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I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading debut author's novels or those author's who have not had many reviews thus providing them much needed encouragement 

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Sunday, 29 July 2018

Fallen by Melinda Viergever Inman


Love takes action. The Creator God establishes the cosmos and shapes a man. Adam rises from the dust. Envious, the powerful angel Lucifer despises him. Oblivious to the threat, Adam is captivated by his strong, intuitive wife Eve. In the Garden of Eden, they enjoy abundant food, gorgeous vistas, and intriguing challenges, including their budding love and passion. They have it all! 

But Lucifer's deceptive brilliance tricks them into disobeying God. Their unity with one another and with God is destroyed. Lucifer's jealousy threatens mankind's tenuous beginning. But God is merciful. What astonishing promise does He make? How will Adam and Eve survive - broken, shattered, and separated from God? 

The Guru's Review: 

I have waited 3 years to read this novel! It had been on my To Be Read list on Goodreads since that time but due to reviewing other authors novels, I have only now managed to get to it now.

All I can say is the wait has been more than worth it! This is a beautiful and tender novel. There are novels where the reader can feel the author pouring herself into it with the utmost passion for writing and the storyline and this novel is one of those. Having read some of Inman's Tweets, posts from Facebook and her website, she is passionate about writing, about the art of story creation, expressing her love for God and all things relating to Him. It definitely shows in this novel's construction and forms one of its foundational pillars.

I have not come across a novel where there is so much detail in describing the gaps in the Genesis account of Adam and Eve, their fall from Grace and their life after being banished from the Garden of Eden. Inman has clearly researched this, discussed with other Christians who would be able to provide more insight and expound more on this. Inman has a short reference list at the end of the book that has influenced the storyline and added to her poetic licence to fill in these gaps in this Biblical narrative. This licence does not detract from it but actually is an enhancement without making it more important than what God has included. To me, it reads as if it is a fictionalised account that could be considered the closest to what it could have been that the Biblical narrative does not give account.

It is very much alive this account of Ish/Adam and Isher/Eve. You are transported there; it is almost as if you are part of this narrative and not just reading it. I found myself relating to everything they experienced from Creation to their sin culminating in their hardship and rediscovering themselves and how to relate to each other as a result of their new fallen nature. The way God had created them to be one with each other and with God made me yearn for this when He returns and restores us to Him. Inman shines here in her description of this relationship. Again it is beautiful and tender. Reading this pre-fall account of their relationship only reinforced this oneness of what I have felt towards my own wife since marriage, albeit not to the full extent of what Adam and Eve experienced as these two are the only ones to experience the full relationship of what God had intended.

Inman further shines in her description of how this perfect relationship between them and God is destroyed and what it then comprised as they move forward with the reality of their now sinful and fallen nature. I am sure every married couple reading this, if they are honest with themselves, will relate and even be confronted with some of the emotions, attitudes and behaviour that Adam and Eve now exhibited towards each other. I know I did! And what this did to me was to reinforce what I have discovered that relationships, especially a married one, require more work on every level, physical, emotional, spiritual and on a daily basis in every situation that you are both presented with.

Inman is very clever at describing this. Reading how Adam and Eve were before their sin and after, reads like a relationship manual. The thought struck me that she has included all there is to identify in dealing with relationship conflict and resolution, learning about each other and in relation to each other and overcoming this by referencing it back to God for His guidance in what He required of them in their situation. It is here that they learn how to effectively communicate, the art of listening, of honesty, forgiveness and in understanding each other's point of view. They also learnt about dealing with anger, bitterness, regret and resentment. I even thought that every engaged couple or those wanting to be married should read this novel just for these insights! They are rich and powerful. If any reader approaches this novel with a teachable spirit, they will pick up some valuable relationship gems to apply to their lives and be strengthened and blessed by it. And all the while honouring God in the process seeing He is the force behind these insights.

One of the most powerful insights I found from this novel and that is reinforced in the Bible and what I have applied in my marriage, is that as Adam and Eve, before their sin, placed each other first and would lay down their lives for each other. It was the opposite story after their sin. Sin changed this attitude and behaviour of looking out for the other to only looking out for themselves. Placing the other first is now what we have to learn and apply to our lives and it is no wonder that Jesus stressed this to us in His example of what a married relationship needs to be. Just as He laid down His life for us, He has specified that we need to lay to lay down our lives for each other in marriage. I stated this as a condition for my future son-in-law that he could marry my daughter only if he was prepared to lay down his life for her and place her first in everything, just as Jesus had done for us! It is what I have based my marriage on and can vouch for its success. It was also what I based my Father of the Bride speech at their wedding!

Where Inman shines again, is her description of the creation of Ish/Adam and Isher/Eve and the Garden of Eden. Compared to other novelised accounts which can be dry, and very matter of fact, Inman evokes your curiosity through Ish's as he wonders in the flora and fauna, his naming of them, and in the natural workings of the environment and world that God has created. This also adds to the mystique of this part of the novel, it is not a bland description that makes you want to gloss over but encourages you to be in the same wonderment that Ish had about every aspect of this created world. And it is this description that shows more of the nature of God and the depth of relationship that He has toward His creation, the highlight being Ish and Isher. Inman's depiction of God/Creator is very relational and not just as a hierarchical Being but one that is intimately involved with His creation, especially towards Ish and Isher.

Inman has dealt with the sexuality of Ish and Isher very appropriately and respectively and I believe as close as possible to how God planned it. These two are the only ones who have lived to have experienced sex how God created it to its fullest (before their sin) and how it was different afterwards. Pre their fall, it was an integral part of their oneness with each other and towards God. Post their fall, it was fragmented and not so integrated as before. Tiredness and the effects of conflict between them altered to some extent this oneness and enjoyment of it between them. And the human race since has only experienced sex and sexuality through the effects of sin and our fallen nature. Even today, sex and sexuality in the media, education and many other areas, including families are not promoted as an expression of love and oneness towards each other within the confines of marriage but just a physical act, a relieving of one's sexual urge and expected behaviour in relationships. And the perversion of it is just becoming more so with each passing year under the new attitude of it being normal and healthy. And sadly, even in Christian marriages and amongst Christian singles, the adherence to the Bible's principles of marriage, sex and sexuality are challenged, modified and in some cases suppressed and rejected. I applaud Inman for showing and being daring to do so in today's world of political correctness to include this in this novel. She shows faithfulness to God's standards and not man's in this regard. May all Christians follow her example and stand up for what is correct in God's eyes!

Years ago, when I examined why I love Christian fiction, I identified some key points and it is these that I love to see in a Christian novel (and can be found in the Why Christian Fiction? tab in this blog): 

  • it has entertained me immensely, 
  • it has encouraged my walk with God, 
  • it has not deviated from biblical doctrine, and it will not, I believe, lead a non-believer astray or promote false doctrine, 
  • it honours God, 
  • it does not encourage worship of the created (eg angels) instead of the Creator (God). 
Well, Inman has more than succeeded with these criteria in this novel! She has encouraged not only my walk with God but has encouraged me to continue to place my family first and them above myself.

And since I started reading and reviewing Christian fiction, I have identified that this area of fiction across all its genres, deals with the following issues/doctrines: 
  • relying on God through difficult and trying circumstances, 
  • the nature of God, developing faith and trust in Him, 
  • encouraging others, 
  • spiritual warfare, 
  • demonology, 
  • angelology 
  • being true to yourself, 
  • standing up for what is right, 
  • Godly romance, 
  • sex and sexuality. 
and all these are in this novel, in varying degrees! Now, I realise that these are included in the biblical account of Adam and Eve/Genesis and elsewhere in the Bible, but I applaud Inman for being faithful to the Biblical account and to God in these areas and through the use of poetic licence. 

Inman is adept in outlining God's plan for salvation and redemption, and I appreciated how she integrated this through the fall of Adam and Eve, what this then meant to them and future generations until, through their lineage, one would come to crush the serpent's head and become the Saviour of mankind, restoring/reconciling man back to God. It was such a joy to have Inman include the reasons why God knew Adam and Eve would sin and how He had prepared a solution from the beginning which is where the doctrines of redemption and salvation come from. So much of this is omitted from similar Christian novels that leads to the plotline being thin and any Gospel message watered down. These two doctrines are, in some Churches just not taught today. I applaud Inman (yet again!) for doing this and showing how fiction can be used mightily by God to educate and uplift one's faith or sow a seed concerning biblical truth and principles. I loved how Adam and Eve began to identify these motives from God in response to their sin and fallen nature and integrated it into their newly forged relationship with each other and God. In doing so they also learnt more about the nature of God, His mercy, goodness, patience, forgiveness, "restoring lovingkindness" (to quote the author), His unfailing love, his Omniscience and that He will never forsake them. 

Inman also shows valuable insights into the spiritual warfare side of the fall of man relating to Lucifer's rebellion, banishment from Heaven and bondage to Earth. Despite his revenge enacted through his attempts to destroy everything relating to God's human race, represented here by Adam and Eve, he underestimated who God is and His Sovereignty. Inman provides a valuable biblical truth here, as Lucifer (now named Satan since his sin and rebellion) experiences first hand how the power of God's love for Adam and Eve and their love for Him, makes their relationship with each other and with God "fireproof" while the Spirit of God remains working in and through them. Inman's description of this account is a powerful read and gives the reader a solid basis of God's commitment to us that can be seen in John 3:16 as the fulfillment of this commitment and love towards us while further illustrating that nothing we do will separate us from His love as the apostle Paul expounds in  Romans 8: 35-38, the latter being my favourite Bible verse.

I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Refuge, over the next few weeks. This series is truly a blessing. I would recommend this novel to any Christian but especially to new Christians. This would definitely give reinforcement to their newly found faith and supplement the basic tenets of Christianity. I highly recommend the study guide at the end for this purpose as well. 

Inman has definitely allowed the Spirit to use her talent, imagination and creativity to craft a novel that is very much God-honouring and faith strengthening. As one of my author friends states, if you are a Christian author and you believe God has mandated you to write, then write for Him. I can see that Inman definitely does this. 

Highly recommended. 

The three ratings below are based on my discernment:

World Building 5/5

Characters 5/5

Story 5/5


The two classifications below are based on the booklet, A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland: 

Spiritual Level 2/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 3/5

Overall Rating: 4/5

_______________________________________________________

Spiritually, based on my review and on the aforementioned reference booklet, 
A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland (Radiqx Press


Melinda Inman is bestowed the

Reality Calling Pre-Christian Godliness Fiction Award



Fallen contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Pre-Christian Godliness Fiction and is awarded to novels with level two spirituality detailed in the Booklet. This criterion is as follows:
  • they accurately depict Godly living at the Old Testament level,
  • they clearly reveal the Truth about the Lord and how He works. 
  • there must be specific references to the coming Savior/Redeemer and the Lord’s ultimate plan for His people.
Congratulations, Melinda!

To buy or preview this novel, click on the BUY/PREVIEW icon on the image below:



Wednesday, 25 July 2018

The Son of God Virtual Book Tour with Sharon Lindsay

Today, I am featuring novelist, Sharon Lindsay and the first three of her The Son of God series (Five novels in the series). I jumped at the chance to feature Sharon on this blog for her Virtual Book Tour as I had discovered this series on an Amazon Recommendation a few months back. I was impressed with what I read and from the reviews. Now it looks like I will have to add these novels to my To Read list!

So sit back and the investigate the world of The Son of God series. Links to Amazon are included if your interest is piqued! 




Sharon Lindsay is a woman who reads the Bible and sees the drama of the ancient stories like vivid movies rolling across her mind. She is the author of the 5-book Son of God Series, a writer who grounds her fast-paced fictionalized account of the life of Jesus in Biblical studies, historical research, and personal experience. Her own experiences, the times when heaven has supernaturally stepped into her life, allow her to write this Biblical story with the authority of someone who has come face to face with the spiritual forces of Good and Evil.

Sharon is a graduate of Washington Adventist University (formerly Columbia Union College). She is a retired teacher with 37 years of classroom experience, elementary through middle school. As a retiree, she continues to teach in the church setting and has found that both adults and teenagers who read The Son of God Series are captivated by her fresh and relatable retelling of the Gospel account. She is an active member of a Messianic Jewish Congregation.

