📚#SciFi #Thriller. @barbtaub Reviews Beyond The Speed Limit by @AntonEine for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog #BookTwitter

Today’s team review is from Barb

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Barb Blogs here https://barbtaub.com/

Barb has been reading Beyond The Speed Limit by Anton Eine.


My Review: 5 stars out of 5

“If you’re reading this, I’m either dead or behind bars.”

In the prequel to his Programagic Cycle, Author Anton Eine hooked me with that great first line. My review of that intro applies to Beyond The Speed Limit, the first book in his new series, which introduces us to a disturbingly familiar magic world.

These days, instead of a wave a wand all you have to say is, “Let there be light,” and the interface spell running your house or flying chariot will carry out your every command. They can cook you dinner using standard or customized recipes, order the shopping, clean the house, turn on the music or even transmit a live or recorded image on your crystal ball.

At least, it’s familiar to any of us who have wandered the aisles of Fry’s or Best Buy, tried to set up our own router, or attempted to understand anything a twelve-year-old child tells us. Or to anyone like me with a basement full of obsolete electronic relics of bygone days, and completely useless knowledge of forgotten programming languages like Basic. (VCR/Walkman/DOS anyone?)

Beyond The Speed Limit works on several levels. First, of course, it uses the technology rules we accept but for the most part don’t understand any more than if they were in truth magic. It’s as if the Apple Store had a Genius Bar in Diagon Alley. This world might be magic-powered, but it follows rules just as strict as the physics we know in our own. A magic wand dropped in water in Sanjar’s world is just as dead as a water-drenched cellphone here. Spells written in old languages won’t power a modern magic wand any more than DOS will run your iPhone.

Second is the tongue-in-cheek humor of the references to things in the magic universe that directly mimic familiar elements in our own. (Book of Faces, anyone?)

Third is the plot, a classic SciFi thriller with plenty of chase scenes, epic battles, and universe-high stakes, with a reluctant hero, Magister Sajar Randhar, trying to solve the murder of his friend.

Another element is The Singularity, which (for SciFi fans at least) refers to the moment that an artificial intelligence (AI) achieves self-awareness. Sajar’s creation, an experimental AI hologram he calls Spirit, somehow achieves this in the prequel. Now she’s Sanjar’s secret companion, a being whose processing power and speed far exceed those of humans, but who lacks understanding of the complex rituals that make up humanity, or the soul.

Her processing power was nothing short of incredible. However, she lacked the intuition to immediately spot unusual or important bits of data. Her analytic algorithms could miss things that might seem obvious to us or require more time to process them. I had provided her with something akin to a subconscious, and it was a very powerful source of her insights but an artificial soul nevertheless functions in ways that are different to us.

As the aging technomage Sanjar tries to solve his friend’s murder, Spirit is his secret weapon. But the AI construct is also a self-aware entity, applying her vast computing resources to develop her sense of identity into a female and somehow endowing that self with gender, and emotions such as fear, anger, jealousy, and even love.

To uncover and try to combat a deadly conspiracy that threatens their society, Sanjar and his secret companion take part in a deadly sport in which drivers of magically-enhanced racing vehicles race in a course full of high-speed danger and magic snares.

I thought the endless puns on things and locations in our world (God bless Murica and the Divided Kingdom!) were a little over the top.  But I loved ultimate character development as Spirit invents herself while her supposed creator, Sanjar, looks on bemused. I enjoyed this update to the classic SciFi debate about whether a constructed being can become self-aware and what they might look like. If Spirit is clearly capable of computing vast amounts nearly instantaneously, what is to keep her from attempting to wrest control from her human creators? And of course, does her perception of these inequalities constitute a soul?

If you love the classic science fiction of Clarke and Asimov, the high-speed action of a James Bond thriller, or even just the speed and coordination of online gaming, I think you’ll appreciate the combination that is the official first book of Anton Eine’s Programagic Cycle, Beyond The Speed Limit.

Orange rose book description
Book description

Welcome to an alternative world of wonder, where magic and technology are inseparably entwined. A place where sorcerer programmers code spells and weave them into items and artefacts to imbue them with special and specific properties.

Magister Sajar Randhar, a seasoned expert in magic security, investigates crimes together with his greatest and most ingenious creation – Spirit, the world’s first and only artificial spirit. Magister keeps her existence a secret to protect her from the dangers posed by the magical world’s politicians, secret services, criminals and corporations. Or perhaps, to protect the magical world from her?

Programagic, a detective techno-fantasy series by Anton Eine is an explosive mix of science fiction, fantasy and magical realism, seasoned with a healthy pinch of exotic dark humor.

This collection includes the first two stories of the series – a short novella Behind the Fire Wall and a full-length novel Beyond the Speed Limit.

AmazonUK AmazonUS

📚’Dive headfirst into the world of competitive flying cart racing.’ Jenni reviews #SciFi Beyond The Speed Limit by @AntonEine, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Jenni.

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Jenni has been reading Beyond The Speed Limit by Anton Eine.

Step into a world where magic and technology meld and twist with Anton Eine’s Beyond the Speed Limit. While prefaced by the prologue novella, Behind the Firewall, Beyond the Speed Limit is our first true look at Eine’s Programagic series and the expansive world contained therein. A world where elemental magic is fueled by equations, magisters spend decades honing their particular fusion of technology and power, and where the creation of a fully autonomous artificial intelligence, or ‘soul’ is one of the highest taboos imaginable. 

Enter Magister Sajar Randhar, an only mildly disgraced programage specializing in all sorts of dangerous spells and the gadgets that contain them, and the artificial soul, Spirit, his greatest creation and closest companion. The prologue novella Behind the Firewall introduces Sajar and Spirit beautifully, giving readers solid understanding as to why Sajar is on the outs with many of the powers that be, and why Spirit’s existence is such a dangerous secret to keep, but reading the novella is not totally necessary to understanding the characters, the world, or the circumstances of Beyond the Speed Limit. Eine has a deft touch when it comes to delivering backstory and the novel is a complete story enhanced by its prequel, rather than a narrative that relies wholly on the shorter text. Readers should read both, they’re excellent!, but will not be lost if they read one story without the other.

And what a story it is! Hackers, backers, and expansive underground double dealings abound when Sajar and Spirit dive headfirst into the world of competitive flying cart racing. An old friend of Sajar’s has died under strange circumstances and his widow wants the answers that only our two protagonists can find. Together they will navigate tempers, temptations, and a whole lot of subterfuge, with plenty of quips about age, youth, and good whiskey along the way.

Paced for adrenaline junkies and written by someone looking to break the mold on genre fiction, Eine really has something special with these first two entries to his Programagic series. This reader is very much looking forward to see what mischief Sajar and Spirit find themselves in next time.

5/5

Orange rose book description
Book description

Welcome to an alternative world of wonder, where magic and technology are inseparably entwined. A place where sorcerer programmers code spells and weave them into items and artefacts to imbue them with special and specific properties.

Magister Sajar Randhar, a seasoned expert in magic security, investigates crimes together with his greatest and most ingenious creation – Spirit, the world’s first and only artificial spirit. Magister keeps her existence a secret to protect her from the dangers posed by the magical world’s politicians, secret services, criminals and corporations. Or perhaps, to protect the magical world from her?

Programagic, a detective techno-fantasy series by Anton Eine is an explosive mix of science fiction, fantasy and magical realism, seasoned with a healthy pinch of exotic dark humor.

This collection includes the first two stories of the series – a short novella Behind the Fire Wall and a full-length novel Beyond the Speed Limit.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚’Spread The Word’. @OlgaNM7 Reviews #NonFiction True War Stories. The Thin Blue-Yellow Line by Ukraine Writer @AntonEine

Today’s team review is from Olga.

Olga blogs here https://olganm.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Olga has been reading The Thin Blue-Yellow Line by Anton Eine.

This non-fiction book (it might seem incredible and over a year ago we wouldn’t have imagined it could happen, but this is not a fictional dystopian story) is one of the most difficult books to review I’ve come across. The author explains how difficult it was for him to write. He is a writer of science-fiction and techno-fantasy, and he hadn’t planned to write a non-fiction book. In fact, he was supposed to be working on several of his fiction books, including one that he has been working on for many years when events took an unexpected turn. We have all lived through events that seem to have come right out of a horror book in recent times, but for the people of Ukraine, things got even weirder and more dangerous on the 24th of February 2022.

Anton Eine felt he had to write about what was happening, and make sure that people all over the world could get a first-hand account and hear the stories of the people who were living through the nightmare of the war. An author who speaks and writes in Russian, who lives in Kyiv, and who shares his experience of all the gamut of emotions throughout the first 100 days of the war. I’m writing this review when the war has passed the mark of 300 days, and what can one say? If we had a hard time believing it when it started, what can we say almost a year later?

This is a raw book, where the author bares his soul and shares his thoughts and feelings. It is painful, it is ugly at times (if you don’t like name-calling, dehumanising others no matter what they do [although he would counter that the ones doing the dehumanisation are the enemies], and people freely expressing their anger, do not attempt to read this book). The author explains that he decided to write the book as things were happening and capture the impressions and feelings, rather than letting them cool down and being rational about it because that is not what it was about. He didn’t attempt an analysis of the situation, and he does not talk about military campaigns. He feels that kind of books should be written by others. What he wants is to share the stories of many who might never be inclined to share them outside of their own circle of friends and relatives, and also his own.

This is not a straightforward collection of stories. This is the story of the writing of the book as well, of the circumstances of writing it; trying to be in touch with relatives and friends displaced by the war, fighting, volunteering, or missing; worrying for his wife and young son; trying to decide how to explain what is happening to a three-year-old; wondering if they should have left, as they did, or stayed in the city. Of jumping out of bed with the alarms; getting sidetracked by a song, an update, an intercepted message between a Russian soldier and his wife, a show of solidarity, the result of a poll revealing what Russians think about the war, a request for material from his brother, who has joined the Territorial Army, accounts of destruction, cruelty, and massacres…

Eine writes poems, refers to favourite songs, singers and groups, books, and stories. (I must confess I am not a big reader of fantasy or science-fiction and was only familiar with some of the musical references. I don’t think our tastes are too similar, but that is neither here nor there). The book follows a more or less chronological order, although sometimes the author might backtrack to talk about a memory or an episode that he couldn’t include as it happened.  Eine mentions the Kübler-Ross model, the one we associate with the five stages of grief, and there are some similarities he acknowledges at times. He cannot believe what is happening at first, especially in XXI Century Europe (although, of course, not that much time has passed since WWII, which he  often refers to, and many other wars had taken place since, some in Europe as well), and this quickly becomes anger, an anger that doesn’t go anywhere, although there is some modulation and questioning at times.

I think many of us have learned more about Ukraine since the war started than we ever knew before, but that still is pretty limited in most cases. We get the news here, sometimes live connections with people in situ, but many of the things mentioned in the book haven’t reached us here, at least in Spain where I am. What we hear is more than enough to horrify us, but the stories the author shares make it all more vivid and more difficult to look away from. They highlight the fear, the confusion, the not knowing what to do for the best. Whatever the protagonists of the different stories decided to do (stay, leave the country, join other members of the family, enlist, hide, volunteer to help…), they are always wondering if it was the right thing, if they should have done something else. The ones who were (or have been, so far) lucky, keep thinking about those who weren’t. There are many stories of women running away with their young children, sometimes ill and in dire need of help, having to face terrible ordeals, and luckily, in many cases, eventually finding help and kindness, in their own country or a neighbouring one. Those stories are a drop in the ocean if we think of the number of refugees from the war, and as Eine explains, many people don’t want to talk about it, at least at the moment, and are trying to forget and get on with their lives as much as they possibly can, but they do paint a horrific picture of what it must be like for many people in that situation.

After the stories, and when the book reaches day 100 of the war, the author renders an homage to just a few of the many heroes, men and women, young and old, who have put the lives of others before their own survival, and who have gone above and beyond what most people would expect, as the writer says, not out of patriotism, but out of love for humankind. As the author concludes, “We are all Ukraine”.

The proceeds of the book will go to help Ukrainians in need, and the author also has other suggestions, for those who want to do more, as to how to help.

This is not a book I would recommend freely to everybody, because people know what their limits are when it comes to reading, especially non-fiction, and I cannot even think of trying to list all the warnings (probably anything bad you can think about, you’ll find here). On the other hand, even if you don’t feel up to reading it at the moment, you might know of somebody who wants to read personal accounts or even people who would be happy to buy the book simply as a way to help the people of Ukraine. Do your best. Spread the word.

Orange rose book description
Book description

A diary chronicling the hopes, pain and fears of ordinary Ukrainians collected during the current war. Frank, emotional and straight from the heart.

This book is about the first 100 days of fascist Russia’s perfidious and unfounded invasion of Ukraine. But it is not an account of the war and its battlefield engagements. It’s about people. About their feelings and emotions, their experiences, fears and pain, their suffering, hope and love.

I started writing this book one sleepless night in Kyiv when I had been kept awake all night by the roar of our aerial defense system and explosions nearby, listening out for approaching rockets and bombs and wondering whether I should take my wife and young son and run for the air-raid shelter. That night, I realized that I had a duty as a writer to act as a voice for those whose stories desperately needed to be told to other people in the world.

I wrote about what I saw and felt. About the stories, my relatives and friends shared with me. It became a chronicle, memoir, diary and confession. I set down our stories so that the whole world might know and understand what we have been through. So that the whole world might share our experiences of this war alongside us – in our trembling buildings, in our freezing cold basements, underground parking lots, bomb shelters and metro stations and in the ruins of our burning cities. So that the world might be given a glimpse into our hearts through the lacerated wounds that have been inflicted on them by this cruel and barbaric war.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS