Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

The Third Twin by Darren Speegle

April 28, 2017 - 5:36 am No Comments

The Third Twin by Darren Speegle

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 28th April 2017

213 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

When Barry Ocason received a travel mag with an advert for a trip to Bavarian Alps in the post, he did not expect to be drawn into a dangerous adventure. Recently divorced, travel writer Barry had a reputation of writing about the little unknown festivals held all over the world, but when he decided to take his teenage daughter Kristen, to the Spider Festival in Rio Tago, Brazil, he did not know that it would affect him and his family’s lives for ever. Kristen the sole survivor of twins was your typical teenage but she had a secret which came to light on the trip to Brazil. A disturbing stalker, only known as the Elephant Man, distressing dreams, and a fatal incident all eventually lead him to Bavaria and an old fascination involving experiments on twins were founded.
Whilst Barry was a worldwide traveller, in his heart he was a family man. Spending as much time as he could with his remaining daughter, he tried to take her on as many trips as he could. Like any loving father when his little girl was in danger his instinct kicked in. Due to his background, Barry relied a lot on his instincts and investigational skills. When he finally made the trip to Bavaria and came across others involved on the same journey, he took the lead in getting to the bottom of the mystery. Whilst he got on with the group, he was still much the loner.
This book had the element of suspense from the moment the magazine was dropped on the mat. Throughout the book there were hints of the experiments that were inflicted, and this was explained more with the dream sequences. The dreams also were used to explain the connection of the Third Twin. When the story shifted to Bavaria, Barry’s journey got darker and the pace was a lot a quicker. What helped was that the characters were hit with one occurrence after another and whether it was a natural or supernatural attack, made this a real page turner. You will get drawn into the mystery of the Third twin, this is a book that will getting you thinking and there were times when I wondered how much more tragedy could Barry handle before he cracked. Everything was explained in detail and descriptive writing made you feel as you were going on the journey with Barry. This is the 1st book I have read by this author and I really enjoyed it, with an unique storyline, I found this book a real page turner.

Remembering Vicky Stock

January 18, 2017 - 3:10 pm 3 Comments

Vicky Stock, Membership Secretary of BSFG (Birmingham SF Group) passed away quietly on Wed 11th January 2017. For years, she had fought the battle against cancer, and ‘fought’ is the right word, because Vicky was a fighter. Despite bad days, illness and exhaustion, Vicky took time to support many important fundraisers for Breast Cancer research, gave me advice during a difficult time and my own scare, and volunteered at St Mary’s Hospice. At the same time she worked for the BSFG continuing her role and sharing news and creating events on Facebook and Twitter. Vicky was relentless, but so much more than that; funny, warm, generous, committed, and probably not known by many, a talented writer.

A couple of of years ago I released a book to fundraise for Breast Cancer Campaign, a charity Vicky and I both agreed on. Written in her own words, here is the foreword that Vicky wrote for HER DARK VOICE.

Picture courtesy of Birmingham Mail

Foreword: Vicky Stock
The human body is an amazing thing. It can do the most amazingly brilliant stuff which you never imagined it could achieve. Childbirth, for instance. Or the way our brains work. The way everything interconnects. Our DNA…But what happens if, again rather miraculously, a cell gets an idea in its head that it wants to be immortal: it starts reproducing, again and again and again. Starts to take over the cells and tissue next to it. First we know about it is a lump or change or pain…miraculous, in a somewhat darker way with a much darker outcome. For that immortality will eventually take over our mortal body and kill it…

…Cancer. The darkest time of my short life so far. Plunged at the tender age of 30 into a battle with breast cancer, involving several surgeries removing and reconstructing, chemo- and radio-therapy, 12 months of the wonder-drug Herceptin, anticipating several years of a hormone drug…and then 18 months after diagnosis, plunged into that world all over again when I was diagnosed with my second breast cancer.

Like a lot of other cancer patients I have felt the strong urge to give something back, to get something positive out of this horrendous time, and for me this meant volunteering and fundraising. I started this just after diagnosis and my initial surgeries; and once my treatment finished in 2012 bar the ongoing hormone drugs and reconstructive work, I continued my work with charity fundraising. I have also been trained in delivering breast awareness sessions and have started a support group for younger people going through cancer, linking up with a national charity with the same aims.

There is a lot of need for support and someone to talk to at all stages of the treatment journey but particularly the point at the end of treatment is when quite often people seek out others who have experienced what they have gone through. A willing, empathetic ear to listen, understand at that time when everyone assumes you are ok and back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is. The various charities out there offer this to our starving souls desperate to recover but not knowing quite how. People feel themselves drawn to different charities. Some offer a helpline with professionals/peer support from people who have experienced the same cancer; or ‘buddies’ who will phone or visit to offer practical/emotional support; or online forums where you can vent your frustrations with others in a safe, monitored, anonymous arena.

Other survivors find themselves drawn to charities focusing on the treatments, research, science to try and find that miraculous cure, or stop it happening in the first place. Cancer can often be beaten back, putting the patient ‘in remission’ or as near cured as possible, but over you will always hang the threat of metastases. The word no cancer patient ever wants to hear. This means the initially mapped out careplan hasn’t worked. The speedy referrals, the mastectomy, the months of awful treatment and side effects, even the wonder drugs – it has none of it actually worked. The cancer has spread. Suddenly it is all very different. Now it is a case of how long can they keep you alive. A lot of current research is trying to find a ‘cure’ for this currently incurable spread which once started, can never be permanently halted. At the moment. But who knows in the future what these amazing scientists will discover?

Vicky Stock

 

Please consider Vicky’s words, remember her, and help with the various cancer charities that are out there. Or visit a patient, or spread the word. Knowledge is power.

 

Vicky, you will be greatly missed.

Theresa X

Competition War of The Worlds sequel

January 13, 2017 - 3:10 pm No Comments

Thanks to those generous people @Gollancz we are offering one lucky UK winner a chance to win ~ Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter.

 

READ THIS BLOG – RULES AT THE END

A word from PR Guru @steviefinegan

Hello all,

I’m very excited to tell you about this; The Massacre of Mankind is a brilliant way to start the year. It is written by one of the UK’s best-known and most well-respected SF authors, continuing on from where HG Wells left off with The War of the Worlds. It’s already seen some fantastic reviews in The Times and SFX Magazine, not to mention that the Guardian named it as one of their top books to look out for in 2017?

Stephen will be doing a few events across the country.
· 12:30pm – 1:30pm Thursday 19th Jan, Waterstones Birmingham – Lunchtime signing
· 6:30pm Thursday 19th Jan, Waterstones Nottingham – Evening talk and signing
· 6:30pm Friday 20th Jan, Blackwell’s Edinburgh – Evening talk and signing

If you live close by do come along and meet Stephen, it would be great to see you.
All the best,

Stevie

 

120 years on from THE WAR OF THE WORLDS…
The authorised sequel, written by one of the world’s greatest science fiction authors
THE
MASSACRE
OF
MANKIND

STEPHEN BAXTER

Published by Gollancz
19 January 2017
Hardback £18.99 | eBook £9.99 | Audiobook £19.99

It has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. The Martians are vulnerable to earth germs. The Army is prepared.

So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells’ book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat. He is right. Thrust into the chaos of a new invasion, a journalist – sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins – must survive, escape and report on the war. The Massacre of Mankind has begun.

‘Stephen Baxter is arguably Wells’s current representative on Earth.’’
– BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science

STEPHEN BAXTER is the pre-eminent science fiction writer of his generation. He has co-written with Terry Pratchett and Alastair Reynolds and written sequels to the works of other scifi greats including Arthur C Clarke. Published around the world, he has also won major awards in the UK, US, Germany and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton. He lives in Northumberland with his wife and is a HG Wells expert.

Stevie Finegan, Press Officer @StevieFinegan

COMPETITION

1) Tweet/RT this blog tagging @BarbarellaFem and @Gollancz

2) Like the Terror Tree Facebook page and let us know you’ve tweeted

That’s it

CROSSWAYS (Psi-Tech 2) by Jacey Bedford

September 4, 2016 - 8:27 pm No Comments

CROSSWAYS (Psi-Tech 2) by Jacey Bedford
Daw Books / 544 pgs / £6.03 paperback / ISBN 978-0756410179
Reviewed by Carol Goodwin

index1
In the first book in the series (EMPIRE OF DUST) the reader was introduced to an economy dependent on the “gates” (which control access to “fold space”) for most travel between solar systems. The gates need Platinum to work and this along with most other resources is controlled by the ruthless mega-corporations. When the planet of Olyanda is discovered to have substantial deposits of Platinum, the fledgling colony and the accompanying Psi-Techs (people with technologically enhanced mental abilities) are an inconvenience to be eliminated.
In the second book, the remaining survivors of Olyanda have outmanoeuvred the mega-corporation and have negotiated a deal for refuge on the crimelord-run station of Crossways. However, they are still in danger because of their control of Olyanda’s Platinum and their possession of evidence of mega-corporation corruption. The two most powerful mega-corporations co-operate in an attempt to eliminate both the Olyandans and the Crossways station, whose independence has become a major irritant. In their attempts to survive and also rescue missing colonists and family, the Psi-Techs are forced to take more risks in the strange world of foldspace. In doing so they uncover more about the nature of foldspace. This offers them a potential opportunity to outwit their persecutors but at the same time introduces new dangers.
The second book in a trilogy can be the most difficult to write well. The author has to balance having an interesting story with the necessity of setting things up for the final volume. In this book, Jacey Bedford has succeeded excellently and yet again I thoroughly enjoyed her storytelling. She is still exceptional at characterisation; the two main protagonists (Ben and Cara) are competent, likeable and credible. This ability also shows in the “villain”, Crowder as he is not just a cardboard baddie – we see some of his self-justifications for his actions so he does not regard himself as evil. The story development is logical given the events of the first book (something often lacking in sequels) and is well-paced building to an exciting confrontation at the climax. If you like intelligent space opera, I thoroughly recommend this series and look forward to the final book NIMBUS.                                                             CG
(Review copy kindly donated by the author)

Occupy Me

January 22, 2016 - 2:41 pm No Comments

Occupy Me
Author: Tricia Sullivan
Publisher: Gollancz
Page Count: 263pp
Release date: 21st Jan 2016
reviewed by Chris Amies

Pearl works for the Resistance. She is a disguised angel, working as a flight attendant. Dr Kisi Sorle is personal physician to a tycoon who has despoiled Sorle’s native country. One day he happens upon what appears to be a briefcase. But this is clearly no ordinary briefcase: its weight is variable and it has hidden depths (literally, for sufficient meanings of ‘depth’) and it appears to eat people, or some aspect of them. The paths of Pearl and Sorle (but is it really him?) intersect catastrophically on a flight from New York to London.

This is an optimistic near-future novel where people are hijacked across different levels of reality. A SF thriller that plays with concepts such as Higher Dimensions and multiple universes.

The briefcase is indeed no ordinary case but a waveform launcher, a gateway to the Higher Dimensions (usually abbreviated to HD). Nobody is who they seem – quite literally, because one individual can have many trajectories, many possibilities, many aspects. An aspect of Pearl has been stolen and she wants it back.

The Resistance seeks to change the world by making small but significant changes, because this is what humans can/should be able to do: “if human beings didn’t want to find the magic,” says one character, “the shortcut, the underlying truth, then we wouldn’t have the big brains. We’d just have the big biceps.” Sullivan has stated her distaste for the laziness of dystopia elsewhere: hers is an optimistic world.

There are ghosts in the oil: ghosts of the creatures that died long ago and whose bodies went to make up the hydrocarbons – oil is relevant in all this, it’s the reason for the despoiling of Sorle’s native land and many others: “places that had been ruined by Pace Industries and the wars it funded, places left behind when people had packed up and moved away.”

“Occupy Me” is the name or designator of the briefcase (or what appears in our dimensions to be a briefcase). There’s a resonance with Alice in Wonderland here: “Eat Me, Drink Me.” And if you think about Alice and her mirror, the mirror is a flat plane but it reflects multi-dimensional worlds – both ours and the one she steps through into. The flat glass of the mirror has a similar relationship to that 3D world as our world does to the Higher Dimensions accessible to or via Occupy Me. Sometimes things come through the other way. There’s a whole Multiverse in there.

Despite Sullivan’s near-future Edinburgh being beset by a cynical megacorporation on the one hand and out-of-place animals on the other, it’s an affectionately-drawn society with memorable characters. The Bechdel Test (re female characters) is passed with confidence. The higher concepts introduced in this novel are brought in gradually and the novel remains grounded as a science fiction thriller, always readable and at the same time reaching for a palpable sense of wonder at the audacious possibilities hinted at.