The Race Through Space Trilogy: Books 1-3 – David Hawk (Book Review)

Book 1: The Race Through Space

David Hawk’s first book is an intriguing science fiction adventure novella, in which two 13-year-olds travel through wormholes to extra-terrestrial planets. Neil Webb and his best friend Marie have been tasked by Neil’s father, Stephen and fellow physicist Dr. William Lowell, to embark on a dangerous mission to rescue them from an uncharted planet. Teaming up with various intelligent alien beings whom they meet along the way, Neil and Marie soon find themselves thrust into the adventure of a lifetime.

 

Book 2: The Wave of Time

Neil and Marie have unexpectedly found themselves separated from their companions and guides after the events in book one. However, while resting on the alien planet Amphibios they stumble upon Neil’s grandfather, Grandpa Al. Together the three of them must find a way to reach Stephen and Dr. Lowell, preferably before Dr. Lowell succumbs to his wounds.

 

Book 3: The End of Time

The third novella in this Race Through Space trilogy concludes the adventures of Neil and Marie, on their mission to rescue Dr. Stephen Webb and Dr. William Lowell from the uncharted Alien planet. Before travelling to Varillam, to warn its inhabitants of a deadly threat to their existence.

 

Review:

I rather enjoyed meeting and learning about all of the different races of intelligent beings and various strange creatures that inhabit these alien planets, such as the Spaldings and the Wychu. The overall story is very fun and imaginative, and the pace is swift with simple and straightforward language, making these novellas perfect for young adults.

However, personally I dislike it when writers release separate short novellas as instalments of a larger series. This is because each book tends to end abruptly without conclusion, instead continuing the main plot through into the next instalment, and the next etc. The Race Through Space books employ this very system of separate short instalments, so please beware of this if you choose to read these books individually. The saving grace is that the three books have been brought together and released as a trilogy, which is what I have read and reviewed here.

One major issue that I have about this story is that since there are at least three different wormhole devices in existence – the one Dr. Stephen Webb and Dr. William Lowell use, Neil’s device and Grandpa Al’s device – why didn’t Stephen take a spare device with them on their journey, and leave just one device at home. Surely in reality this would have made the most sense, although I suppose if that were the case then the whole concept of this story falls apart, as then Neil wouldn’t have needed to come to his Dad’s rescue. Admittedly David included an explanation to this later on in book three, however I still feel that it would have benefitted Stephen to have carried a spare device.

There are also quite a high number of quality issues with regard to spelling and grammar within this book which is rather frustrating as its basic premise is highly enjoyable. I’m rating this at 3.5 out of 5 stars because while I enjoyed the main story arc, finding it amusing, fun and entertaining, there were a few issues and I maintain that this should have been released simply as one complete novel, rather than split into instalments and classed as a trilogy.

I received a complimentary copy of The Race Through Space Trilogy direct from author, David Hawk and have voluntarily chosen to write this review. Those interested can purchase a copy of The Race Through Space from Amazon.co.uk by clicking this link.

The Body by Stephen King (Book Review)

The Body is the third of four novellas in Stephen King’s short story collection Different Seasons.

It follows the adventures of four young boys as they embark on one final journey together as children, before taking the leap into adolescence and beginning High School.

 

In this coming-of-age story from Stephen King, a young boy named Ray Brower goes missing in 1960 while out picking blueberries three days before Labour Day weekend. Vern Tessio accidentally overhears his brother, Billy discussing the dead body of the boy with his friend, Charlie Hogan.

It transpires that the friends had stolen a car and driven out to a deserted dead end road, where they inadvertently discovered the boy’s corpse lying near the train tracks. Afraid of the authorities discovering that they have broken the law, Billy and Charlie vow to keep their discovery quiet, after all the poor kid was dead and nothing was going to change that so there was no point in getting into trouble over it.

When Vern informs his best friends, Teddy Duchamp, Gordie Lachance and Chris Chambers, the youngsters soon figure out that poor Ray Brower must have been killed by a passing train, as he walked along the tracks. Curious in a rather morbid sort of way, the young boys decide to hike out along the train tracks to see the dead body of Ray Brower.

 

Favourite Quote:

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did you?” – The inner musings of Gordon Lachance, directed towards the reader. (p374)

 

Told as a first person narrative from the main character, Gordon Lachance’s viewpoint as an adult, looking back at a significant moment from his childhood as an innocent twelve year old boy in September 1960, The Body is a touching story of friendship, as four friends must face the harsh realities that are to follow when they begin their transition from childhood, through adolescence and finally into adulthood. Coming from dysfunctional or rather abusive families, not all of them will survive the trials and tribulations that will face them as they mature.

The Body is one of the three novellas contained within Stephen King’s Different Seasons short story collection which was successfully brought to life on the big screen under the name Stand By Me.

