This week, I was floored by some really amazing Sci-Fi/Supernatural thrillers. Halfskin by Tony Bertauski is the first volume in the Halfskin series, a series that I look forward to following. In that spirit, I encourage anyone who loves a dark and gritty Science Fiction/Supernatural Thriller to read The Terminals: Spark (Terminals #1) by Michael F. Stewart– there may be a smidgen of levity within these pages, but there is little in the way of happy endings. Just like real life (My real life anyway…snif)- Imagine if you will, terminal patients volunteering to be euthanized in order to travel to the afterlife to solve crimes here on Earth. This is an amazing book ( I never lie about good books).
Finally, Barbaric Methods of Ancient Execution by Shaun Porter is a short read, 80 pages, which I read within an hour. While the subject matter and the descriptions of anything from the proper methods of Crucifying a man, to the finer points of disembowelment are disturbing subjects, the author Shaun Porter describes these nightmarish methods with a light-hearted aplomb that is infectious. I am not sure if his intentions were to be funny, but the results will speak for themselves. Besides, who doesn’t like reading about ancient methods of execution? In the next few weeks, I will be reviewing books on such subjects as Nazis, Civil War Heroes, and fashionable monsters, so stay tuned, and don’t hesitate to share my humble blog with friends and family. Make sure to scroll down after the book reviews and read my record reviews for GODFLESH, Bantustans and Dead Aim in the Set-List. SKOL!
by Tony Bertauski
Deadpixle Publications (2013) Kindle Edition, 260 pages
Tony Bertauski creates a world where bio-nanotechnology is mass-marketed as the answer to all of our physical and mental deficiencies; Greener eyes, faster hand to eye coordination, new knees, hearts etc. the only catch is, the biomites , which are artificial Stem cells, multiply, and when they reach 50% of a person’s make-up (more machine than Human-a halfskin), they are shut down by MOTHER, a central computer that is synchronized with each artificial DNA strand within every biomite in existence, allowing it to know every move and thought of every person seeded with biomites.
The story revolves around Nix and Cali, a brother and sister. she is a Scientist specializing in nanotechnology, specifically dealing with biomites, and he is an 18-year-old who has just reached Halfskin status, and is scheduled to be shut down. What ensues for the majority of the story is a game of cat and mouse, with Nix and Cali on the run from Marcus Anderson, an all-natural, biomite-free federal Agent charged with shutting down (killing) Halfskins. Cali was able to engineer a new breed of biomite which flushed out the old biomites, after which, they would be invisible to MOTHER, and be able to evade detection. These new breed of biomites also gave the user special powers, like a human computer.
The story is intriguing and fast paced; Bertauski has done his scientific research, as what he has based his story on is highly believable. This is part 1 of the story line, with the 2nd volume, Clay out now for purchase. I am eager to read Clay, because Halfskin is one of the most interesting sci-fi books I have read in quite a while, I simply did not put it down until I came to the end. I recommend this story highly to anyone that enjoys a good Sci-Fi thriller filled with futuristic technology, Artificial Intelligence, and the battle between morality (religion) and Science. I give Halfskin 5 out of 5 stars simply because the prose is excellent-the action is intertwined with the cerebral aspects equally, making this an exciting read. Look for my review of Clay, the 2nd volume of the series in the coming weeks.
out of 5
The Terminals: Spark
by Michael F. Stewart
Non Sequitur Press (April 14 2014), 270 pages
This story can fit into a myriad of genres, such as Horror, fantasy/Sci-Fi, YA, Supernatural thriller etc. The premise is original, where a secret military squad, answering directly to the President, is responsible for solving crimes in the here and now, by conversing with the dead. The way this is done, is by using a combination of terminally ill military personnel, and sending them on a final mission into the afterlife, in search of people who died with important information, and having them relay that information to the resident seer (A gambling Gypsy who speaks with the dead through a crystal door knob), before entering the final stage of their respective afterlife.
The main arc in The Terminals: Spark, is the relentless, bloody search for a serial killer who died without revealing where he had hidden a busload of kidnapped children. Hillar the Killer, the serial killer in question, was also a Gnostic, and in order to find him, the “Terminal” being sent, must also be a Gnostic, or at least be an expert in Gnostic afterlife beliefs. An interesting storyline to be sure, but also extremely dark, and not for the weak of heart, especially those upset by stories of kidnapped children being tortured or killed.
Michael F.Stewart combines sobering violence, with ironic psychological commentary dealing with suicide, murder, government secrecy, spiritualism and morality. The language is colorful, and at times is downright amusing, such as the line: “the general’s office stank like someone had left a used colostomy bag on a radiator to cook.” This is not a feel-good, happy ending type of book, but if you like your horror-thrillers dark, quick paced and thought-provoking, I would highly suggest jumping on board for the ride. The last page of the epilogue will straighten your spine, and if you are like me, will make you yearn for volume 2 of the Terminals series.
out of 5
>Barbaric Methods of Ancient Execution
by Shaun Porter
Self-Published (2014) Kindle Edition, 80 pages
This is quite short for a book, consisting of only 80 pages, so it is safe to say that this is not an academic work. That said, the info is sufficient for those wishing to understand the thought process behind the manufacture of 25 of the most widely used forms of capital punishment in ancient times, as well as the steps for each. In fact, some of these barbaric methods had lasted until the early 20th century, and a couple (beheading, stoning) are still used within some of our modernity-challenged societies.
This is not a particularly well written book in my opinion, although, the dark and unsettling subject matter is told in an almost cheerful, jovial manner. In Barbaric Methods of Ancient Execution,when describing the executioner’s methods for lessening the suffering of crucifixion by smashing the legs with an iron bar, Shaun Porter stated that “to be honest, this doesn’t sound at all like it would reduce suffering.” I chuckled loudly when I read this. He states the obvious on many occasions, as well as cracks a joke or two during the more brutal explanations of execution methodology. When going over the steps taken during the disembowelment process, Porter again comically states the obvious when he writes: “Imagine having your guts tossed onto a fire before your very eyes; what a painful and disturbing final few moments that would have been.” haha Ya think?
The author also went into detail when describing the Ancient Roman circus event of releasing the bestiarri (Animals) upon naked, and unarmed convicts, most notably lions. He mentioned how on rare occasions, the human would actually kill the lion. Shaun Porter’s commentary went something like this: “just think how many YouTube videos a human killing a lion with his bare hands would get.” There are many more where this came from. And while this sort of writing helps little in solidifying the author’s authority on the subject, it sure as hell makes reading about brutal torture a bright and entertaining experience.
This is the main reason I gave this 4 stars. Simply for the fact that Shaun Porter had no problem yukking it up like a fifth grader while describing the finer points of boiling a human to death in hot oil. It helped that I was listening to the metal band Exhumed (Relapse) while reading this.
When all is said and done, this is a short little book about seriously brutal subject matter, told in a comically insensitive manner. And I liked it. This is the power of self-publishing for you…where anyone with a little time and computer skill can publish just about anything. In this case, it wasn’t terribly bad. You can get this on the Amazon Kindle store for anything from free to $3.99, depending on the day. It is worth such a mere bag of shells for the laughs at the very least.
out of 5
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