Now and then – Forensic Sciences

Compare modern-day forensic techniques with was in use in the Jack The Ripper years (1888-1891) may seem absurd, at the limit of parodistic.  Even for those who are less than competent about this matter, the technological comparison is totally unequal. 130 years of progress are a lot, but it would be profoundly wrong to assimilate the late nineteenth century to a kind of stone age, where the criminal investigation took place only based on the intuition of the investigators and the testimonies. Similarly, it would be wrong to think that current technology is the necessary and sufficient condition to solve any crime, including serial killings. Just read a newspaper to realize it.

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J.D. Moyer – The Sky Woman

Author: J.D. Moyer

Title: The Sky Woman

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

[Advance reader copy, due to be published on September 6th, 2018]

 

Synopsis: Car-En, a ringstation anthropologist on her first Earth filed assignment, observes a Viking-like village in the Hartz mountains. As Car-En secretly watches the Happdal villagers, she begins to see them as more than research subjects (especially Esper, a handsome bow-hunter). When Esper’s sister is taken by an otherwordly sworld-wielding white-haired man, she can no longer stand by as a passive witness. Knowing the decision might end her career, she cuts off all communication with her advisor and pursues the abductor into the dark dangers of the mountains below.

Review: 

Imagine a new world. Our planet came back to its wild state, the damages of the antrophocene almost undone. A score of well-maintained ringstations are all that’s left of our bold civilization and, on Earth, a few pockets of our descendants make a living in a pre-industrial culture much alike of their Viking ancestors. It’s a dream for any anthropologist to observe on the field one of these villages, hidden by magic-like technologies.

All around them, the memories from a long-gone past. Our civilization, the Builders, left ruins and strange things and more subtle memories of centuries of high-level progress. This is a post-human world, where a good sword and a swarm of insect-like drones may coexsist. But it’s also a very human place, where the love of a woman may move mountains and change the course of the future.

J.D. Moyer spares nothing in this story in his efforts to give us a fast-paced novel, where even the necessary bits of backstory are delivered smoothly until every piece clicks into its place. This book is the first I read from this author and has convinced me to keep in mind his name for the future. Read his interview at the end of the book, the guy got the right stuff.

The pros of this book are many, but the first place award goes to the worldbuilding. This version of our future, the differences between a pre-industrial society and off-world culture are fuel for many things to come (guess what, a second novel in the same scenario is on the way). The whole set of characters works fine, even for the more borderline, and the plot runs fast. I was more than a bit wary about the romance, but it works just fine.

The cons of this book are small stuff, details that are a bit cranky here and there. No spoilers here, but there is a fantasy element that entirely doesn’t work, and a couple of the minor decision made by Car-El looks more than a bit abrupt, not quite in line with the general profile of the character.

Where to find it: Flame Tree Pressamazon.com

Vote: 08,00 / 10,00.

Dear Left-wing Leaders, we need to talk

Dear Leaders,

We really need to talk for a moment. You see, I’m just a common man but it looks like that I’m more in contact with reality than any of you. I’m also willing to confess that I do not support any of your kind, that after many years of voting and a few stints as a local representative.

Maybe I’m wrong, or naive, or both. I remember that left-wing parties were used to work for the better of our nation, that their leaders were ready and willing to discuss their strategies and accept some input from the lower ranks. I also remember that the voices of dissent were tolerated and often respected. Being in a left-wing party was something that makes you feel like you were apart of something bigger, a positive force in the society.

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Hunter Shea – Creature

Author: Hunter Shea

Title: Creature

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

[Advance reader copy, due to be published on September 6th, 2018]

 

Synopsis: The monsters live inside Kate Woodson. Chronic pain and autoimmune diseases have robber her of a normal life, happy life. Her husband Andrew’s surprise of a dream cottage for the summer is the gift of a lifetime. It’s beautiful, remote, idyllic: a place to heal.

But they are not alone. something is in the woods, screeching in the darkness, banging on the house, leaving animals for dead. Soon, the cottage becomes Kate’s prison, and they’ll both be lucky to escape alive.

Review: 

When it comes to horror, the real horror that we may know in our lives, the subject of incurable diseases is absolutely prominent. The pain, the decay of the body, the progressive destruction of our lives and the consequences on the people we love are fuel for nightmares of the highest sort. It’s a living Hell, where both the ill and the caregivers are put in the harm’s way 24/7, with little or no hope for the future. This is the basic scenario for this novel, a premise for one of the strongest married couple ever seen in a work of fiction, two characters that looks ready to break the fourth wall and come to your house (read the interview at the end of the book, it will be quite interesting).

Kate and Andrew are a meta-character of sort, both dysfunctional but bonded by a love so strong that makes difficult thinking about one of them without the other. Their connection is so powerful to trespass even the most difficult moment in the Kathy’s illness and the pivotal points of this book. If nothing else, this novel is a tribute to the concept that love is always the stronger emotion, no matter the odds.

The turning point of this book is the decision of taking a break, a vacation in a cottage near a lake in Maine (sooner or later somebody will explain why so many horror pieces take place in this state). The place is wonderful, the surroundings ideal for relaxing and to ease the pressure on the main characters. But there’s more. Much more. In the darkest corners of the woods lurks something that comes straight out the worst nightmares, ready and willing to take everything from Kate and Andrew.

Once again, we have two well-known tropes here. The house in the woods and the mysterious creature. A combination that always works if the writer knows its job. What makes the difference here? Two different factors, both important. The first is about the craft of Hunter Shea. He’s able to build up tension and pauses, to create a rhythm in the narration that engulf the reader like a vise grip. The latter is about the aforementioned characters, they are so well-defined that the reader will find himself/herself caring for them.

The pros of this book are about the cast of characters, the first-hand knowledge of the complex interaction between the ill and the caregiver in a couple, the strength of the relationship between Kate and Andrew. The horror element is well conceived and masterfully unleashed in the plot.

The cons of this book are about some minor aspects in the final part of the book, related to the actions of the monster. I don’t want to spoiler the plot, but I think that there is too much in the last ten pages or so.

Where to find it: Flame Tree Press , actually not listed on amazon.com

Vote: 08,50 / 10,00.

The Road to Deep Space

In the science fiction novels or scenarios we usually get the picture of an established future. Somehow we got out there and we’re doing something interesting. The background of how we leave our cradle is normally left out or limited to some milestone (i.e. the discovery of a better engine or such). It’s a kind of fast forward to the future that works well in the speculative fiction, but let out the most difficult part of our collective future.

As of 2018, we have a lot of great projects ongoing. Two different unmanned missions will approach asteroids for collect samples, a number of probes are moving around the Solar System, new launch systems are deploying and the next big step, Mars, is in the making. This is great stuff, with tons of new data coming up and a whole lot of good science. Plus, we have a bigger number of players, both in the private and in the public sector, ready to compete in the market and to push for more opportunities in the years to come.

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An Open Letter To Science Fiction Writers

Dear All,

Have I told you lately how much I love your works? No? Well, this is a good time as any to tell you so. I’m reading good science fiction and enjoying some good TV show, thanks to your efforts. Thank you, straight from the heart.

Now, can we speak about a couple of serious problems?

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