Outlaws (Rebel Star Book 1) by Edward W. Robertson
Humanity is space-faring, but only within our own solar system. Everything, human or machine, sent to beyond vanishes without a trace. Jain has been investigating this mystery and is on to something but before she can divulge her discovery she is murdered.
Rada and Simm, operatives for a rival corporation are determined to find why and by whom, with the help of some space pirates, a sort of think tank called Lords of the True Realm and Jain's son who faked his own death.
Outlaw is basically a murder mystery set in space, and our protagonists traverse the solar system in pursuit of whodunit and what Jain discovered. The quotidian details of life aboard spacecraft, on stations or off-earth bodies is well drawn and enjoyable. The writing is good, the imagining of a reality where gender is irrelevant is impressively accomplished, but the characters are stock and the ending is a bit abrupt.
I find the idea of humanity becoming space-faring exciting and inspiring, so Outlaw checked enough boxes for me that I enjoyed it and will probably check out the next book in the series.
Headhunters From Outer Space by Bret A McCormick
Humor, nostalgia, metaphysical philosophy, oddball characters ... Headhunters From Outer Space is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Zed and Fred, the titular headhunters, are talent scouts of a sort, that show up in Alvarado, Texas to recruit talent from the the performers and artists that gather at the club of Big Daddy Bostwick, 60's counter-culture icon. Also there to do a piece on the legend are a cynical reporter, uptight editor and photographer from a major news publication. The headhunters' recruitment methods are unique and what follows is a reality-expanding romp with the alien visitors.
It starts out a little slowly and there a few typos that proofreaders missed, but once Fred and Zed show up on the scene, it's all groovy man!
Recommended for those who appreciate the quirkier corners of speculative fiction that Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut and Jody Scott inhabit.
(Read more reviews here.)
SEAT BELTS CAN GIVE YOU A COLOSTOMY!
Hello. My name is Peppy Ann Artifact and I am the new semi-person which your Government is providing, free of charge, to help you THINK.
I'm here to make you feel good and to make you take better care of your body.
We must all take care of our bodies, because our bodies are more important than anything. This is your Government's Golden Rule and it is why your Government will soon pass strict rules to regulate nose-blowing.
We must take good care of our noses and not blow them improperly, or too often or in a way that would endanger others.
Another thing that is mandatory is seat belts. Seat belts have kept many from being hurled from speeding cars; seat belts have also given many others a colostomy. A colostomy is when you no longer excrete in the usual way but must keep a bag tied to your side to catch the excretions. This is much better than being dead, in my opinion. I am Peppy Ann Artifact and I am here to help you THINK.
Also you must never smoke. Old movies showing people smoking will be destroyed. Also, although millions have smoked a pack a day for years and never got any lung disease and died at the age of 90, (take Mark Twain for example,) it is not hard for me to rig statistics to prove that lung disease is caused by smoking and not by chronic economic duress coupled with the sense of helpless frustration that comes from too many government regulations and being thought an idiot who cannot think or decide for herself.
Now on to the next thing. Please put your helmet on. You must wear a helmet. It won't keep you from being paralyzed with spinal cord injuries but in my opinion that is much better than being dead. Did you know that statistics do not vary no matter how many regulations are imposed? Every year the same percentage of people die of accidents no matter what we do, but we CAN change the type of accidents they die FROM.
And in any case, we don't want the public to know that they will some day DIE anyway and fifteen minutes later will get another BODY--because that would make people too hard for us to control.
It would give you a sense of freedom and joy that we cannot allow because it would make you unafraid. And fear is our whip, just as cancer is big business.
Now: proper nose-blowing is the next thing that needs our immediate attention. It must be done properly. I am sure you will all cooperate fully, because you've been trained to do so, and because you are all nice people.
Also, please do not drink coffee or eat tomatoes. These substances are members of the deadly nightshade family and are poisonous. We have computers full of statistics to prove it.
Please feel good about yourself. Better times are coming and citizens will be encouraged to spy on one another while wailing, "Can't we all just get along?"
Ha, ha! I find that very funny, here's another thing that is funny.
Your leaders sit there talking Doomsday, so casually, and if you don't agree with them you don't love America--and I agree.
They do it so when they cry "WOAH-ah!" you'll all go running and think you are so brave and smart with an H-bomb in your shorts.
Ooh it's so funny! My girlfriend robots and I laugh about it in the Ladies' Room all the time.
My name is Peppy Ann Artifact and I'm here to make you THINK. Please think about this:
The more restrictions you tolerate, the weaker you get and that is GOOD.
A bad man once said: "Your integrity is more important than your immediate life" but he was quietly executed in the men's room at the Waldorf Astoria by the CIA so you need not worry about bad men; we are taking care of them for you..
My name is Peppy Ann Artifact and I REALLY LIKE YOU (really like you really like really like you, oops; that's my voice circuit again tee-hee) and I wish you and your fellow Americans all the success you deserve. Thank you