Our Child of the Stars – Book Review

Our Child of the Stars by Stephen Cox

Synopsis:
Molly and Gene Myers were happy, until tragedy blighted their hopes of children. During the years of darkness and despair, they each put their marriage in jeopardy, but now they are starting to rebuild their fragile bond.

This is the year of Woodstock and the moon landings; war is raging in Vietnam and the superpowers are threatening each other with annihilation.

Then the Meteor crashes into Amber Grove, devastating the small New England town – and changing their lives for ever. Molly, a nurse, caught up in the thick of the disaster, is given care of a desperately ill patient rescued from the wreckage: a sick boy with a remarkable appearance, an orphan who needs a mother.

And soon the whole world will be looking for him.

Review:
When Molly and Gene adopt a young alien boy, they have to live in constant fear of their secret getting out. The beginning may sound a lot like Superman’s origin story, but this little boy doesn’t look human and has unique abilities. And his existence is a hard secret to keep.

Our Child of the Stars is an exciting and emotional roller-coaster. The characters are engaging and the alien child is incredibly endearing. This is an impressive debut that surprised me. I didn’t want to put it down and actually finished in one day. The intensity builds as the government closes in on the Myers family. And some questions are finally answered about the aliens. I thoroughly enjoyed this charming and unassuming story.

J.T. Nicholas – Guest Post

Author J.T. Nicholas joins SciFiChick.com today as part of his blog tour to promote his latest release – Re-Coil!

Writing any book is a long, arduous, difficult process. To paraphrase Wesley from The Princess Bride, “Writing is pain. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.” Okay… that may be a bit too drastic… after all, most of us would write whether or not we were getting paid for it. Hell, most of us do write without ever getting paid for it. So, it can’t be all that bad. But there is a special kind of pain associated with science fiction (or speculative fiction if you prefer) that I thought I’d ramble on a bit about here.

In short, it’s bloody hard to keep up with the actual “science” when it comes to writing science fiction.

One of the “big ideas” in Re-Coil is asking the question of what it would mean to society if we were immortal. Seems far-fetched and totally science-fiction-y, right? As the one writing it, you have to come up with your reason why, the “science” behind how immortality works in your particular world. That sort of thing is important for internal consistency in the manuscript, helping with the reader’s suspension of disbelief and all that technical jazz. Of course, back in 2018 (like 2 years ago!) scientists in Germany discovered a particular protein chain that (to really simplify for brevity) controls aging. We can’t really do anything about it yet, but with that one discovery, one aspect of science fiction starts to lose the “fiction” part pretty darn quick. And once something like that makes it into the public consciousness, some of the ideas around how immortality might become reality (the flavor of your fictional world) seem much more far-fetched.

Another example. A common trope in cyberpunk is the idea of remotely controlling drones (or even people) from thousands of miles away. We’ve all heard about drone strikes ad nauseum, but that’s a brute force approach to the concept. But just last year, Chinese scientists performed literal brain surgery on a patient 2,000 miles / 3200 kilometers away using 5G wireless technology and robots. I’m not sure I could have imagined a world where a surgeon can cut open your brain from several countries away using the same tech that’s powering your cell phone, but here we are.

So, what’s a burgeoning writer of all things science fiction to do when the world of science outpaces the world of fiction?

Fortunately, there are a few things to keep in mind. It’s always a good idea to do a little research on the key scientific bits in your sci-fi. You don’t have to be an expert but finding out what’s out there already can inform your story and even provide you with inspiration. Also, remember that the cutting edge of scientific thought takes a long, long time to become common knowledge in the public mind. So long as you’re not directly contradicting it, the easiest path is to just not worry too much about it. Some readers may roll their eyes at the “unrealistic” nature of your world, but hey, there’s also that whole “fiction” part of science fiction. Not everything hast to be totally realistic, and that’s a good thing. And finally, as with all good writing, the focus should be on the characters. All the sci-fi elements exist as a framework for the characters to begin with, and with a few very specific exceptions, the focus should always be on the characters themselves. Well-written, three dimensional characters will stand out and any mistakes you make on the science front will fade into the background.

If you want to see how well (or poorly) I lived up to my own advice, be sure to check out Re-Coil (releases March 3rd).

Received in February

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

Blu-Rays:
Titans The Complete Second Season
A Quiet Place Steelbook

Mystery Boxes:
TeeBlox

Amazon / Skyscape:
The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Daw:
Cries from the Lost Island by Kathleen O’Neal Gear

Del Rey:
Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie
Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett
Queen of the Unwanted by Jenna Glass

Disney Hyperion:
The Mouse Watch by J. J. Gilbert
Onward: Quests of Yore by Rob Renzetti
Onward: The Search for the Phoenix Gem: An In-Questigation by Steve Behling
Onward: Ian and Barley’s Magical Book of Jokes, Puns, and Gags by Disney Book Group
Mulan: Loyal. Brave. True. by Disney Book Group
A Place for Mulan by Marie Chow
Mulan Live Action Novelization by Elizabeth Rudnick
Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

