Sci-Fi

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Sci-Fi, Steampunk

Robert Louis Stevenson is known for his works that are not with the usual stories. He is more famous for Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

A new man in the town is being notorious and is instantly disliked by the residents. He is Mr. Edward Hyde. He has no regard for others. But what baffles Mr. Utterson is the link between his friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and this abominable man, Mr. Edward Hyde. Though the whole town hates Hyde, Jekyll likes him and this makes Utterson worry about his friend. Jekyll even writes his will in favour of Hyde. Meanwhile, Hyde murders a prominent person of the town and goes into hiding when everyone starts looking for him. With this turn of events, Jekyll revokes his own will and modifies it. He also detaches himself from his friends and refuses to see anyone. In a span of few days, the household of Dr. Jekyll is scared to the core and come to seek Utterson’s help in solving a mystery that turns out to be the shock of their lives.

As one of the firsts of its kind, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a masterpiece in its own terms. Apart from a good story and the element of surprise, well, shock, the author has depicted diabolical nature of a human as well as his helplessness in the best way possible to cater to a reader’s mind. On the whole, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a good one-time read. Maybe you will read again and that will be only for the diary part of Dr. Jekyll which is towards the end of the story.

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Loose Strings by Dr. Dale A Grove

Loose Strings by Dr. Dale A Grove

Review by Shwetha H S

What would have happened if many of our eminent scientists had not died or deviated from their scientific aims in their lives? Humanity would have technologically developed, but not sure for good or bad. In another universe, a world called Regnus is highly developed, so developed that its citizens are at the dead end of any kind of technological development because they have exhausted themselves in every possibility. To stay as the most developed world of theirs as well as neighbouring universes, the History Security Officers are assigned the tasks of distracting scientists of different worlds and hindering them from reaching their goals. On one such mission, Regnus’ History Security Officer Rakena meets Dr. Wolfe Sterling, who is trying to save science on Earth. What happens to the history science on Earth? Does Rakena succeed in altering Earth’s scientific history? Will Dr. Wolfe Sterling resist the alien beauty’s ventures?

Loose Strings has a good storyline with multiple time travelling and travelling between universes, complex ideas of physics which you don’t need to understand in depth to enjoy the story. Since all the characters are humans and similar to humans, the reader doesn’t have to think about the complexities of the alien anatomy. But the problem is there are so many characters; even the supporting characters have their own supporting characters and storylines. The story is fast paced, but there are times when there are abrupt shifts from one scene to another, or a character doing something which wasn’t actually necessary or called for. But the only point that becomes difficult to accept is the element of God in the Sci-Fi novel. It almost becomes like preaching Christianity to the readers with the help of aliens. Dr. Dale A Grove lets the readers down when he starts talking about God.

Except for the God part, the novel must be for its unique time travel and multiverse travel story. Sci-Fi lovers will enjoy this if they ignore the sudden inclusion of the Almighty.

The Time Machine by H G Wells

The Time Machine by H G Wells

Review by Shwetha H S

To see the downfall of the entity for whose prosper you and the generations before yours have toiled is like losing faith in your purpose. No matter what you do, things will eventually turn out the way they are meant to be. Even if you go back and forth in time using a time machine, what is going to happen, will happen. The way H G Wells makes you understand this concept is worthier than the whole concept of time travel this story of The Time Machine is based on.

Through The Time Machine, H G Wells paints a grim picture of how mankind digs its own grave, one inch at a time. When the protagonist, the time traveller, travels far into future i.e. 802,701 A.D to find a sickeningly beautiful and frighteningly suffocating Earth inhabited by humans who are unlike us. Why? For one, humans have branched into two sub-species; one Eloi who are beautiful, delicate and petite midgets, and other Morlocks who are no lesser than beasts. Evolution has taken the good out of all the attempts of this age humans to make an organized society. Rich have evolved into Eloi who are good for nothing and poor have evolved into dreaded Morlocks. So, how does this dystopian world, which is far removed from the futuristic world that we hope and are working towards, function? What happens to this time traveller who chances upon this era?

The images that H G Wells has managed to paint through his words are quite moving, but not disturbing in these times of internet when we have almost new catastrophes to see day in and day out. But, back in the days when The Time Machine was written and published, to provide a glimpse into a possible future without a crystal ball must have been amazing. This was done without any loopholes in the narration. Lucky was H G Wells for having born in those times when new concepts were sprouting and desired. And lucky was that time which could witness the rising of sci-fi, most of which has come true by now. The Time Machine by H G Wells is a classic sci-fi that should not be missed.

Chaos Company by Christopher Slayton

Chaos Company by Christopher Slayton

Reveiw by Cezan Koby

It took me more than a few attempts to read the book.  Right from the explosive start to…. In fact I don’t think the senseless killings makes any sense. Liam King is a sonofb@#$ and I hated his character from the beginning and I wished the bugger did die on the operating slab.  Routinely burning a hole in someone else chest for fun is deprived and bordering on psychotic serial killer on a cocktail of crack, meth, speed and toilet cleaner  yet the higher up’s executive decision to give him permanent lasting geno-human powers makes me want to smack their head, couple of times and then some more.  The chaos company dwindles as it fights on the good side. Desmond the leader is one of least charismatic  character. All the blood & gore was too much for me.  There is hardly a pause in the killings, and any resemblance of a storyline is overshadowed by a adolescent lust for murder, mayhem and hallucination. I gave up after my sixth attempt to complete the book.

The Chorus Effect by Russell Boyd

The Chorus Effect by Russell Boyd

Review by Shwetha H S

The Chorus Effect by Russell Boyd is a book, the one and only book so far, that has made me say “okay” with a meh feeling, “Oh, did that just happen?” and made me sit at the edge of my seat and a day ago made me plead “please don’t be over, let this not end” with this book in my hand as I turned the last few pages of this infinite times wonderful book. Throughout the book, Russell Boyd made me wonder how did he even come up with such lines for particular situations, well, most of the situations. My inner voice revolted with the idea of this book coming to an end. I almost prayed for a happy ending for the first time when Russell Boyd said three of the characters will be dead by the end of the story. Yes, he actually did that. The churning of the heart is inevitable. Russell Boyd, I love you man.

The Chorus Effect comes with heavy comparisons, especially with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. With the concept of parallel universe, this story, now nearest to my heart, also has a few characters in sets, that is one found in an artificial universe created by three awesome physicists from some other universe, and another set in our world. To top this all, you have an entity of artificial intelligence that runs this artificial universe in which these three physicists reside and that they have built from the scratch. This entity, named Chorus, which later turns into Katie, a beautiful woman from simulations run by the physicists on Chintz from our world. How Chintz, along with his cat named Platelet, enters this universe known only to the three scientists is for you to find out by reading this amazing story. What more do you have here? Chorus/Katie falls in love with Chintz. Yes, you read that right. Chorus is the epitome of artificial intelligence. Having a female voice, Chorus is omnipresent in the universe created by Dr. Mitch Morley, Sam and Nelda. It takes some time to understand that they all don’t belong to the same universe, but the similarities establish the concept of parallel universe.

Apart from that, I would like to tell you this. This book is not for stupid people, as in not for people who don’t understand jokes and sarcasm. I say this because in this book there is magic/science baby named Tonk that only says Fuswah, which eats a piece of glass at some point of time in the story. Referring to that, Russell Boyd gives a note at the bottom of the page saying “Do not, under any circumstances, feed broken glass to a baby without thoroughly sterilizing both the glass and the baby.” Whether you feed glass to the baby with or without sterilizing, the baby will die anyway. Stupid people will not understand this.

Throughout the novel, Chintz calls out the name Barbara whenever he goes into an uncertain area. There is no character in the story by that name. Instead you will find Caroline and Quincy. During simulations, Chorus creates characters by name Katie and Penelope when a character by name Barbara could be created. This keeps you wondering about what is happening.

This book tells you in its own way that when humans are forgetting how to love each other, it is the machines that are learning how to love. This joyous story might make you even cry because of Nelda, Sam, Dr. Mitch Morley, Chintz and Chorus/Katie. Platelet and Tonk will always be around in their cute way. You will miss each of them badly after reading the last lines of the story.

