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Review – Down: Pinhole By Glenn Cooper #ScienceFiction #Science #FantasyAdventure

Down: Pinhole“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.” – William Tecumseh Sherman

“What’s interesting about science is that we’re constantly discovering new things about the universe, about ourselves, about our bodies, about diseases, about the possibilities of the future. It’s amazing. Science is one of the coolest things about being a human being – without a doubt.” – Joe Rogan

Science as war. The scientists vs. the politicians. The scientists vs. the money-grubbers and the illiterate, the vain and the religious. Science has so many battles to fight. And what makes it worse? When politicians are put in charge of science. That, my dears, is war on a global scale. Because those politicians? They are looking for the glory – not for the safety of the scientists. Or even of the world.

The graviton is the prize. The fate of the world may be the cost when a politician trying to hold his position decides that, safety be damned, it is full-bore thirty TeV, the maximum capacity of the Massive Anglo-American Collider, on it’s very first shot at finding the graviton particle. Let’s not listen to Dr. Emily Loughty, the scientific specialist in charge of the multi-billion dollar project. Nope. Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes, there is political gain to be had!

That’s what happens in Down: Pinhole. Henry Quint, director-general of MAAC, in order to gain political clout and keep his job as head of the project, has forced Emily’s second in command to push the collider past the twenty TeV cyclic rate all the way up to thirty – two years ahead of schedule. In one fell swoop, he had thrown safety out the window for the sake of politics.

When the MAAC hits thirty, Emily disappears. Poof, between one nanosecond and the next, she is gone, and a wild man is standing in her place. A man who crashes his way out of the facility, kidnapping and murdering a woman, then going on a rampage of terror across Dartford. And in order to get Emily back, the man has to be tracked down and brought back to the same spot Emily disappeared from. The biggest problem? The man, Brandon Woodbourne, was born 15 November, 1915. He was hung by the neck until dead on the eighth of April, 1949.

“The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return, and view the cheerful skies,
In this the task and mighty labor lies.” – Virgil, Aeneid

If Woodbourne is here, then Emily is there, wherever “there” is. And to save her, John Camp, head of Security for the project and Emily’s estranged lover, must travel between space and time in order to find her and bring her back.

What happens next is an amazing tale, dark and brutal, and yet absolutely fascinating, weird and twisted. It was amazing to read about how a collider works. I mean, really think about it. It works using forty thousand tons of liquid nitrogen that cools five hundred tons of helium down to -268.7C. The twenty-five thousand magnets take the temperature to 1.7 K, just barely above absolute zero. Colder than outer space. Magnetic coils wrapped in niobium-titanium filaments seven times thinner than human hairs that would stretch to the sun and back twenty five times. Then? Proton particles circle the one hundred eighty kilometer long tunnel eleven thousand times per second. When the protons collide? Temperatures five hundred thousand times hotter than the center of the sun.

I mean, come on. Who figured that out, anyway??

Getting Emily back, however, will require John’s skills. John, the ex-military sniper, warrior and Krav Maga specialist, will find his skills tested to the maximum as he arrives in a place called only “Down.” Down, eternally populated by those who’ve committed the most unforgivable acts of evil during their lives. Oh, yeah. Hitler is there. But also Caravaggio.* And you know what?

People don’t change. What a surprise.

If you like fantasy, science fiction, adventure, heck, if you are a hard science junkie with a bent for history, you really should read this book. It was, in a word, mesmerizing.

Down: Pinhole is available for free through Kindle Unlimited, or for purchase for $2.99. This is part one of a three part series.

About the Author:

Glenn Cooper is an internationally bestselling thriller writer.

Glenn was born in New York City and grew up in nearby White Plains. He attended White Plains High School before enrolling at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he graduated from Harvard with an honors degree in archaeology. He then attended Tufts University School of Medicine and did his post-doctoral training at the New England Deaconess and the Massachusetts General Hospitals becoming a board-certified specialist in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases. After practicing medicine, Glenn began a research career in the pharmaceutical industry which culminated in an eighteen-year position as the Chairman and CEO of a biotechnology company in Massachusetts. Glenn began writing screenplays over twenty years ago and his interest in movies prompted him to attend the graduate program in film production at Boston University. He is currently the chairman of a media company, Lascaux Media, which has produced three independent feature-length films. In 2006 Glenn turned his hand to novel-writing. His debut novel, THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD, the first in a trilogy, became an international bestseller and was translated into thirty languages. All of his seven published books have become top-ten international best-sellers.

