For comic book fans out there, indeed, for readers as well as writers of any genre, what would you do if you suddenly found yourself facing a villain from the story? Yikes. For that is what happens in Black Hat Blues.

Scratch, a comic book villain, is a wicked, murdering sorcerer with an inflated ego. He travels the multiverse conquering different realms out of, it seems, boredom.

Mark, the creator of Scratch, is an elderly, obsolete comic book artist. He finds his work inspires more vilification than praise these days from a culture with different standards, expectations, and viewpoints.

When Scratch suddenly finds himself in the same existence as his creator, using the villain’s own words, “Reality swirls.” Mark wonders if he’s going mad, and it’s all in his head. Scratch wonders if Mark is living his fantasies through him.

I wasn’t sure about the book when I began. It seemed scattered, constantly toggling between different points of view, dimensions, and storylines. But as I read, I found myself chuckling at the dark, scathing humor, even while feeling semi-outraged. The author touches on all aspects of life, at the heart of which seems to be the turmoil of aging and the increasing inability to relate to contemporary ways of thinking. It reminded me a little of Gulliver’s Travels in its clever, satirical wit.

Written in a unique style that seems to break all the rules of writing, it could be confusing for some. But It’s funny, brazen, full of surprises, and strangely relatable. In the end, you realize it could not have been written any other way.

Good read.


All Around the Watchtower – a short story by Ben Haskett

Creepy and enthralling like any
good sci-fi thriller!

A spaceship crew of 4 are jolted out of a long hibernation on their way back home by a collision warning from the vessel’s computer. What is presumed to be a “watchtower” looms before them, potentially “eyeballing” planets. The tower, though obviously created by someone or something, seems to have a life and character of its own. What follows is a clash of personalities and dire consequences as the more inquisitive risk unknown dangers to investigate despite the warnings of the more cautious. For this thing seems to be telling them something they can’t ignore. Something that alters the course of their journey, leaving us with the message “I hoped I’d made the right choice.”

I found the story gripping. Both creepy and enthralling, like any good sci-fi thriller, it almost reminded me of Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar.” If it had continued, it might have turned into something like that. The author’s detailed descriptions paint vivid images, placing us alongside the crew, and their different reactions make us feel the fear, the curiosity, the panic and anxiety. Surprisingly, for such a short story, I found the characters well developed in their distinct personalities and relationships to one another.

My only complaint was I wanted to read more and was disappointed when it ended. But like a riveting episode of a good series, it left me eagerly hoping there will be a next one!


FLIT, a science fiction documentary by Ed Morawski

Flit: The Unbelievable True Story of Teleportation by [Ed Morawski]

At first, I was expecting a novel with a beginning, conflict, ending, and well developed, engaging characters. Then I realized it was more of a fictional documentary of sorts. As such, even though the idea of an “Instantaneous Transport Portal” is not new, it was fascinating. The ITP, named FLIT is, in essence, the main character. We get to know it more than any human character.

In the beginning, we see FLIT repressed due to concerns about how such a production could devour all other forms of transportation, from trucks to cars, to planes. Then it is rediscovered by heartless capitalists whose drive to make billions rides roughshod over the masses who will face unemployment if FLIT is allowed to flourish.

And does FLIT ever flourish. From small distances to transatlantic destinations, it grows and travels through the world, devouring all other forms of transportation, and cleansing the atmosphere of years of built-up pollution. It is built in various sizes, ranging from large enough to transport massive freight trucks to smaller sizes for personal use by those who can afford it. What starts as “interesting” becomes mind-boggling and yes, frightening. Although I can appreciate the convenience – who wouldn’t want to “flit” to Paris or Rome in minutes instead of sitting on the plane for hours – the power of this thing was a little disturbing, like some monster taking over the world.

What was most interesting to me was the time factor. It seemed that time was being cheated, or sped up by using these things. But time reasserted itself in the form of jet lag, despite the four-minute journeys, and early aging – which makes sense, right? If you speed up time, you also speed up aging.

The novelty wears off by the last quarter of the book. The author goes on about FLIT’s conquests to the point where it starts to drag. The little excerpts on where the characters were at the end also did nothing for me. They were not developed enough to care about, and were eclipsed by the main character, the ITP.

Overall, though, a very interesting read that I think could have ended sooner.


Book Review: Trust a Few, by E.M. Swift-Hook

Trust A Few: Haruspex Trilogy: Part One (Fortune's Fools Book 4) by [E.M. Swift-Hook]

Brilliant writing, intriguing characters and story! A must read!

The story begins with a convict, Avilon, who is released from a program known as the Specials. He has no memory of who he was before his arrest, and is literally a blank slate, a child learning about the world. My interest was sparked immediately. Right from the beginning, before his release, there are also hints of a genius level intelligence, and superhuman physical strength and endurance. Genetic enhancement is brought up. I couldn’t wait to find out more about him.

After he is released, he goes in search of the only friend he has, another convict, Jaz, who was released before him. Along the way he meets other people, the deliciously alien Durban Chola, who has an impressive command over the powers of the mind, and Charis, a young woman who teaches him things. The speed at which he assimilates and interacts with new information makes us wonder again, who is this man?

This was my first time reading sci-fi, and I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it. Being a romantic and an artist, I have always relied on visuals, as in a movie, to carry me through these technology-centered stories. But the author’s brilliant use of words, which painted intricate and vivid descriptions of the world she crafted, had the same effect. There were several WOW moments. It reminded me of The Fifth Element, a movie which also made me go, WOW!

The well-developed, multi-layered characters all face challenging choices, mainly of whom to trust, to be expected in the mob warfare setting. Different groups or coalitions all spying on each other and killing ruthlessly in mafia manner in their battle for control. How much would you do for someone you considered a friend despite the fact that they might not be honest with you?

The writing was gripping though a little wordy at times. I would catch my mind wandering, then return to the book, going back a few pages to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. It also needed another round of proofreading. There were misplaced words and punctuation throughout that were unworthy of the brilliant writing.

I would have liked to have seen more of Ignatius, a setting which had the potential to generate some characters of interest, and also the world of Sarava with the future data program which made predictions from data to control future issues in the world.

I was a little disappointed at not finding out more about Avilon’s past by the end of the book. I might have to get the first one to fill in the blanks!

If you are into sci-fi, read this book. I’m not usually into sci-fi and I loved it.