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.

Sci-fi: Suzanne Palmer’s “Finder” (c) 2019.

Suzanne Palmer’s “Finder”

Immensely enjoyable! An excellent space opera novel: Great characters and dialogue to match, funny, fast-paced, endless intrigue & fantastic worldbuilding.

Suzanne Palmer is acclaimed for her short sci-fi:
The 2019 winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction; for her story, “Waterlines,” in Asimov’s Science Fiction.
2018 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.
Readers awards – Asimov’s, Analog, Interzone; Locus Recommended Reading List. Stories included in sci-fi anthologies.

“Finder” is Book 1, of The Finder Chronicles Series, by Suzanne Palmer
Sequels: Driving the Deep (The Finder Chronicles Book 2) – 2020
The Scavenger Door (The Finder Chronicles Book 3) — to be published- 2021

Fergus Ferguson is an interstellar repo or professional finder of stolen things and returning them to their owners.

He is hired by the Shipbuilders of Pluto to find and return to them one of their most complex AI spaceships “Venetia’s Sword.” The ship was loaned to Arum Gilger who is an interstellar salvage trader, wealthy and very powerful, and who fails to return the ship.

Gilger’s home base is in the Cernee (Cernak) human colony, in the backwaters of a solar system deep in space. Cernee is a mix of habitats, including hollowed-out asteroids, and space stations.

Ferguson makes it to Cernee and immediately finds himself drawn into a power struggle among the various factions that live in Cernak, each with its own habitat, political, cultural, social structure. The situation rapidly accelerates into chaos and deadly confrontations.

Adding to the intrigue, the Asiig are aliens who appear in black triangle ships from time to time in Cernee, and who inevitably change anyone who comes in contact with them.

The Characters:

Fergus Ferguson:

originally from Earth (Scotland). Left when he was 15. Fergus is inventive, resourceful, courageous; and determined to do his job. Comes up with crazy, weird, and ingenious solutions, whatever it takes to get the job done; knows the risks and dangers of his job as a finder; prefers to work alone because he does not want to endanger anyone else’s life, and will do whatever he can to save someone else’s life at the risk of his own.

The Governer of Cernee: Central authority in Cernee.

The Vahn family: own a lichen farm & their own habitat;
Mari Vahn; a formidable young woman; cares deeply about Cernee, its people; its survival. Very courageous.

Arum Gilger — the powerful and wealthy trader who has stolen the spaceship “Venetia’s Sword. ” He wants total control of Cernee.

The Vahn family and Arum Gilger are enemies.

Weapons dealer Harcourt; from Mars originally.

Vinsic — trader in ores and black-market goods.

A well-crafted space opera!

Sci-Fi & Mystery: Mur Lafferty: “Six Wakes” (c) 2017.

Fascinating & Compelling! Sci-Fi & Mystery:
Complex and richly imagined characters; complex worldbuilding involving cloning technology; moral & ethical issues.

“Six Wakes” was a 2018 finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award as well as the Hugo And Nebula Awards for Best Novel.

Summary:

By the 25th century, mindmapping technology has revolutionized cloning: the technology includes ability to clone humans, create new clones with full memories of previous clones; copy & modify DNA; and copy & modify personalities.

Codicils have been enacted to govern and protect clones, making them legal world citizens.

“The Dormire ” is a generation ship, launched from Luna. Sallie Mignon, one of the most successful & powerful entrepreneurs on Earth owns the Dormire.

There are over 2000 humans in cryo; and 500 clone mindmaps aboard the Dormire. Their destination is the Earth-like planet Artemis, orbiting Tau Ceti in the constellation Cetus.

Sally Mignon, herself a clone, hires a crew of 6 clones to run the spaceship through its long journey.
The six crew members all have past criminal records. The journey is an opportunity for them to start life with a clean slate once they reach Artemis.

The six crew members

Maria Arena; junior engineer & general maintenance
Captain Katrina de la Cruz.
Akihiro Sato; navigator/pilot
Wolfgang; security chief
Paul Seurat, engineer.
and Dr, Joanna Glass, medical doctor and member of the committee that enacted the Codicils governing clones.

IAN (Intelligent Artificial Network) is the ship’s computer mind.

Clones can be recloned and reimprinted with their continually updated memories as they age and die.

However, as the Dormire journeys through space, the new clones of the six crew members awake to find their most recent older selves have been murdered.

IAN, the ship’s mind, has been sabotaged. The crew discovers that all their logs, personal, medical, and command, have been erased.
And even more terrifying, there are no backups of their most recent mindmaps.


With the erasure of their most recent mindmaps and the cloning software, the clones cannot create new mindmaps or new clones. They will die if they cannot be recloned.

Tension and paranoia rule their lives as the clones search for clues to the murderer: Which one of them is the murderer?

And how do they regain control of IAN, the ship’s mind, and set the ship back on track to Artemis? The ship is off-course, heading back to Earth. The clones will face multiple criminal charges if they return to Earth.