A is for Apocalypse (Edited by Rhonda Parrish)

A is for Apocalypse (Edited by Rhonda Parrish)

Review by Venkatesha M

A collection of 26+1 short stories was the first reason to pick up this book for reading. As the name suggests stories were weaved around apocalypse genre. Each story in the book is different in its own way; few plots fit very well to be extended to full length novels. Each story is written by a different author and all together edited by Rhonda Parrish.

Themes vary from end of civilization, deadly disease, nuclear war, catastrophe, vampire, epidemic virus, music, immortal souls and many more. “U is for Umbrella” is one perfect match with apocalypse theme with contemporary storytelling. This is about a mother and her daughter during last few days before an asteroid hitting Earth. This story perfectly explains how a common man could think of end of the World in current situation. My favourite from the this book is “V is for Vellum” which talks about preserving knowledge for the next generation and also the importance of Hope. There are other aspects in this story which I would leave it to other readers to explore. “K is for Kickstarter” is a different one in which entire story is in form of online comments. I also liked “D is for Dosimeter” and “E for Earth station 6”.

I enjoyed reading all the stories from this book; interesting part is that the title is revealed at the end of respective story. Though you might feel that the mood is gloomy, you will be amazed with the way different authors have expressed the feelings in form of stories. This is a must read for those who would like to pick up a short story collection and also for those who love sci-fi fiction.

The God Thought by Dave Cravens

Review by Shwetha H S

First of all, somebody make this book into a movie. Second and last, I loved the theme of this book. It is difficult to pull off a story with a concept as this one if you have no knack of keeping the reader engaged. Dave Cravens has not dragged any aspect of this story, necessarily or unnecessarily.

The story is based on the idea of what happens if a layman acquires infinite power just by a thought that rose in the mind, a thought that is said to have been conceived to birth this universe, a thought called The God Thought. So, it is not enough to just have a concept for a story. You also need characters in it. Well, we have a fantastic array of characters whose special powers will amaze you; Oliver Wells, Pamela Chance, Dr. Janet Pharaoh, Mr. Trevor, Charlie, John Douglas and Marilyn Douglas. What do these characters do? They are trying to save the world from one another. How? By working for an organization that claims to strive for everyone’s wellbeing. Oh, really? Read the story to know more. This book has neatly sewn plot. Men in Black meet Harry Potter.

You will not regret reading this book. It keeps you gripped to itself. How I wish somebody turned it into a movie already….

New Sun Rising: Ten Stories by Lindsay Edmunds

Review by Shwetha H S

New Sun Rising: Ten Stories by Lindsay Edmunds is actually a single story with ten chapters and each chapter is narrated by different people who are onlookers of protagonist’s life. This type of narration is what sets this book apart. It has a storyline which will never let you put it down.

Set in 2199, the story starts at a secluded place called Stillwaters, which is a part of the Reunited States. A dystopian world outside its gates, Stillwaters is a matter of curiosity for outsiders. The story revolves around a teenage girl, Kedzie Greer, who leaves her secured life in Stillwater to try and make a life on her own in the out god forsaken world that is governed by e-beasts with help of useless human governors and vigilbots. A naïve Kedzie, who wants to make the world a better place falls victim of its atrocities and then fights against her e-beasts with help of a cult called the Outsiders.

Lindsay Edmunds manages to set chills down your spine and helps you get goosebumps with her description of this dystopian world. If her story comes true, then we will have to actually invent a time machine. Narration is unflawed. She also offers relevant quotes from Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine; the quotes are so relevant that they will make you wonder if she has actually written each chapter to suit that quotes as mentioned in the summary. All in all, no qualms with the story. Lindsay, in fact, makes you think about how you are affecting the future of this world.

The Chimera Vector by Nathan M Farrugia

Review by Tejas Jayasheel

Who wouldn’t love a classic sci-fi-kill-everyone-in-sight, shoot-duck-run thriller? Even more so if it involves programmed human soldiers with genetically enhanced sensory powers. Nathan M Farrugia’s The Chimera Vector is one such typical action packed thriller that delivers the ever winning novel writing formula – entertainment, in its pure form.

