Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

I have another 800 reviews at my archive blog: http://www.deadtreesreviewarchive.blogspot.com (please visit).

I post my reviews to:

2 yahoo groups
Amazon and B&N (of course)
and on Twitter

I am always looking for more places to post my reviews.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Alternative Lives

Alternative Lives, Allen Pollens, CreateSpace, 2011

This novel is about a journey into a little-known part of the human psyche: what happens when we sleep.

Harold Treadwell is a professor at Jess Hawkins University in Philadelphia. He is known as a workaholic, and has spent his entire academic life at JHU, mostly due to a significant emotional heartache. He has spent the previous five years perfecting a sleep stasis chamber, where people will spend several days at a time sleeping (with mild sedative help). After all, eight hours of sleep per night is known to be mentally and physically therapeutic. Maybe more sleep will be more therapeutic.

The shadowy Omega Corporation gets him federal grant money for a scientific study, and is otherwise a big help. All they want in return is first chance at anything commercial that comes out of it. Treadwell recruits Vincent, Anne and Charles, all JHU students, as research assistants. They put volunteers under for several days at a time. The results are disappointing. Even with an expanded study, and several chambers occupied at the same time, nothing changes for the volunteers.

Everyone has a moment in their lives where they choose Option A over Option B. At 168 hours (1 week) of stasis, the volunteers emerge telling similar stories of living their Option B lives. Omega gets hold of the process, commercializing it, and treats the team very fairly. They want to get back into research. Going past 168 hours of stasis, the reported experiences of the volunteers start getting weird. At 336 hours (2 weeks), something happens to the volunteers which has huge national security implications. The military is Very Interested. Before it can be used, the team decides that the only option is to have Harold go through the experience, and, also, to fix his emotional heartache.

This is a very "quiet" and very intriguing book. The second half is more interestinmg than the first half. It belongs in the large gray area of Pretty Good or Worth Reading.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Moon Is Not For Sale

The Moon Is Not For Sale, Wallace Provost, CreateSpace, 2012

Here is a novel of intrigue set mostly on the Moon.

The operation of a processing plant to mine Helium-3 from the Moon was supposed to be totally automated. That didn't work, so it was not long before a casino was built for the Lunar residents and tourists. It is run by the Cherokee Nation of North Carolina. Annie Taylor is there to investigate the disappearance of a large amount of money.

A solar storm forces her to take shelter with Clint Baker and his family. They found a large cavern, sealed it up. pumped in air and brought seeds and animal embryos from Earth. They now have their own Texas cattle ranch (groups from other countries take over other caverns). Annie finds herself falling in love with Clint and the ranch. She heads back to Earth upon learning that Maddie, her sister, has been murdered.

Annie knows of a few people in the Cherokee community who are high on the list of suspects, the sort for whom the term "human scum" is too generous. They have fled to the Moon, where Earth law cannot touch them. Before her return to the Moon, Annie is contacted by a Bahraini prince, whom the UN has appointed as Governor of the Moon. He offers Annie the position of Lieutenant Governor. The UN decided a long time ago, that there was to be no land ownership on the Moon. If a person or corporation wants to sign a lease, go right ahead, but there will be no landlords charging exorbitant amounts of money for industrial or living space. It also means that Annie will spend the rest of her life on the Moon.After several continuous months on the Moon, the human body can no longer tolerate Earth's gravity. Does Annie bring her sister's murderer to justice? Does she re-kindle her romance with Clint?

On the positive side, this book has some interesting ideas about Man's expansion into the Solar System (money will be a major factor). On the negative side, this book really needs a trip, or another trip, to a proofreader or copyeditor. Despite that, it's a good story of science fiction that emphasizes the science, and, yes, it's worth reading. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Son of Sedonia

Son of Sedonia, Ben Chaney, TIPS Technical Publishing, Inc., 2013

This story is about a young man who is the spark needed to bring change to a near-future Earth.

Less than 100 years from now, Sedonia City is home to over 40 million people. It is a bright, shining city, with giant skyscrapers, and neural implants called meurals that can provide any needed distraction. On the other side of the half-mile high Border is the Rasalla slum. Home to another 20 million people, it was cut off from the Future like a diseased limb, and allowed to collapse. A gang called the T99 runs the slum. Among its residents are brothers Jogun and Matteo.

If an airship, for instance, from Sedonia City is unlucky enough to crash in Rasalla, within minutes it is stripped clean of every useful bit of electronics. Anyone found alive in the wreckage is quickly murdered. During a paramilitary crackdown to root out suspected "terrorists," Jogun is taken away. Matteo manages as best he can, until, several years later, he too is taken into custody (Matteo is not your average slum resident). He finds himself in a prison on the Moon, where the inmates are forced to mine an element called Helium-3. It seems that Sedonia City is in serious danger of using up the entire known supply. If the citizens lose their modern conveniences, things will get very unpleasant for those in power. While in prison, Matteo meets up with Jogun, who tells him some very interesting things about his origin.

The prisoners stage a jailbreak, hijack several ships and head back to Earth, where they plan to do something about their treatment by Sedonia City. It seesm like the entire Rasalla slum is in open rebellion, but not if Sedonia City's paramilitary force, the EXOs, have anything to say about it. There are many pitched battles.

Imagine this story as "Black Hawk Down" in the world of "Blade Runner." It's got heart, emotion, good writing and plenty of action. It is a gem of a book.

Gene Pool: Unnatural Selection

Gene Pool: Unnatural Selection, R.A. Finlayson, Amazon Digital Services, 2012

This book is about a world totally changed by genetic engineering.

GeneTech is, by far, the biggest company in the world. Human youth treatments, that make people look younger than they really are, are common. The world of agriculture harvesting has been turned upside down by XenoMats. Imagine genetically-created, dwarf size, green gorillas with tentacles instead of arms that are bred to pick produce in the fields. Commercial buildings are no longer built with steel and concrete. They are made of genetically created material based on the bones of this animal or the shell of that animal.

Amade Bertrand is a New York Times reporter who has gotten a tip about strange happenings at GeneTech. She wonders why there has never, ever been a negative story about GeneTech in the press. It is because Whitfield Gray, GeneTech's head of PR, has been given, by GeneTech, a genetically-enhanced ability to bend anyone to his will, to make anyone do anything he wants. Is the fact that Amade is falling in love with him real or coerced?

For years, the Church of Traditional Biblical Values has been very vocal in its opposition to genetic engineering in general. A very secret plan is hatched to get a dose of the influence drug, and inject it in the Leader of the Church. His influence will turn America back on the path toward God. It is led by Colonel Ron Savage, who goes up against general Sutherland, GeneTech's Head of Security. The two are ex-military, and have a long and unpleasant history together. A full-blown military assaultis unleashed against a complex of buildings that are full of the latest in high-tech and genetically engineered safeguards.

The author does a very good job at making the characters not all bad or all good. There is no well-defined "good guy" or "bad guy." This story takes place only a few decades from now, it's very plausible, and more than a little spooky. The reader will not go wrong with this book; it's a first-rate piece of storytelling.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Gynocracy, K.J. Blaine, Amazon Digital Services, 2012

This near future science fiction story is about a young man who suddenly finds himself in a very dangerous situation.

Steve Kowalski is a teenaged crew member on the "Phoenix," an interplanetary space ship that is the flagship of the International Space Alliance. He is spending a few days leave in Miami, helping to design a new star drive. Next thing he knows, Steve finds himself in a tiny jail cell in a very special place called Juno Colony. It's on the far side of the Moon, and does not recognize ISA authority. The "special" part is that not only do women rule the colony, but men have no rights at all; they are lower than slaves. There are some men who, emotionally, want to be treated like that; Steve is not one of them.

Learning of Steve's plight, the rest of the crew is not going to just leave him there. A bold and daring plan is conceived, which involves several crew members visiting Juno dressed and acting like dominatrices (plural of "dominatrix") and their slaves. Steve was forced to sign papers making him the property of an arrogant, manipulative little you-know-what named Gianna, who is not going to give him up very easily. The male members are forced to enter the colony's gladiatorial games. Officially, the contests are not to the death, but if a contestant dies in the ring; oh, well. As an added complication, the losing male slave automatically becomes the property of the winner's Mistress. To make things look as legitimate as possible, the male members of the rescue mission signed the same ownership papers. Is Steve saved from a lifetime of slavery? Do all the members of the rescue mission make it out in one piece?

