Seize the Night by Dean Koontz

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Title: Seize the Night
Series: Moonlight Bay (Book #2)
Author: Dean Koontz
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction
Release Date: 1998
Format Read: Paperback
Pages: 464
Rating:

4feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

One by one, the children of Moonlight Bay are disappearing. no one knows of they are dead or alive. Christopher Snow, suffering from the rare disorder Xeroderma Pigmentosum, has glimpsed the dark and torrid secrets of the small-town community where he has spent his entire life. And only he has the hey to the truth – a truth that could only exist in the genetic chaos of Moonlight Bay.

My Review:

Seize the Night is the second book in the Moonlight Bay Trilogy featuring Christopher Snow, a man suffering from a rare disorder called xeroderma pigmentosum. This disorder forces him to avoid the sunlight which is harmful to him and encourages him to carpe noctem (seize the night). Chris lives in Moonlight Bay, a town haunted by a past of government genetic experimentation in which his parents had participated. Those experiments were long over and the military base was abandoned, or so it was thought. When the town’s children begin to disappear Chris and his friends follow the trail to Fort Wyvern and learn that the base wasn’t entirely abandoned and that many sinister things still exist at the base.

The story includes aspects of science fiction and the paranormal, as well as Koontz’s signature horror and suspense. Although this is the second installment in a trilogy, I did not have a hard time picking up on the character relations without reading the book’s prequel. If I have the opportunity, I would like to read the additional books in this series.

Read more Dean Koontz reviews by the Audacious Feather:

Intensity
Relentless
Seize the Night
The Good Guy
Your Heart Belongs to Me

Seer of Mars by Cindy Borgne

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Title: Seer of Mars
Series: Vallar (Book #1)
Author: Cindy Borgne
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 2011
Format Read: Kindle
Pages: 380
Rating: 3feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

Sixteen year old Ian Connors is a psychic working for Marscorp, the biggest bully organization on Mars. His job is to use his ability to uncover secrets or hidden bases of other organizations so the Marcs can conquer them. Even though he’s been brought up to believe this is normal, he soon discovers the ugly reality of war. He hates the suffering and death caused by a vision he reported to the admiral. Ian feels responsible after finding a hidden base of a small organization that was only trying to survive.

In order to redeem himself, Ian vows to never let anyone use his ability for death and destruction again. His goal is to escape and live in peace, but the leaders monitor him closely and defectors are known to mysteriously disappear. Despite his age, inexperience and few allies, he refuses to give up. He must outwit a cunning admiral and a powerhouse organization, or he will remain a pawn and forever separated from those he loves.

My Review:

In Cindy Borgne’s book Vallar, humans have established colonies on Mars. The colonies were run like organizations. Marscorp, the most powerful colony with a large standing army tried to control the other colonies by exploiting all their resources. The people of other colonies eventually joined together to fight back. Vallar is one of these ‘rebel’ colonies.

Ian Conners who has psychic abilities works for Marscorp. He attempts to intercept messages between the rebel colonies. He believes he is doing the right thing by protecting Marscorp, however he is actually one of the greatest weapons Marscorp has in their quest to completely control the resources of Mars.

Ian’s world is turned upside down when he has a vision about Kayla, a woman he is to fall in love with in the future. This woman is from the Vallar colony but is working undercover in Marscorp. Ian finally realizes how much of a dictator his beloved admiral is. As Ian’s loyalties change he fights for his own survival but also the protection of Kayla, the Vallar organization, and all its allied colonies.

This book isn’t exactly what I would call original. Vallar is a typical science fiction novel, nevertheless it was a good, quick read.

1984 by George Orwell

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Title: 1984
Series: N/A
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Science Fiction, Classic Literature
Release Date: 1949
Format Read: Paperback
Pages: 328
Rating:

5feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions. A legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

My Review:

Reality control: who controls the present, controls the past.

1984 was a book I could barely put down. It really was a quick read even with all the vernacular of ‘Newspeak’.  Unlike, The Catcher in the Rye, I can definitely see why this book is a literary favorite. The book left me with several unanswered questions, such as: what happened to Julia while in the Ministry of Love, and why did O’Brien, who knew of their forbidden thoughts and love affair, string them along for so long before arresting them? Quite possibly the answer to the later question is that once Winston reach complete rehabilitation from his mental illness (that is of not embracing the party) that he no longer cared, and thus the narrator felt it of no importance to answer those lingering questions.

The world of Oceania was absolutely terrifying. A totalitarian dictatorship that could never die. To control history is to control everything. Even today the media and sometimes politicians try to alter history for their own agendas or to give legitimacy to their authority. The sad reality is that many people accept this new truth and don’t check facts. “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious” (p. 70). Objectivity is a virtue.

It was thought that the proletarians were kept on the brink of poverty and hunger and therefore would be too busy working and trying to survive to rebel. It was the party members, who of anyone in society, might awake to the party’s dishonesty and manipulation. It was after all they that were actually doing the manipulating (i.e. Winston Smith’s job was to alter old newspapers to make sure nothing the party said or predicted was ever wrong).

This section of Goldstein’s book was rather chilling:

In the crucial years, the fact that the Party was not a hereditary body did a great deal to neutralize opposition. The older kind of Socialist, who had been trained to fight against something called ‘class privilege’ assumed that what is not hereditary cannot be permanent. He did not see that the continuity of an oligarchy need not be physical, nor did he pause to reflect that hereditary aristocracies have always been shortlived, whereas adoptive organizations such as the Catholic Church have sometimes lasted for hundreds or thousands of years. The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living. A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors. The Party is not concerned with perpetuating its blood but with perpetuating itself. Who wields power is not important, provided that the hierarchical structure remains always the same.

All the beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes that characterize our time are really designed to sustain the mystique of the Party and prevent the true nature of present-day society from being perceived. Physical rebellion, or any preliminary move towards rebellion, is at present not possible. From the proletarians nothing is to be feared. Left to themselves, they will continue from generation to generation and from century to century, working, breeding, and dying, not only without any impulse to rebel, but without the power of grasping that the world could be other than it is. They could only become dangerous if the advance of industrial technique made it necessary to educate them more highly; but, since military and commercial rivalry are no longer important, the level of popular education is actually declining. What opinions the masses hold, or do not hold, is looked on as a matter of indifference. They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect. In a Party member, on the other hand, not even the smallest deviation of opinion on the most unimportant subject can be tolerated.

A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought Police. Even when he is alone he can never be sure that he is alone. Wherever he may be, asleep or awake, working or resting, in his bath or in bed, he can be inspected without warning and without knowing that he is being inspected (p 209-210).

A lengthy quote, but frightening. Orwell thoroughly explains the ruling party’s political ideology. Don’t modern times/governments have some eerily similar practices/policies? This is why 1984 will never fade.

Will we ever be charged with thought crimes in this country for thinking an unpopular thought?

The narrator leads us to believe that once thought criminals have been healed of their mental illnesses that they will subsequently be exterminated. At the end of the book, Winston Smith is released from prison. However, once he truly loves Big Brother, it is uncertain if he was actually killed or let live and that death was only a threat. During confinement Winston believed he would never betray himself. “But if the object was not to stay alive but to stay human, what difference did it ultimately make? They could not alter your feelings; for that matter you could not alter them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could lay bare in the utmost detail everything that you had done or said or thought; but the inner heart, whose workings were mysterious even to yourself, remained impregnable” (p. 167).  And even though at the end of the book Winston admits to loving Big Brother, at the same moment he almost hoped Oceania would lose the war and be invaded, leading to the destruction of the party. Winston’s heart had not changed, but upon hearing of victory it was clear that nothing would ever change. The party would always prevail and that the rules of war would never change. There would be no political shifts and to spend time thinking otherwise would just lead to despair. O’Brien admitted to have written the “brotherhood’s” book under the pen name Goldstein called The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. At first I was confused as to why he would have written it and let Smith read it. I think it was to convince Winston that the government was so complex, yet sturdy, and rebellion was almost impossible. The obvious objective was to dissuade him from continuing his anti-party thought-crimes. I think this was all a part of the rehabilitation. Although Winston never completely lost the rebellious feelings in his heart, he was still utterly defeated by O’Brien and gave into party manipulation to appease his pain- and not only physical pain but more importantly his mental anguish.

How much would our society agree to for peace of mind? The answer is probably scarier than anyone wants to admit

1984 is a science fiction classic. This is a must read. I guarantee this book will leave you with many things to consider and think about long after it’s finished. I leave you with the Ministry of Truth’s iconic slogan:

 

Wool by Hugh Howey

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Title: Wool
Series: Wool
Author: Hugh Howey
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 2010
Format Read: Kindle
Pages: 56
Rating:

4feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

They live beneath the earth in a prison of their own making. There is a view of the outside world, a spoiled and rotten world, their forefathers left behind. But this view fades over time, ruined by the toxic airs that kill any who brave them. So they leave it to the criminals, those who break the rules, and who are sent to cleaning. Why do they do it, these people condemned to death? Sheriff Holston has always wondered. Now he is about to find out.