Title of Book: The Son of God Series, 

Book 1: Unto Us

About The Book

Sets up the power-struggle between God and Satan. The sweet Christmas story? No, this is the story of a young Jewish couple unexpectedly thrust into the cosmic war between Good and Evil. They have been entrusted with the life of heaven’s king and Earth’s savior. How will they survive?



Title of Book: The Son of God Series, 

Book 2: This is My Son

About The Book

In Book 2, This is My Son the supernatural conflict between Good and Evil continues to focus on the boy Jesus. Satan manipulates people and events but is not allowed to directly attack during Jesus’ developmental years. Throughout this period, the Kingdom of the Evil One continually engineers the circumstances of life hoping to bring confusion, fear and rejection into the life of God’s son, the one chosen to bring salvation to humanity.

When the men of Nazareth become involved with the Galilean, Jesus watches the father of his best friend die on a cross. Through the confusion of those years, Father God and Joseph guide Jesus into his true identity, Son of Heaven and Son of Earth destined to die for humanity.


Title of Book: The Son of God Series, 

Book 3: Prepare the Way

About The Book

In Book 3, Prepare the Way the major characters in the Biblical narrative are called on stage: John the Baptist, the disciples, Pilate, Herod Antipas and others. The intrigue of Rome clashes with life in a land governed by the Law of Moses. John the Baptist runs afoul of the ruler of Galilee and Pilate must back down after taking a tough stance with the Sanhedrin. In the Judean wilderness, Satan tries to end the mission of Jesus before his ministry begins.

In this book, Jesus moves from small-town carpenter to well-known rabbi, scandalously infamous in Jerusalem and faithfully followed in the countryside.

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Sunday, 1 July 2018

Blog Tour: Heartsong by Annie Douglass Lima

Today I am hosting Annie Douglass Lima as part of her blog tour to promote her new novel, HeartsongIf you like books about space travel, aliens, or cross-cultural transitions, you’ll love this poignant science fiction adventure. 

It is always a pleasure to have Annie on this blog and I have done so 4 times previously. 

So sit back and explore Heartsong by Annie Douglass Lima.


Click here to get your copy of Heartsong now and start the journey today! (Shh! For July 1st and 2nd only, the ebook is available for free!)


Two alien worlds

One teen emissary.

No reality she can trust.

Thirteen-year-old Liz Smith has been ripped away from one foster family after another for years, so the idea of a permanent home is tantalizing. Who cares if that home is a colony sixty-five thousand light-years from Earth? The friends in her trusty e-reader will keep her company just fine on her interstellar relocation.

But when the adventure of a lifetime turns into the disaster of the cosmos, Liz can only retreat so far into the books that have always sheltered her from loneliness and loss. Trapped in half-truths and secrets that leave her questioning reality, can one orphaned bookworm find a way to stop two races from destroying each other … and somehow write a happy ending to her own story?

Read on for a sample of the story ...

Heartsong

Chapter One

My love of reading started the whole thing.

The best place to read on the Laika was in the lifeboats. I’d discovered that on the first leg of the trip, during the flight from Earth to the jump point off of Phoebe. I mean, what else was there to do when we couldn’t see much through the viewports? The view was exciting when there was one, but when you’re far away from anything, space all looks the same.

The hyperspace jump that shot us across the galaxy had been quick, of course, so no time to get bored there. And after we came out of it at the jump point off of Somav, the blue giant that would light my skies for the rest of my life, the flight toward the little moon Soma was pretty exciting, too. I couldn’t stop staring as we passed Somavia, the blue and white planet I knew none of us would ever see close up again. I wondered about the aliens whose home it was. What were they like? The pictures and video Forerunner had sent back, from the few passes it had taken in high orbit, left everyone with more questions than they answered.

Of course, we knew the planet had a breathable atmosphere. If it hadn’t been for the alien race who already lived there — and the tirtellium that we were going to mine on Soma, of course — New Horizons Industries might have decided to set up its colony on the planet Somavia instead of on its moon.

We passed Somavia three days ago, and we’d been orbiting Soma ever since. Which was also exciting, at first. I couldn’t wait to actually get down there and start life on my new home. A home I would get to help create, along with the adult scientists and miners and the rest of the Young Explorers. A home I would never be taken away from just when I was starting to settle in. My forever home. Normally I hated new beginnings, but this one was different. This would be the last new beginning of my life.

Even the colony’s name, chosen by the Samoan astronomer who discovered this solar system, was perfect. Avanoa, which apparently meant opportunity in the Samoan language, sounded to me like a kingdom from some fantasy novel.

Not that life in Avanoa was going to be a fantasy. I knew that starting a colony would be hard work, but that didn’t matter. A real home, with friends I would never have to say goodbye to, would be worth any amount of work.

Soma was interesting to look at, though not as pretty as the planet it orbited. The moon was mostly brown, with splotches of gray-green surrounding the dark blue dots that marked the location of its scattered lakes. With no actual oceans, the moon had just enough water to support a little plant and animal life. Nothing too dangerous, at least as far as we could tell from Forerunner’s pictures. Insects. Some fish and crustaceans that might or might not be edible. Small reptilian or maybe amphibian creatures that lived in and around the lakes. A handful of different mammals, all tiny, that made their homes in the hills. Nothing that seemed likely to bother two hundred human colonists setting up a new home on their world.

Of course, the aliens could be another story. We knew the Somavians had developed a limited form of space travel; we knew they had mines on Soma, too. But whatever they were mining for, it wasn’t tirtellium, and they only had a few tunnel mines in a few locations. We planned to set up our colony hundreds of kilometers away, where if all went according to plan, they wouldn’t even know we were around. Forerunner’s sensors had not detected any other artificial satellites in orbit around either Somavia or Soma, and as far as we could tell, the locals had no instruments capable of detecting Forerunner, no way to suspect we were coming. Its orbit was carefully programmed to keep it out of sight of any of their mines after dark when it might be visible from the ground as a moving point of light.

The adults all said that hopefully, we would never have to encounter any Somavians, but all of us kids hoped we would. I mean, why would anyone in their right mind not want to meet the first real live aliens actually confirmed to exist?

Jessie, who loved science fiction movies almost as much as I loved reading, had often kept Maria and Shaliqua and me awake late into the night back in our dorm room discussing all the possible alien-related adventures that awaited us if we ever made contact. Most of those possibilities were a lot more fun — though some were scarier — than the idea of living in isolation and never letting the locals know we were on their moon.

Anyway, judging by Forerunner’s footage, Somavian culture seemed peaceful, with no evidence of any wars going on down on their homeworld. If they did find out about the humans in their solar system, hopefully they wouldn’t mind us being there. We wouldn’t bother them, and with any luck, they wouldn’t bother us. And if they did get mad, well, the Laika had some weapons. Not enough to wage war with, but hopefully enough to convince them to leave us alone.

So much to wonder about. So much to look forward to. I could hardly wait to get down to the surface and start my new life. But here we all were, stuck in orbit for three whole days so far. Three painfully long and boring days. Earth days, that is. It had been nearly five Soman days, though we wouldn’t officially switch to using Soman time until we landed.

Atmospheric storms. Who would have thought that storms would be this big of an issue on a world with virtually no precipitation? Our science team had come up with a theory about minerals in the soil reflecting particles and wavelengths from the solar flares that Somav had been throwing out since our arrival. Whatever the case, the result was some pretty impressive windstorms in parts of the atmosphere. Since the spot picked out for Avanoa was directly underneath one of the worst storms, Captain Tyler insisted it wouldn’t be safe to try to land yet.

But no one had anticipated that the flares and storms would go on this long. At first, I was glad of the opportunity to orbit my new home and see what it looked like from space. But after a while, the excitement faded, and everyone turned grouchy as we all grew more and more bored and impatient. The movies and games preloaded on our Horizon-brand tablets weren’t good enough to keep everyone happy, not while we had to put the adventure we’d all waited over a year to start on hold indefinitely. And I’d never been a big fan of video games or movies anyway.

So I did what I always do when real people get too annoying. I pulled out my old-school Novareader and turned to my true friends, the ones who never got annoying, who would always be there for me no matter what, who I never had to say goodbye to. And I escaped to the one place I had found on board where nobody would bother me or interrupt my adventures to ask what I was reading or exclaim over their new high score in who-cares-what-virtual-adventure on their RizeTab.

