Ebook review: Freed Aliens: The 2nd Galactic Pool Novel by M. Sid Kelly

Publication Date: March 19, 2014

From the dust cover: “Freed Aliens is the 2nd Galactic Pool satirical sci-fi comedy novel. It offers you the old-fashioned, high-quality naughty behavior you’ve come to expect. And it’s all in a 100% new story.
Their failed invasion of Earth wasn’t for nothing. The aliens came away with Jimmy Fresneaux’s TV fishing show and a lot of other great ideas for expanding the Galactic Broadcasting Company. Now the Galactic Pool establishment faces a rebellion triggered by a swarm of empowered filmmakers and other so-called pest species.
One particularly nasty politician has a plan to zap the rebels. But a diverse cast of heroic aliens and abducted Earthlings is on the job – whether they realize it or not.
The local Higher Power is still paying attention too. And he’s getting more and more confused all the time…
*Maintains the first book’s low 10,000-to-1 ratio of regular words to F-words.
*The sex scenes are beyond telepathic this time, but may require some imagination.”

About the author: “M. Sid Kelly grew up in a globe-crawling military family with his English mum and California hillbilly dad who engineered Air Force base TV stations. So young Sid grew up surrounded by TVs – with British comedies, U.S. fishing shows, and 1970’s Tagalog-language kung fu movies competing for the best naughty bits. He graduated with a four-year degree in marine biology eight years after enrolling at Humboldt State University. Having completed two years in Africa with the Peace Corps, he got a job as federal fisheries bureaucrat – until too many dead fish had piled up. Now he consults on fish protection measures for bridge construction projects in order to pay the bills, and he wrote Used Aliens in order to become a zillionaire one day. His conclusion after having run around all over the place looking at stuff: Space aliens are going to think we are the strange ones.”

My Ebook review: if I have managed to persuade anyone to read this blog on even a slightly regular basis then it would come as no surprise that I am a fan of this author and have even gone so far as to interview his characters in a previous entry: http://littleebookreviews.com/2013/10/23/200th-blog-post-and-used-aliens-character-interview/. So when I heard that the sequel to Used Aliens was out I simply had to get my hands on it. Luckily the weekend was preposterously filled with enough spare time to allow me to engorge “Freed Aliens” in a manner that would have made even some of his characters blush.

A heck of a lot is expected of sequels and I was not holding back my expectations as I read this one. The most endearing features of the first book, namely the intelligent writing and the slapstick comedy resurface as we catch up with old friends and new friends, old enemies and other beings of indeterminate pleasantness. It picks up where “Used Aliens” left off with our heroes spread wide across the galaxy almost blissfully unaware that they are about to be thrust once again into a vast adventure.

In “Freed Aliens” Kelly allows his education fired imagination to unfold across the pages and unabashedly portrays a delightful range of alien forms and I really enjoyed the range of non-humanoid forms acting appropriately according to their tentacular, proboscistised, wingéd or slimy natures. All this is written carefully, intelligently and in a way that adds to the story rather than distract from the plot. The plot is an epic adventure, or even several intertwined adventures that weave an exciting path towards (well you need to read it for that part). Basically, the plot is splendid and the breadth of the story is spectacular and so clearly absurd that it certainly must be true.

What makes this book both interesting and funny is the satirising of our own world and humanity combined with the occasional scene of side splittingly funny slapstick / burlesque that had me in fits. Beyond that though, “Freed Aliens” does not try to make the aliens either superior beings, monsters or cartoon characters, they are believable entities that have their own drives, selfish stupidity, lust along with diverse character flaws that create a melting pot from which a masterpiece is forged.

Did I enjoy the reading experience?: You bet your sloth I did, in fact I think that I will go back and read it a second time straight away. I am hoping to find that there will be room for another “Galactic Pool” instalment to extend this powerhouse franchaise!


Veritas Liberabit Vos – Parts One and Two by R M M Walker

Published 25th October 2013
From the dust cover: “What would it take for you, to stop for a moment and imagine that everything you have ever understood to be true, everything you have learnt about the world you live in, and everything you have been told, could in fact be an elaborate fiction? If one piece of the veil of reality is shattered, what next?
Part One
A Skydive goes wrong and the participants share an experience that on the one hand gives them a definitive explanation for a controversial phenomenon, but on the other, sets before them a myriad of questions they decide to investigate. They go their separate ways and back to their normal lives, yet things aren’t quite the same and for some, life seems to have taken a twist towards the surreal.
Part Two
The group reassembles and discuss their findings. As alarming events are recounted, they are unified by what they hear; fear and shock grips them. What would normally be considered a bizarre suggestion, now appeals, and they set course to that end. As they continue to investigate and events unfold, how will the revelations ahead sit with them and could they turn back, even if they wanted to?”

My Ebook review: honestly I am not really a big fan of serial novels for some reason but I was interested in this one primarily because of its topic and because it came with two parts in one offering which gave it the feeling of a more full story.

Veritas Liberabit Vos is action packed and full of interesting undercurrents and in fact this is a story that gripped me from the beginning. I am a big fan of this sort of ‘what if’ fiction that takes into account some of the fringe aspects of the interpretation of our history.

This work walks a swift pace through a large swathe of paranormal activity and combines it neatly with a broad band of characters and good old fashioned bad guys. In one sense some of the characters are relatively generic but that is not a problem because their approach to understanding a chance joint experience is what really matters. When we have the diversity of characters we are able to see the story from a number of different angles and it helps to bring rapid depth to the story.

This is a book worth reading and even though it is a serial novel it is actually pretty complete. It will appeal to paranormal enthusiasts and conspiracy lovers out there.

Did I enjoy it: yes, I would really like to read the next installments.

Ebook review: BLOODLINE Out of the Shadows by David W. Sheppard and M. Baker

About the authors: Bloodline Out of the Shadows is the first novel for David W. Sheppard and M. Baker. They escaped from Chicago and currently live in Southern California. They also enjoy writing screenplays. Bloodline originated as an idea for a miniseries they are developing for television. This is a work of fiction – they hope.

From the dust cover: “On his 23rd birthday, a young man from a wealthy family discovers that he is from an alien bloodline and is their messiah, the key to their sinister plan to destroy the Earth and fulfill their covenant.
Hez Harrington’s family has kept a wicked secret from him all his life. He didn’t know that his parents had promised him to another woman and a being from another planet. His enemies are the richest people in the world and really evil distant family members. It just goes to show, you can’t pick your relatives.
How is he supposed to reconcile his human heart with the face he now sees in the mirror? The lives of the woman he loves and his friends are in jeopardy. He needs help, but all he has is a priest with a screwed-up eye.
He has twenty-three days to appear at their mecca and gift them with the powers he has been given. The result: the purest of evil will emerge and walk the earth, out of the shadows. If he doesn’t surrender to their will, how will he stop them?”

My Ebook review: the authors’ intent to develop this story as a miniseries for television is not only an intriguing idea but also a good description of what to expect when reading this book. There is no lack of high impact scene setting or of dramatic cuts from one plot perspective to another
The basic plot of conspiracy, cover up and hidden agenda is a classic and engaging one for a fun reading experience.
The drawback to the approach taken in writing this story is that it is confusing and a little bit jerky for my taste. It is almost a pilot for a series rather than a complete whole in of itself. The characters are at times a little generic.
The aliens are interesting enough and Hez learns fast and develops into his role and in total this is a very good set up for a number of sequels.

Did I enjoy it: this was a fun read, not too deep, not too silly, in the Goldilocks’ zone.

Ebook review: Ghosts of ARCADIA by Ramsey Isler

Publication date 14th October 2013
About the author: “Ramsey Isler is an author, software developer, and designer who lives in Los Angeles. He currently writes feature articles and media reviews at IGN.com, an entertainment site that focuses on TV, movies, and video games. Ramsey loves books, anything with circuits and wires, and cats.

For fiction, Ramsey usually writes urban fantasy that blends elements of science fiction and suspense. His stories feature young protagonists that are often unsure of themselves, but they find the strength to persevere when faced with extreme circumstances. Ramsey does not write traditional “evil” villains or black-and-white morality tales; he instead opts for antagonists and anti-heroes who have viewpoints and ideals that pose difficult moral challenges for the protagonists, and the worlds they inhabit.”
From the dust cover:” The greatest video game system the world has ever seen has been hacked.

ARCADIA was the first platform to offer a complete simulated reality experience using direct brain scans to trick the gamer’s senses and, more importantly, to read their minds to know what they wanted to do next. It was hailed as a breakthrough; the most innovative invention since the television. It sold out in record time. Then the hackers started stealing.

It started simply enough; just a few users of the ARCADIA game system had their bank accounts infiltrated, and a little bit of cash went missing. But the problem grew, and hundreds of thousands of people lost money. The FBI got involved, and ARCADIA headsets were taken off store shelves.

Miguel Naciamento, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and hedonist, has taken on the story of ARCADIA. Determined to find the hackers, Miguel becomes entrenched in a mystery that involves an androgynous hacker, a veteran government specialist on cyber-warfare, and even the creator of ARCADIA. As Miguel’s investigation leads him to the true source of the hacks that brought ARCADIA to the brink of destruction, he makes a discovery that proves that ARCADIA has become more advanced than anyone could have imagined, but he’ll have to fight hard and face his own fears to ensure that ARCADIA survives to fulfill its true potential.”
My Ebook review: the premise of Ghosts of ARCADIA is a fascinating one that we inhabitants of the computational world can readily engage with. Essentially as the world becomes more interactive there will always be someone out there trying to push their own agenda. What is fun about this work is that it is entirely plausible somehow and one can almost glimpse the future reality just around the courner.
Our hero Miguel has followed his nose and the opportunities that his life has given him to investigate a seemingly dead story. The more he digs, the more he is dragged into the world of hacking and the world of ARCADIA.
It struck me that he has a very easy time getting people to help him out. Clearly his Pulitzer has a substantial amount of clout in getting some pretty nervous people to open up. That was to me the one criticism. Otherwise this is a very intriguing story that is very nicely paced. The outcome became clear as the book progressed but was still surprising and interesting.
Essentially this is an essay on the nature of life and reality and what will happen when virtual reality becomes even more enticing than it already is for some. What happens when we choose to live without actually being there?
Did I enjoy it: definitely, this is a keeper not just because it is nicely written but because it is thought provoking and the theme of the book actually has the potential to be a version of our reality one day.

Is it polite to ask a photon its age?

From time to time I read reviews and become a frustrated person. The last such review of a science fiction, time travel story drove me almost to distraction as it strove to criticise the underlying science of the book based on what Niels Bohr said about wave or particle nature. In fact the review was rather well written and balanced and it is not for me to have a go at the review or the reviewer per se (in fact, it seems to me that to anything much bigger than an electron, the duality issues is rather academic). What gets me is the utter nonsense we spout in the belief that we can somehow judge the plausibility of science fiction, it strikes me as the ultimate in oxymoronic comments. Working in Copenhagen, it seems rude of me to say anything against this magnificent city’s famous inhabitant. The name Bohr is plastered on to many a building and sign and rightly so, but he is both regarded as a genius and as a man whose grip on normality was almost metaphysical at best. In reality he was not always correct and some of his theories survive whilst others have been surpassed. That other great physicist of the last century, Feynman, is very clear in his excellently engaging lectures that a theory holds up until the point that it does not fit the data, at which point it is wrong.
So if we choose to judge the veracity of a science fiction story on the basis of a single physicists work then we have missed the whole point. Science is a journey of exploration of our ignorance and only one thing is generally true, the moment we think that we have the system sussed is the moment that we are most incorrect. Take time travel, an interesting topic that drives the imagination to all sorts of lengths. The problem is that we do not even seem to understand what time is, why we perceive it and why we only go in one direction. We travel through time at roughly one second per second, but why is that? At the fundamental level, when the world is reduced to equations on a black board, our metaphor indicates that the universe does not need time to go one way. On the smallest scale time can go forward and backward. Feynman spent some time on a theory that required that one particle set off backwards in time in order to make the system work. It is only our preconceptions about time that make this sound odd. The theory solved some issues, although I cannot say whether it still holds as a theory. My understanding is that time has a directionality driven by the flow of energy from simple to chaotic systems. Like the way a teenager’s bedroom will tend to flow from tidy to untidy; the reverse is possible but the amount of energy required makes it implausible.
We perceive time as a series of sequential sensory impressions that are then laid down as memory. We think that it is instantaneous but it is not. Photons hit receptors in the eye and rhodopsin changes shape, TM5 moves and a signal is set off inside the cell that becomes a chemically transmitted nerve impulse and not doubt synapses fire and somewhere in the kilo of mush that sits up there the physics turned chemistry becomes the biology of a memory. Kobilka did a lot of work to show how photons lead to shape changes in the receptors in the eye. Originally his work showed that the shape change took 18 seconds; luckily we are not that far behind reality. In later experiments he could show that this effect was in fact much more rapid. It tells us though that our concept of now is in reality a concept of then. Kobilka went on to win a Nobel last year.
Even more challenging is the notion that the photon had to travel a certain time to get to our eyes. There are several interesting notions here and the most mind boggling is another I read of in Feynman papers that perhaps the photon does not set off until it ‘knows’ it will be captured. This morning as I ran in the remaining star light I am reminded of the huge distances and the many ages that the photons I am seeing have travelled. Could they really have known I would look? I am seeing into the past by looking straight up, and yet Feynman would say that the photon only set off when the path to my eye was open. Does the photon have a shorter path that we do not understand, we do not know. We do not know the age of the photon and probably it is not polite to ask.
My point, if there is one, is that many of the theories that we have of the universe are works in progress. We should be open to surprises. Our imagination is one of our greatest assets and from the imagination comes both the nascent theories of the future but also the science fiction of today. How many inventions have been developed to mimic the great science fiction series of the sixties, for example? We should not try to rationalize science fiction otherwise it would already be science fact. Time travel might happen one day, and perhaps it already has. Perhaps we already have the closed causal loops.
There is a final salient point about science fiction in this rant and that is the need to maintain a level where the reader is dragged along in their suspended sense of disbelief. Too many clumsy moves and the mood is lost and a neat story becomes a painful journey.

In Duality Inc. J. Thomas Beaton creates a science fiction thriller in which nothing is as it seems. It does not contain time travel but it does contain difficult concepts of the transportation of ‘self’ from one world to another. In a thought provoking turn pager Beaton’s hero has to attempt to overcome tremendous odds to save humanity. The leap of faith in this book is not the science but the ability of a fairly random chap to be able to rapidly evolve into a world saving super chap. It is the stuff of dreams, just like the one where you score the winning goal at the world cup having been plucked from obscurity off the local field because your keep ups looked just spiffing. While I always have issues with this type of leap, this transformation in character, it makes for a compelling, high energy reading experience that does make one turn the pages. It is a book to entertain oneself with and to enjoy at face value. There is a deeper undertone of secrets hidden and forces beyond our worldly knowledge at play and this makes the storyline fresh and intriguing.

In this second instalment, Johnson picks up exactly where he left off from book one. The perils of time travel are laid bare in the continuing farce of our heroes attempting and just failing to put right the things that they put wrong in the first place. The harder they try to reset the timeline, the more badly wrong the timeline gets kicked out of shape. The story evolves and the plot thickens, deepens and broadens and eventually reaches clear waters of ‘reason’. It is an entertaining story and a good read.

Ebook review: The Last of the Time Police by Kim Howard Johnson

My goodness but a rainy day makes such a huge impact on the mood! As the wind blustered through the station, the platform became not just awash with rain and spray but also a lethal assault course of umbrellas inexpertly yielded with more or less total abandon and lack of forethought. It happens every year of course and we all do it. We forget how useless a golf umbrella is in a gale, in a crowd, and in a hurry. Not only is the unwieldy instrument hard to handle, but by the time it is taken down and man handled in order to board the train it seems that the owner is as sodden as everyone else. Oh well, what to do apart from get ones hands on a time machine to go back a few weeks to the summer sun?

About the author: Kim “Howard” Johnson is the author of a series called “Time Authority”. He is a lontime Starlog and Monty Python writer who knew Douglas Adams and wrote “The Last of the Time Police” as a tribute to him.
From the dust cover: “It’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” meets “Time Bandits” in this action-packed science fiction adventure.

Stan and Jack are the last remaining members of the Time Authority, a government unit formed to correct disruptions to the established Time Line. Although time travel has been officially outlawed, Stan and Jack must make a quick time hop to 16th Century France to clean up some of their careless littering.

Unbeknownst to them, however, Leonardo DaVinci stows away and tumbles out (along with the operating manual for the time machine) in 18th Century England. This disruption is discovered by the Time Authority, as it creates a Chronological Anomaly that begins advancing toward the future and threatens to wipe out all reality. The military and civilian leaders clash before agreeing on a scheme to build one final time machine and send Corporal Spumoni back to correct the Time Line, even though it may ruin any chance of Stan and Jack returning home.

Stan and Jack must crash-land their time machine in 1848, where they discover, due to DaVinci’s influence, a futuristic Victorian England. After nearly colliding with Maggie Wells on her flying machine, she helps them hide their broken Time Hopper. Stan and Jack realize their only hope to fix their machine is to recover the operating manual, if it still even exists. But Special Services agents, led by Maggie’s former boyfriend James Burton, are constantly searching for them. And Jack’s growing attraction for Maggie is tempered by the thought that she could be his great-great-great-great-grandmother.

Meanwhile, in 1768, DaVinci has become a favorite of King George III of England. His only rival is Benjamin Franklin. Jealous, with the help of Lord Frederick North, DaVinci frames Franklin for the theft of his own notebooks. But when DaVinci learns Britain’s plans for his own war machines, he realizes he must work with Franklin to stop Britain’s domination of the globe.”

My Ebook review: this was a refreshing change of pace and it was immediately apparent from the first couple of pages that “The Last of the Time Police” is written in a very engaging and easy to enjoy style.
Time travel is an amazingly jumping off point for so many stories and has been used with due frequency. It can be horrific or hilarious or just downright irritating depending upon the skill of the author. Johnson takes a very down to earth view of the ‘short lived’ fad of time travel and the clearly short lived desire of folk to hop around in time once their pensions are secured. So once it is all over bar the picking up of rubbish, the scene is left to our heroes to do one simple task. Of course it goes totally pear shaped and is the catalyst for a romp through the ages.
We follow several key players in different times in a continuously scene shifting storyline. It is held together by careful writing and wit. The plot develops its depth from the fact that all of the characters are simple humans being very and somehow unfortunately human. There is plenty of adventure from the start all the way to the slightly shocking end.
The last comment must be about whether this book does what it says and for me I will have to say yes it does. It brings a sense of fun and life and smartness that is reminiscent of the Hitchhicker series to a serious science fiction theme.

