The title of this book, coupled with the vaguely angelic looking, tribal painted model would have you think this book is some introspective art piece, I mean, the title is essentially a messenger’s speech/monologue, which, it actually is. The monologue I mean, not the art piece. Messenger, the 16 year old main character, is telling the story of what happened to him, his family’s tequila farm, and his entire family plus his love interest, to a therapist of sorts while he recovers in a hospital. The entire book, with very few exceptions, is told through this dialogue, recounting the recent past. Basically, on one rather normal day, Messenger’s farm is destroyed by three alien ships as they land and then begin hunting for something on the property. What follows is the main characters tale of how they ran, what they found, and how everything changed from that moment on.
Written by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, “All the Stars are Suns” is the author’s estimation of what the future will hold as humans evolve and shape the technology around them. At its core, this book is a look at the relationship between man and machine and how the different religious groups and governing bodies view that changing relationship. It offers a portrayal of how the world becomes ever smaller, blending cultures and languages into one big hodgepodge of dialects and races as well as the acceptance of different sexual orientations. As someone who is entrenched in the changing tech world the way Brown is, it’s no surprise that her story follows that of a true sentient artificial life form and the perils that come with being different from others, all while striving to colonize the stars when terrorist and idealist fanatics stand in the way. And, indeed, that’s what the synopsis has you believe as well, and while the book is about all these things, it’s not as… tense, shall we say, as the synopsis portrays. This is no hair raising race to the stars before the main character(s) secrets are found out, but more a slow, methodical chess game to show where all the players are as they converge on Sincerity/Quan.
“Truth Seer” feels like you’re reading the fantasy love child of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. In it, Moody creates a world where people now have, essentially, a super power that they can learn to use and hone to perfection to help them in a future career. Everything from tasting the weather, to feeling wounds in order to heal them with something more than a doctors touch, to seeing people’s emotions, including if they are telling the truth. Enter the main character Imara, a truth seer who uses her ability—or hila—to see when someone is lying. She wants to use her gift to help the police during interrogations, and she is THIS CLOSE to getting her dream job, when a terrorist organization, based in her hila school’s city of Egypt, crashes the graduation party and takes several people hostage—including Imara’s older sister Naki. Now Imara must use her hila to see through the lies—the illusions—that are keeping her away from her sister before anyone gets hurt.
Everything you need to know about this novella can be found in the synopsis, in fact, maybe too much is there. Still, in the world of “Viral Spark” humans have come to rely on machines—specifically digital implants and robots—for pretty much everything. There’s this light, depressing vibe a-la-Wall-E going on in this book that I kind of loved: people cluster like insects in their massive buildings, rarely leaving. Everything from their food to their clothes is 3D printed, and changing the décor of your apartment is just a swipe away on your own augmented reality screen. There is a lovely undertone of a dystopian here that I wanted to see more of, but as this is a novella, the focus remained firmly on the glitches in the main character’s system, and not the world McConnell places the reader in.
All too often it seems as if steampunk authors stick to one location and one setting: a Victorian era European city. Think cobblestones and cold fog with women in full hoop skirts and men in three piece suits. It was refreshing to read a steampunk novel that took place—in both time and location—so far from the tried and true that I tip my proverbial hat to the author! “Bodacious Creed” is very much a western set in the early days of America, just after the Civil War, where California’s city of Santa Cruz could be considered very much a wild west. The feel of a railroad town that survives mainly from ranching, factories, the dying gold rush, and brothels is superbly well crafted and makes for a believable setting for this steampunk novel. But I don’t know if I’d really consider this a zombie book.
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