The Laika was designed to be taken apart when we arrived. Its decking and bulkheads would be used to help create Avanoa’s buildings until we could construct permanent residences from local rock, and that was one of the reasons the ship was so large. But big though it was, it had no extra empty space. Every compartment was full of freeze-dried food items, mining equipment, packages of seeds for genetically modified crops designed to grow well in the moon’s dry soil, and educational resources for us youth because even on an interstellar adventure, there was no escaping school in some form.

So I had discovered in between Earth and Phoebe that the lifeboats were the best place to read. I wasn’t sure if I was really supposed to hang out in them, but they were unlocked, because after all, what would be the point in locking something that people would need to get into in a hurry in an emergency?

I sat curled up on a seat in Lifeboat 1, alternating between reading and looking out to see if anything interesting had come into sight down below. But from this angle, the one window — a wide viewport at the very front — was mostly full of stars, only a tiny sliver of Soma visible from one edge. I could have turned on the screen at the lifeboat’s navigational console and adjusted it to show me any view I liked, but that might trigger some sort of alert, and I didn’t want anyone showing up to tell me I wasn’t supposed to be in here.

So I joined Caz and her friends on their travels across the Granbo system, caught up in their space adventure on my Novareader screen since my own space adventure had turned pretty dull. Lunch was another two hours away, so I might as well enjoy myself in the meantime.

And I did — until the ship vibrated more vigorously than usual and the fasten seatbelts sign flicked on.

I often felt as though several of me were debating inside my head. For a moment, Cautious Liz wondered if I should return to my seat. But what was the point? Practical Liz reminded me that I would be just as safe here in the lifeboat, and if the turbulence got bad, walking around with the Laika lurching under me would not be the smartest idea.

I already had my seatbelt on, since that was the best way to keep from floating around. Not that floating around wasn’t fun, but there was too little room in the lifeboat to do mid-air flips and spins without banging into things, and drifting around while I read made it hard to focus on the book. Of course, my magnetic-soled shoes could have kept me anchored to the deck, but not when I wanted to sit cross-legged.

So I just tightened my seatbelt a little and turned back to The Gypsy Pearl. We had encountered turbulence lots of times in the last few days, thanks to the solar flares. It was no big deal.
But the vibrations grew stronger, and then the ship started lurching under me. I lowered my Novareader and looked around, but there was nothing to see here in the little lifeboat. The stars jumped and jerked outside the window, and if it hadn’t been for my seatbelt, I knew I would have been thrown about and probably injured already.

I waited for the crackle of the intercom and Captain Tyler’s voice to explain what was happening or issue instructions. But I heard nothing, and I wondered if the flares had damaged the lifeboat’s intercom system. They had interfered with the Laika’s electrical systems before, after all. Now I wished I’d returned to my seat while I could. If something dangerous was happening, I would rather face it with the others in the main cabin, where at least I would know what was going on.

Without warning, the lights flickered and then went out. Now that was a first. An instant later, an alarm screeched, making me jump. I gasped, really worried for the first time since we left Earth. The screeching continued as the stars swirled and zigzagged, sending faint but frightening shadows thrashing around me like alien spirits trying to take over the ship. For a second I wondered if that could actually be happening. Maybe the Somavians had powers we didn’t know about. Maybe they were trying to drive us out of their system … or worse.

Then the emergency lights embedded in the deck glowed to life, and I let out my breath in relief. The navigational computer two rows ahead of me powered on automatically, its screen lighting up green.

My relief was short-lived, though. The alarm kept blaring its intermittent warning. Screech! Silence. Screech! Silence. Screech! The turbulence was worse than ever, as though the Laika was a wild horse, bucking and leaping and trying to throw its rider off. And that rider gripped the edge of her seat all alone there in the lifeboat, wondering what in the universe was happening.

Suddenly the whirling stars vanished and Soma swung into view, filling the viewport ahead of me, a blur of brown-blue-gray-green-brown. I barely had time to notice before it was gone and the streaking stars reappeared. Then the moon appeared again.

My stomach was spinning as fast as the ship. Thank goodness I had inherited the Smith Stomach of Steel, or my breakfast would probably have ended up all around me. I could only imagine what a nasty experience that would be in zero gravity with the ship thrashing around like this.

A new noise caught my attention. A mechanical noise, a series of clicks and clinks and the sliding of metal against metal. I had only ever heard it before in simulations, but I recognized it right away, and my heart lurched in terror. “No!”

Words flashed across the computer screen, large enough to read from where I sat. LIFEBOAT LAUNCHING.

“No! I yelled again. I fumbled for the seatbelt clasp and flung myself across the tiny cabin, lunging for the manual override button beside the door. Not a smart move, I have to admit, considering how wildly everything was jerking around me. But I panicked. Can you blame me? None of our training, none of the simulations, had dealt with what to do if the lifeboat you were sitting in alone accidentally detached from the ship.

I knew what to do if a lifeboat didn’t detach when it was supposed to. I knew which lifeboat I was supposed to board in an emergency. Not this one, though they were all the same. I knew who my lifeboat buddies would be — a fairly even cross-section of the ship’s crew in terms of age and abilities so we would have the best possible chance of survival in case not every lifeboat made it. I knew how to steer the lifeboat and bring it down for a controlled landing, even though I wasn’t the assigned helmsperson in my group. We had all learned all those skills, just in case.

But I didn’t know how to survive in deep space or on Soma’s surface on my own. The cupboards contained emergency rations and survival gear, of course, but not enough to live off of indefinitely. Of course, the lifeboat would emit a signal that the ship’s sensors would pick up — I knew they were picking it up already, as of the moment my craft started to detach — but what if no one could come and get me right away? What if I landed on Soma, but the Laika couldn’t land for days or even weeks? They would have no way to rescue a stranded teenager who shouldn’t have been reading in a lifeboat in the first place.

And what if the aliens found me before my people did?

All that went swirling through my brain within a couple of seconds as I slammed my fist into the manual override button again and again. But nothing happened. That is, the hatch didn’t open to let me out into the ship’s corridor. But the incessant alarm finally went silent, and the frantic jerking and thrashing stopped, replaced by a slow, gentle twirl.

For a second, Optimistic Liz dared to hope that the trouble was over. But I knew that wasn’t it.
The lifeboat was no longer connected to the ship.

Too horrified even to yell again, I watched the Laika drift past the window, Somav’s light tinting her silver-white hull a metallic frostbite-blue against the blackness of space. She was still spinning and dancing like some huge bird as the solar flares played havoc with her electrical systems. And then I saw only stars, and then the mottled brown of the moon, then more stars. And then there went the Laika once more, further away this time.

Grabbing the back of a seat for leverage, I shoved off from the deck, thankful for the zero-gravity training. Floating was faster than clomping along in magnetic shoes, and I had to get to the controls now. I had to steer myself back to the ship.

But as I seized the arm of the helmsperson’s chair and maneuvered my body into it, I realized I had no idea how to reattach a lifeboat to its socket on the ship’s side. They had never taught us that. Were lifeboats even designed to reattach once they were separated?

Well, somebody must know the proper procedure for this kind of emergency. Captain Tyler or one of the other adults could talk me through the process. Right?

I fumbled for the seatbelt, twisting my ankles around the legs of the chair so I wouldn’t float off in the meantime. Jabbing the intercom button, I called, “Help! I’m in a lifeboat that just detached! What do I do?”

Realizing how panicked and little-girly I sounded, I took a deep breath and tried again. “I mean, 
this is Liz Smith on Lifeboat 1, calling anybody on the Laika who can hear me. Come in, please.”

There was no response, and I realized that the communication light wasn’t even on. The intercom was offline.

Great. Dang solar flares.

I took another deep breath. I had never felt so alone.

But the controls in front of me looked exactly like the ones in the simulator. I could do this. It would be just the same as I had practiced.

Except this was no game, where the only real struggle was to beat my classmates, to be the first to land my virtual lifeboat safely.

This was a real emergency.

This was my life at stake.

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About the Author:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published eighteen books in a wide variety of genres (science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.



Annie can be found at these social media platforms: