Roko’s Basilisk by Michael Blackbourn

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary via Amazon:  

Civilization is poised on the edge of technological collapse. Thomas Kirby, employed at a floundering company endures life on the brink, plagued by recurring nightmares and the fear of losing his job. He wants nothing more than to provide for his family and bring some stability into their lives. 

Salvation seems to be at hand. His friend Roko Kasun, an artificial-intelligence researcher, shares a world-shattering secret. He’s on the cusp of launching a super-intelligent AI – a guardian-angel that promises to usher in a new world order. But only after Thomas teams up with his ambitious friend does Roko reveal the catch: his preparations to summon this god-like savior have not gone unnoticed. Roko has drawn the gaze of the Basilisk – a shadowy power capable of ensuring, or extinguishing humanity’s only chance at survival.

My Review: Quick, but intriguing sci-fi short. Thrown between what’s presently happening in the story and what conversation took place prior, I was pleasantly surprised to be hooked into this terrifying breakthrough of artificial- intelligence. 

This is the second work I’ve read by Blackbourn. “Cursor Blink,” another short, was just as gripping, and I recommend it as well. 

Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. Eaton

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My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Summary via Goodreads: “When a plane crashes in the woods near Jess’s home, the boy of her dreams falls out of the sky—literally. But David’s not here to find a girlfriend. He’s from another planet, and if Jess can’t help him get back to his ship, he’ll be stuck on Earth with nothing to look forward to but the pointy end of a dissection scalpel…”

My Review: Tension filled, ET romance! This book was a fun adventure.

The main character is cute, but a little dumb at times. It was hard to like her in the beginning when she’s swooning over this alien, who looks like a handsome celebrity. Very juvenile behavior at times, especially when she’s talking to her best friend Maggs about David. I like her rebellious spirit, but there were times she could have put two-and-two together and realized this guy is the fugitive on the run… Her being that dense ruined the beginning of the book for me. She’s suppose to be going into her senior year of high-school, is submitting college applications, but she still acts (in my opinion) like a middle-school girl with a crush. All that said, her goals are clear, internal and external conflicts are set up well. And, I did like her friendship with David, how it developed. Though, I wished at times David was more ignorant of his surroundings and how to behave on this planet. He was almost too human to be believable as an alien.

The pacing and tension in the conflict is great. Jess’s relationship with her friends and her father are perfect! This is a book I was able to speed read through because the pace never faltered. There were descriptions I missed, major ones, however. I’m not sure if it was because I was ready to get back to the dialogue, or if some of the narrative was too full of description.

I sped through this adventure. Pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it, despite the complaints I had. By the end, I needed to know what happened next, and bought the second book. Review to come.