First Second:
The Daughters of Ys by M. T. Anderson

Hachette / Mobius:
Our Child of the Stars by Stephen Cox

Harper Voyager:
Crush the King by Jennifer Estep

HMH:
Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers:
The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

Macmillan Children’s / Swoon / Imprint:
The Dark In-Between by Elizabeth Hrib
All Eyes on Her by L. E. Flynn
Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey

Reflector Entertainment:
Unknown 9: Genesis: Book One of the Genesis Trilogy by Layton Green

Simon & Schuster / Scout Press / Saga:
The Companions by Katie M. Flynn
Star Trek: Picard: The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack

Subterranean Press:
The Properties of Rooftop Air by Tim Powers
The Orphans of Raspay by Lois McMaster Bujold
Tale of Dark Fantasy 3 Edited by William Schafer

Tor / Tor.com:
The Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff
The Firmament of Flame by Drew Williams
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan
The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison
Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings
Network Effect by Martha Wells
Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
Prosper’s Demon by Parker
Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

Star Trek: Picard: The Last Best Hope – Book Review

Star Trek: Picard: The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack

Synopsis:
A thrilling novel leading into the new CBS series, Una McCormack’s The Last Best Hope introduces you to brand new characters featured in the life of beloved Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard—widely considered to be one of the most popular and recognizable characters in all of science fiction.

Review:
When it’s discovered that the Romulan star will go supernova, Picard gives up the Enterprise to head up a monumental relocation of all the Romulans its potential wake. Starfleet and many officers are not as eager to help their long-time enemies. And even some of the Romulans themselves spurn the Federation’s assistance. Meanwhile, Commander Geordi LaForge is assigned to oversee the seemingly impossible task of creating a fleet large enough to relocate the overwhelming number of refugees. But an incredible tragedy threatens the relocation efforts and Picard’s future in Starfleet.

The Last Best Hope is essential reading for Star Trek: Picard fans. We’re given a deeper look at the events leading up to Picard’s resignation from Starfleet and the tragedy on Mars. I really enjoyed this well-paced, character-driven story. We’re given a better look at Raffi’s heartbreaking backstory. And I enjoyed the story behind where the rogue synth’s came from. And of course since the Romulans are one of my all-time favorite aliens, I really appreciated getting the story behind some of Picard’s efforts at relocation several unique groups. I loved this intense novel of drama, suspense, and intrigue. And this was a perfect tie-in to the fantastic, new show. I can’t get enough of this series.

Book Giveaway: Unknown 9: Genesis: Book One of the Genesis Trilogy

Courtesy of Reflector Entertainment Inc, I have a copy of Unknown 9: Genesis: Book One of the Genesis Trilogy by Dave Matthews and Clete Barrett Smith for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends March 6. I’ll draw a name on March 7, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: Unknown 9: Genesis: Book One of the Genesis Trilogy

Gareth L Powell – Author Interview

Gareth L Powell joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about his latest release Light of Impossible Stars which releases today!

1. Tell us a bit about Light of Impossible Stars.

Light starts with the sentient warship Trouble Dog low on fuel and hunted by the Fleet of Knives. But with human civilisation crumbling, what difference can one battered old ship make?

2. This is the conclusion to your trilogy. Did it end the way you thought it would when you first began?

Broadly, yes. Some things changed; some characters went in different directions than I had anticipated. But the essential bones of the story remain as I envisioned them.

3. Do you have a favorite character? Are they someone to whom you relate?

Sal and the Trouble Dog are both very dear to me, but my favourite is probably Nod, the stoic alien engineer. He was a lot of fun to write.

4. What is your writing process? Did it change after first getting published?

I’m not sure I really have a process. I write a 4- or 5-page outline of what I think is going to happen in the book, and then I start writing. And I keep writing until it’s finished.

5. What’s next for you? What are you working on?

I’m currently working on two new standalone novels for Titan, both space operas.

6. What are some of your favorite science fiction novels?

Too many to list! Samuel Delany’s Nova has been a big influence on me, as have the Culture novels of Iain M Banks. More recently, I’ve loved books by Alliette de Bodard, Ann Leckie, Emma Newman, Nnedi Okarafor, Martha Wells, Adrian Tchaikovsky…

7. Do you prefer physical books, ebooks, or audio? Why?

I generally prefer physical books, but I do own and use a Kindle.

8. What is something your readers don’t know about you?

I am an extremely good shot. Last time I fired an air rifle, I got all five shots through the bullseye.

About the Book:
Low on fuel and hunted by the Fleet of Knives, the sentient warship Trouble Dog heads to the Intrusion—an area of space where reality itself becomes unstable. But with human civilisation crumbling, what difference can one battered old ship make against an invincible armada?

Meanwhile, Cordelia Pa and her step-brother Michael eke out their existence salvaging artefacts from an alien city. But when Cordelia is snatched from her home, she begins a journey that will help her understand the strange songs she hears in her head and the strange things that happen around her. What extraordinary affinity does she have for this abandoned alien technology, and how can it possibly help the Trouble Dog?

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