May 13, 2019


Book Review - NET 2.3: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol III (by T.E. Mark)

Title: NET 2.3: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol III
Series: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark (Volume #3)
Author: T.E. Mark
Genre: Science Fiction, Anthologies
Publisher: (Independent)
Release Date: April 3rd, 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 346

"In Volume Three of his Novelettes, T. E. Mark has delivered four engaging stories with imaginative plots, meaningful themes and clever twists.

To prevent her own death and that of her future daughter’s in a mass shooting in 2033, a driven teen hacker has accessed an experimental FBI project and is eliminating every mass killer in NY State 14 years in the future. COROS

A professor of nanotechnology tries to free a young woman, now rendered a captive experiment, who has undergone a startling transformation following a revolutionary procedure to eradicate a brain tumour. ENGINES

What is real or merely the appearance of reality is explored in this mind-bending, thriller with a gifted young programmer, on the run from everyone, designing virtual playgrounds for wealthy executives. NET 2.3

In this dramatic tale filled with intrigue and twists, a man must choose between his life and his memories when he’s visited by a mysterious pair of time travellers from Earth’s future. TIME AGAIN"

NET 2.3: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol III
(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as "stories [that] examine the human condition in various contexts; in each story, a question is posited, an exploration made and conclusions are reached", and the synopses detail futuristic settings and time travel technology which impact the choices each character makes. After reading and thoroughly enjoying the previous anthology "Dreams Inc.", this next installment was a must.

The Good
"Net 2.3" is a collection of 4 novelettes set in the near to far future. Written in a screenplay format combined with a lengthier narrative structure, each novelette could easily be adapted as a full-length movie or tv show, moving from scene to scene instead of chapters and alternating between different points of view and time frames. Fast-paced and thrilling, with plenty of action sequences and suspense that will keep you guessing until the very last line, but also thought-provoking moments that will make you wonder what you might have done were you in the character's position. Each plot is unique and independent so the anthology doesn't feel like a variation on a single theme, but instead explores different possibilities in diverse situations. The main characters are 3-dimentional and realistic, with recognizable and relatable doubts and insecurities, goals and motivations. Despite the short length typical of a novelette, each story is imaginative, evocative and with enough background details and information to gives us a strong sense of the worldbuilding and the characters.

"Coros" - After hacking her way into COROS, a secret federal project in charge of stopping mass killings in the future, 14-year-old Charlotte Wiles begins to experience life through the eyes of her adult self. Until the day, 14 years and 7 months into the future, she sees something that puts a stop to all the fun and play time. When COROS special agent Dan Sutherland fails to complete his mission, he finds a breach in the system - an untrained vigilante with a penchant for time hopping and police work who believes she's a superhero. His new assignment - to find the teenage hacker before she can harm herself and compromise the project. Time is running out for Charlotte to prevent her own terrible future... what would you do if you knew how and when you were going to die? Rating: 5/5 - a different take on time travel stories, one that doesn't focus on the grandfather paradox but plays with the future instead, where the stakes are just as high; sometimes it's best to be blissfully ignorant of your own future.

"Engines" - In order to eradicate her brain tumor, 28-year-old cancer patience Rainie Zhao undergoes a revolutionary bio-medical procedure that radically transforms her body into something that could shatter every core belief on the origin of the human race and change the future of humanity. In his quest for immortality, NanoLINK's CEO Jason Boyle secures Rainie Zhao inside the Boyle Estate for extensive physical and mental testing. When the lead scientist responsible for the nanotechnology breakthrough Doctor Nicole Richard goes missing, it's up to Secretary of Homeland Security Barbara Hanson to decide whether she's a threat to national security or an innocent victim. Rating: 4/5 - a good take on humanity's instinct to fear the unknown, shoot first and ask questions later, as well as the pursuit of scientific knowledge with disregard for ethical principles; all the back and forth between different time frames was a little confusing at first, which is why it lost a book/star in the final rating, but the suspense and myriad curve balls kept it interesting until the end.

"Net 2.3" - Seth Coriel was a CGR (Computer Generated Realities) top designer at E-CON Inc, responsible for the development of the revolutionary Net 2.3 environment, a hyper-realistic virtual  world where corporations and governmental agencies can conduct face-to-face meetings instantaneously without loss of precious time and money. After meeting and falling for Nakamura Miyuki, a programmer from a rival Japanese company, Seth quits his job and goes freelance, selling access to his virtual world to wealthy subscribers in order to secure a future for them both. But E-CON executives Joanne Aer and Chaz Cambrel want their technology back and Seth finds himself in the middle of a West-East technology war, hiding from security agencies and corporation assassins alike. Rating 5/5 - this was my absolute favorite, full of thrilling action sequences in a virtual reality setting brimming with ancillaries and iso-plexes avatars, a mystery that will keep you guessing all the way and one hell of a plot twist I did not see coming; with a big homage to the movie Blade Runner and addressing themes of corporate competition and the dangers of virtual reality and online addition, where there are no secrets, nothing is what it seems and everything is up for grabs if you know where to look.

"Time Again" - Nathan Jacobs is just a regular 62-year-old cellular equipment manufacturer, with a good life and a loving family. When Mr. Banks and Mr. Sterling suddenly materialize in his office, claiming they're from the future with an offer Nathan cannot refuse, he is forced to make an impossible choice in order to preserve the future: in a week's time Nathan will either agree to be transported back to the past and relive the last 37 years of his life over again, but without his future wife and family; or die, driving his loving wife Margaret to despair and suicide. Nathan has succeeded in life by being a remarkable strategist, always looking for an angle and never making a move without at least 2 contingency plans; now the stakes are even higher but Nathan isn't willing to let go of his life and memories and he can't risk the life of his wife either. Rating 5/5 - a good take on the value and blessings in our lives, what makes us the unique individuals that we are by interacting with others and being affected by those around us.

Final Rating
"Net 2.3" is an anthology of 4 fast-paced thrilling novelettes set in a near and far future, written in a screenplay structure with suspenseful plot twists but also thought-provoking moments. Recommended for those who enjoy sci-fi stories based on people's reactions and interaction with future technologies and how they're affected by those around them.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

"Life may be different than the way we perceive it. In many ways, it should be different.This is why I write."

T.E. Mark

I’ve spent the majority of my life playing music, (Mainly the Violin) teaching and telling stories. My literary interests are diverse. I read basically anything I can get my hands on and do so omnivorously. (No one should ever leave the house without a book!)

You’ll find this diversity woven into many of my stories. I quite regularly, and eagerly, without remorse, scratch out a poem or two or three, sometimes more, and include them in a pure Science Fiction or Fantasy / Adventure novel. (I’m a huge fan of poetry, BTW, and maintain a dedicated website for my own pieces.) I’m also an avid historian who loves using historical names, events and quotes in my novels or even using ancient history as the main theme.

So how did I, a classically trained violinist, who studied music, history, literature and architecture in the UK and the US (Did I mention my 10-year flirtation with architecture and engineering? Maybe not.) wind up writing Science Fiction and Fantasy/Adventure novels?

Well, it started in Bath England where I wrote my first real novel ‘Fractured Horizons: A Time Travel Odyssey.’ The story, however, originally titled ‘The Uninventor,’ I wrote in a notebook with a ballpoint when I was twelve.

From there, my head spun with new stories I wanted to tell or old ones I wanted to tell again – this time to the world. I love weaving ideas into fanciful but meaningful stories and finding new ways to express myself in print. I believe I was born a writer. It just took a while for it to set in.

So, what about that opening quote, (It’s mine, by the way) about life being different than the way we perceive it?

There are two answers, really. One simple and the other rather complex.

For no justifiable reason, I’ll let you ponder the simple answer and give you the complex one:

We know so little of how our conscious minds churn visual, auditory and olfactory stimulus into what we term reality. And of our subconscious minds, we know even less.

I’ll presume here to posit a question: Are we convinced reality is universal? The same for everyone on the planet? The same for the beings we’ve yet encountered on other planets? Or for beings living in space?

I wonder.

And, when I hazard to read the news of this reality state we’ve chosen to embrace as universal and unchangeable, I wonder more. And, without the ability to snap my fingers and end racial, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic bias, (to name a few) or stop senseless wars, or put an end to the unthinkable destruction of our planet (Yes, I am a tree-hugging environmentalist) I wonder even more.

And then, I write.

I hope you enjoy my blogs and books

T. E. Mark – Author

Previous in the series: Dreams Inc.: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol II (book review)
Next in the series: There Was A Silence: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol IV (book review)
Next in the series: Binary: The Novelettes of T. E. Mark - Vol V (book review) 



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