Clean Hands by Richard B. Knight

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Clean Hands by Richard B. Knight

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Because even though both Imagination and Logic saw him as a little dumb…Instinct knew this one was different. He felt it. And nothing could beat a feeling. Not even all the logic in the world.

Instinct faces the dangerous prospect of entering the mind of a human dreamer to directly influence the dreamer’s critical decision. But a battle on the shaky ground of the dream world may be more than Instinct can survive in Clean Hands by author Richard B. Knight.

Wow to this.

I just needed a quick read when I picked up this allegorical kind of sci-fi short that stands alone but that also serves as the prequel to a novel. I started off mildly enjoying it as I would any smart and imaginative read where the real import of it all hasn’t yet been revealed.

I was gradually drawn in by Instinct’s discussions with Imagination and Logic, then came some crucial action I might expect in a sci-fi adventure. But I didn’t expect that I’d be “wowing” aloud the instant I realized where the story was going. Then it did indeed go there, and I “wowed” again.

The story doesn’t linger too long at its destination. And yes, to fully appreciate it, you do already have to be familiar with that ending place, but…

Yeah. There should be more Instinct in my future.

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Clean Hands is the prequel to The Darkness of the Womb.

 

Cryptic Commands by Steve Rzasa

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Cryptic Commands: A Vincent Chen Novella by Steve Rzasa

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Captain Vincent Chen sees little choice but to help out Izzy, a (beautiful) stowaway spy on the run for her life. Vincent gets caught up in Izzy’s mission to stop a criminal organization from stealing and selling classified data. Vincent, who prefers to work alone, will have to seek help from his fellow comms jockeys to fend off an oncoming raid in Cryptic Commands by author Steve Rzasa.

I didn’t read the book blurbs before starting this Vincent Chen novella or the one before it. The knowledge that it was ChristFic sci-fi and the stunning, electric cover sold me on the first book, and Vincent’s story in the first book sold me on the second—which has another excellent book cover.

Because I’m not the most science-minded reader, it took me a while to really get into this story, where I enjoyed the characters and the bursts of action but got lost in a lot of the in-between technical details about space travel functions and maneuvering. While the bigger themes and deeper questions in the first book hooked me, this second read was more like a general suspense story to me, with perhaps fewer new or wider questions to address. Also, some punctuation errors and places where the present tense narration unintentionally slips into past tense adds minor confusion to the flow.

Still, Vincent has plenty to work out inside of himself, including matters of faith, his convictions, and his unexpected feelings for a woman who has virtually invaded his solitary life. Vincent’s quick and dry humor, even in the midst of danger, is entertaining and refreshing without turning his adventures into a joke, and the events in the last third of the book really took me in their grip.

I’m looking forward to continuing this series.

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Here’s my review of the first Vincent Chen novella, Severed Signals.

 

The Teacher & the Astronaut by Bokerah Brumley

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Teacher & the Astronaut: The McNair Short Story Series #2 by Bokerah Brumley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

It’s 2049, and Michael McNair has got his sights set on heading off to Mars next year. Penelope McAuliffe has her sights set on an open teaching position at an elementary school, but she won’t make it to her job interview on the flat tire her car just picked up. A chance meeting on the side of I-45 might do more than change Penelope and Michael’s day in The Teacher & the Astronaut by author Bokerah Brumley.

I read this second of the McNair short stories after reading the sci-fi tale that comes before it. I can’t say there’s anything too sci-fi or futuristic about this second story, apart from mentions of Michael’s upcoming mission to Mars with his mother.

Still, after reading the first story, it was nice to get some more background on Michael and Penelope. It’s a rather simple read that incorporates a little romance, a little family, and themes of faith and having peace in the midst of uncertainty.

And while, for a couple of reasons, I wouldn’t say the silhouettes on the book cover really reflect the characters, I’ve loved the cover’s color scheme ever since I grabbed a copy of this story more than a year ago.

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Here’s my review of the first McNair short story, Circular Horizon.

 

Circular Horizon by Bokerah Brumley

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Circular Horizon: The McNair Short Story Series #1 by Bokerah Brumley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Mae McNair, orbiting Mars in the Solace Station, is on her last mission in space before retirement, joined by her son, Michael. But when a malfunction locks Mae out of Solace, Michael and Mae’s coworker, Abel Onizuka, must work together to save her before her oxygen runs out in Circular Horizon by author Bokerah Brumley.

A few pages into this short story, I realized I’d tried it years before in a ChristFic anthology. I didn’t finish it then, but I did this time.

The first half or so was pretty slow for me, but this is more of a story of human connections and a Gospel message in a futuristic space setting, not an action-packed sci-fi adventure. Once the action/danger does come into play, the “heart and soul” aspects of the plot are what make the danger more consequential.

A little comedy, a thread of romance, a touching familial bond, and a prominent theme of faith tie this sci-fi story together. I plan to go on and read the second McNair short in the near future.

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Here’s my review of the second McNair short story, The Teacher and the Astronaut.