Vessel by Andrew J. Morgan
A strange vessel floats in orbit with the International Space Station. Things go into overdrive when communications with the station is lost. Sally Fisher, a SETI scientist and communications expert, is sent on an emergency mission to the space station to trouble shoot the problems. Meanwhile, on the ground, a feisty reporter, Sean Jacob, gets a tip that something isn’t quite right with ISS and starts to dig in places he shouldn’t. The reader is taken on a ride through this thriller with a great twist at the end.
Vessel, by Andrew Morgan, is a great story that is severely hurt by poor editing. It is one of those books that I’m frustrated that it made it to me (and all of the author’s fans) before it was fully edited. A good editor would have taken this adjective riddled story and tightened it into a great thriller that would have put me on the edge. Unfortunately, I had to drag myself through the wordy quagmire to get to the end.
The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
Ceony Twill dreams of being a smelter magician, yet her desires are thwarted by her assignment to the eccentric Paper Magician Emery Thanes. Her apprenticeship to a paper magician initially seems like an insult to her. After all, she was the top student in her graduating class so she should have been given her choice of any apprenticeship. She soon learns that there is more to being a paper magician than just making perfect folds.
This common story of magic, both light and dark, is presented in a fresh new way. Charlie N. Holmberg does borrow themes from other tales (magic schools are not a new idea), but she presents these in a way that feels new and inventive. It is a fun, fresh book for readers of any age.
Since November I have not written one word. It has been a dry spell to say the least. Then I received an email from Chuck Wendig’s blog with a flash fiction challenge. Just the kick in the pants I needed to write something….anything.
Finding a subject was a simple matter of choosing two arbitrary numbers from 1 to 20 and use those two numbers to match to two subject lists then write a flash fiction piece of less than 2,000 words. So, from the two lists I got Extraterrestrial and Wild West.
____________________ Crossing the Yampa _________________
The wagon train had left her station hours ago. She had worked through the rest of the day cleaning the horse dung and the human stench from the walls. Once a month they came through, sometimes twice in a month, and Margo never got used to it. The humans had a smell about them that reminded her of the dead rats she found in the barn sometimes.
Satisfied, she went back upstairs then out the window to sit on the roof. This is where she spent most of her time staring into the sky wishing for home. In the years spent in the southern hemisphere she could see her home cluster in the night sky, but here in the north she could only see the local sun. Only ten more years and she could go back south. Ten more years of being in this dust bowl serving the wagon trains that kept pushing to the west carrying those petty humans into the frontier.
Stirring out of her own mind she turned to go back inside. Mid-stride Margo met the blunt end of a shotgun in the gut. “Hello Margo. Been a long time wouldn’t you say?”
“Kate. What in tarnation are you doing here? How did you find me?”
“You are a slippery one Margo. I’ve been hunting you for the past couple of centuries. I have to admit you found yourself one hell of a place to hide. How did you find this dump anyway?”
Pushing past her, Margo went back through the window. “Believe it or not, I crashed here. Been stranded for at least a couple hundred years.”
“Come on Margo. You can’t expect me to believe that you, our top pilot, crashed on this rock. You’ll need a better excuse than that.”
“You know me Kate. Weird shit happens.”
“Weird shit my ass. Is that your excuse for the string of dead bodies you left all over the home cluster? Is that your excuse for decimating Corkerelle? Give me a break.”
Margo couldn’t help but laugh a little bit. “You have no idea do you Kate? You have spent all this time looking for me and never stopped to wonder if it was really me? Wake up Kate. Look around you. What do you see?”
“What are you talking about Margo?”
“I’ve been here for eons watching these humans scrape across their globe. They drag their sorry souls over the land and darken every corner of it. Right now, they drive their wagon trains out west in a thirst for riches and in their wake; they leave only a stench and rot. Did you smell the trash heap on your way in? Did you see what they do? Doesn’t it look even a little familiar? How long ago did Corkerelle happen? Think about it Kate, could I, one solitary being really destroy an entire planet? Think back, Kate. Remember what it smelled like?”
The shotgun began to weigh more than Kate remembered when she first pointed it at Margo. “They came here, didn’t they? They came here to do it all over again didn’t they?”
“Oh, they’ll try alright, but there will be bloody hell to pay before they can cross the Yampa.”
The humans had celebrated that night once they arrived at the edge of the Yampa. It had been a long trek across the eastern plains and everyone was ready for fresh water and time to dance. They had made it. Living to see the Yampa River was all they had prayed for and here they were. Couples clapped and danced to the fiddler’s tune late into the night.
The warmth of the rising sun pushed the gentle breeze through the camp. The air licked at the canvas capes that draped each wagon ruffling the bare threads. The horses had long left the area along with the cattle. A few stray dogs were all that remained behind. A breeze carried the echoes from the night’s celebration leaving silence in its place.
Iron from the wagons took the longest to disassemble, after the humans. It was in their coding to tend to the biomasses first then the iron and other non-living items brought by the humans. The bots did their job then marched back into the water and waited. The next wagon train was due in just a week. They needed time to recharge.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fairest, the next installment in The Lunar Chronicals delves deep into the backstory of Levana and the royal family of Luna. Meyer develops Levana’s tragic life in such a way that I was sympathetic to her plight. Her evil rule is well established throughout the series so this installment is somewhat predictable in that Levana would always make the bad choice when life gave her the option between good and evil.
Fairest does step away from the story line of the three previous books which I found a little distracting. I wanted the story rather than the history, yet it is a really good read. Lots of tension to keep the pages turning. Once I started I couldn’t put it down.
I wonder, does Winter (the final installment in The Lunar Chronicles) need Fairest to bring Cinder’s adventure to a conclusion? I look forward to finding out!
Hugh Howey has out done himself in this beautifully written book that explores the depth of love and passion to save a world that has lost so much. The Shell Collector is an exploration of great loss that leads to redemption. Howey takes the reader on an ocean voyage in prose that will sweep you into the storm and lift you over the sea. The story will end at the last word, yet the journey will continue on in your heart.