Flash: Second Person

Photo from dreamtime.com (paid)

“That’s far enough now.”

You spin, and behind you are four armed maskers. The end of the world wasn’t bad enough, people had to make it worse. Two automatics, one pistol, and a god-nose – a plasma thrower to burn infected. COVID continues mutate faster than the few scientists not drafted for climate change could keep up.

Putting out your hands, you say, “I’m just scavenging, I don’t mean any harm.”

The one with the pistol says, “We noticed, but, like we said, that’s far enough. Turn around.”

“Please, there is nothing behind.” Hunger makes you dizzy, weak, and whiny. Only the recent rains keeps you upright, your canteens full.

“And nothing ahead.”

The story of everywhere now. The few countries able to claw civilization back from hurricanes, tornados, heat waves, and blizzards took no immigrants. Those without government took no prisoners.

Desperate, you plead, stuttering, “Is … is there … anything … anything you nee—”

“No.” Came back firmly without letting you finish your question.

The stone structures, if fixed up, could offer safety in the winter months. “Could I, maybe—”

“No.” The one with the pistol raises it.

Sighing, you debate eating the bullet, but what has kept you moving the last four years turns you around. Looking over your shoulder, you offer, “May your crops grow well and your water be fresh.”

They don’t move. You walk away from your old college campus wondering if your old professors or classmates are behind those masks.

(words 248, first published 8/27/23)

Book Review: Domesticating Dragons (D is for Dragons)

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Domesticating Dragons by Dan Koboldt



Noah Parker, a newly minted Ph.D., is thrilled to land a dream job at Reptilian Corp., the hottest tech company in the American Southwest. He’s eager to put his genetic engineering expertise to use designing new lines of Reptilian’s feature product: living, breathing dragons.

Although highly specialized dragons have been used for industrial purposes for years, Reptilian is desperate to crack the general retail market. By creating a dragon that can be the perfect family pet, Reptilian hopes to put a dragon into every home.

While Noah’s research may help Reptilian create truly domesticated dragons, Noah has a secret goal. With his access to the company’s equipment and resources, Noah plans to slip changes into the dragons’ genetic code, bending the company’s products to another purpose entirely . . .



Domesticating Dragons is a techno-medical pseudo-science near-future science fiction. A nice mix of romance, action, mild humor, and techno-babble gives a good-feel sci-fi read.

The main downside is while the main character can interact with female co-workers just fine and mentally puts them into the “no mix” category … every other female is fair game to find attractive and to hit on. Eventually one of the “hits” sticks – and that one is constantly either being looked at as amazing for her go-get-’em attitude or is described as dirty and sweaty (for her go-get-’em actions), but still beautiful. Mind and emotional states aren’t brought up much. (But there are women, … I don’t think any talk to each other …, and a lot of them are doing things with their brains. So the book has THAT going for it.) This attitude of hitting on everything when you meet them for the first time reminds me a lot of where people are in their twenties; they are finding their lifemates so the questions for the appropriate gender of attraction in order are (1) can I pursue them, (2) do they respond positively to feelers, (3) do they say yes to a date, (4) do I find them attractive and can I hang out with them in a variety of circumstances. All these actions are appropriate to the age of the character. Just at my age, the mating dance is a bit tiresome.

I really enjoyed the dragons – the creating of dragons. Big dragons and little ones, flying ones and attack ones, hot pink birthday custom orders and 3-d printing mistakes. Claws, teeth, wings, and scales all are considered in the build-a-dragon. Most importantly, can they be programmed as domesticated?

The ending comes a little quick, the pacing in some places is off for the build to a big crescendo and my editing brain was trying to figure what places need adjustment to fix the problem. My reader brain kept saying while I was reading “shut UP – this is really good as is, enjoy it!!!”

If you want some good sci-fi on plain-old-Earth, with DRAGONS and three-D printing, this is the ride you are looking for. Enjoy it!!


Full Disclosure: I received this book at a Baen’s Road Show at a convention. I love Road Show panels, especially Baen’s. These panels show what my favorite sci-fi/fantasy publisher has just released or is releasing this year. Always with the covers – Baen has AWESOME covers. Seeing the cover art without all the text is artistically satisfying.

Flash: Drone

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

The drone returned for a second pass, closer to the fields. Fernando glanced back, disciplining his face to control his worry before returning to watch the group in front of him sweating from their labor. Just one more hour and the harvest would be in. Could the gods and prosperity not give them one more damn hour?

