The Fifth Seed is the sequel to Senan Gil Senan’s superb debut Sci-fi novel, Beyond the Pale. Science Fiction is a genre that allows the writer’s imagination to run wild, possibly more so than in any other and Senan Gil does not waste that opportunity. The prequel to this took me completely by surprise, being very different to what I had expected but one that I nonetheless enjoyed from start to finish. This time I wasn’t quite so surprised but I was no less intrigued and entertained.
Senan Gil Senan is another author I discovered via my Indie Author Support & Discussion Fb group, and his own writing has proved every bit as good and insightful as his reviews of many other authors. In the spirit of science fiction and the new and exciting ways of presenting supplementary material, further information about the author, and some fascinating background to both this and his debut novel can be found at his blog:
In addition to this review, there is also a link below to the author’s recent interview by fellow blogger and book reviewer Andrew Updegrove, author of the highly acclaimed Sci-Fi thriller The Alexandria Project.
Further links to Senan Gil Senan’s writing:
Amazon.com: Senan Gil Senan – Author page:
A young outlander begins a spirit quest, which is not expected to exceed a handful of days. In this coming of age ritual, he must spend time alone in the wilderness and forego food, water and shelter. He has to learn to place trust in his inner spirit and intuition, and follow wherever it leads him. It leads him to New Denver, a somewhat dystopian metropolis that is a showcase for a transhumanist future society. The young truth seeker expects personal revelation, and change. What he encounters instead is an adventure that brings change to all around him. Unfortunately, it also brings danger to the people he loves, and threatens the existence of the outlander community that supports him. A chain of events follows one another in a synchronistic fashion, which introduces action, romance and intrigue. These events are also the catalyst to a Machiavellian struggle between three major protagonists. One is an emerging sentient artificial Intelligence born out of the surveillance culture. Another is a controlling ancient subterranean race, and then there is the spirit-questor himself. His human physiology is so special that it represents an evolutionary leap forward for humankind. All three, potentially provide a blueprint for the future of humanity. Set in a future landscape of the American mid west, this story is as much about a father’s determination to find his son. The Fifth Seed also has some strong female leading characters, and is a feel-good inspirational story, as much as it is a thought experiment into a potential future. Set in a future landscape of the American mid west, this story is as much about a father’s determination to find his son. The Fifth Seed also has some strong female leading characters, and is a feel-good inspirational story, as much as it is a thought experiment into a potential future.
The Fifth Seed: Volume 2 (Beyond the Pale)
By Senan Gil Senan
(Available from Amazon in both print & eBook formats)
A skillfully crafted blend of traditional sci-fi and the esoteric… 22 March 2016
Set in a not too distant dystopian future, The Fifth Seed leaps slightly forward in time from where its prequel ends not long after the birth of Ethan, the central character’s son. Ethan is now a young man and largely replaces River, his father, as the central character here. I won’t reiterate too much of the plot from the previous book or the amazon description for this one. What I can say is that this book is every bit as entertaining and thought-provoking as its predecessor. Although a sequel, this also reads very well as a stand-alone book; there are plenty of flashbacks and references to the past that ensure the reader isn’t at a disadvantage not having read the prequel, though I would still recommend reading Beyond the Pale first to make for a more complete reading experience.
In addition to the divided society of the first book, namely the technologically advanced walled-in cities surrounded by the more spiritually motivated tribes that inhabit the world outside, the author introduces some more good solid science fiction concepts here in the shape of sentient artificial and non-human intelligence, mental and physical enhancements, both technologically advanced and tribal dystopian societies. In contrast though the author skilfully blends these concepts with the past into a wider story, encompassing man’s physical, mental, and spiritual evolution. Apart from such classics as 1984, Logan’s Run, and The shape of thing to Come, the author draws on many less obvious different sources for inspiration that have echoes of Ron L. Hubbard and to lesser extent a more coherent putting together of some of some of David Icke’s theories of Reptilian races. As in the first book, much of the science has its roots firmly in the science of today. Likewise with the more esoteric aspects of the book, i.e. the spirituality and the alien reptilian races are rooted in Native American spirituality and folklore as well many of the fringe theories of past civilisations, so even without a detailed knowledge of these things, there is still a believable familiarity in the writing and elements of the story.
On a slightly negative note the author does occasionally over explain some of the science and spiritual aspects of the book, though having said that, I prefer direct explanation over that of trying to show things by overly long and contrived dialogue. Explanations aside, the dialogue and writing flows easily and naturally. The story is divided into a large number of chapters, the lengths of which are dictated by their content rather than the author trying to maintain an artificial consistency.
This is an excellent sequel to Beyond the Pale, different enough to read as a separate story entirely yet sufficiently tied into the prequel to make for a more complete story. Towards the end it’s easy to see parallels between Ethan and the inhabitants of the dystopian New Denver and that of Moses leading his people out of Egypt, and the way in which the author portrays this is nothing short of story telling at its near best. Although firmly placed in the sci-fi genre, The Fifth Seed is as much a story of human beings of any time or setting and the problems they and society face as it is of a sci-fi defined dystopian future. The blend of hard science, spirituality, religion, along with the all too human concepts of love, greed, power struggles, and a host of other familiar themes create an enthralling story that will have sci-fi fans coming back for more. As I’ve said, a superbly entertaining stand-alone book, but an ongoing story that will be all the more enhanced by reading the prequel first, especially given the likelihood of more to follow in this excellent series.
See Amazon link below for my review of Beyond the Pale
The author was named Senan, by his father Patrick Gilsenan who thought that the name would look good on the cover of a book. He was an Irish printer who yearned to see his own prose and poetry appear in print. Sadly he died before achieving either ambition. Senan left behind the beauty of Sligo in Ireland to set off for London and oblique strategy of career choices. These included working fourteen years as a computer systems engineer. He has also worked as a self-employed financial trader, a writer, an employment adviser, and as a bar manager. He still lives in South London with his wife and family.
Nanoman by Dean C. Moore is so I’m informed, part of the sub-genre of Science-Fiction, known as Cyberpunk or Steampunk; until recently I had never even heard of such a genre but after having read this book I’m pleased to say I know a little more about it.
Dean C. Moore is an indie author averaging about three titles a year through his own label, Mark Freeman Enterprises. Although he writes across a wide variety of genres, a particular tone of comedy drama unites them all, similar to the one used in franchises such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Transformers, Lethal Weapon, Red, Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man, and The Expendables. Analogies among TV series would include Bones, Castle, and Supernatural. He is also a prolific blooger and book reviewer himself.
Further links to Dean C. Moore’s writing can be found at the following:
By Dean C. Moore
(Available in both eBook and paperback from Amazon)
I really can’t praise this book highly enough; as a lifelong fan of science fiction, and having read some of the all-time greats – Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke to name but two – I’m not easily pleased when it comes to this genre but here we have a rollercoaster blend of hard sci-fi, almost non-stop action, plots and conspiracy, all interwoven with absolutely loads of fun and humour. It would be impossible to describe entirely the mix of characters, but suffice to say it includes power and wealth hungry businessmen all hell bent on world domination, cyber/human hybrids, regular robots (if there is such a thing), shape-shifting nano- technology super-humans, and a host of others, including a lovely female robot with a deadly inferiority complex; anyone expecting an Asimov style of robots will be pleasantly taken by surprise, as the ones here most certainly do not obey the three laws of robotics!
The book starts off quite conventionally, with one of the robots chatting away with various humans, demonstrating its abilities. The reader quickly gathers that there are hidden agendas lurking, but it does take quite a while for the wider picture to emerge. This is quite a substantial read, and it does require the reader’s full attention to keep up with what’s going on. If I had but one criticism I would have liked the action between Mike and Jane, and their pursuers toned tone just a tad, as I did think that even for a Science fiction novel, that I had to suspend my disbelief just a bit too much, though this opinion might well be due to my being more used to more conventional or traditional science fiction.
In a nutshell, what we have are a number of evil corporations, all hoping their particular robot/hybrids will become the dominant product in their bids to dominate the world as humans upgrade to cyber enhanced robot bodies. Alongside this there’s also a rival corporation with an entirely different agenda that would rather have everyone uploaded to something akin to a blissful Matrix type world. Thankfully there are two heroes in the shape of Mike and Jane, the former an ex super soldier, now even more enhanced thanks to some very strange nanonite implants, and alongside him, Jane, a brilliant scientist, also enhanced with said nanonites. You can’t helped but be gripped as you follow their journey as they’re hunted by an assorted collection of robots and regular soldiers, all seeking to destroy them; how they deal with this, and the romantic interaction between Mike and Jane will have the reader in stitches at times. I think it prudent to mention at this point that there is some highly comical sex scenes and mildly sexual content, but all within the humorous context of the book. Another example of the book’s humour is clearly illustrated when a military killer robot is trying to destroy another whilst at the same time force feeding donuts into a woman’s mouth, when he notices a another woman writing up a book review on goodreads, and quite casually recommends a book by none other than the author, Dean C. Moore, and later on, yet another robot saying how he must stock up on Dean C. Moore’s eBook steampunk for a coming journey – priceless!
