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Showing posts from 2017

Review: Proxima

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Proxima by Stephen Baxter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed Stephen Baxter's Proxima, although I found the pretzeled plot of interwoven timelines hard to follow. Baxter brings a healthy dose of realism to his work in the form of realistically designed spaceships and the real effects of relativity as we deal with interstellar distances in terms of human lives and its effects upon those travelers.
Recommended for lovers of realistic, hard-edged science fiction!

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Review: Agent to the Stars

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Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There's no other way to put it... Scalzi is a brilliant science fiction author. Agent to the Stars takes the usually awkward first contact story and flips it on its head as Tom Stein, a junior entertainment industry agent, takes on a new client--A jello-mold from another planet. This jello-mold is a representative of a race who came to understand humanity via the television broadcasts we have beamed into space for years. They understand that image and appearance is everything on Earth and for them to be accepted, they need an agent who can shape their image into something people will come to accept rather than run screaming in horror from a creature that resembles the 1950's The Blob.

Agent to the Stars is an imaginative and creative way to approach first contact, which I think only Scalzi could capture in his unique voice. Highly recommended for all lovers of science fiction.

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Review: The Island Deception

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The Island Deception by Dan Koboldt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this action-packed sequel to The Rogue Retrieval Bradley Quinn travels deeper into the depths of Alissa, a strange and foreign world that's full of magic, danger, and adventure. Quinn adventures back into the world of Alissa in order to discover the secrets of real magic, though he must play along with the corporate plan in order to achieve his personal goals. Mystery, intrigue, and suspense are found between the pages of The Island Deception as author Dan Kobolt takes us back through the gateway with Quinn and his friends. Highly recommended reading!

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Review: The Rogue Retrieval

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The Rogue Retrieval by Dan Koboldt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Rogue Retrieval by Dan Koboldt captures the reader's attention from the very beginning with Bradley Quinn's voice. Quinn is a small-time Vegas illusionist with dreams of making it big but a job offer that's too good to refuse becomes more than he bargained for. Quinn must use his wits and showmanship to survive when he learns this job is much more than just a stage-act.

A fun and fast-paced novel, The Rogue Retrieval escorts the reader into a world of real magic, danger at every turn, and the stakes are life and death. Highly recommended!

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Review: We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

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We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We Are Legion (We are Bob) is a smart, funny, nerdy, and fun read!

Robert Johannson, otherwise known as Bob, sells his software company. With his newfound riches Bob invests in cryofreezeing technology that will be implemented upon his death--much to his dismay is very shortly thereafter. Bob wakes up 117 years later in a computer as a digital version of himself. We are Legion (We are Bob) explores "AI" from the viewpoint of digital copies of human minds.
Bob, in his newfound existence, has the ability to replicate copies of himself as he explores the galaxy as a living Von Neuman probe. Taylor explores nerd/geek culture as Bob explores the galaxy and creates ever-so-slightly different copies of himself--creating the Legion of Bob.
A galactic adventure geeks and nerds will love, We are Legion (We are Bob) tilts the familiar concepts of AI and space exploration in new and fun ways.

Royce Sears
www.royc…

Review: Babylon's Ashes

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Babylon's Ashes by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Babylon's Ashes is Book 6 of The Expanse Trilogy by James S.A. Corey.
I LOVE these books! (How many times can I say this?) The cast of characters, their trials and tribulations, and the deft story-telling of this author team are addictive.

Book 6 takes us into the aftermath of the Free Navy's reign of terror over the inner planets. Earth is on its knees after multiple asteroids have impacted on its surface. Food, medicine, and energy are in scarce supply as people on Earth try to survive in the hellish nightmare that has become their existence.
The Free Navy leads a devastating campaign against the combined fleets of Earth and Mars while the crew of the Roci and my favorite foul-mouthed politician, Crisjen Avasalara, struggle to outwit the leader of the Free Navy, Marco Inaros.
Babylon's Ashes is yet another fast-paced tale of politics, intrigue, space battles, and high-flying action that leaves the reader…

Once upon a Bio...

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For some strange reason, I've decided to join the #PitchWars festivities- complete with a #PimpMyBio. Why? It sounds like fun! 
Born in the heart of West Virginia, Royce dreamed of becoming a writer throughout his younger years and was always an avid reader. Starting out with an old and often temperamental typewriter, he wrote poems and stories that helped develop his young imagination. A kind-hearted teacher in Junior High School took his first "manuscript" home for the summer and painstakingly read through pages and pages of violent, poorly written L. Sprague de Camp-esque combat scenes. She returned it the following school year with the classic red ink - a plethora of suggestions and encouragement that fueled his desire to write. A word processor, a gift from his grandparents, became the source of many tall tales which unfortunately never left the realm of the 3.5-inch floppy disks. Those tales, and the disks they were stored upon, faded into the digital oblivion of …

What about Teddy?

