fi novel “Station Eleven.”
  • Erin Morgenstern”s “The Starless Sea” (c) 2019. Literary fiction: an epic novel, of a vast subterranean library, in the Harbor on the shores of the Starless Sea. Stories within stories. A young man’s quest to understand himself and his story.

Notes about some of the novels:

Genevieve Cogman’s “The Invisible Library” ; (c) 2016. Invisible Library Series, Book 1.
Sci Fi & Fantasy about librarians, rare books; secret societies; alternate worlds, the paranormal, and weird technology.

Contemporary world: The Library is a shadowy organization that collects important or unique works of fiction from alternative worlds and stores them for posterity.
Irene is a bibliophile, has magical powers, and is a professional spy for the Library. Her assignments are to alternate worlds, of magic, vampires, supernatural creatures, and Fae, creatures capable of magic & chaos.

Sci Fi and Fantasy: Charles Stross: “The Laundry Files Series”
“The Atrocity Archives” (c) 2004. Book 1.
And “The Annihilation Score” (c) (2015). Book 6.

Lovecraftian horrors; the occult; magic, combining math with technology to summon alien entities from other universes; and to open wormholes in space-time.

The Laundry is a super-secret British intelligence agency, based in London, protecting the world from occult threats.

Bob Howard, a computer expert, is a spy for the Laundry. He is sent to Santa Cruz, California, to find Scottish professor Dominique “Mo” O’Brien. Her work in the area of philosophy, music, and quantum theory is about using music in the occult. That attracts the attention of the Laundry, the Black Chamber, which is the US equivalent of the Laundry; and of terrorists!

“The Annihilation Score” (c) (2015).
After her rescue from an alien entity, Dominique O’Brien or Mo also joins the Laundry as a spy. She and Bob Howard marry. Mo is a gifted violinist and the Laundry gives her an occult violin, Lecter, which can drive humans mad and destroy demons. Unfortunately, the violin attempts to kill Bob, and the couple must separate. Mo’s assignment is to investigate the sudden surge of people with supernatural skills. Her team includes two superintelligent Laundry operatives: Mhari Murphy,(a vampire after a viral infection) and Ramona Random (from the Blue Hades project and changing into a mermaid!). The violin is a character in its own right!