SPSFC3 Semi-Finalists

May 14, 2024

SPSFC3 Team 8 ScienceFictionNews Semi-Finalist Reviews!

Dark Theory by (Wick Welker)

Panacea Genesis by (L. Ana Ellis)

Prompt Excursion by (Lewis S. Kingston)

The Hand of God by (Yuval Kordov)

These books were already reviewed by our team and posted:

Children of the Black (W J Long III)

Woe to the Victor (Nathan H. Green) 

Separate reviews and ratings will be posted to Goodreads! Please note that these ratings are my personal ratings and not the final average for the entire team. Our team announced the final averaged score for each contestant at Science Fiction News.


Dark Theory

Wick Welker

⭐ Stars 4

✨ Rating 8.2 

Sci-fi with fantasy elements done in the best way. 

The opening was intriguing from the start, with a new planet housing numerous intertwined societies. In perfect form, it starts in a junk yard where two friends stumble upon a mysterious robot. The diverse cast journeyed through various locations, revealing more and more about the world, its past and its future. Ancient technology came back around to change the future in unexpected ways. The characters also had completed arcs with lasting consequences, which was devastating and compelling. Highly recommend! 

What could get this to five stars: Paring down would have benefitted this book. The opening was strong, but it hit a point somewhere around the 65-80 ish mark (in the egg city) where it started to really lag and things fell a bit apart. It picked back up somewhere around the 90% mark, until the ending which didn't hold up as well. It didn't feel like this phase of the story was complete, and focused more on setting up for following books than ending book 1's story. The forest people were also a side stop that ultimately didn't seem to connect to the plot, but might be set up for book 2. 

The Hand of God

RJ Haze

⭐ Stars 3

✨ Rating 6

Gritty, bleak post-apocalyptic world. The planet has been destroyed and destroyed again and not much is left. I'll admit that this was a bit of a struggle for me. While each of the groups was separately interesting, it was not always clear how each of them related with one another. The book is divided into groups that reveal what happened to the earth. The prose is poetic, overly so at times with heavy descriptions. By the end all the various threads connected together and posed interesting questions about religion. Once I put together the various groups and timelines, it was enjoyable and revealed much about this complicated world. If post-apocalyptic is your genre, and you're looking for mysteries and intellectual puzzles to put together, this book is for you. 

Panacea Genesis

L. Ana Ellis

⭐ Stars 4

✨ Rating 8.2

A future where virtual reality has taken over the world.

What drew me in immediately was the not-so-distant future of virtual reality worlds and people finding themselves lost to that world. While most people are "chipped," when they are 6-months old (which raises interesting questions about our own children, social media, and consent), there are a number of people for whom chips fail or people who for some reason are not chipped. The differing opinions over being chipped are interesting, as well as how various people use the chips. Some live in warehouses and remain in the virtual worlds full time, others jump in and out, and some remain out forever. It's not too different from social media use today. This "metaverse" sets the stage for this suspenseful tale where MC Mariella's sociopath boss Liam clones himself an AI that ends up with its own dark agendas. It has drama, thrilling moments, probing questions, and the cast of a space opera—but set on an earth that is both similar to and very different from our own. 

What could improve this to 5 stars: Focusing on deepening characterization in small ways. High stakes earlier on and compounding tension by the end, where you're not sure how the characters will get out of it. 

Prompt Excursion

T. R. Peers

⭐ Stars 4 

✨ Rating 7.8

A murder-mystery in space or a who-dun-it with some well-placed horror elements. The prose, while well-done, did not get in the way of the action. While the opening was a tad slow, once the story picked up, it raced all the way to the end. Tons of reveals that I didn't see coming kept throwing me for loops in the best way. I felt like I knew both main characters well, and they were unique. I loved their banter, distrust, and forced reliance on one another. It made for some of my favorite moments! 

What could improve this to 5 stars: For a large part of the book, the protagonist was alone on the ship trying to survive, but the pacing picked up when she came into contact with another astronaut. Prior to that, it was getting a little redundant and I was nearly about to lose interest because I didn't want to read about one person alone in space trying to fix a spaceship. It got heavy on the space technology in the beginning, and while it wasn't dumped too much, it did bog things down and get in the way of the plot. There wasn't much worldbuilding and I had a hard time picturing the station. While entertaining, the simplicity of plot and world brought it down a star.