What about Teddy? By Royce Sears
Billowing clouds. Blackened soot. Embers, ashes Rises to the dawn.
Pictures and memories Writhe among flames. Tears falling. Silent sobs Among a fire engine’s roar.
Splashes of water Dousing dreams. Hopes, carried on streams Toward the drain.
Clutching her doll. Watching the flames. “What about Teddy?” Mom shakes her head.
“We’ll get a new Teddy, baby.”

What Happens in Naples...Stays in Naples

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I found myself standing at the rear of a small boat with the lights of my ship, the USS MISSISSIPPI, ahead of us on the dark harbor. Beside me stood my division officer—we’ll call him Ensign Longfellow.
“Sears, aren’t you out past curfew?” Ensign Longfellow asked. I glanced at my watch and noted the time as 01:22 AM. He was right. The Captain’s rules for this port visit were for E3 and below to back aboard ship by midnight. I remember the panic settling on me at that moment, but we’ll get to that later. These are my first coherent memories of our first night of liberty in Naples, Italy. Now I’m guessing, you, my dear reader, are probably curious about the events leading up to just how I found myself out after curfew and standing beside my division officer at the rear of the liberty launch. I am too, but I will try to give an accurate accounting—to the best of my ability.

The ‘Ole’ Miss ‘(CGN-40), having departed Norfolk in late February or early March, (I honestly don’t remember wha…

Review: War Dogs

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War Dogs by Greg Bear
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

War Dogs is sadly my first experience with Mr. Greg Bear. Through the pages of War Dogs I developed a great respect for Mr. Bear and his ability to reach through the pages of the book to tell the story of a Skyrine - a marine trained specifically for the rigors of space combat. Having worked with Marines as a Navy Corpsman, Marines have a mindset that is very specific and very singular to the Marine culture. They speak alike, they fight alike, they're honest, loyal, courageous- and most of all- Marines are BADASS! In my opinion, Greg Bear captures the essence of how a Marine thinks, acts, and fights in War Dogs and that alone is worth the price of admission.

As much as I liked this book, I gave it four stars because there were several places within the novel where I had to back-pedal a few pages to try to understand what was going on with the story. Setting those little things aside, it's a great novel that I highly recommend …

Review: The Player of Games

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The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to say that I found The Player of Games to be a much better experience with Iain M. Banks than Consider Phlebas.

Banks introduces us to Gurgeh, a stylized game-player from the Culture. Ahh, the Culture, such an advanced and modern civilization that engulfs almost all of the known galaxy, or so it seems. Gurgeh is reluctantly drawn into the attempted coup of a game-obsessed empire; a coup to be affected by Gurgeh's mastery of the very game through which the empire defines itself. As an outsider of the Empire, Gurgeh must learn the game quickly and unknowingly confront the evils of this empire via the game. Can he learn the intricacies and subtleties of the game in time? Can he learn enough about himself and his opponents? Is it all just a game, or is it a none-too-subtle clash of cultures taking place on the game board before him?
Highly Recommended SF reading!

Royce
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Morning Star

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Morning Star by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Morning Star is a heartfelt and dizzying end to the Red Rising Trilogy. Although Morning Star is a great book, it IS the end of the trilogy--much to my dismay. The author's acknowledgments and comments make the last book even more loveable because we can see the struggle Mr. Brown had in bringing Darrow through the conflicts arising within Morning Star. Where Red Rising and Golden Son focused on Darrow himself, Darrow has to learn that he can't always do everything by himself. As much as I wanted to savor this last book, it was another Pierce Brown novel that I couldn't put down--and alas it is done. I'm looking forward to Iron Gold scheduled for release in 2018.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Golden Son

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Golden Son by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Golden Son by Pierce Brown is the second novel in the Red Rising Trilogy. I have fallen in love with these characters, so much so that as soon as I finished Red Rising I had to acquire Golden Son and Morning Star simultaneously.
Written in the first-person POV, Brown takes us on an epic adventure through a stratified society's strengths and weaknesses via Darrow, a low-born miner, who begins to tilt this society's views of place and caste in Red Rising. Between the covers of Golden Sun, Darrow's rise through the ranks of aureate society continues as he struggles to protect the secret of his low-born identity and build the relationships he will need in the days ahead.
Golden Son is a maze of friendships, betrayals, loyalties, and power struggles that provides the reader with nonstop hours of page-turning, mind-bending thrills.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Red Rising

