Book Recommendation of the Week

This week’s recommendation is: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Seriously, if you haven’t read this book already, get on it. Even after 60 years, it’s as relevant and thought provoking as ever. Fun fact: most dystopian novels mention a perpetual war happening somewhere outside of the story being told.


 

This was my second book recommendation after I started doing recommendations. It was originally only posted on my Patreon page and decided it needed to be posted here also. This book is great. HBO released a movie based on it this past weekend (May 19th) and I hope it lives up to the book. I’m sure they will change a lot, but we will see.

It was a pleasure to burn. Such a great first line. My original recommendation does state that you need to read this if you haven’t, and of course I stand by that 100%. I know it is often required reading in many schools. If you originally read it in school, read it again because it gets better the older you get (as most books do). This book is fairly short at around 150 pages. You can probably read it in a weekend if not a day. Go to your library and read it.

Happy Reading.

To Own A Galaxy

Public transport had been the best option. It had been the only option, but it was beneficial is two ways. It was filled with hundreds of other passengers going off world for whatever reason they desired, and it left the authorities with only a rough time of departure and possibly thousands of ships to trail. Mya hoped the guards hadn’t noticed Prince Kayden’s disappearance for at least several hours. The longer they waited, the better their chances were. Kayden was notorious for running off from his studies so it wouldn’t be too far out of the ordinary for him to be somewhere he wasn’t scheduled, but Mya was also gone and therefore not present to offer an explanation of the prince’s whereabouts. That is why she worried.

They sat on the observation deck watching the planet shrink behind them. Mya kept her eyes out for any small, imperial ships. She hoped that if any arrived, they would be small and would search the passengers briefly before letting them continue. She had already found a place where she and Kayden could hide during the search. Her greater fear would be the emperor arriving himself in his personal ship The Eclipse. If that happened, she was dead. She could see it now. The emperor not even asking to see her. He would only ask for the button that would expel her into the void.

Kayden watched in wonder as the other ships passed by and the stars slowly changed as their ship shot further into space. Mya couldn’t help forgetting everything as she watched him. This was the first time he had been off planet. It was his first time even outside of the palace. Everything was new to him and his sense of fascination filled her with love and inspiration. She was never able to have children and Kayden’s mother was killed before he could know her name. If she hadn’t taken him away, he would have grown into a more ruthless version of his father. She couldn’t bear to the innocent child before her become a monster.

The stars stretched as the ship accelerated and the planet behind them disappeared. Kayden gripped her leg, frightened, and she patted his head.

“It’s okay little one,” she said, “we will be to our new home soon.”

The boy looked up at her with his big eyes. She smiled.

“Come, let’s go get something to eat.”

She took him by the hand and guided him down to the dining area that was filled with nearly fifty other passengers. They waited in line and humbly accepted their bowls and bread. Mya was concerned the clothes she had picked out for him were insufficient, but no one looked at him twice. As far as they knew, the prince was in the palace and this was some random kid. Too clean to have come from Entori, but perhaps that was now working in their favor.

They found a table in a small alcove where they could sit and eat. Once full, Kayden began to nod off. Mya picked him up and took him to their small room. She hoped they would sleep the remainder of the trip.

 


Lunder’s men were suited up. If his info was correct, the ship with the prince would be arriving in this sector shortly. It would only stay a few minutes as its crew re-calibrated for the next jump. He kept his hands on the controls.

“All your helmets on?” he asked over the comms.

“We wouldn’t hang out in the EVA door without them on.”

Lunder grumbled. Ryker was always a smart ass.

The cruiser popped into view and Lunder hit the accelerator. “Show’s on boys.”

“Could have warned us before sprinting this junkheap,” Ryker chimed in.

“Shut up or I’ll conveniently forget to reel you back in. Get ready to jump.”

The small freighter moved alongside the cruiser. Lunder checked the thermo-scans. “Nearly everyone is asleep except for some of the crew. The boy is located on the third floor center hall. You know the drill.” He punched a button and the EVA door opened. The six men jumped out, shooting small jets of air to maneuver around the cruiser. They got into position and Lunder listened as they checked in.

“Charge one set.”

“Charge two primed.”

Each man pulled away when finished and Ryker commed to Lunder with the all clear. “Ready to burst the bubble, boss.”

“Do it,” Lunder said.

Explosions lit up the side of the cruiser ripping a hole in its side. Contents spilled out into the emptiness. The the frozen void now littered with rubble and bodies. The six men weaved through the debris and onto the ship. They detached their harness ropes as they entered the cruiser.

“You’ve got a straight line to the boy, but security is coming in fast. Make it quick.”

“I hear ya,” Ryker’s voice chirped over the comms.

Lunder watched his men comb through the halls checking rooms for the boy. He kept an eye on the other heat signatures racing down the stairs. His boys were good in a fight, but he didn’t want to risk a gunfight with the boy inside.

 


Mya had woken to the rumble through the ship. The alarms started a few seconds later. Kayden woke up and clung to her. He was frightened, as was she, but she soothed him. The alarms tone shifted from blaring to a quiet clamor as the captain’s voice came over the speakers to alert everyone that the ship had been boarded. He asked everyone to secure themselves in the nearest room possible and fit themselves with EVA gear if possible.

Mya looked around the room but didn’t see any gear for either of them. She cursed herself for choosing a common room that didn’t offer the basic emergency equipment. She knew the emperor would have ordered the ship seized without damages before being searched thoroughly. The captain mentioning EVA gear meant the hull had been breached, which meant whoever was boarding the ship wasn’t working for the emperor. If they were simple raiders…she wished her luck wasn’t that bad, but if they were, there was a chance they knew nothing about Kayden and would loot the ship quickly and leave. She hoped security would take care of the problem soon.

She heard a noise outside the door. Then a muffled voice say, “You sure this is the one?” Pause. “You better be right.”

They had no where to go. She held Kayden closely to her. He began crying. The door crashed inward and two men walked in. They barely fit in the tiny space. She looked at them but only saw the black masks and black EVA suits. No signifying markers. They had paused, looking at her as if confused. The one by the door pressed is fingers to his ear, then said, “Alright.”

He pulled out a bag and threw it over her and Kayden. She tried to prevent it from landing on them but the other man wrapped it around them both and zipped it up, pressed a button, and the material hardened into a rectangular container.

“Let’s move.” Pause. “We’ve got the package. Heading out now.”

 


Lunder watched the heat signatures as three of his men engaged security while the other three, including Ryker, hauled the boy back to the tethers. The small hallway provided no cover and two of his men went down fast and permanently.

“Get us the hell out of here,” Ryker yelled over the comms.

Lunder switched two buttons and the two men who had tethered the package began reeling toward the ship.

“Hurry it up Ryker. I won’t wait for you.”

“Then don’t you wimpy bastard.”

A third man fell in the hallway as Lunder hit the switch and Ryker ran for the tethers, shooting behind him the entire way. Every tether began winding toward the ship. Ryker jumped and gripped the packaged. He flew through the debris and was nearly pummeled by a section of wall. A few security guards shot after him but he was well beyond their range.

As soon as the EVA door was secured. Lunder floored the accelerator.

 


He sat watching an entire galaxy spiral before him. A drink in one hand paused halfway toward his lips as the table to his right alerted him of an incoming call. He tapped the surface a few times and Lunder’s voice popped out of the speaker in the room.

“We have what you want.”

“Good.” He never took his eyes off of the galaxy below. “Bring him to me.”

Book Recommendation of the Week

This week’s book recommendation is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I know, it seems a little like cheating recommending the most popular book series of the last 20 years (21 actually, it came out in 1997) that also became hugely successful movies. However, it did occur to me that there may be a few people on this planet who have not heard of this series (they were probably all born in the last few years and have names like Hermione, Severus, Cedric, Sirius, etc.). I recently saw someone who was older than me admit they hadn’t read the series and was going to check it out. As with most things that become famous throughout the world, many people will be grouped into two mindsets about the work. Either it is the best thing ever, or they won’t read it and think it’s overrated. I’ll admit I’m stuck in the middle because I like so many things (I may be leaning toward the first group though). If you are being stubborn and don’t want to read it because you’re tired of your friends talking about it or think you know the story just from hearsay, stop being stubborn enough to give the books a chance. Maybe you haven’t read them because you’ve seen the movies. Try the books (books are often better than the movies, with few exceptions). If you’ve read the books, then let’s face it, you didn’t even bother to read this recommendation which means I wrote this sentence for no reason.

I grew up with these books. I was only six years old in 1997 and remember reading the books as they were released. I couldn’t just dive into the whole series at once (as you can now). I had to wait until a pallet full of books were delivered to bookstores before I could get one, go home, and devour the whole thing in a day or two. I remember waiting in line for the first movie, which came out in 2001. I grew up with Harry. We were close to the same age as I followed him on his adventures.

Another reason I’m recommending this book now is because I’m actually in London today on vacation. J.K. Rowling was born in the United Kingdom and wrote these books on this island. The original title of this first book is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The “sorcerer” switch happened when the books came to the United States (because we have to be different, also because we do speak differently).

If you’ve read these books, check out a previous recommendation. If you haven’t, this book is about a young boy who finds out he is a wizard and goes off to a wizarding school. That’s all I’ll give you about the book because I’d hate to accidentally give away a spoiler. This book is about magic. That might be all you need to know. I look forward to reading this series to my kids one day.

Happy Reading.

Phantom Queen

Three young women stood watching the sea. Footsteps too far to hear alerted them of a man approaching. Their wait was at an end. They all turned in unison and walked toward the small cottage they would call home for today. Two of the women turned toward the third and merged with her, disappearing like ghosts into the earth. The lone woman kept walking toward the cottage. Each step she took aged her until she was grey and slow. Hours passed before the young man came into view.

“Hello Madame,” he called as he approached, his leather armor defining his muscles more than hiding them. A long spear lay strapped across his back. The smile on his face dispelled any intimidation his figure would have normally held.

She stopped milking her cow and turned toward him in crafted surprise. This was the first time he had recognized her after many attempts to capture his attention. “Oh, hello young man. You must be weary to have come all this way. Please, have some bainne. There is too much for just me.”

He approached and graciously accepted the offer. He drank three full glasses of the fresh milk.

“Thank you for your kindness. This will help my strength in future battles.”

“You shall be the strongest warrior,” she said knowing the truth of her words.

“Alas, I cannot stay to enjoy a proper exchanging of words. Please accept my deepest apologies.” He bowed to her.

“No need for such formalities. Young men are naturally making use of their constant vigor, as they should before age strips it of them.”

The young warrior continued his path and the old woman watched him go until he was lost to the horizon. Then her body burst into a murder of crows scattering across the sky.

Elemental Cocktails

They weren’t strictly legal. Places that sold them always claimed to be on the level, but everyone knew what really went on, and it was only a matter of time before someone slipped up and the place would get shut down. Others would pop up as soon as one fell. Overnight, multiplying like a virus. They served anyone and everyone who wanted a taste. The problem was, one taste could be too much. Many died after one dose. Some people gained unnatural abilities most of which were temporary. Just enough to make a man feel immortal, and that was the draw.

Martin never considered trying them. The thought had occurred to him, but he kept to alcohol for any inhibiting drugs. It was predictable, slow, and his body could cope with the recovery. No risk of instant, permanent damage. Genetic Altering Tonics, or GATs, were the latest craze that had created a lot of problems for the city. To Martin, GATs were only slightly worse than cocaine or heroin. He’d never been interested in trying them but he found himself in a DNA bar nonetheless.

It was near midnight on Thursday and he’d wondered down the steps from the street, past a dark-haired man with glowing blue eyes smoking a cigarette, and through the solid wood door. It looked like an other bar. Tables spaced around the room. Booths along two walls. The lights dimmed and music playing just loud enough so no one could overhear your conversation. Martin picked a booth near the back corner and ordered a whisky; two fingers, no ice. At first he sat quietly and sipped his drink. When the waitress brought his second one, he pulled out his screen and flipped through some news and pop-culture videos. The bar filled up and the noise rose. Martin saw a young man following a waitress through the crowd. He got up and headed toward the hallway where he presumed the restrooms were located. His timing was exact and he exited crowd to fall in line behind the young man. The waitress passed the restrooms and knocked on a door at the end of the hall. She said something and the door cracked before opening all the way. Martin feinted toward the restroom door then followed the waitress and young man inside.

“Who’s this?” a voice said as Martin stumbled into the room.

Strong hands grabbed his shirt and lifted him up against the wall. Martin’s eyes followed the hands against his chest, down the forearms, and up to the eyes of the bald brute holding him in place. The brute broke eye contact to look at the waitress for an explanation. She pointed to the man that had followed her.

“I don’t know. He’s the only one who followed me.”

The brute cursed under his breath and turned back to Martin.

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m just here for a drink,” Martin said. The bald man stared at him so he offered more. “Whiskey. Maybe a G if you have it.”

The brute lowered him to the floor and let him go. “We don’t. Whiskey is out front.” The bald head nodded toward the door.

“Too bad,” Martin said, brushing his jacket, “I came prepared.”

The bald man raised an eyebrow. Martin pulled a small wad of cash from inside his jacket. The man smiled, took the cash and flipped through it. He patted Martin on the shoulder. Then he turned toward the young man who came in with the waitress who also pulled out a wad of cash and handed it over, managing to look bored through the entire interaction.

The bald man turned toward the waitress. “Get back to work.”

The waitress scurried back into the bar as the bald man walked to a small table and sat down. He gestured for Martin and the younger man to sit. They did.

“So, what’ll be?”

Martin remained quiet, letting the younger man go first.

“Elemental. Windstorm.”

“Good choice. And you?”

Martin wasn’t expecting to make a choice that quickly. He was hoping to see how the younger man fared.

“Elemental. Lightning.” He managed, hoping he sounded genuinely informed of what he was doing.

The bald man smiled. “Looking for a little extra kick? You’re wife’ll appreciate you tonight.” He nudged Martin.

Martin smiled. “Someone will at least.” This brought a laugh out of the man while the younger one sat there impatiently. Martin placed his hands in his pockets. His left one gripped a pistol, the right rested on a button.

The bald man opened a cooler and brought out two tumblers, setting one in front of both men. Then he rummaged around doing something out of Martin’s view but eventually planted two cocktail shakers on the table. He shook one and held the shaker over the young man’s glass.

“You’ll have to drink this one fast I’m afraid. Not much to savor, but gives a good kick.”

He flicked the top off the shaker and let the contents pour into the glass. He quickly pulled shaker away but some of the liquid started rising out of the glass, floating as if untouched by gravity. The young man gulped down the tumbler’s contents and then rose from his seat to sip the three orbs of liquid floating above the table. He sat back with a smile on his face. His eyes glazed over and his arms rose, then the rest of his body lifted from the seat and he hung suspended in the air. Limbs moving glacially. His hair independent as if he were underwater.

“Alright,” the bald man said, breaking Martin’s attention from the young man, “Your turn.” He shook the container and poured it into the tumbler. The liquid was opaque, but glowed blue and white as electricity flickered through the it like lightning in a cloud. Martin stared at the drink. He’d already forgotten about the man floating across from him. Something irrational and unnerving.

“Drink up, before the spark fades.”

The voice brought him out of thought. He pressed the button in his jacket before reaching for the drink with his right hand. His left remained on the pistol. He’s pressed the button too late. There wasn’t enough time. The bald man would become suspicious if he didn’t drink the lightning in front of him. He held it in his hand and watched the flickering light inside the liquid.

“Go on,” the bald man said.

Martin took a sip hoping a small amount wouldn’t be too strong. He felt the liquid crackle down his throat. He placed the tumbler on the table before his muscles began flexing involuntarily. His mind shifted into overdrive as his synapses fired rapidly. He fought to remain conscious he began to see the lightning firing inside his eyes. He lost track of time but what little he took in of his surroundings showed him that his team had arrived and were detaining the bald man and strapping the younger one down.

He barely recognized his partner’s face as Skolfield hovered in front of him. His body was shaking violently as his muscles contracted so strongly he thought they might break his bones. Skolfield was yelling something at him but he couldn’t hear anything but a crackling in his ears.

Then his vision turned a pure white, as if looking into the sun, and he lost consciousness as his body discharged the energy that had wreaked havoc upon him.