Monday, May 17, 2021
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Book Reviews

Todd Durrant: Trigger

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Author: Todd Durrant
Title: Trigger
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Rated: * * * * *

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Trigger is the first complete novel by Todd Durrant, owner of A Different Drum record label. While A Different Drum is known for great modern Synthpop, Todd Durrant will quickly be known for great and philosophically thought provoking science-fiction. I was extremely impressed with this as a first work by him and anxiously look forward to more. The story was riveting and I couldn’t put it down! It is the type of story with many interesting layers of plot revelation that keeps the reader on edge waiting to see what will happen next. I loved that it was not overly predictable as I find many stories both written and filmed to often be. Instead, this just seemed to get more curious with every page turned.

The most difficult thing about writing this review is that I really don’t want to include too many, if any, spoilers as the greatest fun about reading it was the interesting turns the plot took as more information was revealed. Basically, the story takes place in two different timelines. In one, you have a group of human exiles from Earth who are trying to make their way in space after forcefully leaving the planet due to a an invasion by mechanical "lifeforms". In this timeline, there are divergent political perspectives revolving around either going back to retake Earth by force or expanding further into space and pioneering further development and growth. In the other timeline, which is pre-invasion, the focus revolves around a major corporation, scientific development, and a secret project to help prevent human annihilation by creating a device which is only activated after the calamity has occurred by using a trigger backwards in time to activate it.

The only criticism I have at all about this work is that I think more development could have been done on the desperation that humans faced in the future on these remote space colonies. However, in many ways the author did make it obvious and other readers may likely disagree with me on this one as much of the first part of the book does have quite a bit relating to this in it. However, I have to admit, character development is probably the most difficult aspect of writing a fiction novel and a marked improvement was shown as the story developed. Overall, I think Todd did a great job and I really liked the characters he created. They are all unique and interesting, no carbon copies, archetypical or stereotypes here except maybe where The Admiral is concerned but that is at it should be in my opinion. I also like that he has strong female characters and sensitive male characters. He also shows many situations where their actions are very human indeed, sometimes logical and sometimes purely emotional, but most often a combination of both as their plight is very unique and unusual. I also like the tech in this book and how he stuck to realistic descriptions regarding the physical dynamics of space, unlike the hollywood movies where you see and hear great explosions and flames in space.

Overall, the book has great technological ideas, interesting philosphical questions, multiple timelines, fairly well developed characters, mostly unpredictable plot lines and a very compelling story!


Samuel Morningstar: Shadow Kingdom

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Author: Samuel Morningstar (@)
Title: Shadow Kingdom
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Lulu
Distributor: Lulu
Rated: * * * * *

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Samuel Morningstar (rocker, mystic, author), has finally released a novel that has been highly anticipated by those who knew this was coming and what it might be about. Shadow Kingdom combines elements of a psychological thriller, crime investigation, horror, esoteric mysticism, and "sci-fi" to create the world which contains the events which unfold in his tale. The characters are humans, rock stars, soldiers, martial artists, cops, angels & demons, monsters, and extraterrestrials to name a few. The story begins with a private investigator hired to research the brutal ritual murder of an exotic dancer and takes us into a realm of wonders and nightmares beyond the realm of sanity and into conspiracies involving ancient immortals. Buth this sort of thing could never happen in "reality" as this is just a creative work of fiction right, or could it? Samuel created his dark fiction from the real life research of minds like David Icke, Whitley Strieber, and William Henry. I've never in my life read a fiction novel with so much truth and so many questions. I say truth because the esoteric principles conveyed within are the same as those taught in mystery schools the world over and throughout history. Samuel Morningstar is an intellect of unusual talent that makes great story tellers like Clive Barker look like child's play! He's also a talent in the music industry and member of the band Eternal Twilight and knows the rock scene well. This book will appeal to anyone interested in Ancient History, Mythology, Esoteric Mysticism, UFOlogy, Conspiracy Theories, Rock-n-Roll (including the Goth subcultrure), Martial Arts, Meditation, "Energy" Work, Dark Fiction, and Horror - a thinking person's fiction.


Brenda Gates Smith: Secrets of the Ancient Goddess

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Author: Brenda Gates Smith
Title: Secrets of the Ancient Goddess
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Signet Book
Rated: * * * * *

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As historical fiction, like many in the genre, this book I am sure has and will face severe criticism by those who feel it should be historically accurate since it is based on history at all. However, as fiction it is not required to follow history exact. Thus when certain aspects of the story such as general clothing and appearances may seem a bit romaticized those readers will become elitist and act as though the 'polish' is not warranted. However, I think any good storyteller will always polish over a story to keep the reader interested rather than repulsed especially when you are dealing with a history when in all accurate accounts the people were often very dirty and unkempt. With that aside I found this novel read like a very good fantasy novel with an exchange of magic for ancient cultic ritualism. The story takes place in pre-historic Turkey where cultures were still very tribal and ancient gods were worshipped. The main setting takes us to three main cultures in which two are goddess cults and the third is an ancient sun god cult. Brenda Gates does seem to have actually put some study into the history she writes about and current research highly suggests that matriarchal cultures did exist and were prevalent in ancient times. The story begins about a woman, Yana, who bears a child with a mild deformity and is thus exiled from her homeland in which she never truly felt a sense of belonging. Plaqued by the deceit and disrespect of others her story takes us through her personal life trials and tribulation until she eventually finds a place she can call home. Once she meets with those of a second tribe the story also leads us to follow a second character whom is abducted and forced to live a much harsher life to eventually come home. Basically this book is about descents into 'darkness', life trials, and returning. However, there is much interplay among gods and goddesses especially with the account of the second woman, Henne. I will not give away too much of the story as I think it would ruin it for anyone who wants to read this novel but I will say that what I thought would probably be a 'soft' fiction with undeveloped characters and weak storylines has pleasantly surprised me with the excellent story plots, intertwining of character relationships, and even some excellent representations of Goddess Spirituality perspectives. This book is very much about the 'little deaths' that we experience that make us stronger. While there is much that will obviously appeal to women due to the matriarchal perspectives and women's issues focus, I think this is also an excellent adventure novel that men will love and appreciate as well. There is even just enough spiritual insight in this book that you will want your kids to read it especially if you are raising them pagan. Brenda has done an excellent job with this debut release and I look forward to reading more of her works in the future.


Brian Lumley: Necroscope (Necroscope Trilogy, Volume 1)

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Author: Brian Lumley
Title: Necroscope (Necroscope Trilogy, Volume 1)
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Tor Books
Rated: * * * * *

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Brian Lumley begins the Necroscope trilogy with introducing us to the two main units called E-Branches of the Russian and British militaries. The E’ in E-Branch stands for ESP as these organizations are studying various forms of Extra Sensory Powers to be used by the military as spy’ methods. The Necroscope is Harry Koegh, a typical guy with one main exception, he can commune with the dead and even learn skills from them. The story line follows a few different characters and begins with a narration being told by an entity which seems to be ghostlike to a man who is beginning to take charge of the British E-Branch. In the Russian E-Branch they have a man who can learn the secrets of the dead by ripping’ it from their corpse by force. This man is a necromancer by all accounts named Dragosani. Dragosani also has associations with a vampiric character whom he encountered in his youth. This vampire is very old but also very unique by all accounts of vampires. It seems to be parasitic in nature and is a creature which is more alien than anything. This introduction to the series gets the reader involved in the various plots of the ESP organizations and studies as well as the sub-plots of the characters involved. It is an original combination of conspiracies, vampires, and the supernatural. An interesting thing to me personally was the use of the Möbius Strip in the storyline. The Möbius Strip is a remarkable yet simple structure of a flat loop folded upon itself to create and endless path. This unique geometric shape is named after August Ferdinand Möbius, a nineteenth century German mathematician and astronomer, who was a pioneer in the field of topology. There are many amazing applications for this geometric shape in modern science and the author uses it to explain how to fold space and time. Such unique thinking is typical of Lumley. The author has some really great ideas that leave the reader to intensely curious that further reading is a must.


R.A. Salvatore: Attack of the Clones (Star Wars Episode II)

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Author: R.A. Salvatore
Title: Attack of the Clones (Star Wars Episode II)
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Del Ray
Rated: * * * * *

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This book is of course based on the original story and film script by George Lucas. However it is written by R.A. Salvatore known primarily for his works involving Drizzt Do'Urden, a drow, in the Icewind Dale and The Dark Elf trilogies written for AD&D's Forgotten Realms. In this episode Anakin Skywalker remains under the tutelage of Obi Wan as they are summoned to become the body guards for Senator Padmé Amidala from Episode I who has recently had an assassination attempt on her life. The main psychological aspects involved in the story revolve around Anakin and Padme as they become young lovers. The unfortunate senario is that as Jedi Anakin is forbidden attachments such as these. One of the main differences in character as portrayed in writing as opposed to that portrayed in film of Anakin is that he is actually no more rebellious that Luke Skywalker, his son in episodes 4-6. In the film he was made to have a sinister aspect to his character, as we all know he eventually becomes known as the ominous Darth Vader, but this is not the case in the written form. He remains a hero with strong character and morals but who is oftentimes rebellious in that he thinks he can do things better than his teacher or other 'adult' characters in the story. In short, a typical teenager. Another main difference in the written form is that there is more depth to the realm and characters such as the library keeper which Obi Wan must see to gain information on the records of the 'lost planet'. It is mentioned that though she is a venerable old woman many people mistake her for being weak when in truth she is a powerful Jedi not to be fooled with, much like we later see with Yoda. In the story there is also a bit more depth involving the relationship between Jango and Boba Fett. Boba is the clone 'son' of Jango and probably the one thing in his world he actually cares about. There are scenes not in the film in which Jango is training Boba to learn warrior and trade skills of the bounty hunter. Other insight and missing scenes involve the relationship of Anakin's mother and family and how she is kidnapped by the Sandmen. Oddly it is Anakin's love for his mother that causes him such extreme hatred of her killers as he uses the force and Jedi skills to slaughter the entire encampment of them, men, women, and children. Sheer blind hatred because of the love of his mother. Nothing dark and evil - just simple revenge. Something any one of us would feel if our loved ones were taken from us. The story unfolds in which the Republic is failing under the rule of Palpatine (later known as The Emperor and very possibly Darth Sidious as well). The attack on Senator Amidala just before a crucial vote thrusts the Republic even closer to the edge of disaster. Masters Yoda and Mace Windu sense enormous unease. The dark side is growing, clouding the Jedi’s perception of the events. This culminates in an iminent attack by Count Dooku and the Trade Federation against the Republic. In their defense, and Obi Wans investigation, they discover an army of clones supposedly made for them by a Jedi who foresaw this event and is now long dead. These trooper clones are all made from Jango Fett and trained for combat. They come in and defend the Republic and create an interesting situation where for the first time we see troopers on the side of good. Another interesting aspect of this battle is the many Jedi armed with lightsabers fighting mech battledroids. I've never read any of the other Star Wars novels but I found that it was very interesting even though it did follow the movie script almost exactly. There is just enough extras and insight to give you a much better overall perspective of both the general situation of The Force, politics and individual personalities of the characters that simply is not possible in film.