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SciFi / Fantasy / Horror

  • The Man of Cloud 9

    by Adam Dreece

    Rating: 3.50

    In a near future subject to solar flares, climate change, and a puzzling rejection of previous technologies, the brilliant but socially inept Niko Rafaelo -- a Steve Jobs analog, down to the theatrical shareholders’ meetings -- develops world-changing nanotechnology. Some good worldbuilding has gone into not only the commercial uses, but also the problems of developing nanotech. However, the plot bogs down with Niko developing one iteration of nano “clouds” after another, a cartoonish antagonist, and a novel-long tease about the identity of Niko’s daughter. 

  • Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1

    by Jeb Kinnison

    Rating: 2.75

    In Kinnison's pedestrian, near-future science-fiction thriller, Justin Smith and his colleagues at a California college struggle to save freedom even as a tyrannical government plots to appropriate their work on artificial life simulations. The novel is undermined by Kinnison's prose and his urge to insert lectures into the story. Still, Kinnison's didactic portrayal of a security-obsessed, politically correct, authoritarian United States will appeal to readers with libertarian leanings.

  • The Midnight Sea

    by Kat Ross

    Rating: 2.50

    In Ross’ dry fantasy, Nazafareen, a poor girl who has lost her younger sister to a demon attack, leaves her village(4) in order to become a demon-fighting soldier. Despite the first person narrator, Nazareen is a hard character to connect with due because Ross tells the reader about Nazafareen’s emotions rather than showing her experiencing them. Most scenes are full of an overwhelming amount of dialogue with little action.