Susanna tossed a bag onto the lorry before jogging over. “We need to leave,” she said in Spanish.

Diez minutos.” Fernando stated. “Diez.

No,” she said firmly, “Ahora.

He watched as the other six people present stuffed their bags as quickly as possible, not checking for disease or insects and climbed onto the lorry with the rest of their scavenging. Fernando nodded. They were right. As much as they needed the food, starving was a step above dead.

Ahora,” he agreed.

Climbing into the front, Fernando pressed his finger onto the sensor and pulled away. Behind them, the drone followed, even when they hit the highway. “Susanna,” he nodded toward to her side of the cab. Frowning, she pulled out the EMP launcher and aimed the rifle-like weapon at the drone.

Two strikes brought it down. A tractor trailer on the other side of the divided highway, heading north to corporate lands, smashed it seconds later.

“We don’t have much juice left.” The woman said in her only language as she tucked the launcher back into its hiding spot. “Maybe one more.”

“We got to find a way to recharge it.” Fernando forced his hands to loosen on the steering wheel.

“All our electric from the solar is going to the medical.”

“I know, I know.” He stared ahead. “We must get more, if only to charge the truck.” He glanced down at the fuel gauge promising another third of a charge. Without the bank of cells on the top of the truck, it would have hit zero long ago. Two weeks between raids to charge the ancient battery took too long.

Si,” she agreed, the other half of the leadership team for their little group of refugees, “pero como?”

“The corporate lands have plenty.”

“No, no, no.” Susanna hit his leg. “You will not go there.”

He looked over, giving her a crooked, sad grin. “Of course.”

“I will hate you forever if you die.” She glared at him before turning her head away.

“I will do my best not to die.”

(words 400;  first published 3/4/2023, from a FB visual prompt for a writing group I belong to – aiming for 50 words)

Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel by Hank Green


In his wildly entertaining debut novel, Hank Greencocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShowspins a sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity before realizing she’s part of something bigger, and stranger, than anyone could have possibly imagined.

The Carls just appeared.

Roaming through New York City at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her best friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

Compulsively entertaining and powerfully relevant, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing grapples with big themes, including how the social internet is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring for the same dehumanization that follows a life in the public eye. The beginning of an exciting fiction career, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a bold and insightful novel of now.



We need more April in the World.

I found this an uncomfortable read in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders in America. I read this July 8, 2020.

“This is the first time a truly international issue had hit our newly borderless world this hard, and no one knew how it might play out.” (page 215 / 65% mark on my kindle)

Copyright 2018. Meaning written no later than 2017. I would say far earlier for a first work, but Mr. Green had major connections.

So many things of this book follow what we are experiencing right now. Social media connections around the world, people using fear as a weapon to raise themselves up and attack other people for a cause, and the need to problem-solve WORLD-WIDE because no one person, no one country has the whole thing sewn up.

It is like a huge metaphor for what is happening right now. Of course, it was meant to use a sci-fi setting to explore insta-fame, relationships, and a variety of day-to-day questions. It’s more a literary work than a genre work.

We are now in a borderless world, but various entities are fighting to reestablish barriers. Some governments try building walls and fences, others locking people out electronically and physically, and still others are removing themselves from treaties and world-wide organizations. But, like in WWII, doing so just mean those barriers will fall at the worst possible time. Children don’t get to climb back into the crib; the world always gets bigger … and scarier.

All of this is in the book, only it isn’t. The subtext hit me hard, making me put down the book several times. If I wasn’t on a deadline for a book club in less than three days, I likely would have set it aside. To recover. But I pushed through in a single day.

The story is there. And I *think* some people can just focus on the story. Which is a problem-solving, literary exploration of fame, science-fiction drama. I just couldn’t see it well through the life I am living right now.

But I do agree with the character, even after one of the worst attacks on her person, she still sent out Hope. Even when fear should have been winning, she tried to make things Better. More inclusive – even for selfish reason – her message was about Building and Growing. In that, I would like to see more April in the world.

(Checked out through the local library system as an eBook. Vivat local libraries!)

Book Review (SERIES) Dragons of Boston

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Dragons of Boston by Chris A. Jackson

  1. Dragon Dreams
  2. Dragon Nemesis
  3. Dragon Legacy


Introducing a new techno-thriller from Chris A. Jackson – The Dragons of Boston!

The monster awakens…

Harvard PhD student Aleksi Rychenkna longs for the peace of solitary study, away from people, questions, and human interaction. With a new advisor, a new project, and a fascinating new mystery, a preserved specimen that defies identification and contains human DNA, she has everything she wants.

But the mystery runs deeper than Aleksi bargains for. Powerful people are interested in her work; people who can make or break a young scientist’s career. Then, after an accidental exposure to the specimen’s strange DNA, she finds herself…changing.

It begins with dreams, nightmares of blood filled with violent images and urges. When threatened by another student, her social anxiety shifts to aggression. Her reflexes and instincts sharpen, and she is becomes stronger and faster than she should be. Aleksi begins to realize her dreams are more than psychosis.

Because they’re not dreams at all. They’re memories. And now the powerful people aren’t just interested in her, they’re hunting her.


Even keeping the best records, maintaining the best containment, doing everything right, things can go grievously wrong. When Aleski discovers the bone slab she is working on is from an entirely different dig, her world shifts on its axis. She had just changed advisors and started a new project. Now this … DNA and X-ray mess of paleontology. She does her best to continue with her project despite everything, including a nasty head cold and an on-campus murder.

If that isn’t enough, she dreams of dragons. And she isn’t the only one.

Character driven, this action-packed story keeps you moving to the very end.

Deeper thoughts
My biggest problem with the book is how much the main character’s (Aleski) personality changed after her infection. We got to know her as a person, identify with her, and she changed so much she became unrecognizable. But then, she did become a dragon.

The theme of the story does seem to be about transformation. Is the person what they look like on the outside or what they are on the inside personality wise? Are they their experiences, even when the experiences are forgotten? Are they something else entirely? The questions aren’t addressed head-on, but they do nibble in the back of your head as you read the book.

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The stunning techno-thriller trilogy that began with Dragon Dreams continues!

Aleksi Rychenkna’s metamorphosis is complete.

A long-extinct evolutionary twist that lies hidden with the human genome now soars through the skies above Boston. Hunted by the government that would use her as a weapon, sought by a secretive organization that can reshape human flesh, and loved by the one man who keeps her horrible secret, Aleksi lives in the shadows.

But the transformation that reshaped Aleksi into Homo Draconis is contagious, and she harbors a plague that could reshape the world of mankind.

There is, however, the promise of hope. But can Aleksi trust those who say they can make her human again? If it means a chance to regain her life, to become Aleksi Rychenkna again, to be with the man she loves again, perhaps it’s worth the risk.

But the powers that want an army of dragons will risk humanity to get one. Aleksi is not the only Dragon of Boston, but those who made him know not what they have unleashed. This new dragon has but one irresistible urge burning in his mind: he must find Aleksi Rychenkna. For male dragons are driven only to eliminate rivals and procreate.


Even better than the first, Dragon Nemesis starts where Dragon Dream leaves off in the Dragons of Boston series.

Each book easily stands alone, but also supports the overarching narrative. No cliffhangers!

The new male dragon in town, David, is a world of difference from Penningly in so many ways. Will he be able to throw off the dragon instincts, as he has done all his life with his human instincts in response to his training and responsibilities? Or will his long history as a solider, as a killer (spy-assassin), make him succumb that much faster? Be that much more deadly in his skill and sanity? I fell in love a bit with David.

The cops show up again, as does Hutch’s ex and her family, and the DHS. The story is logical and full, the world and its characters fully realized. Great story!


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The Captive Dragon…

While Aleksi struggles to become human again, Lori Watkins, the single surviving victim of the rogue dragon, David Gilford, begins her metamorphosis in captivity.

Traumatized by the death of her fiancé and tormented by the dreams of the dragon she is becoming, Lori is struggling for sanity. She has only one hope, for others know she’s being held captive. But with a dragon in hand, Lori’s captors aren’t likely to make a deal with the secretive organization that wields more skill in manipulating the human genome than they do, and Aleksi’s new family will never trust the government with the ability to cure the Homo Draconis infection.

But angering the Department of Homeland Security is not unlike taunting a dragon, and Lori’s captors are as much out for vengeance as they are for the secret of creating an army of non-infectious dragons.

The two organizations are doomed to clash, and in the middle stands the man Aleksi loves. But if one thing is more dangerous than keeping a dragon captive, it’s threatening one’s loved ones.


The conclusion of Dragon Legacy works as a stand-alone, though the story will be much better if you have read the whole story.

The first third of the book sags with personalities being pieced together; healing and hurting; and political maneuvers. Then the bombs go off and the rest of the book is a Thriller ride all the way.