All in all, an exciting action filled book, lots of speculative technology and some more familiar sci-fi themes, all combined with some subtle, and often, not so subtle humour – a great read.
Some further books by Dean C. Moore… click on thumbnails for details…
Another book from within the ranks of my Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group.. The Inlooker, by Terry Tumbler.
Terry Tumbler, like myself, is one of our more ‘mature’ members, having taken up writing relatively late in life when time and circumstances made it possible. Now retired, Terry Tumbler currently lives in Spain with his wife. Prior to his current writing endeavours, he spent the greater part of his working career in the computer and I.T. industries. In addition to the Inlooker, Terry tumbler is the author of several other comic Sci-Fi novels, details of which can be found at both his website and Amazon Author page.
Further links to the author and his writing can be found at:
By Terry Tumbler
(Available from Amazon)
Although primarily a science fiction book with many traditional science fiction themes, there are all sorts of other elements thrown in the mix too: sharp political satire and intrigue, comic and dark humour, and a host of funny yet chillingly accurate observations of the world we live in. The main premise of the book is a man who has the ability to look into and subjugate the will or ‘soul’ of others – whilst not an entirely new concept in the world of science fiction, or indeed other genres, its treatment here is both funny and original, and at times, bordering on the comically distasteful; the central character, upon learning of his newfound abilities, does little to ingratiate himself with the reader, initially choosing to use his abilities to gratify some of his own baser instincts and sexual fantasies, along with inflicting his own unique brand of vigilante justice on several wrong-doers his abilities lead him to – In fact, Thomas Beckton actually comes across as quite dislikeable, and never truly progresses to the point where the reader can or might want to identify with him in the traditional ‘hero of the story’ sense, but neither is he one that the reader find it in their hearts to wholly reject either. In many respects, our central character is somewhat of an anti-hero; with his god-like abilities and power to shape world events, he is remarkably unassuming most of the time, quietly (and not so quietly on occasion) shaping and directing mankind’s future, quite ruthlessly when called for, and with a quite chilling disregard at times for those he is manipulating, yet still retaining a semblance of humanity about him.
The narrative is well written, and although written in the third person, perfectly matches the tone and feel of the central character, giving much of the book a sort of first person feel to it, but without any of the restrictions that come with such a perspective. Likewise with the dialogue – sharp, witty, and often quite caustic in its observations, but always complementary and wholly in tune with, and effortlessly interwoven into the narrative. This is definitely a book where the author’s voice and I suspect much of his own character, really shines through on every page and in every word and idea within the book.
If I had but one minor criticism it would be the author’s use of an explanatory introduction to each part of the three parts of the book, sign-posting as it were what’s to follow – I know this is a popular and often effective writing technique but personally I feel it to be unnecessary here, that the strength and clarity of the author’s writing allows the story to unfold quite naturally without the need for any such artificial pointers.
My overall rating for this book would be on the plus side of 4.5 stars, the slight deduction being on account of the unnecessary introductions as already referred to, but apart from that, I found this to be a highly original and indeed funny take on some traditional science fiction themes; the author’s treatment of aliens and their technology, spacecraft, and extra ordinary abilities and powers, was reminiscent of say Douglas Adam’s Hitch Hiker’s Guide or Grant Naylor’s Red Dwarf writing, but without trying to imitate in any way, creating its own unique and refreshing comic sci-fi style with added touches of Jonathan Swift’s political satirical style thrown in. If you like your science fiction a little zany with a touch of sharp humour, definitely worth a look!
Further works by Terry Tumbler:
Second Chance is the first of the Transcendence Trilogy – Book 1. I had been meaning to read and review this book quite some months ago but for various reasons my reading schedule was interrupted. Thankfully though, my blogging, writing, and reviewing schedules are now slowly returning to something approaching normal service, which is just as well as I shall now be adding Absent Souls, the second book of the trilogy, to my ever-lengthening reading list.
Second Chance by Dylan Hearn is a book I discovered via a reblog by Graeme Cummings (author of Ravens Gathering) of an excellent article by Dylan Hearn on mutual support among Indie and self-published authors. As well as being an author, Dylan Hearn writes and maintains a blog that is a wealth of information to any new or aspiring writer, particularly self-published ones. For further information and links to Dylan Hearn please see:
(The Transcendence Trilogy – Book 1)
By Dylan Hearn
(Available from Amazon in both Ebook and print formats… click on cover pic for further details)
This is a book I discovered via the world of blogging and occasional mentions on various other social media. Set in a near dystopian future this is a multi–stranded thriller that combines elements of science fiction with political intrigue, abduction and murder, all set against the murky backdrop of big business and globalisation. Mixed in amongst the plot we have a pretty young researcher who has gone missing, a newly elected politician trying to make a difference to the world she lives in, and some highly sensitive research into cloning and life extension, all playing a part in a world that is post major political and climatic upheaval. What makes this book especially believable is that much of the technology and the political landscape can all be seen in the world we live in today, albeit in embryonic form: Google’s driverless cars and data glasses, online polling, attempts to connect the entire world via the internet, speculation about both the climate and political consequences of global warming… all these factors are more developed in the book, but clearly have their origins in the present.
There is a lot going on this book, and it would be easy for the reader to get confused were it not for the author’s clever writing style and technique; the book is divided into three parts with over fifty well defined chapters. Rather than trying to combine all the elements of the book in one go, different characters and elements are introduced in separate chapters. The story and part each character plays is told via these different chapters but with sufficient overlap and reference to the others to bring the story together as a whole thus making an otherwise complex plot surprisingly readable and easy to follow.
The dialogue is sharp and crisp, and used to good effect to bring out the character traits of the protagonists and to drive the story forward. I must admit it took me a couple of chapters to get a grip of the way the story was going but that’s nothing unusual in a book of this complexity. Throughout the book there are hints and references to the events and circumstances which led to the world in which the book is set but very little specific detail, and I think more attention to that aspect would have given the book and the characters a greater depth. I would also have liked a stronger epilogue tying up some of the loose ends but with two more books to follow it’s quite possible we’ll be learning a lot more of that in the future.
Overall, this a thoroughly believable glimpse into a very possible future that might well be nearer than we realise. This was a fascinating and entertaining read that pushed all the right buttons for me, and I shall certainly be reading and reviewing book two of this trilogy.
Click on cover pic for link to book two in this trilogy:
Well, blog no:4 – I wrote this short story a few years back when there was a lot of talk in the press about the spread of nuclear weapons. Now with all the speculation about when and not if Iran becomes a nuclear power I thought it might be time to give it another airing, enjoy,..
A Silly Thought….
It was just past the third sunset of the day, on a world far, far away, when the three of them began the long journey home from the Bi-Centennial fireworks display.
“Wow, that was the best ever!” the little boy exclaimed from the back seat of his parents shuttle-pod.
“It’s just not fair we can’t have them more than just once every two hundred years, and bigger too?”
He was still very young. His Mother turned and smiled, seeking to explain:
“Because of the radiation,” she said. “And you know how dangerous it would be if it was any bigger. We all do.”
The little boy fell silent, thinking about what his mother had said, knowing she was right: “I suppose so, but… it’d sure be nice to see it close-up next time.”
This time it was the Father who addressed the little boy’s innocence:
“If only that were true, but it’s not,” the father began, knowing the time for explanation had come: “You see, when the scientists discovered atomic power, everyone knew it was a gift of nature, a marvellous gift to warm and light all the worlds for ever and ever.”
“Just like a star?”
“Yes, in a way, but not quite – more like having our very own ‘little’ star, right in out hands. But like any precious gift, it has to be looked after, and treated carefully.”
“Well, the scientists realized how, if the little star ever got away from us, it could destroy entire world; because it’s more powerful than anything else we know – more powerful than any earthquake or volcano. That’s why we had to wait so very long before we made the atomic power stations, until we knew enough to make them absolutely safe. So once every two hundred years we have the atomic fireworks show, not just to entertain us and to remind us of how lucky we are, but also to remind us how careful we have to be.”
The little boy understood. “I never thought about it like that. I suppose if we weren’t so careful, some people might even try and throw the little stars at each other.”
Ronnie! The little boys parents gasped, momentarily stunned.
Mother spoke first: “What a silly thought. That would be insane.”
Then Father spoke: “Even more insane than me aiming this shuttle into the sun and just killing us for no reason at all.”
The little boy was ashamed of his silly thought now that he realized just how insane it really was: “I’m sorry,” the little boy cried.
Mother and Father took him in their arms, soothing his fears: “I love you both. I love everyone,” the boy said.
“We love you too, Ronnie,” Mother and Father answered, smiling and forgiving. And in that far away world, life went on… happily and forever…