“The Skeleton Key: A Short Story Exclusive” by James Rollins (Kindle, 2011)

Skeleton Key
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Bestselling author James Rollins’ SIGMA series features a number of popular and powerful characters that readers have become quite attached to, and none is more interesting than the beautiful and mysterious Seichan.  In this short story exclusive, “The Skeleton Key,” readers get to see Seichan working on a solo mission that she never intended to get involved in.

Seichan wakes up to find herself in hotel room in Paris; she’s been knocked out with something unknown and has no memory of how she got here.  Then there’s the strange electronic collar around her neck that can’t been detached and seems like it may contain an explosive device.  In the room is also a stranger, a Scottish boy also wearing a collar who doesn’t know how he got there either.  Then she gets the call from an old enemy, one who is involved with the clandestine Guild which Seichan used to work for and is now trying hard to bring down and stop.  In return for her freedom and an important document, she must find this man’s son, alive.

Her journey will take her deep into the catacombs of Paris, filled with history and stories of death, secrecy, and in this case an apocalyptic cult.  Using her new friend’s knowledge of this cult which his girlfriend is involved with, and the map tattooed on his back, she hopes to find this cult and put a stop to whatever they’re doing, before someone decides to trigger the bomb attached to her throat.

Rollins delivers classic action, thrill and intrigue, along with a fascinating history lesson into the dark necropolis beneath beautiful Paris, which will keep readers hooked to the very end.  Plus there’s some important story hear, as Seichan is provided with an important clue, leading up to Rollins’ next SIGMA book, Devil Colony, due out June 21st.

Originally written on May 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Long Eyes and Other Stories” by Jeff Carlson (Kindle Edition, 2011)

Long Eyes and Other Stories
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Jeff Carlson, bestselling author of the Plague Year trilogy, returns with another cheaply priced and great collection of three original and captivating science fiction stories, showing the true breadth and ability of this great writer.

The first story, “Long Eyes,” is a great example of Carlson at his best, presenting a most unique character in Clara who is a humanoid suspended in cradle of gel and splice-wire in a symbiotic relationship with the spaceship that she controls, feeling everything it feels.  After traveling across the stars for six hundred years she discovers a planet with some very strange creatures that look to be distant descendants of humans who have evolved into primordial, gremlin-like beings.

In “Pressure” Carlson messes around with the human genome, presenting a character that has been genetically modified to live and exist beneath the waves for research to study the oceans, mapping the sea floors and going further than science has ever gone before, as well as looking to develop new forms of energy production.  In return Carlos is given a large sum of money to support his wife and children, but the research project will take two years and his wife isn’t sure his children will even recognize him when he’s done.   But as Carlos begins his journey beneath the waves, he soon discovers that with the many wonders there are also just as many dangers.

The last story in the collection, “Planet of the Sealies,” is set in the distant future and the world we know is a very changed place.  There are now families of clones living close to the pole, with some groups traveling the globe in search of resources.  Carlson has fun as these explorers find relics of the past that have survived in a form that means little to these people, but is all too familiar to readers.  It is a harsh tough world where these new people have to stick together to survive.

In Long Eyes and Other Stories, Jeff Carlson pushes the horizon of the imagination further, playing around with the concept of the human being and changing it into something it couldn’t or perhaps shouldn’t be and then reveals the possible repercussions of these changes.  For such a great deal, this collection packs a lot of adventure and entertainment; the ultimate bang for your buck!

Originally written on May 5, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box” by Mira Grant (Kindle Edition, 2011)

Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box
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After the success of Feed, fans will be experiencing the impatient excruciating wait leading up to the release of the sequel, Deadline (due out May 31), with little to do but twiddle their page-turning fingers.  Thankfully, Mira Grant and Orbit with the Orbit Short Fiction series have presented us fans with a brief respite; a kernel of entertainment in the form of a short story, “Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box,” from the author as we count down the days to the final Deadline.

Friends are good; friends are special; friends are important.  And what’s better than bringing a bunch of friends together than a game; a game they’ve been playing for years.  But it’s not your ordinary game: the challenge is to come up with the ultimate apocalypse scenario, which began with the idea to “. . . figure out how to destroy the world.”  The group meets every Friday, for the last fifteen years, each of the members taking turns to come up with a way to end of the world, each being more nefarious and evil than the previous one.  And now it is time for the six hundred and eighty-third scenario, only Cole is unable to attend for some reason, and instead she has sent a digital recording of her scenario.   As the group listens to the step by step instructions of Cole’s latest scenario, fear begins to creep through each member of the group as the description starts to seem a little too close to reality.

Grant’s short story is just the perfect dish to hold back the appetite of those fans anxiously awaiting the release of Deadline; readers will not be disappointed with “Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box.”

Originally written on May 5, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

“The Frozen Sky” by Jeff Carlson (Kindle Edition, 2010)

Frozen Sky
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In Jeff Carlson’s ebook novella, The Frozen Sky (available on Kindle), he takes on the genre of hard science fiction, taking readers to that distant moon of Jupiter, Europa, where there are frozen seas and oceans, but beneath the possibility of alien life.

Carlson uses a great storytelling method of short chapters and jumping back and forth.  In the present our main character is dealing with the alien life that exists beneath the ice, trying her best to stay alive using her futuristic spacesuit that works practically as a fully-servicing vehicle along with the downloaded knowledge and abilities of her dead colleague.  Carlson throws in the details here and there of great scifi tech without bogging the story down or confusing the reader.  In alternate chapters, the reader is taken back to different periods in time, when the main characters first set foot on Europa, what they hoped to find and what they actually found, which were very different things.

In less than sixty pages, Carlson skillfully manages to tell a great story, present some possible ancestry to these alien creatures, put in a bunch of cool technology that makes sense and is believable.  To top it all off, he  manages to send the message of when we do finally start traveling to the stars, we better be sure we’re fully prepared for everything we might come up against, and that maybe we should look and think before we leap into that mysterious hole in the ground on an alien planet.

Originally written on April 10, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.