Glenn currently lives in New Hampshire.

NOTES:

*Caravaggio was a brilliant painter whose works were much prized by the Catholic Church, and especially by the Pope. However, Caravaggio was a vain, self-centered, violent man who, on May 29, 1606, murdered a young man in a brawl and fled Rome with a price on his head. It didn’t change his ways. After major brawls in 1608 and 1609, a severely injured Caravaggio died in Porto Ercole in Tuscany at 38. His works were hidden away by the church and his name forgotten until the 20th century, when his works were rediscovered. There is no telling what he could have accomplished had he not been a complete and total jackass. What a waste.

** Think what the US lost when the politicians couldn’t quit fighting over where the Massive Collider would be located in the states – so it was moved to London… Politicians. Gack.

Review: Hellborn by Dana Cameron

Hellbender front cover.pngMy reviews often start with pertinent quotes, and Seven Kinds of Hell was no different.

You see what we do to each other over the slightest differences in religion or politics? We beat each other up over baseball games. We’ll kill over the wrong-colored bandana. What would we do faced with the Fangborn? – Adam Nichols, Seven Kinds of Hell

This one quote, more than any other, describes the heart of Dana Cameron’s Fangborn Series. Of course, many Urban Fantasy series address the question of the introduction of hidden beings, whether they be were, vampire, ghoul, or all the other “other” beings of the mythological pantheons. Ms. Cameron addresses the issue in her series – but more than that, especially in this third edition, Hellbender, she goes beyond simply the ‘introduction’ of the mythological to the Normals, but also the whole concept of how reality is designed.

“You’d said you’d been studying . . . the physics of Fangborn abilities?”

“Yeah. Bit o’ this, bit o’ that. Whether how the Change transformation the vampires and werewolves can do is a quantum entanglement of some kind . . . Spooky action at a distance, you know?”

Blood and agony. Fear and death. Zoe never asked for, never wanted, to be a monster, a savior, a weapon beyond comprehension. But she is – and as IDay – Identification Day, the day the Fangborn “come out” comes closer and closer, as those who wish the Fangborn nothing but death gather their forces, danger now comes from an even more deadly direction, as The Makers join the fray. The Makers – beings so advanced they stretch the boundaries of times and space. Did they really create the Fangborn? And for what purpose? To protect the humans, as the Fangborn have always believed and worked towards? Or to destroy them?

Hellborn is, literally, amazing. The story has developed over the last two books with intelligence, exceptional writing, and creative character and world development to match any UF out there today. Yes, even my beloved Kate Daniels series.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own, and this series is well worth your time! Is Hellbender the last in the series? Well, I looked on Dana’s site and didn’t see anything, and it did wrap in such a way that it could be the last – but I certainly hope it isn’t!!

Seven Kinds of Hell http://bit.ly/1DqyMbC

Pack of Strays http://bit.ly/1FqSQdw

Review: Venom: A Thriller in Paradise by Rob Swigart

20766773I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. – J. Robert Oppenheimer

Biggest mistake in history made by people who didn’t think. – Charlie Chan

A State in the grip of neo-colonialism is not master of its own destiny. It is this factor which makes neo-colonialism such a serious threat to world peace. – Kwame Nkrumah

 hu-man-i-ty (noun): the qualities or characteristics considered as a whole to be characteristic of human beings

Hum. What characteristics are human, really? Well, for all our vaunted intelligence, the way we utilize said is, taken overall, deeply mindless and deeply uncaring of anything other than ourselves, and the immediate rewards of whatever new and unusual methodology we find for destroying others – and thereby destroying everything.

Maintain the balance of power, they said. It was safe. There would be no danger for 500 or 1000 years.

The French say that their nuclear tests on the Island of Moruroa, in the Tuomotus, are ‘safe’. But now, the Ocean Mother has come ashore, floating free in the Kalalono Bay. All aboard are dead. But why? And how? And how is it connected to the nuclear tests on the Island of Moruroa?

Politics. Intelligence (or what passes for it). Biology, physics, and a heaping helping of Polynesian and Haitian religion builds Venom: A Thriller in Paradise builds a sharp and layered vision of the horrors of the creativity of the human mind – and the depth the human political psyche will go to in order to cover their political asses.

Tutti venini sono freddi: “All poisons are cold.” – Brunetto Latini

Many are dead. Many more are endangered. As biologist Dr. Chazz Koenig and Lt. Cobb Takamura struggle to find the method of death of the ship’s crew, a serial killer rampages across Hawaii, his reasons unclear, his ties to the original murders both twisted and indistinct. And what must be done is oftentimes even more horrific than what has gone before. And what has gone before may be only the beginning.

A great story, a thoughtful and modern book of environmental terrorism which runs in the other direction – the terrorism of political control and political games grown out of control, of death and destruction and fear, and the waste of the world.

Oh, and did I say, this is a really GREAT story?

Review: Redemption – C.J. Barry

redemption
SO not recommended.

Sigh. I simply can’t express how much I hated this book. Of course, as I will now enumerate many of the things that made me so intensely dislike the book, that is sort of a silly statement, but you get the point, right?

Let’s see, where do I start. The good. The cover is terrific. The art is beautifully done, and it makes you want to read the book. You are expecting to find a strong, paranormal female heroine inside, and in some ways that is what you get. The main character, Reya, is a Redeemer, basically the last entity you see before the Grim Reaper comes to sweep you away to where you are going.

While it sounded like a Paranormal/Urban Fantasy thriller, what you get instead is a mishmash of Christian mythos and crystals, New Age philosophy and lei lines as Angelic power points, Atlantis and six dimensional physics, all rolled into a snarled bundle of “let’s put in a little something for everyone” that was, well, absurd. The Christians will hate it for the new age philosophy; the New Agers will hate it for turning their beliefs into a joke; and the scientists will just laugh uproariously. Of course, I did run across a New Ager once that said that anything bad that happened to you (she was talking to a cancer patient at the time-a cancer patient with small children who would be without their mother soon) “brought it on herself because she must have been putting bad vibes out into the universe.” Yes, I did slap her silly.

I won’t go into the actual storyline, as it is a rather basic ‘good (sic) guys chase the bad guys’ mystery/action adventure plot. What I do want to talk about is the underlying thesis of the story which is, in short, no matter what atrocities you have committed in life, all you have to do when Reya shows up is bat your eyelashes and say something to the effect of “Aww! I wuz a baaad little boy, I am sooo sowweee, weally I am!” and you automatically get trotted off the Heaven to decide if you want to be a sadistic, baby-raping murderer all over again. Or maybe play the role of Hitler or Pol Pot all over again. But hey, that’s A-OK with God, cause it’s just a learning experience. And hey, you over there, you chose to be an infant who is sodomized to death, cause you just had to learn what that felt like. Can anyone say “Let’s Blame The Victim?”

The “let’s blame the victim” attitude of the book is what really made me find this book to be the worst kind of psychological abuse. The whole story arc takes the blame away from the worst dregs of society and dumps it right onto the victim, premising that the victim chose their own abuse, that they brought whatever happens to them into their own lives. It gives sanction to the worst that humanity has to offer, assuring them that, whatever they do, no matter how heinous, they just have to say the equivalent of “Oops, my bad” and they are off scott free.  There is no judge or jury in Heaven. So, does that mean when Jews get to heaven they get to share a meal and a giggle with Hitler and reminisce about the good old days?

As a Redeemer, she offers the soon-to-be-departed one last chance to atone for their sins. I didn’t really give that line all that much thought, and I apparently should have, because when I got into the book I came to a point of wanting to gouge my eyes out with a dull spoon. If this is the author’s concept of “God” I will take the courts any day. They may not always get it right, but at least they try.

All in all, the book mouthed platitudes about “loving one another” and still managed to make it perfectly acceptable to do whatever you want, no matter how depraved, with impunity. If you have ever been a victim, of physical, mental, emotional or even financial misconduct of others, I encourage you not to read this book unless you are into self-flagellation and blaming yourself for your treatment at the hands of others.

NOT recommended.

Review: Wormholes: A Novel by Dennis Meredith

wormholes-3dsml
Click to order the book.

Sometimes, a book is defined completely by the knowledge and experiences of it’s author. Oh, some can write books about subjects about which they have no real knowledge. It isn’t like any of us actually live in an Urban Fantasy world, right?

Wormholes is a book of another colour, however. It’s author, Dennis Meredith, is an expert in his field, and it shows in his work. Mr. Meredith’s has been a science communicator at some of the country’s leading research universities, including MIT, Caltech, Cornell, Duke and the University of Wisconsin. He has written well over a thousand news releases and magazine articles on science and engineering over his career.

The funny thing about Wormholes is how well written and believable it is – while also being, as the writer puts it, “The work of a liar and a thief.” But that is OK!

According to Mr. Meredith, his original question was, “What if holes were to suddenly open up into other universes?” The development of Wormholes is based on this question, and explained beautifully in his article about the book. As Mr. Meredith puts it, the book isn’t ‘real’ science, but was written to encourage interest in science by those who may never have been interested in science before.

dennismeredith
Click to read the article

In my case, I absolutely found his work fascinating. My Kindle copy is brightly coloured, with all sorts of highlighting, meant to encourage the question, “Is it real, or is it Memorex?” (OK, not really, but you get the point). Mr. Meredith not only knows his physics, he knows how to communicate. Even though the physics may not be based on ‘fact’, as per his article about why he wrote the book, his story is based on so much actual knowledge that even though there is a lot of unreal physics, it feels so fully real it holds your attention without fail, encouraging the reader to be not only fascinated with the story, but encouraging you to want to learn more about what truly is real science.

The story takes the idea of wormholes and alternate universes, both scientific facts, and puts a spin on the concepts, writing a brilliantly creative book that stretches known boundaries, reaching beyond known scientific thought into a world of science fiction that kept me up until three in the morning, “just one more page, just one more page . . .”

If you are interested in science, or science fiction, this is a must read. And if you are into unusual thrillers? Well, you may find this book just as fascinating as a science geek like me. Either way? Read it. You won’t be sorry!

Highly recommended.

Review: Beneath The Veil – by William McNally

Don’t cry, I’m sorry to have deceived you so much, but that’s how life is.
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

 I never realized before there were so many ways to die. So many ways to kill people. Why are there so many deadly weapons?

Clapp rubbed his lip and looked down at her. “Listen, Miss Gilbert. I’ve come to figure that man is the only deadly weapon. Take a gun. It’s an absolutely harmless thing—even makes a good honest paperweight—until some man gets his hands around it. You can strip a gun down to its basic parts and it’s lost its power. You can reduce a man to his chemical elements, but you’ve always got the spirit of whatever you call it left. And that spirit will find some damned way to do evil.
Wade Miller, Deadly weapon

————

Beneath the Veil Cover
Click cover for the GoodReads page.

There are secrets. Secrets hidden between the darkness of the world and the darkness of the human soul Secrets wander amongst the lost, where only the dead are truly free. Secrets live within the darkness, sucking away the human soul, leaving a shell of nothing but horror.

Barry Ryan is learning about secrets. His personal secret, that he is dying of an inherited disease. The bigger secret, hidden under layers of history, that there is something strange, very strange, about his family and where he came from. An adopted child, Barry has done well in his life. A famous sculptor, Barry has friends, a career, and an adoptive family that loves him. But with only a familial match capable of giving him the marrow transplant he needs to survive, Barry must return to his roots, return to the shadows of the past – the shadows and secrets of a place called Auraria.

With his sister, and her boyfriend, Barry begins his trip to Auraria. And thus begins a trip to Hell. But a Hell of whose creation? Layers of lies and superstition and death fill the pages of “Beneath the Veil.” I was immediately drawn into the story, as reality becomes merely a memory. As truth and physics and geography twist and turn upon themselves, into a horror no longer dreamed, but lived.

The story itself was well written and convincingly frightening. The characters themselves are believable, though they could have been a bit better ‘fleshed out’ in my opinion, though some would say that doing so would cause the story to drag a bit. To each their own.  The author doesn’t lead you by the hand through the book, you must come to some of your own conclusions, and this is not a book tied up in a tidy little bow at the end. It is, however, extremely creative, and, for a horror novel, ended in a deeply thoughtful manner. Overall, I found there were some small missteps, but I am quite comfortable with my rating. If you are a lover of horror, mystery, or thrilling ghost stories, this is most certainly going to interest you.

Recommended.

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