Saturday, March 8, 2014

Readers' Choice Spotlight - Speculative Fiction (excluding Fantasy)

Remember to vote for your pick in each category and to enter the giveaway on this page.

Ball Machine by Simon Townley

Can an android win Wimbledon? Or the soccer World Cup? What about the heart of a beautiful woman?

Built as a glorified ball machine, Vitas Rodriguez is the world's most advanced android - strong, fast, tireless and smart. 

Equipped with the revolutionary quantum entanglement processor, he's sentient, athletic, handsome, and unstoppable. He knows how to learn. And he loves to win. 

But when pushed to the limit, will Vitas finally shatter his programming and quantify - to the final decimal point - the ultimate, non-binary meaning of life?

Life After Dane by Edward Lorn

A mother’s love is undying… and so is Dane.

After the state of Arkansas executes serial killer Dane Peters, the Rest Stop Dentist, his mother discovers that life is darker and more dangerous than she ever expected.

The driving force behind his ghostly return lies buried in his family’s dark past. As Ella desperately seeks a way to lay her son’s troubled soul to rest, she comes face to face with her own failings.

If Ella cannot learn why her son has returned and what he seeks, then the reach of his power will destroy the innocent, and not even his mother will be able to stop him.

Life First by RJ Crayton

In this future forged by survivors of pandemics that wiped out 80 percent of the world's population, life is valued above all else. The government of "Life First" requires the mentally ill to be sterilized, outlaws abortions and sentences to death those who refuse to donate an organ when told.

Determined not to give up her kidney, Kelsey enlists the help of her boyfriend Luke and a dodgy doctor to escape. The trio must disable the tracking chip in her arm for her to flee undetected. If they fail, Kelsey will be stripped of everything.

New Zapata by Teri Hall

It's 2052, and there's one less state in the union. Texas, now known as the Republic of Texas, has seceded, just like it did in 1861, though for different reasons this time. 

Rebecca lives in New Zapata, a border town in The Republic of Texas. She's nineteen years old, born and raised in the R of T, and doesn't remember a time when things were different, though her Aunt Cathy does. Rebecca's married to Chad, the boy who charmed her into an unplanned pregnancy. She loves her young son, Luke, but she almost died giving birth to him.

That means Rebecca has a problem. Because in New Zapata, birth control and abortion are illegal. So is divorce. And Chad thinks sex is his husbandly right. 

There's an underground of sorts in The R of T, and it reaches even as far as sleepy New Zapata. A group of older women--Rebecca's Aunt Cathy and some others--have been gathering under the guise of having Bunco parties to try to help women in Rebecca's position. These ladies remember a time when things were different, when women did have choices. 

But it's a dangerous game to defy the R of T. 

Rebecca and her friends may end up playing for their lives.

Schrodinger's Telephone by Marion Stein

Lizzie and Jeff have the perfect life - starting out together in a cozy New York City apartment, a baby on the way. Then a random act of violence changes everything, and Lizzie is left bereft and alone. 

Despite the support of friends and family, Lizzie can't move on, and she can't let go of the memory of her final phone call with her husband - a conversation that took place an hour after his reported death. 

Is it madness to believe in mysteries beyond our understanding? Or is belief what keeps us sane? 

The Neumarian Chronicles: Weighted by Ciara Knight

The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself. It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder by Marlene Dotterer

Imagine being there before the Titanic set sail.

Now imagine being there before she’s even built.

Sam Altair is a physicist living in Belfast, Ireland. He has spent his career researching time travel and now, in early 2006, he’s finally reached the point where he can send objects backwards through time. The only problem is, he doesn’t know where the objects go. They don’t show up in the past, and no one notices any changes to the present. Are they creating alternate time lines?

To collect more data, Sam tries a clandestine experiment in a public park, late at night. But the experiment goes horribly wrong when Casey Wilson, a student at the university, stumbles into his isolation field. Sam tries to rescue her, but instead, he and Casey are transported back to the year 1906. Stuck in the past, cut off from everyone and everything they know, Sam and Casey work together to help each other survive. Then Casey meets Thomas Andrews, the man who will shortly begin to build the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark. Should they warn him, changing the past and creating unknown consequences for the future? Or should they let him die?

The construction of White Star Line’s Olympic-class ships forms the backdrop for a passionate love affair between Tom and Casey, who must overcome the many differences inherent between an Edwardian Irish gentleman, and a member of America’s Generation Y. The fictional love affair grows alongside real lives from history: the Andrews family of Comber, Lord William Pirrie, Bruce Ismay, and the thousands of skilled men who built the remarkable ocean liners of the early twentieth century.

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