Review: Past Lives, Present Tense edited by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Past Lives Present TenseThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you could live your life as anyone in history, who would you choose? A scientist, a religious figure, a politician?

And what would happen if that personality didn’t get along with yours?

The outstanding anthology Past Lives, Present Tense explores this premise with a series of linked short stories, contributed by 15 prominent science fiction authors.

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Review: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the RingThis book was a personal purchase.

So, how many times have you seen the movie?

Three? Four?

More?

What keeps drawing the crowds and packing the theaters?

The special effects? Stunning, I’ll admit. The casting? All the characters look the way you’d expect. All those factors play a part, but ultimately, they’re not the true reason for our fascination.
It all comes back to a 60-year-old book.

Tolkien’s masterwork, for many, stands alone as fantasy’s greatest tale. Rarely will anyone argue that point, and neither will I. Rather, it’s interesting to note what makes The Lord of the Rings work so well, on so many levels.

In one sense, it boils down to good, old-fashioned storytelling. Tolkien’s language reads like a yarn spun for a live audience. His tale marches forward, leading inexorably towards Middle-Earth’s fate: Frodo must destroy the Ring or see everything destroyed. In essence, the author presents a simply told tale: no frills, no convoluted subplots, just a well-told story. But that alone can’t explain why it tugs at us and compels us.

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Review: Lancelot du Lethe by J. Robert King

Lancelot du LetheThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Let us return, once again, to the realm of King Arthur. J. Robert King’s dazzling Mad Merlin, published last year, took the story to new and dizzying heights. Lancelot du Lethe returns to Camelot and tells a strange tale of the Round Table’s greatest knight.

Lancelot, raised on Avalon, desires nothing more than knighthood. But his journey to Camelot introduces him to something he desires even more: Guinevere, Arthur’s wife and queen. Thus begins one of literature’s most famous tragic love tales… but there’s far more to this story than readers ever could guess.

As Mad Merlin explored the kingdom of the gods, this novel journeys into the fairy realm, as Lancelot and Guinevere forsake Camelot altogether. Their union can save the Otherworld, but at great cost. For the Otherworld to thrive, Camelot must fall.

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Review: Technogenesis by Syne Mitchell

TechnogenesisThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The World Wide Web’s growing influence has caused concern among privacy protection groups.

Could the Web be used to destroy one’s reputation, steal one’s money, or even take one’s identity? The more we use the Web, the more danger exists that such scenarios could come true.

Syne Mitchell’s Technogenesis explores the consequences when the Net permeates all aspects of life.

Jasmine Reese’s natural affinity with the Net makes her valuable as an data miner. She can find information where others would ultimately fail, and she’s more at home surfing the Net than otherwise. When her data mask breaks and destroys her connection, Jasmine becomes a “disconnected.” While waiting for a replacement mask, though, she notices the “connected” apparently are watching her.

She delves into the phenomenon; these actions result in her kidnapping by a secret group safeguarding the Net. Their motive remains a mystery until they take her to a temple, where she meets the Net’s overmind, Gestalt. As the sum total of all the “connected’s” consciousness, Gestalt guides humanity toward peace, but the question remains: Does it work for humanity’s good, or rob people of free will? Many wish to destroy Gestalt over that very question, and Jasmine finds herself pressured into infiltrating the group that is attempting to kill the benevolent overmind.

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Review: Bikini Planet by David Garnett

Bikini PlanetThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Humorous science fiction holds a favored place in many fans’ minds, and most will agree that the sub-genre’s grand master, the late Douglas Adams, set the bar pretty high.

David Garnett’s new novel, Bikini Planet, makes a rather unsuccessful foray into humor.

Rookie cop Wayne Norton doesn’t exactly fit into Las Vegas’s anything-goes atmosphere, and yet he’s involved with a former Mafia boss’s daughter. When Wayne saves his future father-in-law from assassination, his thanks are a clout to the head and a few centuries of suspended animation. He awakens 300 years later, and finds himself adrift in a whole new world, where radiation contaminates the land, and fashion apparently no longer exists.

Wayne ends up back in uniform, but finds he can barely operate his weapons, much less function as an officer. His new assignment, fighting over possession of vacation hot-spots, does seem to have some promise, though…

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Review: The Valdemar Companion edited by John Helfers and Denise Little

The Valdemar CompanionThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Mercedes Lackey’s 24 Valdemar novels cover an impressive span of time. In the real world, it has been 15 years since Arrows of the Queen debuted.

In the realm of Valdemar, readers have witnessed almost 2,500 years of history. With such a vast amount of material, it’s easy to forget little details from books read long ago. The Valdemar Companion contains everything you may have missed or forgotten, and a wealth of little-known information about Valdemar’s creation.

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Review: The Pillars of the World by Anne Bishop

The Pillars of the WorldThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Fairies, or “the Fae,” as they’re sometimes called, have become fantasy literature’s staple characters. Who they are and what they do usually doesn’t vary much between books.

Anne Bishop’s The Pillars of the World, however, explores a reality where the Fae mingle with mortals and rely on them more than even they realize.

In a world that pulses with the elements’ subtle magic, Adolpho the Inquisitor abhors magic. A witch-hunter sworn to “save” magic-touched unfortunates, his hatred compels him to slaughter those who hold the powers of earth, water, air and fire. Adolpho gathers followers and teaches them the arts of extracting confessions and dissipating magic. His teachings prove to have unexpected consequences for the natural realm.

Ari, gifted with the powers of earth and fire, lives alone and nearly friendless until one summer moon when, compelled by a spell, she trysts with a Fae Lord. Now Ari finds herself visited by others of the Fae: some who want to befriend her, others who see her as a threat. The Fae lands are vanishing, their links to the mortal realm dissolving, and many Fae believe the witches are to blame. Beset on all sides, are the witches really at fault, or does guilt lie elsewhere?

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