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Book Review: The Cure

The Cure: Sci-Fi Thriller

Rating: 5 of 5
Author: Douglas E Richards
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
After witnessing the brutality of a heartless psychopath on her family, Erin Palmer grows in her obsession to understand, identify and “cure” psychopathy.  As with any obsession, Erin’s actions become ethically questionable as she pushes the boundaries on experimentation with prison inmates.  Convinced she is getting closer to a Cure but at the same time jeopardizing lives, her breakthroughs come at yet another price – the attention of powerful forces who either want to help or hinder her progress.  Soon Erin learns the shocking truth – her reality is not what she believed it to be and the result of her work has implications far beyond what she would have ever imagined.  On the run to protect her work and her life, she is faced with the ultimate choice.

Douglas E Richards latest novel, The Cure, is a genre mashup. It begins solidly as a thriller and about a third of the way in introduces substantial sci/fi elements which carryon throughout the rest of the novel.  For those looking for just a thriller this might be a bit of a surprise, but for the reader who enjoys books of this nature, they will find it engaging and thought provoking.  For me, the subject of psychopathy, its prevalence, characteristics, and degrees to which it is exhibited as well as its implications was fascinating.  Questions of ethics in human experimentation – does the end justify the means, which in the abstract may seem a simple answer but when applied to loved ones, our family and friends, is quite different.  The discussion and references to “trolleyology” thought experiments were intriguing and I found myself Googling and taking the various tests associated with these philosophical questions.

To me a testament to how “good” a book is dependent on a few factors – if I can’t put it down, if I think about it long after the last page is read, if I do follow-up research on its themes after, and if I discuss it with others.  In the case of The Cure, all of these were true.  I look forward to Richards’ next book.

Book Review: Twin-Bred

Twin-Bred: A Richly Imaginative and Thoughtful Look into First Contact

Rating: 5 of 5
Author: Karen Wyle
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Communicating with the planet’s indigenous species – the Tofa – was close to impossible for the human colony.  As a result, it was inevitable that tensions between the two races continued to escalate.  If there was going to be long term success and at least a neutral if not successful partnership between Tofa and Humans, something different needed to be tried.  One scientist – Mara Cadell – suggests something radical – an experiment of sorts – but one that could forever change the interaction between species and potentially create a new ruling class.  Working on the theory that twin born children share a special bond of communication due to their unique shared experience, Cadell hypothesizes that a human / Tofa twin pair could potentially form bounds, empathy, and communications not otherwise possible.  But Dr. Cadell has a secret that neither the Tofa or Human know – a secret that could either spell success for her experiment or result in its failure.

Karen Wyle’s “Twin Bred” is a richly unique and imaginative look into the challenges of first contact with an alien species.  This is not a laser gun, spaceship, shoot ‘em up popcorn flick of a novel, but a well paced progression into an intriguing situation of two species hesitant and more than just a little suspicious of one another.  Wyle crafts a tale following the grand experiment first through the chosen mothers of each species then the eventual birth and cohabitation and maturation of the offspring and their challenges.  Though there is little in the way of action to drive the plot forward, I could not put down Twin-Bred in much the same way I was addicted to Nathan Lowell’s Trader Tales series.

The story’s uniqueness and Wyle’s ability to carefully inject numerous thought provoking concepts were the reasons I had to give this five stars though I would have liked a stronger climax and ending.  And while the main story arc is complete, I see how a series could be made from this concept (which I would gladly read).  If you like works from Heinlein and Lowell, I think you will definitely enjoy Twin-Bred.

Note: A complimentary copy this novel was provided in return for a review.