Friday, November 21, 2014

Short Fiction Friday: Two Orbs Prequels by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

I've been in the mood for a good alien invasion book for a while now - it's a result of my own attempt to make room for more traditional science fiction in my reading list AND the new Simon451 releases I've been delving into (which have only left me craving more). And given that I've still got Simon451's Nicholas Sansbury Smith releases to dive into ready to go on my ereader, I figured it was time.

But I read these backwards, starting with "White Sands" rather than "Solar Storms," something I have to consider a bit of a mistake. See, it's not until almost the end of "White Sands" that the story's timeframe becomes somewhat clearer, with a mention of the "solar storms of 2055." Anyway, that was my mistake but it certainly didn't make "White Sands" any less fun! I've since gone back and read "Solar Storms" though and am going to cover them in order here.

In "Solar Storms," Doctors Sophie Winston and Emanuel Rodriguez have been tasked to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for what they believe is a NASA operation. Upon arrival, they learn that recent sun activity suggests an anomalous event that could be catastrophic to Earth. Massive solar flares seem to be increasing in size and frequency and it seems to be just a matter of time before they hit our planet. Sophie and Emanuel have both studied varied effects of such an event but the CME hits before they can even begin to theorize what might be causing it. Now everything has changed and surviving the storm is just the beginning. 

"Solar Storms" honestly did clear up a few things for me. Some of the when and the what are revealed, and we're given a bit of a look into NTC's involvement at this early stage as well as the government's... response... (I've since started Orbs, so I know Sophie makes a return). There's a very menacing overtone to the whole story what with the questions surround the cause of the flares and Sophie's initial discoveries pertaining to that matter.

"White Sands" begins with brothers Jeff and David (and stepmom Paula) headed to meet their dad for their annual visit. Dad - Michael Fitz - is a guard working for the New Tech Corporation, based at their White Sands Missile Range location. 

The visit is off to a rocky start when Paula and the kids are redirected after witnessing what they believe is a test flight of one of NTC's new prototypes. Unbeknownst to Fitz's family - and much of the base staff - NTC has intel that indicates an alien landing is imminent. While some of the company's top scientists are boarding a shuttle that will take them off world to a new potential colony, Fitz and his sons are going to witness the beginnings of a hostile invasion firsthand. 

Hmmm. And things have now gotten much more interesting and much more complicated. The beings actually do make contact in "White Sands" and it is creepy as hell! But what I find even more chilling is the obvious way the powers that be have kept it all from everyone! Of course that begins in "Solar Storms" but it's much, much worse by the time "White Sands" takes place.

So far I'm finding Nicholas Sansbury Smith's work to be quite entertaining. These are sci fi tales that even I can wrap my brain around, so they're not terribly heavy on the actual science part. There is enough present, though, to set a nice tone and scene for the series.

"Solar Storms," "White Sands," Orbs and Orbs II: Stranded are out now. Orbs III: Redemption and another prequel short, "Red Sands," are due out next year.

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