AWAKE ~ Inspired Sci-fi Adventure

Review by Dana Taylor
December 21, 2012 marked the end of the ancient Mayan calendar. If you recall, many predicted the end of world in some cataclysmic event. Others saw it as the end of one cosmic age and the beginning of another. Well, we’re still here, so the first camp of believers must have been wrong. Or were they? What if a doomsday device had been set to explode. What stopped it? And herein lies the intriguing set up to AWAKE: The Legacy of Akara by Dayna Dunbar and Julia Nadine Padawer. From the book jacket–
Akara is Home to A Civilization Far More Evolved Than Our Own. Long ago on Akara, a planet in the Pleiades cluster, The Ravaging Era raged. It was a time of toxic greed, rampant warfare, and environmental devastation. Akarans were on the brink of extinction. Out of the turmoil, a critical mass of beings experienced an awakening, which sparked a spontaneous shift in consciousness across the planet and ushered in the Rebirthing.
A Thousand Years Later. Mobius–a candidate for the Discovery Corps, Akara’s elite space program–stumbles upon an ancient relic. The artifact reveals that a rogue space commander from the Ravaging Era attempted to colonize Earth. The legacy of his reign now places Earth in jeopardy.
AWAKE does a cracking job of setting up a classic Hero’s Journey with young Mobius, a less-than-perfect Akaran, given the mission to save Planet Earth. The opening chapters of the book jump between the four-fingered, big-eyed Akaran crew and the drug infested jungles of Guatemala. Diego, a slightly crooked jungle ranger, emerges as a secondary hero. Two story lines ultimately converge when the earthlings meet the E.T.’s and race the clock and numerous bad guys to save the world.
This tale is fun on several levels. Mayan legends and visionary spirituality add dashes of spice and flavor to the sci-fi adventure. Mobius, Diego and their small collected team are all individually interesting characters. Dialogue and action is laced with humor. There’s even a little romance between Diego and the rich American girl, Jillian. A little something for everybody here.
As I write this review Earth seems on the brink of our own Ravaging Era, so the book becomes a timely cautionary tale. We can go the path of destruction, as the doomsayers predict. However, we live in a freewill zone. Hence, a Rebirthing Era is also a possibility, if enough humans Awake.
Author Dayna Dunbar shares a deeply personal out-of-this-world experience in Sedona that changed the course of her life and ultimately inspired the book. She met co-author Julia Nadine Padawer at the University of Santa Monica, a school known for spiritual exploration. This collaboration took seven years to complete. Their work honing AWAKE into a well-paced, layered adventure results in a real page turner.
Enjoy Dayna’s intriguing real-life experience and then click over to Amazon and purchase a copy. Currently only $1.99 as an ebook.

Available at Amazon in paperback, kindle and audio version.

A Bot with a Heart

Book Review by Dana Taylor

SET MY HEART TO FIVE is a book that pretty much defies description. It isn’t like any other book you’ve ever read. Author Simon Stephenson creates a bright futuristic tale starring a “bot” named Jared. In the year 2054, after the great Internet crash, when too many people could not remember the name of their first pet passwords, the world changed irrevocably. Jared is a bot dentist, living in Michigan. He is made from human DNA, but he is not human. He is a bot, akin to a glorified toaster or microwave. A feelingless machine to cheerfully do the work that humans don’t like to do, like root canals.

Bots are designed to perform functions with a smile on their soulless faces. The fact that modern entertainment has created an industry devoted to portraying “killer bots” has turned them into a perceived necessary evil. People are suspicious of bots. A malfunctioning bot is reported and immediately “wiped” or even incinerated.

Of course, our hero bot, Jared, isn’t your run-of-the-mill AI. Through watching pre-crash films, he has developed FEELINGS. Bots are logical machines, they don’t have feelings. But Jared evolves beyond his programing into the specter of emotions. His logical mind struggles to analyze and understand the human experience of feelings and emotions.

While the AI-becoming-human isn’t a fresh story line, the satirical observations on human behavior is what sets this book apart from the rest. Seen through the eyes Jared, humans are the most illogical and bizarre of creatures. Jared embarks on a journey from Michigan to LA with the dream of writing a screenplay that will change the minds of humans about bots. Story line tension is provided by an inept inspector from the Bureau of Robotics is in pursuit of the wayward bot. Through Jared’s Everyman adventures, we see ourselves and the society we have created. Through the laugh out loud excellent narration of Christopher Ragland in the audio version, the absurdity of human behavior is revealed again and again, usually punctuated with Jared’s exclamation, “I cannot!”

By the end, Jared has experienced all the highs and lows of human experience– fear, joy, love , loss and compassion. In fact, he may be an improvement on the human race. Author Simon Stephenson has penned an insightful satirical gem.

I picked up the audio version at Chirpbooks.com for $4.99, which will be at that price through June 2021.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble