The Price of Safety

The Price of Safety ISBN: 9781950890811 World Castle Publishing copyright and written by Michael C. Bland.

The storyteller opens with his statement that “Igniting a miniature sun was the riskiest thing we’d ever attempted. Yet we were doing it in front of the entire planet” With 45 seconds left in countdown, he was mentally checking all aspects of the project while his onetime best friend and company co-founder CEO Nikolai, was in front of the 200 assembled CEOs bragging about the various accomplishments. The ignition is accomplished, in part, but must be terminated by a structural failure. From this introduction the tale continues as we follow the activity of Dray Quintero, a brilliant scientist who is the inventor of the extensive array of methods employed by the government supposedly to protect and provide a better life for the citizens. He discovers far too late that instead, these features are being employed to control them. Seemingly, the CEO has been able to provide the manner in which they are disseminated and has been completely tied to the government resulting in great wealth for himself, while Dray was involved in the brilliant investigative activity of providing the blueprints. The story is a matter of many twists and turns that involves his wife and three children. Death of the first one having a tremendous effect on him and his wife and directing their attention in an unhealthy manner toward attempts to protect the remaining offspring. But here, we discover that the older daughter has an agenda of her own. There are a large number of twists and turns in the plot with abundant distrust, deception, betrayal and treachery discovered to have been extant for some time and even within his own family.

Discussion: The author has provided a tale that reflects much of the thought and attitudes of much of today’s population set in a sci-fi of a number of years in the future. There is much repetition and some inexplicable thoughtless activity. However, this is a book for individuals who are devotees of sci-fi non-stop action thrillers. Regrettably from this reviewer’s perspective, it may be a little ‘over-the-top’ for even the reader who enjoys sci-fi/thrillers but is a tad more pragmatic.

3* 5* great read for die-hard readers of action-packed sci-fi/thrillers; -2* as explained.

The DAR LUMBRE Chronicles

The Dar Lumbre Chronicles ISBN: 9780692086162 assumed published, copyright and written by Don Johnson.

The author has devised an interesting plot where a highly intelligent geneticist, Dar Lumbre, was about to be arrested by the government for his continued work in the field. Although he had engineered the only viable heart replacement available, one evolving from actual heart tissue. They were concerned about other of his experiments and decided he must be apprehended and kept from continuing. The heavily controlling government was unable to find him in spite of all their efforts. The book opens a hundred years later, where the government has evolved into an all-encompassing power where there were only two political parties that alternated years of control, but regardless, all housing, food allotment and distribution of other necessities were administered by the ruling body. There was a requirement for citizen enrollment in one or the other party with non-registrants considered ‘Outsiders” who were forced to survive the best they could. Trouble begins with the DL-666 heart tissue losing ability to function properly and two extremely intelligent geneticists Craig Hopkins and Annie Lee working for the owner, Cal Tech, are assigned to discover why it is failing. The new laboratory director who was hired to ‘turn the company around’ because it was losing revenue, ultimately dismisses Craig. Because the wife of the government’s President suddenly requires a heart transplant, Craig is rehired and he and Annie continue to make advances in repairing the damage. Numerous other complications arise with a long-existent, but secret, Dar Lumbre Society surfacing and registering the ‘Outcasts’, an overwhelming majority of whom believe that eventually  the missing Dar Lumbar wil reappear  a hundred years after he disappeared while in his late fifties or sixties. Numerous supportive characters add levels of suspense to the tale as it evolves and any further details would be a complete disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: a well written, spaced and paced, sci-fi, mystery, thriller with extensive details on genetics presented in a readable fashion.

5* Pleasant, easy to read sci-fi/mystery/thriller involving genetics.

The Covid Legacy

The COVID Legacy assumed published, copyright and written by Lance Haynes,

The book opens with a description of areas of the country/world completely devastated from “The Dying Time’ when large portions of the world’s inhabitants were wiped out by a pandemic viral infection. It then introduces the reader to Brian, the son of Anders and Melissa Thorson and his wife Desta. He was from the northern section of the inhabited world and she was from Ethiopia. They discovered each other via an internet search and were allowed to get married and assigned to a home previously owned by a deceased billionaire near Jackson Hole by the UN Authority who functioned as the regulatory arm of the shadowy but all-powerful Dominus. They had been living here for 15 years and recently had been permitted to have children, or at least, a child. Brian possessed a brilliant mind and performed requested duties for the administrative body. The house assignment and other ‘favors’ signified their importance to the controlling authority. The story evolves as Brian attempts to learn more about his grandfather, Carl. From notes and other mementos of his grandfather he received and/or discovered from his father, he was able to discern the brilliance of the man and his manipulation by the controlling force of Dominus. Also revealed were the fate of his grandmother, existence of an equally brilliant aunt and more. Ultimately, the entire situation in large part designed and developed by his grandfather is addressed by the unexpected appearance of a believed long dead relative who with Brian, and a small cohesive group attempt to somewhat alter it for the good of all.

Discussion: The author has employed the present viral pandemic in a fictional setting that uses a tentative agenda where such an instrument, coldly but efficiently, was set in motion to solve the constantly discussed world problems of overpopulation, intercountry as well as personal greed and scrambling for dominance, cold and hot wars, global warming and the rest. It is a very readable thoughtful but in some ways ‘uncomfortable’, philosophical discussion brought to mind by China’s seeming culpable involvement. The discussion may be a little heavy for some, but coverage as set forth generally is acceptably comprehensible as pertinent to its placement within the story.

4* 5* story, probably -1 for (really required) lengthy philosophical passages.

Grand Masquerade

Grand Masquerade Born Publishing copyright and written by Stephen C. Perkins.

Setting: The setting for the story is the small town of Rupert, Vermont with its surrounding farmland and dense forests. The town is small but seemingly prosperous with well-run stores and farms with a particularly large dairy that also provides a far better than to be expected Bed & Breakfast that also includes a series of well positioned hunting blinds for those who like especially to hunt deer.

Characters: Outsiders that include a man running for President of the United States; the owner of a technological company that is ‘taking over’ the technology sector of the world by his company’s cutting edge advances; his spoiled well-educated but play-boy son; his long-standing and trusted CFO; his Chinese chief designer; a few lesser characters. Insiders are composed of a sizeable number of residents of Rupert that include the owners of the Dairy/B&B/hunting complex; several of their children; city residents and prominently one daughter of one of the wealthiest; the Sheriff and his Daughter who is somewhat of a ‘bulldog’ investigator; a doctor who is gaining an increasing position of renown as a healer who uses non-invasive techniques. A third set of characters, ‘the Others’, seemingly existing as those of legend and not really existing except as the after results of some form of horrendous activity. Legend has it that they exist because of an unholy alliance they had reached with certain residents of Rupert many years ago.

Plot: The book opens with a gruesome attack on a young boy riding his motorcycle in the dense woods followed by his disappearance. The local Sheriff provides a seemingly plausible reason but the State Police Officers decide to investigate further. They reportedly are attacked of several bears with disastrous results. From this point the reader is taken into a world of political machinations interwoven with the equally corrupt life of business with off shore hidden accounts, deceased individuals who are not dead but living and getting paid as another, and dishonesty, distrust, betrayal, deceit, and treachery rampant. All of these activities gradually interweaving with features concerning the legendary “Others”.

Discussion: The author has set forth a quite intriguing mixture of politics, unprincipled business tactics, personal greed, lack of morality, seeming lack of ability to have any semblance of deep affection all overshadowed by a mystically malignant power in which it is enveloped. A quite intriguing horror (?) story highly recommended.

5* Highly recommended multi-genre/suspense tale.

After Olympus

AFTER OLYMPUS ISBN: 9781733801713 Lone Think Press copyright by Desmond Mascarenhas written by Santiago Xaman.

Description/Discussion: Pragmatically, and referred to by the author as “pseudo-fiction”, this most unusual book follows a rambling plot following the lives of three men besides the story teller and their wives or significant others as their lives play out after discovery of a hitherto unknown/unreported Russian Space craft of unusual components and containment. The tale is a tumultuous mixture of mystery and mythology with overtones of mysticism (?), occult (?), history spread over a wide section of the world ranging from Guatemala to Russia, the Serengeti and other parts of Africa, India, throughout much of the U. S. and Europe. The four protagonists all are exceedingly well educated and from backgrounds (families/cultures/traumatic occurrences) that make them prone to a somewhat different manner of living, employment and in their reactions to these matters. The pages are replete with thought provoking messages on such matters as the fact that every subject deserves empirical, intuitive and pragmatic contemplation; everything good grows from the bottom up (plants, trees, cultures?); everything projected from the top down is bad – organized religions, governments et al. – these latter often ‘dodge’ by forming protocols that ‘adapt’. Good comes from people thinking alone; e.g. Plato, Einstein; bad from organizational groups at the top claiming from their collective decision that they are right and everybody else wrong. And unfortunately, even authenticity is vulnerable if railed against at a high level maintained for a sufficiently long time. The author seems most interesting, but who is the author? The book includes a previously published “Opinion Piece” of interest in itself, as is another “Rebuilding the House” that discusses replacing organized religions, governments, corporations “with better versions of themselves”. Also some notes About the Author are quite fascinating when contemplating the entire book and the thoughts that arise from the ‘experience’ of reading this book.

5* Unusual, divertingly intriguing experience for certain readers.

The Unconquered

The Unconquered, “Originally published 2018 as Heart of the Dragon – The Oracle Current version is Edition 2 Printed by Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.” Copyright and written by Peter Man.

This book is unusual from several different aspects, thus actually requiring a somewhat different (and lengthy) review format. It is sub-titled Children of the Divine Fire, Romance of the Flower Kingdom, Book One and is a novel but also described as “An Epic Drama across the Galactic Stage Spanning the History of Human Civilization including that of mysterious CHINA.” It also is assumed that Jim Brown who participates actively in a China-themed “writers group,” participated in some manner in that he “came to notice and appreciate the mind and work of Peter Man, who has now graciously accepted our invitation to join TGP’s stable of affiliated writers.” Several glowing reviews describing the book’s imagery – art history, world geography, mythology, literature, sci-fi, action, militarism, mystery, thriller follow; then a preface; Table of Contents containing an Author’s Note; 52 chapters; “Why you should write reviews”, “Image Licenses” and “Acknowledgements.” A dedication follows “to Charlie Man Dunn because he may one day want to learn the meaning of being Chinese” while the numerous ‘Acknowledgements’ are issued with respect to individuals who in one way or another affected the author sufficiently to evoke an intense interest in China and its world relationships or would be so affected; then follow “Examples of approximate Putonghua (Mandarin) pronunciation using English spelling”; and ultimately, arriving at Chapter 1 which has the interesting title “Everything is a Lie” which informs the reader that he/she is about to be introduced “directly into the crux and climax of the unlikely, unfortunate, and unfathomable events that befell upon one ordinary and unexceptional girl by the name of Victoria Solana.” The story begins to unfold when Victoria as a small child had been given to Michael and Angela, a couple who had moved to Canada because of trouble in their own country, by David (Chinese who didn’t look Chinese) for her protection. Here she develops into a pleasant young girl with magnificent intellect seemingly as a result of exceedingly good training. Suddenly, her parents are killed in an orchestrated attack by a huge truck while she survives and again is rescued by David. He informs her that the two of them now “were facing a very powerful enemy that’ll use every evil tool at their disposal, including lies and illusions. In real life, fraud, deceit, and malice are usually mingled with truth and sincerity.” He then explains that he is using a “VR Gamebox” that “will help convince you that there is another reality….basically a lying device to teach you about the truth. It’s a Paradox and an oxymoron. But you’ll decide what is real. Think of me as your guide and mentor.” “We enjoy unfettered freedom of expression which includes the freedom to lie, the freedom to slur, the freedom to insult, and the freedom to use the basest profanities in the Holy of Holies. Lies pervade the air we breathe …”  “This is the brave new world we live in – the Land of Lies.” “I’m training you to fight the final battle. We need you to win” From here the story follows Veronica as she learns of her strange heritage that reaches back through centuries in China and why it is so important for her to survive.

Discussion: The author here has exhibited the mental abilities and extensive knowledge that have called forth the lavish praise mentioned above. He is eclectic as well as appearing to provide, almost to a lexicon degree, a history of China. The quantity of material alone regarding China’s centuries-long history is enthralling in its range from the similarity of the causes of the trek begun by 86,000 peasants that ended with 8100 to that of the American Indians’ Trail of Tears, to presenting further material with respect to the duplistic part played by Chiang Kai-shek. Additionally, the basic plot is intriguing and the multi-genre approach excellent. Thus, as stated, as a historical treatise, this book is most illuminating and the fictional plot is unique enough to provide great interest. It is only in the presentation of this latter, that this reviewer encounters disappointment. It gradually assumes a level more appropriate for young adults but again only partially. It is granted that we are reading a story, one of whose genres is fantasy. However, the credibly acceptable characters first presented gradually move further into fantasy until eventually being ‘swallowed-up’ within this fairyland and fading away to a point where we are informed that any questions raised “my friend, is another story.” Granted, this analysis obviously depends upon highly individualistic evaluation and may be that of this reader alone. If totally a personal conclusion, this reviewer offers most regrettable and sincere apologies, and suggests that each reader may need to make his/her own personal evaluation.

3* 5* eclectic with fascinating Chinese history; -2 Most difficult to review/interpret.