Xeno Manifesto – Redepmtion
Brysen Mann / 3 September 2019

The Xeno Manifesto: Redemptionby Brysen Mann Published by Time Matters Publishing Review by Toby A. Welch $17.99 ISBN 9781775363927 Picking up the third book in a trilogy is always tricky for me. I am invested in the story by the time the first book ends, and fully committed by the time the second book wraps up. My expectations are usually high as I want book three to be just as juicy as its predecessors. I shouldn’t have wasted one moment worrying about that in this case as The Xeno Manifesto: Redemption is just as thrilling as The Xeno Manifesto and The Xeno Manifesto:Reclamation.  Mann picks up book three with the return of past characters that he developed so thoroughly in the first two books. The Tsiatko and the Handlers are back. The Committee is gung-ho to achieve their goal. Frank, Zach, Willow, and the Orb continue their adventures. Everyone seems to be on their own quest to save the world using their own methods.   This book gave me warm fuzzies – a good thing! – when Frank’s extended family was brought into the storyline in a deeper way. They appear in an abstract context but it is a heartwarming reprieve…

Xeno Manifesto and Xeno Manifesto: Reclamation
Brysen Mann / 26 April 2019

Xeno Manifesto and Xeno Manifesto: Reclamationby Brysen MannPublished by Brysen MannReview by Toby A. Welch$16.99 / $17.99 ISBN 9781773703237 / 9781775363903 The Xeno Manifesto and The Xeno Manifesto: Reclamation (the second book in the trilogy) deliver everything that is magnificent about the science fiction genre. We have the Tsiatko, a group of creatures related to the Bigfoot myth. We have funky Earthly spectacles like lava tubes. We encounter Handlers, a group who re-establish planets but it’s to save them, not take them over. We have weather modifying technologies, Roswell references, DNA anomalies, and Alien Neanderthal Cloning, all of which makes for entertaining reading.    Regina-based writer Brysen Mann does a phenomenal job of crafting characters that readers care about. Take Frank Smirnov, the main character in the books. Mann spends chapters covering Smirnov’s childhood and some of his adult years up to the present day (Smirnov is almost sixty.) So much backstory is usually irksome but in this case, we need it to fully understand Smirnov. Kudos to Mann for pulling off the perfect balance with the history lesson. The Orb, a sphere-shaped device that contains all the data regarding a takeover of the Earth, features heavily in The Xeno…

Corvus
Thistledown Press / 19 April 2016

Corvus by Harold Johnson Published by Thistledown Press Review by Allison Kydd $19.95; ISBN 978-1-77187-051-1 Corvus is a novel that repays the reader’s persistence. Its setting is eighty years in the future, during a time of uneasy peace after a period of war, caused in turn by ecological disasters that have moved populations north, which causes overcrowding. The wars, therefore, are primarily to protect territory and the technological bubble enjoyed by the wealthy. This futuristic setting may initially discourage some, but ultimate rewards make it worth reading on. The fact the novel is set in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, and involves a First Nations community might also give one pause. Fortunately, it is not overly derivative nor an obvious political agenda thinly disguised as fiction. The theme does remind one of Thomas King’s The Back of a Turtle, which also features the tragic destruction of First Nations communities by corporate greed. As a rule, such corporations are represented by whites/“Europeans” or (in the case of King’s protagonist) by First Nations descendants who have lost touch with their origins. At first, Corvus seems to justify reservations. First the raven appears, a familiar totem for the First Nations psyche, suggesting the book will…

Red Smoke Rising
Basket Case Publishing / 12 January 2011

Red Smoke Rising by Rick Anthony Published by Basket Case Publishing Review by Rudolf Sandmeier $10.99 ISBN: 978-0-9866661-0-0 When I first heard of Rick Anthony’s Red Smoke Rising it was described to me as “a good rip of a read” and it did not disappoint. Each chapter is a rapid sequence of action-packed episodes and builds to a climax that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride, zipping through its course. There is always the risk in books that move at this pace that the reader could be simply overwhelmed by the plot. However, Anthony handles this element admirably and is able to keep everything rolling together quite smoothly. Somewhat conversely, another reason why the novel is successful is the economy of language Anthony employs – while he has a lot going on he doesn’t use an excess of words to describe the action. These two characteristics combine to benefit the novel as a whole – Red Smoke Rising clocks in at over 300 pages but it simply doesn’t feel that long when reading it. In the end, Anthony’s efforts have produced a well-balanced and efficient work. We’re plunked down in the middle of the action as the novel begins…

Einstein Dog
Thistledown Press / 5 November 2010

Einstein Dog by Craig Spence Published by Thistledown Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $14.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-65-2 “It’s a dog’s world,” or so it’s been said, but imagine if that statement turned literal? What if dogs were technologically-enhanced and became smarter than humans? And what if a fascist organization trained and bred these SMART dogs to achieve global domination? These seemingly outrageous ideas are investigated in Einstein Dog, the new juvenile novel written by Langley, BC author Craig Spence, and recently published by Thistledown Press. In 258 action-filled pages, Spence unleashes confident writing, distinguishable characters, and interesting subplots, but what really sparkles are his explorations of what could be; his flair for adventure; and the care he takes in portraying the singular loyalty between humans and their four-legged best friends. The story opens with young Bertrand and his friend Ariel – each of whom live with their single parents in the Forestview Townhouses – hoping to have the research dog, Libra (aka SMART 73), released from being “cooped up” in the lab where Bertrand’s father, Professor Smith, is conducting Sequenced Mentally Accelerated Research Trials. The Dean of the Biology Department has other ideas, however, especially after a medical supply firm…