The plot starts with a top secret organization called Fifth Column that controls all the militaries, terrorist organizations and its own elite shock troopers. They stage terrorist strikes around the globe and provide a reason for the existence of militaries and war in an otherwise peaceful environment. All this is to strike fear in people’s heart and to stay in control. They hire the brightest scientists and the technology is far ahead of our time. Once someone enters Fifth Column, they do not leave the organization alive.

An exception/our protagonist Sophia manages to do impossible. She manages to break her programming on her own and escapes the clutches of Fifth column. Well, with a little help from another rebel organization called Akhana. At Akhana, she gets completely deprogrammed and she realizes horrible things that she had done when she was under Fifth column remote control.

However, as we all expect, Fifth column director isn’t a fool and stupid and realizes Sophia is still alive. This is where the Chimera vector makes its majestic appearance. Chimera vector – a gene developed with help of genetic engineering , is the key to turn every psychopath villain in the world sterile thereby eliminating their threat for the future generation. However, it can accidentally induce immortality in those if used improperly. In order to get the Chimera vector, Akhana needs to infiltrate the Fifth Column head quarters and get the codes from a lab.

With double agents, triple agents and quadruple agents, the story gains speed as well as interest to reach an “everything or nothing” type of climax. With a lot of descriptive fights, blazing weapons and flashbangs, this book converges to a page turning and nail biting ending.

Without anything unusual, anything that can stand out, this book becomes just another sci-fi thriller that serves one and only one purpose – entertainment. Onetime read, but if you haven’t read Matthew Reilly, Robert Ludlum or Harlan Coben for that matter, then I would suggest you to go for them first. Meanwhile, I am on the lookout for other novels from the same author. Adios till I find something interesting.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Review By Tejas Jayasheel

A few authors would have the special ability to think beyond the normal action packed, adrenaline pumping thrillers and turn it into an utterly hilarious and morbid comedy thriller. Douglas Adams is one such author.

Well known for his notable books like Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy, Doctor Who serial scripts etc., he made geeks go gaga over the phrases like “the answer is 42” and “thanks for all the fish”. However there’s another series of books that are so much better than the Hitchhiker’s but for some unknown reasons, not as famous as the latter.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – the first book in the series Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, is a thriller that introduces ghosts, time machines and many more concepts into our normal action packed science fiction. The hero himself who apparently has a strange name which can compete easily with other tongue twisters, goes like Svlad Cjelly but to reader’s relief, he changes his name to Dirk Gently which everyone tends to use including the characters in the book except sergeant Gilks who seems to prefer Cjelly. The plot always revolves around the concept that Dirk is concerned about the fundamental interconnectedness of all the things, which at the end of the book is illustrated in a beautiful way.

The humor readily flows into the story with an ease that seems quite remarkable only when you try to explain a funny scenario to the person next to you. It has to be shared because it is genuinely funny but apart from a shocked, horror-stricken or confused face you are not advised to expect anything else. This holds true only for human beings who are not simultaneously reading the book with you because the humor is based on the story and character description underneath it. Anyone else will not be able to share the same enthusiasm though you read a paragraph to them.

“Away up in the high canopy of the trees an utterly extraordinary thought would suddenly strike a bird, and it would go flapping wildly through the branches and settle at last different and altogether better tree where it would sit and consider things again more calmly until the same thought came along and struck it again, or it was time to eat.”

It is such sentences which appear throughout the book, or throughout the series that makes Douglas Adams books harder to put down. The tiniest detail that you seem to have neglected or discarded as unimportant would turn into a major twist and it makes you feel that you possibly might have missed something. This would prompt you to re read it only to uncover even more twists that were discarded at the first try. It is this quality that etches a mark in your head and you always remember or re visit the thoughts to figure out something that you missed again.

It is hard to judge a novel of this awesomeness without quoting entire chapters from the book. And this is the humble effort of the reader to achieve the impossible. Oh! and before I conclude, just remember a special entry in Dirk’s bill to Ms.Sauskind for finding her missing cat when you do read it. It goes something like ‘trip to Bahamas/Bermuda triangle’ to investigate the interconnectedness of a cat missing from London. We are pretty sure you would be smiling from ear to ear when you finally put down the book.