This one is surprisingly good. There is one mild bit of S&M, and no actual sex. What it does have is heart, emotion and good writing. Yes, it's worth reading.

Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction

Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction, Kelly Jennings and Shay Darrach (ed.), Crossed Genres Publications, 2013

Most science fiction stories are bout tall, square-jawed adventurers exploring the galaxy and singlehandedly vanquishing the alien foe. What about the people who perform the unexciting "blue collar" jobs that make the voyages possible?

A being, of indeterminate gender, maintains a ship's waste treatment system. A female asteroid miner has a unique companion. It is an alien-constructed being, made from human sperm. It looks exactly like a human, but, on the inside, there is no mind or personality. Imagine an episode of the TV show "The Deadliest Catch" moved to the asteroid belt.

On Titan, a human miner is caught in the conveyor belt that carries the pieces of rock out of the mine, and deposits them in a giant pile, in open vacuum. A trio of women spens their days walking on top of a domed city, patching up holes and cracks in the dome. Another story takes place on an Earth that has run out of energy. The only working motor vehicles are those that people build themselves. There is also a news story about the hazards involved in being part of the crew building a space station in orbit.

This is a strong, well done group of stories about a not-well-known part of society. There is a good variety of stories, from lesser-known authors, that are well worth reading

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch

Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch (Volume 1), L.A. Jones, Amazon Digital Services, 2010

This young adult novel is about your average high school student who really isn't so average.

Aradia is the "new kid" at Salem (Massachusetts) High School. She can't help but notice that a larger-than-normal portion of the students are either incredibly handsome or incredibly beautiful. Those same people are openly staring at Aradia, and not just because of her flaming red hair.

As time goes on, Aradia learns that the school is home to a large number of beings that go under the general name of "hidden." They include werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters, faeries, etc.; the hidden part comes from their greatest law, which is to never, ever reveal anything of their existence to humans. The interest in Aradia is because she has "abilities" of her own. The non-humans at school have never seen, or smelled, anyone like her. Aradia doesn't know what she is, only that she was found in a cave, as a newborn, and officially adopted by Ross and Liza Preston.

The town of Salem is being menaced by the Vampire Murderer. A pair of bodies are found, with puncture marks on their necks, and totally drained of blood. Aradia is assured that the chances of a vampire being the culprit are tiny; someone is trying very hard to frame them. Aradia takes matters into her own hands, and attracts the attention of the real culprit. Does Aradia help bring the murderer to justice?

This one is surprisingly good. The plot may be a little average, but the author does a fine job with it. Teens will enjoy this book; adults will also enjoy it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Timeliner, Charles Eric Maine, Bantam Books, 1956

This is the story of a man who is traveling through time, in larger and larger jumps.

In 20th Century England, Hugh Macklin is part of a group of scientists working on time travel using atomic power. His marriage to his wife, Lydia, is not going well. One day, during what was supposed to be a low-power test of the system, something goes very wrong. Macklin suddenly finds himself on the Moon, in the body of an asteroid miner named Eddie Rayner. He is also 80 years in the future. Rayner's wife, Valerie, bears a very strong resemblance to Lydia.

After weeks of psychological tests and evaluations back on Earth, everyone is convinced that Rayner is nuts. Just before being committed to an institution, Macklin/Rayner leaps out of a skyscraper window. Next thing he knows, Macklin is in a technocratic human society on Venus, 400 years in the future. In the body of a man named Ernst Tehn, Louana, his wife, also looks a lot like Lydia. Earth is a radioactive wasteland. While on Venus, he inhabits the bodies of three different people (not all at the same time).

Another jump takes Macklin to a triple star system somewhere in the galaxy, and several thousand years in the future. He is part of an early warning system against alien attack. He is now Kane 447, and his wife, Thoa 802, also bears a strong resemblance to Lydia. This society knows about timeliners, and consider him guilty of murdering Kane 447. They are very considerate about it, but they plan to give him a drug that will bring back the "real" Kane, and kill Macklin, once and for all. Is Macklin condemned to make larger and larger jumps into the future, looking for a society with the technology to send him home?

I enjoyed reading this book. Based on a radio play, it's a quick read, and it also has things to say about future humanity. If a copy can be found, it's worth reading.