Three Flavours of Binge-Worthy SFF Podcasts

Three Flavours of Binge-Worthy SFF Podcasts


Firefly – The Big Damn Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel

Firefly – The Big Damn Cookbook

Cookbook Review

6th Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off: An Introduction to the SPFBO

6th Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off

An Introduction to the SPFBO


Mind Machines by Dima Zales and Anna Zaires

Mind Machines by Dima Zales and Anna Zaires
Book Name: Mind Machines
Author: Dima Zales and Anna Zaires
Publisher(s): Self-Published
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Science Fiction / Thriller
Release Date: January 26, 2017

I’ll confess: I’ve still not made the switch from physical book to ebook. I’m lingering on the border still, but more on the side of print. I only really step into the Kindle realm if there’s an offer on. It was through a notification from the Kindle app on my phone that this title was recommended to me. Encouraged by the description, the positive reviews and the low cost (so low in fact that it was free), I added it to my collection.

Mind Machines is told by protagonist Mike Cohen, who for me, seems a little too whiter than white. A venture capitalist who seems to want for very little, he’s funding his company’s research into Brainocytes.

“Brainocytes are a type of nanocytes designed to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and create the most powerful brain-to-computer interface—BCI—ever made.”

This nanotechnology gets injected into the human body to repair and extend functionality of the brain. This would cause the reversal of medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, and enhance human development too, giving those with Brianocytes the edge in every way possible over those who aren’t equipped with them.

Mike not only has a financial investment in this technology, but a personal one too; one of the first human cases to receive the Brainocytes is his mother. Of course, there wouldn’t be much of a story if everything went smoothly. Not long after receiving her dose of Brainocytes, Mike’s mother and the other participants in the study are kidnapped. Luckily, Mike has enough money and the right connections to be able to take matters into his own hands.

Although the use of the Brainocytes initially looks like a great idea, helping to improve the quality of life for people, as we go through the motions and actually see it in action, we’re right alongside Mike as he begins to question the implications that this technology has. He starts to see not only the good that it can be used for, which has motivated its development, but also the bad. These negative impacts that the technology has are never quite fully explored, with Mike possibly hesitant to go down the avenue that leads to the destruction of the Brainocyte research. After all, he’s invested a lot of money into the programme, and he wants what’s best for his mother.

On a recent trip to London, I devoured this throughout tube journeys over a few days. The narrative was light, fast paced and enjoyable. The opening few chapters lightly touch upon a variety of topics such as religion, sexuality, mental health, and physical health, though not in a way that detracts from the story development. It balances crime fiction well with futuristic science fiction elements. There’s also a little romance thrown in for good measure. There are lots of cult references throughout the book, in numerous hat-tips to well-known sci-fi/fantasy films. For me, it was a great read to pick up as a filler on my travels. It was entertaining and fun, but it won’t suit those looking for rich storytelling, deep characters or worldbuilding.

Mind Machines is the first in the Humans++ trilogy, one of several series available from Dima Zales. Although not mentioned on the cover, his wife, Anna Zaires is also credited with collaborating on the novel.


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