My Review:

Wool by Hugh Howey is a fantastic science fiction short story. At 60 pages it is quite a fast read. It is written in present tense with flash backs. I downloaded this to my Kindle several months ago and selected it at random yesterday to read. However, I think perhaps I’ve learned my lesson to always read the book’s description, whether that be on the back of the book or wherever, prior to reading. Having no idea what the book was about when I started reading it I felt very confused for several chapters until I started to piece everything together. Had I read the description that this was an underground world in which people lived in because the world was bleak and poisonous outside, much of the first chapter would have made more sense to me. I knew this book must have sounded interesting enough to have download it in the past, but this was a rare example of reading a book without refreshing my memory what to expect. I wonder if this is something that others have come across? It is me just wanting to know a little about the book first to perhaps create a frame of reference, or is it the author not establishing the setting in the first chapter properly?

In short, the lead character Holston is sheriff in the silo. He desperately misses his wife who was sent to death outside the airlock three years prior. Allison had been uncovering deleted information from the computer system and found some disturbing things that led her to a desire to utter the words of condemnation, “I want out”. Holston decides to join her in the outside world. The book takes us several times back and forth from believing that the outside world is destroyed and environment toxic to humans and the silo is sanctuary to the silo being prison and the outside world being beautiful freedom. The book leaves off with the reader still unsure of what is actually going on but gears them towards believing that the environment is actually toxic, but there is no answer to the bizarre information uncovered from the databases that contradicts this. This is good sci-fi and post-apocalyptic literature. I do struggle at times with short stories because I just want so much more. However, this book was a successful short story in regards to getting the reader to think about details within the book over and over to uncover what actually happened.

There are several more short stories in this series which I intend to read. The title Wool is a play on words. Those who leave the airlock are asked to use steel wool to clean the camera lenses to give those inside the silo a view of the outside world. It could also be in reference to Allison attempting to pull the wool off Holston’s eyes.

I highly recommend this short story. While, as admitted I did find it confusing initially to understand the world in which this book was set, and perhaps the author should have established this setting more clearly in introduction instead of having relied on the reader to have read the book’s description. In some ways this was a misunderstanding between myself and the author. Even so, I cannot see rating this book lower than 4 Feathers because it was truly one of the best short stories I have ever read.

This is a segment of the first chapter. Out of the entire book, the language and imagery of this scene struck me the most.

Holston took his time, each step methodical and ponderous, as he wound his way around and around the spiral staircase, old boots ringing out on metal treads…Holston could feel the vibrations in the railing, which was worn down to the gleaming metal. That always amazed him; how centuries of bare palms and shuffling feet could wear down solid steel. One molecule at a time, he supposed. Each life might wear away a single layer, even as the silo wore away that life.

Bad Radio by Michael Langlois

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Title: Bad Radio
Series: The Emergent Earth
Author: Michael Langlois
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror
Release Date: 2011
Format Read: Kindle
Pages: 410
Rating:3feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

Sixty years ago Abe Griffin saved the world and gained eternal youth. Or so he thought.  Now, a man that Abe believed to be long dead is killing the surviving members of Abe’s old squad in order to reclaim the relics that they have kept hidden for decades. The relics form an ancient beacon that must never be used, in a ritual that must never be completed. But the end of the world requires more than just activating the beacon. It requires Abe. With help from the granddaughter of his oldest friend, Abe must learn the truth about his immortal body, while at the same time trying to stop a horrifying series of supernatural opponents from sweeping away everything that he cares about.

My Review:

People don’t realize how secretive the world really is, easily swallowing up wonders and atrocities alike, aided only by a few yards of distance and people’s unwillingness to look.

Bad Radio is an original story for sure. After Abe was dunked into a tank full of human blood used for ritualistic purposes in Poland during WWII he stopped aging. Over 60 years later he still looks 30 years old and has almost superhuman speed and fighting capabilities. His wife grew old and died, and so have most of his old army buddies. The book starts off in a very sombre tone depicting a suicidal Abe. It quickly picks up and kept my attention. Piotr and his murderous worm infested (literally) minions are searching for relics needed for his rituals that were stolen from him by Abe during WWII. Now wanting to re-establish himself and his power on earth he hunts the relics down killing all those in his path. This is a bizarre horror/fantasy story with elements of science fiction. It contains awesome fight scenes that remind me of The Matrix movies. There were some elements of the storyline that left me with unanswered questions, but given the genres that isn’t necessarily uncommon. The author’s writing style and story telling ability made these unanswered questions insignificant when the reader doesn’t want to stop reading the book. Overall, it was an entertaining fast read.

In that moment, humanity’s stranglehold on reality shattered, and power not felt in thousands of years slammed down from the heavens and pierced the skin of the world. In an epicenter that spanned the entire continent and the surrounding oceans, things that had slumbered for eons, awoke. Places that were once feared again took on their ancient aspects, and modern places became strange and teeming with forces unseen since the dawn of the Age of Reason. Old Gods stirred.