 

Stand By Me has an outstandingly famous cast, which includes Wil Wheaton (best known for his stint in Star Trek), the now deceased child star River Phoenix, Corey Feldman (The Goonies, Gremlins, The Lost Boys – to name a few), Jerry O’Connell (Jerry Maguire) and probably the most well known of them all, Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys, Mirrors, 24).

At 5 out of 5 stars both the novella and the film are personal favourites of mine, amidst the masses of horror novels, novellas, short story collections, TV adaptations and movies of Stephen Kings’ illustrious career,  although technically it’s not a horror story but rather an adventure drama.

Anyone interested can purchase a copy of Different Seasons from Amazon.co.uk here, or alternatively, Stand By Me can be found here.

 

See also:

The Breathing Method – Stephen King

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (Book Review)

Entrepreneur John Hammond is attempting a feat never before imagined. To open a brand new amusement resort on Isla Nublar, a small Island about 100 miles off the West coast of Costa Rica. His park will play host to a variety of living attractions in the form of genetically engineered dinosaurs, recreated from the DNA extracted from amber.

Unfortunately John’s company InGen Inc. is drawing unwanted attention and there are a number of suspicions that his elaborate venture is an unnecessary risk. Mathematician Ian Malcolm, through his studies in chaos theory declares the park “an accident waiting to happen.”

Hammond immediately sets out to prove that his park is completely safe by allowing his lawyer, Donald Gennaro access to the resort during a routine inspection. He also invites Ian Malcolm, Paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, Paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler and his two young grandchildren, Tim and Alexis to discover their thoughts on the project.

Of course, things don’t quite go as planned for John Hammond when a number of unexpected problems arise, made all the worse by Dennis Nedry, a member of Hammond’s own staff who has been paid by InGen’s main rivals Biosyn to steal precious dinosaur embryos.

Nedry puts the lives of everyone on Isla Nublar in danger when he turns off the power grid, allowing the dinosaurs to roam freely around the Island, with Hammond’s grandchildren and the scientists conducting the inspection caught completely unaware right in the middle of the park.

Unfortunately, dinosaurs have also escaped the island onto the boat that ferries the supplies to and from the mainland. Can the maintenance and IT staff resolve the electrical problems and rescue the visitors from the tour within the park grounds in time to prevent the boat docking in Costa Rica? Will Hammond get his park open to the public or will the inspection shut him down?

 

Favourite Quotes:

“What burns me is that we have made this wonderful park, this fantastic park, and our very first visitors are going through it like accountants, just looking for problems. They aren’t experiencing the wonder of it at all.” – John Hammond. (p177)

 

Jurassic Park is one of those franchises in which the original book is much more entertaining and enthralling than any of the movies. Compared with Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park film adaptation, the novel has a longer, more complicated plot with intricate detailing of the different species of dinosaurs. There is also plenty of action, and suspense.

Michael Crichton is a well known best-selling author who knows how to write a great story, and at 5 out of 5 stars, Jurassic Park is no exception. If you haven’t already you can pick up a copy of Jurassic Park at Amazon here.

You may also wish to check out its sequel ‘The Lost World’.

 

The Restaurant at the end of the Universe (Volume 2 in the Trilogy of Five) – Book Review

Volume 2 of Douglas Adams’ trilogy of five parts, The Restaurant at the end of the Universe, begins exactly where its predecessor left off. Having fled Earth on that dreadful Thursday, just before Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council destroyed his planet to make way for a ‘possible’ Hyperspatial Express Route, Arthur Dent has become a Hitchhiker on the stolen ship The Heart of Gold.

Arthur and his space-faring friends; Ford Prefect, Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin, are heading off to the Restaurant at the end of the Universe for a spot of breakfast. Blissfully unaware that the Vogon ship, piloted by none other than Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, is following on behind them. The Vogons are under strict orders to destroy the last two survivors of the human race, Arthur and Trillian.

As the Vogon’s begin their attack on The Heart of Gold, Arthur makes a very grave mistake. In trying to teach the spaceship to make a proper cup of tea he inadvertently jams the ship’s computer, stranding The Heart of Gold in deep space, and dooming the entire crew.

I won’t go into any more details on the plot here, in an attempt to avoid any possible spoilers. However, since there are a further three books in the series beyond this one, I think it is fairly safe to point out that through a rather complicated miracle and some even more confusing time travel, breakfast is finally served at Milliways.

 

Favourite Quote:

“If you’ve done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?” – (p81)

 

At 1 out of 5 stars, The Restaurant at the end of the Universe, unfortunately is nowhere near as entertaining as its predecessor. There is a distinct lack of cohesive plot, instead coming off as just a jumble of irrational events. Not even the occasionally brief appearances from Marvin the Paranoid Android, can make this novel worthwhile. I now begin to dread the contents of the remaining books.