The past life stories of the six clones surface as they struggle to survive, get things back under control. All have complex life stories, from their past clone lives on Earth or on Luna: some have lived multiple clone lives over the past few centuries; stories of how they ended up carrying out criminal activities, how they were manipulated as clones.

The key character in the story is Maria Arena, the lowly engineer who is, in reality, a computer genius, programmer, and hacker. But is she the murderer?

Great story — sci-fi & murder mystery!

Sci-Fi: Sue Burke: “Semiosis” (c) 2018.

“Semiosis” by Sue Burke is Book 1 of the Semiosis Duology.
The sequel: “Interference” (c) 2019.

Richly imagined worldbuilding, fascinating and thought-provoking story of space exploration and colonization:
A multigeneration story; and a first-contact story of sentient plants and aliens.
Short-listed for major awards including the 2019 Locus Award for Best First Novel.; Arthur C. Clarke Award, & John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel,
Considered one of the best sci-fi novels of 2018.

The title of the novel “Semiosis” refers to communications using signs.
In the novel humans settle on a distant planet they name Pax, meaning peace. The humans, or Pacifists, are held responsible, by the Constitution, they write before leaving Earth, to work towards peaceful solutions, equality, and work for mutual benefit, with whatever sentient life they encounter in space.

On Pax, their challenge is immediate: To survive, they have to understand and communicate with sentient plants, and later with aliens, The Glassmakers, who preceded the humans in colonizing the planet.

The narrators are individual Pacifists, particularly the moderators, and a major sentient bamboo plant, named Stevland.

The moderators are Pacifists, elected by the community, and are responsible for guiding the community to live in peace within their community and all sentient and alien life. The goal is to avoid repeating Erath’s devastating problems — war, environmental and ecological disasters.

Summary:
In the 2060s, a group of fifty human colonists leaves Earth. About 158 years later, they arrive at a planet, in a solar system near Castor in the Gemini constellation.

The planet, Pax, is Earth-like, in terms of its oxygen, water, and ecology. Octavio is a botanist and quickly realizes that the plants of Pax are unusual: They are sentient plants, able to communicate with each other through morphology, color, scents, and able to plan, and act in decisive ways.
And the colonists must learn to communicate with them to survive, to grow crops, to find plants that make edible fruit, to avoid poisonous plants.

Sylvia is one of the first generation born on Pax. She is Octavio’s daughter. She is a young woman when she and Julian, also born on Pax, discover the Glass City, made of glass, stones, metal, and rainbow-colored bamboo. They find script writing on the glass. But it is an abandoned city. There is no sign of the Glassmakers.

Back at the colonists’ village, Sylvia discovers their parents, the original colonists, knew of the Glass City but had hidden the information from the younger generations. Sylvia wants to move to the Glass City, with others from the younger generation.

Vera, one of the original colonists is the moderator. She is determined not to let any of the younger generations leave the village. She turns to violence to make her point: Sylvia is brutally attacked; her friend Julian and her father Octavio are killed.

On the day of Octavio’s funeral, there is a violent confrontation between Sylvia and Vera. Sylvia kills Vera.

Sylvia and all of the younger generation move to Glass City, renaming it Rainbow City. Sylvia is their moderator. She guides the young community of Pacifists to work towards peace as part of their way of life.

She passes on to the next generation her wisdom: Moderators may make errors in decisions, end up with terrible decisions, but ultimately the community must work toward Pax. Peaceful, reasonable ways of dealing with problems, difficult as this may be.

Tatiana, great-grandaughter of Sylvia, is a commissioner of peace, and eventually becomes co- moderator. In her time, a major sentient bamboo, Stevland, learns to communicate with the humans, learning to communicate in English; and is elected co-moderator.

He has memories of the Glassmakers. When the Pacifists first meet the Glassmakers, they are disappointed. Descendants of the original Glassmakers, this group of Glassmakers struggles with internal squabbling and disease and living a nomadic existence.

When Tatiana dies, Lucille is elected as co-moderator with Stevland. Their goal of peaceful co-existence with the Glassmakers is abruptly shaken in a violent battle with a hostile and aggressive group of the aliens.

Stevland’s ability to communicate with other plants, and with a friendly group of the Glassmakers plays a critical role in winning the battle. But 21 Pacifists are killed, including Lucille. Stevland is devastated and blames himself.

Some of the Pacifists demand Stevland resign or be removed. Bartholomew, an older Pacifist, who remembers Sylvia, steps in as Stevland’s legal advocate. Bartholomew becomes the key to a peaceful resolution, allowing the Pacifists, the sentient plants & animals, and the Glassmakers to live and work together in Glass City.

The story of Sylvia, her legacy of peace, of equality, of working for mutual benefit, becomes an integral part of all sentient life on Pax.

A fantastic story!

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!