Ebook review: In Apple Blossom Time by Robert Wack

From the dust cover: “In Apple Blossom Time is a story about love, regrets, destiny and redemption, based on the true life and research of Dr. Willem Jacob van Stockum. Dr. van Stockum, a brilliant University of Maryland mathematics professor, becomes frustrated with American indifference about the war in Europe before Pearl Harbor, and abandons his promising academic career to become a bomber pilot in the British Royal Air Force. While flying a mission in support of the D-Day invasion of Europe, his plane is shot down behind the lines over Normandy and he is rescued by stranded American paratroopers. While they fight for survival in the French countryside, they meet up with ruthless French Resistance fighters and two strangers who are not what they appear to be. Willem’s pioneering academic work on time travel and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity pose intriguing “what if?” questions compelling him to face the implications of his work and the consequences of choices in a universe of infinite possibilities.”

My Ebook review: this book has all of the elements of a tremendously exciting novel. It has a real life historical figure, science at the very edge of our ability to comprehend or understand and daring war time exploits.
I am not a fact checker or someone who gets overly excited about whether the details are exact, but “In Apple Blossom Time” has the feel of authenticity and a level of research into the main character.
The main question comes down to: does it work? The answer is both yes and no. The story is a neat one and has twists and turns and certainly the unexpected elements that make it dramatic and thought provoking. On the negative side for me it was a slow moving work with a lot of time taken to set up a background and bring people together in order that they wait. It lacked a little of the breathless fast pace that I would have expected and probably I found it hard to empathize with many of the characters who appear as names with little definition yet took time away from the main flow of the plot.
As I got through the book I had a growing feeling that this would have made a splendid and punchy novella by which I mean that a ruthless editing to build pace and tension might well have generated a tip top piece that would have the feeling of a Hollywood blockbuster. As it stands, this is a fine and entertaining novel that provokes thought about science, about coincidence and about people choosing to put themselves in harm’s way to try to fight for a cause.

Ebook review: Aetna Adrift by Erik Wecks

Erik Wecks is a writer and blogger and has published a small number of books and Aetna Adrift caught my attention. From the dust cover “What do you do when every aspect of life is regulated by a soul-sucking bureaucracy and constant surveillance is the norm? You run. You find the out-of-the-way places no one watches. You make sure no one depends upon you, and you beat the system. That’s what Jack did, and it worked…until now. It starts to go wrong when Jack breaks his rule and takes Anna home more than once. Then, Administrator Timothy Randall arrives and turns Jack’s backwater moon upside down. On a mission from the central government which no one understands, Randall and his staff do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. When the killing starts, Jack finds himself blackmailed, tortured, and enslaved to a ruthless political faction. Now he must figure out who to trust, how to escape, and decide between Anna and his freedom. Aetna Adrift is a full length high octane thriller in Erik Wecks’ PAX Imperium universe.”
My Ebook review: This for me was a book that started and ended really well. The opening section was interesting, well described and gripping and the set scene for a futuristic adventure / techno space fantasy. The author has a splendid imagination conjuring up an elaborate selection of characters each with diverse interests within a complex overarching plot that includes conflicting agenda, conspiracy and big brother style bureaucracy.
For me the middle section executed the plot well but was perhaps caught up in its own confusion and requires the main characters to be very lucky. This is of course a common feature of almost every blockbuster extravaganza, no holds barred, fight to stay alive book or especially movies there is a fine balance somehow. I recall watching 2012 and getting annoyed at how many times “Hold on!” was shouted about as if a good grip works well against an exploding super volcano, but I digress! Wecks’ balance left me feeling flat at a point where the crescendo was otherwise building nicely. To be fair therefore, there will certainly be readers who absolutely get carried by the story, the inner turmoil of the main character as he finds and has to deal with his vulnerability and human nature.
A good read.

Ebook review: Ghosts of the Void by Timothy Burns

About the author: “I am an avid reader whose primary interest is hard science-fiction. I have read and loved that genre all my life and have always dreamed of writing books that others would enjoy reading as much as I myself enjoyed those of the great S/F masters. I am very interested in high technology and try to impart accuracy and plausibility into my work.”
From the dust cover: “Dark matter makes up the vast majority of the cosmos, and it is not uninhabited. When the solar system passes through a vast cloud of dark matter, strange things start to happen. Electronics go haywire, unbreakable materials suddenly break, and enigmatic, ghostly creatures are sighted. To the inhabitants of Earth this is bad enough, but on Mars, where properly-functioning technology means the difference between life and death, this spells disaster on an unimaginable scale. Jared Miller, a psionically talented problem solver, barely survives his journey to the Red Planet on his mission to discover just what these mysterious ghosts of the void are and what they want. There, he meets Bo Greene, a prospector who scours the barren wasteland in his six-legged walker in search of mroom, the only life native to Mars. Along with Bo’s ex-wife Anissa, Anna the witch and several others, Jared and Bo find themselves transported to the distant future where Mars is green and vibrant but the inhabitants are under the domination of alien overlords and their sadistic psionic henchmen. Survival becomes their primary goal as they seek to save two worlds, but in the end they face the terrible dilemma of having to choose which to save and which to condemn to non-existence.”
My Ebook review: This is not the first science fiction dealing with the exploration of space and the difficulties of logistics and the perils of discovering what is staring back from the black ’emptiness’. Importantly it does convey some interesting new ideas, combining ancient mystery, modern physics and basic human drives and ambitions.

Burns uses Mars exploration as background for a new age ‘gold rush’. When this extreme environment throws up opportunity and coincident recurrence of fundamental forces, the characters are put to the test.

There is good description and meticulous scene setting combined with a reasonable level of scientific details. The author captures the spirit of adventure, greed, personal gain and anguish that surely would exist. Whether it has the spark of uniqueness is the question that I felt unable to properly answer.

Definitely a good read for lovers of space adventure and Burns does manage to do what he sets out to do and add plausibility and accuracy. It will be very interesting to hear from those for whom this work absolutely clicks because there surely will be absolute fans amongst its readers.

One Small Step by Brian E. Howard

I do not know much about the author other than I do not know much about him and this appears to be his first publication. From the ether it is possible to find that “This novel is about overpopulation, a topic which is like the big white elephant in the room that everyone knows is there but refuses to acknowledge. This in spite of the fact that all the major problems facing us as a race–deforestation, diminishing fresh water supplies, desertification, soil erosion, water and air pollution, and global warming, to name some of the biggest–are all a direct result of overpopulation! Any serious treatment of overpopulation implies birth control, another topic few wish to address, which is why I chose humor as a main element in the novel, and explains the graphic cover since the action all revolves around the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

From the dust cover: “Retro-Thriller? Spy Spoof? Black Humor Sendup (Wacky plot, oddball names, tons of word play, but no doom and gloom)? A Celebration of English? A Serious Comedy? Lots of Sex? Oh, Yes! All of the above! And the perfect antidote for anyone who has slogged through Gravity’s Rainbow.”

My Ebook review: Romp is the word that springs to mind when trying to sum up this extraordinary piece of work. The background is somehow the Apollo mission and the book covers says a lot about the symbolism of firing a massive, albeit highly complex, erection into space. The historical backdrop gives a veneer of credibility to the farce, while Brian Howard develops his characters beyond the apparently simple yet ample dimensions of first introduction to the point where they are thoroughly engaging.

This is not a story for the bashful of composure; the author does not refrain from sexual content which at one hand seems gratuitous but in reality only adds to the absurdity of this tale. It is so absurd that one can believe it to be possible. What a time that must have been.
A very entertaining book for lovers of pseudo serious spy thrillers and conspiracy.

It is also important to recall that the author has serious points to make and difficult points are raised and dealt with in an intelligent way. Howard is clearly and author who has a broad vocabulary and he uses it with skill throughout the book which only adds to the multilayered nature of the piece.