However, those interested in continuing Arthur’s adventure can purchase a copy from Amazon here.

 

See also:

Vol 1: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Vol 3: Life, the Universe and Everything

Vol 4: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Vol 5: Mostly Harmless

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Volume 1 in the Trilogy of Five) – Book Review

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a science fiction classic from Douglas Adams, things are about to go terribly wrong for the main character, Mr. Arthur Dent. Arthur wakes up that morning in the hope of having a nice lazy Thursday; reading a book and brushing the dog etc. only to have his day ruined by a chain of rather stupid catastrophes.

First of all his house is demolished when the local Council decides that that particular area of England requires a bypass. Around the same time however, that event is put into perspective when his best friend informs him that the world is about to end. Aliens subsequently demolish the Earth in order to make way for the new Hyperspatial Express Route, being built across the Galaxy.

Sometime later, Arthur wakes to discover that he is rather surprisingly still alive. Having been rescued from certain death by his best friend Ford Prefect, an Alien from the planet Betelgeuse, he is now a hitchhiker on board a flying saucer, hurtling through space armed with only a towel and a book inscribed with the friendly words ‘Don’t Panic’.

Surely things can’t possibly get any worse…

 

Unfortunately for Arthur Dent, things do get worse. Having lost not only his home, but also his entire planet Arthur must now console himself with his new identity as Hitchhiker of the Galaxy, as he begins a series of adventures across the far reaches of space.

Accompanied by his friend Ford, a two-headed and three-armed President of the Galaxy named Zaphod Beeblebrox, fellow Earthling Trillian, and a rather depressed and paranoid robot by the name of Marvin, Arthur encounters many amazing sights never before seen by human kind and discovers the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is the beginning of a five part trilogy, which having been around for over 30 years, is unlikely to require much by way of explanation. It is however, without a doubt, at 5 out of 5 stars, one of the most entertaining science fiction comedy series to ever grace our bookshelves, hence its cult status.

If you haven’t already, feel free to pick up a copy of this epic space adventure at Amazon here.

 

See also:

Volume 2: Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Volume 3: Life, the Universe and Everything

Volume 4: So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

Volume 5: Mostly Harmless

Prison Quest: A Sci-Fi LitRPG Adventure (ARC Review)

Cody Milbourne works security for the Vortax Corporation Headquarters. When she discovers her friend and colleague Joseph Salter has been murdered on company property, she is aghast when the Corporate Crimes Unit falsely accuses her of theft, criminal damage, abduction and Joseph’s murder. As a result she faces up to 40 years in prison.

Cody’s new home is actually a virtual world known as Fortress Forty-seven, not just your regular prison. Her only choice is to complete the virtual reality game known as Prison Quest, if she wants to stay alive and have any hope of escaping this nightmare.

 

Having been a fan of some of Michael Campling’s earlier work, I didn’t hesitate when offered the chance to check out his new book, Prison Quest, which he has co-written with fellow fantasy and science fiction author Saffron Bryant. I received a free advanced readers copy in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Prison Quest – originally titled ‘Fortress 47’ – is a LitRPG novel, a genre which I am not very familiar with. LitRPG is the literary equivalent to role-playing games in which characters must complete quests in order to ‘level up’ or advance throughout the game or story, by acquiring experience points.

 

In this case, Cody must forge alliances, learn skills and complete various quests within the virtual game world called Fortress Forty-seven, a dangerous and unforgiving place. All while seeking the allusive Prison Quest, which may hold the key to her escape from both the game and her prison sentence.

While prior knowledge of RPGs would be beneficial, it is unnecessary as Campling and Bryant have put together a very well-written story, complete with easy to comprehend explanations that do not distract the reader from the graceful flow of the narrative.

Beginning in the Wild West themed town of Firebrand, there is an air of relative safety as characters who are unlucky enough to die, simply regenerate in the town jailhouse. However, for those who dare to really push the game to its limits and leave town, venturing into the wild desert wastelands, they must be willing to pay the ultimate price. For beyond the walls of Firebrand, when you die, you die for real, and not just within the confines of the game, but in real life too.

The book contains a wide-array of interesting characters and creatures including: bit roaches, grit worms, venomous cavelings and androids. With its combination of science fiction, fantasy and Westerns, this book is perfect for gamers, sci-fi fans, fantasy fanatics and also fans of Firefly. At 5 out of 5 stars this is a fast-paced, action packed novel that you won’t want to miss. I’ll definitely be checking out more books in the LitRPG genre after this one.

 

In Jan 2019, Michael Campling and Saffron Bryant re-released an updated and improved version of this book called The Prison Quest, click here to get your updated copy from Amazon.co.uk.