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Red Rising! The cover quote by Scott Sigler says it all, "Ender, Katness, and now Darrow."
The social stratification we see in Ender's Game, The Hunger Games, and Divergent, is taken to all new levels in Red Rising. Pierce Brown's delightful use of a Eugenic's obsessed culture makes Darrow's rise from a lowly Red to an iron Gold an enjoyable story that will go down in history as 'classical' and 'epic' science fiction. This is one of those books that you just CANNOT put down. We feel every betrayal, every heartache, and every triumph as Darrow faces impossible odds in a system stacked against him in every way possible. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Hyperion

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Hyperion by Dan Simmons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hyperion by Dan Simmons is a wonderful science fiction novel that combines a number of scifi elements in a fantastically woven story. Simmons tells each character's story separately, in a delightfully artistic manner, that escorts the reader through the many and varied facets of the incredibly complex world he's created. Using character archetypes, Simmons tactfully uses his characters as ciphers to decode the mysteries of a backwater world known simply as Hyperion. Aspects of military-scifi, cyberpunk, space opera, mythology, religious mysteries, and a profound appreciation of literature--expressed through his mad poet character--make Hyperion a delightful reading experience. The only place throughout the entire novel where I felt let down was the end...and I'll leave it at that.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: A Vision of Fire

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A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson. This novel takes the reader down a twisted path toward the Piri Reis map via lost artifacts and a consciousness extending across time to invade the minds of those who suffer traumatic experiences. Anderson explores several facets of mythologic tales, ranging from Norse and Celtic tales to Vodoun legends, and interweaves these facets into a larger fabric to spin a science fiction yarn of mystery, intrigue, and suspense.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: The Human Division

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The Human Division by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While The Human Division is a collection of short stories, and it's normally difficult to write a review of such a collection, this collection is situated in Scalzi's Old Man's War universe and the stories are interrelated enough to make writing a review much easier. I enjoyed the way the stories accented events in Scalzi's other books while telling their own stories at the same time. We get to experience the growing pains of the CDF as they learn to deal with things through diplomacy rather than brute force. All in all, a great collection of shorts that fleshes out the universe more fully than before. I love Scalzi's brash characters and the situation's he throws them into. Who else could have thought of making a diplomatic incident out of a Lhasa Apso's encounter with a carnivorous plant? Leave it to Scalzi...

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Latest Reviews of Prophecies of the New World

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Sharing the most recent reviews of my debut novel, "Prophecies of the New World."


Available on Amazon
Kindle Format: $1.99 Paperback:$11.99

A cross By: dabj on April 8, 2017 Format: Kindle Edition A great story that blends the old days and the new with a hope for the future. Anxiously awaiting the next book.


Captivating! By: Amazon Customer on April 7, 2017 Format: Paperback
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish. The kind of book you'll find impossible to put down. Get swept away by the rich scenery, absorbed in the vivid characters and their fantastic struggles. You'll find yourself tingling on the edge of your seat. This story has the perfect amount of ebb and flow, allowing fast paced action and quiet periods of reflection. With likable, compelling characters, larger than life creatures and intriguing, detestable villains you'll be dying to see come to life on the pages. Thought provoking without being preachy, it definitely drives home the message. …

Vintage Books at the Flea Market

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It's a wet and rainy day in West Virginia, but we ventured into the murky weather to visit the Huntington, WV StinkFest today.

Yes, I said StinkFest. Ramps! For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, ramps:

Allium tricoccum (commonly known as ramprampsspring onionramsonwild leekwood leek, and wild garlic)[2] is a North American species of wild onion widespread across eastern Canada and the eastern United States.[1] Many of these English names are used for other Allium species, particularly Allium ursinum.

After visiting StinkFest, we stopped by the Flea Market in Milton, WV. Much to my delight, I found two vintage Anne McCaffery novels at one of the used book vendors. 

Sassinak - Circa 1990

Crystal Singer - Circa 1982

Score!



Queries, Synopses, & Pacing- Oh My!

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We dread query letters, synopses, and trying to get the pacing of the novel to flow ...just right. Here are some of my thoughts and what I've accumulated so far. 


These three words have been my entire existence for a few months now! Pulling my hair out? What hair? It's gone already.

Queries: What have I learned? I've learned a great deal, actually.

Keep it short!When we begin this process, many of us start with the common phrase, "Query letter? What's that?" So we Google it...ah, Google my good friend... and our wise GoogleBot Guru tells us that a Query letter is a one-page letter wherein we pitch our book to an agent.- No sweat- One page. I can do that. Umm.. not as easy as it looks. Upon further research- and after a few rejections- we find that one-page stuff is nonsense. An agent doesn't want to read a whole page about your book. They want your book in a nutshell--an easily crackable nutshell with the meat of the nut in a ready to eat format that's …

Review: The Giver

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The Giver by Lois Lowry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic book! The Giver, while I would categorize it as a MG/YA, is a wonderfully insightful novel that explores some surprisingly deep themes for its age group. Perception, wisdom, and hidden truths shape the novel's main character, Jonas, as he learns these things and much more from the Giver in his role as the new Receiver of Memory. Highly Recommended novel for all age groups!

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Review: Nemesis Games

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Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nemesis Games had a different feel to it. For the first time in this series, the crew of the Roci splits up and goes off on their own separate tasks. We get to explore the back stories of the crew, what made them who they are now, and what might lie in the future for the individual characters. More great story-telling, lots of fun, action, and adventure from James S.A. Corey. As usual, highly recommended!

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Review: Consider Phlebas

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Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Consider Phelbas was a difficult book to make it through. I found the plot twisted and disjointed at times, almost like a jumbled collection of short stories loosely linked by a common character. I found Horza's character a confusing cipher as the author explored the different sides of the culture war because of Horza's almost middle ground in the conflict. Yes, he was against the Culture and working for the Idirians, but I was never able to put my finger directly on why he was against the Culture, other than his dislike of the 'Minds.' I found the author's use of AI in his construction of the Minds intriguing and honestly, my interest in the Minds was what got me through the rest of the twisted subplots. All in all, an interesting read, but I'm not overly inclined to read more of this author's work, although I probably will because it's possible Consider Phelbas just wasn't my cup of te…

Why We Can't Have Nice Things...

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White House Budget Plan Would Slash Science

Why can't we have nice things? The article above references Trump's 2018 Budget proposal,

"Although details are skimpy, Trump’s $1.15 trillion budget proposal, released March 16, would make national security the top priority."

National Security as the top priority? Imagine that... In a country that spends more on national
defense than any other country in the world.

We live in a country where our leaders are using the media to fuel people's fears, driving the country toward nationalism, populism, racism, and isolationism. So in order to do this, they remove the very underpinnings of what has made our country a world leader in the past...science. Instead of leading the industrialized world, we're taking steps toward the dark ages. We'll decrease funding to public schools, cut science programs, and keep the American people in the dark. Why? So they can make us more afraid. An uneducated person is easier to contro…

Review: The Hammer of God

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The Hammer of God by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Clarke's The Hammer of Godis a hard science fiction horror story wherein Clarke explores the familiar theme of a 'planet killer' asteroid on its way to destroy Earth. Prior to the events of The Hammer of God, Spaceguard has identified and tracked all the Near-Earth threats, but one was outside the range of their tracking methods. Spaceguard must use outdated and untested equipment in a race against time to alter the orbit of a planet-killer.
The Hammer of God is classic hard science fiction written with the style and class that only Arthur C. Clarke could accomplish. Highly recommended science fiction!

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: The Last Colony

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The Last Colony by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I made the mistake of reading Zoe's Tale before The Last Colony. My excuse for this is my discovery of Scalzi via Zoe's Tale. I enjoyed The Last Colony but it's the same basic tale, just told from another perspective, as Zoe's Tale. While I like the premise of getting the details of a story from multiple perspectives, I think reading the books in reverse order spoiled the fun of it for me. Great books from a fantastic author and I can only blame myself for reading them out of order. Highly Recommended!

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Review: Childhood's End

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Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Within the science fiction genre, there are few authors as well known or as celebrated as Arthur C. Clarke, and rightly so. Childhood's End is a rich and creative exploration into the fate of mankind. Clarke's unpacking of religious, scientific, and cultural elements within Childhood's End, elements important in the buildup and final destination of mankind's journey, make for a truly wonderful adventure into the mind and matter of the human condition.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Redshirts

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Redshirts by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The relationship between 'real world' and the 'writer's world' gets warped and twisted in John Scalzi's Redshirts Scalzi's tale of a universe shaped by "The Narrative" wherein his characters find themselves behaving in unexplained ways while the Narrative takes hold of a situation is a fun read, especially from a writer's point of view. A science fiction television show, and a badly written one at that, is the focus of Andrew Dahl's adventure in Redshirts as he is assigned to the fleet's flagship and realizes that his life is no longer his own. His life, just like everyone else on the ship, is controlled by the Narrative.

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Review: The Forever War

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The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can only say I wish I'd read this book sooner. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman, is a profoundly deep view of military experience that has been extrapolated into what the future of interstellar warfare might look like. Haldeman's explorations of relativistic travel and their effect upon the human psyche become evident through the one man's adventures as he takes a long and ponderous path from a lowly Private to the rank of Major in a war stretching across space and time. Haldeman's masterful storytelling takes the reader into the mindset of military culture that is reminiscent of Robert Heinlein'sStarship Troopers A must read for any science fiction lover!

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: The Ghost Brigades

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The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In an action-packed, fast-paced sequel to Old Man's War, Scalzi's The Ghost Brigades does not disappoint. We go deep inside the Special Forces of Scalzi's universe through the traitorous character of Charles Broutin to discover the many secrets of the Ghost Brigade and what makes these CDF soldiers even more deadly than 'realborn' soldiers. Scalzi's strong characters and well-developed universe make this novel a military science fiction lover's paradise.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Hydrogen Volcanoes?

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In a thought provoking article found on Sciencenews.org, scientists have found evidence linking the existence of hydrogen belching volcanoes to the possibility of life supporting planets.

Atmospheric models suggest, according to the article, these volcanoes may extend a star's habitable
zone considerably. This is exciting news for the exoplanet hunting community that opens the potential for many more worlds which may harbor life. It's an exciting time in the world of exoplanet astronomy and for lovers of science, like myself. Now, we just need a means of propulsion that will get us to these far-flung worlds in a timely manner rather than say the 750,000 years it would take us to get to the Trappist-1 system currently.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

Out of Place Artifacts

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So, maybe I'm not caught up on the terminology but while doing some research last night I discovered a new term (new to me at least). OOPA-- "Out of Place Artifacts"-- How cool is that? Very cool actually.

Now, many of these are explainable, either via natural phenomenon or some other human intervention, but there are a few that caught my eye.

1.) Mount Baigong Pipes
Mount Baigong is located in China. It is described as an environment that is not suited for human life. Interesting so far, right? There are pipes laid throughout the mountainside that lead to a nearby lake, Lake Tousu. If that weren't interesting enough, the pipes run in organized patterns along the shores of the lake, into the lake, and deep into the mountain--a mountain that has an arguably pyramidal shape to it with three distinct entrances. The largest of these pipes is 40cm in diameter. Samples were sent to a local smelter and determined to contain 30% ferric oxide and 30% silicon dioxide--a substan…

Review: The Fold

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The Fold by Peter Clines
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Fold escorts the reader into a suspenseful journey that provides healthy doses of mystery, fringe science, and Lovecraftian horror. Our hero in The Fold is a Sherlock Holmes-ian character with an eidetic memory who's recall and powers of observation become an integral part of the plot as the story unfolds. Cline's exploration of fringe science, easily relatable characters, and his healthy respect for geek culture make The Fold a fun, entertaining, and exciting read for science fiction lovers. Admittedly, this is my first exploration into Cline's work but I will definitely be reading more in the near future.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Cibola Burn

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Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this series! Cibola Burn is a wild ride into the massive universe of James S.A Corey's Expanse Series. Alien tech, a completely foreign planet, and a security chief with no regard for human life provide the latest challenges for Jim Holden and his crew aboard the Rocinante. Cibola Burn is a hard-hitting, action-packed adventure that you can't put down.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Abaddon's Gate

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Abaddon's Gate by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

James S.A. Corey knocks another one out of the park!

Abaddon's Gate expounds upon Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocci as their fate seems inextricably bound to the protomolecule's mysterious construction. Politics, religion, and ghosts from the past continue to complicate Holden's life in Abbadon's Gate as a new era of human expansion looms on the horizon.

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What is Life?

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This article, found on Science News, showcases the wild and unpredictable nature of life.

What is life?
Life: a condition of growth, reproduction, and adaptation to the environment through internal changes.

Such a sterile definition of something so precious and beautiful. Life is a complex process that we still don't understand. Somehow, millions of years ago, just the right combination of amino acids and proteins came together in the primordial soup of Earth to form the building blocks of what we are today.

How did it all happen? That's one of the great existential questions that most either ignore, take on faith, or leave it up to the scientific community to find the answer. Personally, I fall into the last category. Will we ever know that answer? Maybe...hopefully... but until then we can use the tried-and-true method of establishing scientific understanding, the scientific method, to come to a better understanding of the FACTS.

Facts, those pesky little details that some fo…