Review: Echo 8 by Sharon Lynn Fisher

echo 8 by sharon lynn fisherFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: science fiction romance
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Date Released: February 3, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Three lives. Two worlds. One chance to save them all.

As a parapsychologist working for Seattle Psi, Tess has devoted her life to studying psychic phenomena. But when doppelgangers begin appearing from a parallel world that’s been struck by an asteroid, nothing in her training will help her survive what’s to come.

After dislocating to Seattle Psi from the other Earth, Jake is confined by a special task force for study. But when he drains life energy from Tess, almost killing her, it causes a ripple effect across two worlds — and creates a bond neither of them expected.

Ross is an FBI agent ordered to protect Tess while she studies Jake. His assignment is not random — he and Tess have a history, and a connection the Bureau hopes to use to its own advantage. By the time Ross realizes his mission could be compromised, it’s already too late — he’ll have to choose between his love for Tess and his duty to protect the people of his own Earth.

My Review:

Echo 8 takes place in multiple alternate versions of Seattle, some of them better off than our own, and some much, much worse. But all close analogs. If you have read anything about the parallel universes theory, even fictional versions thereof, you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

The story takes place in a very near future: it’s only 2018 in this world. Which means that it is also an alternate to our own, because the Seattle Center Tower (AKA The Space Needle) has fallen in theirs, and here, it’s still up and very much a landmark of the city. (It’s on everything. I’ve even seen Chocolate Towers)

naam at nightBut the former Colman School is a former school in all the ‘verses. In ours, it’s now the Northwest African American Museum. In theirs, it’s the home of the Seattle Psi Institute. And the SPI (cool initialism) is studying a phenomenon called “Echoes”. Echoes are people from a parallel universe who wind up in ours by accident. Part of that accident is that their version of the Earth suffered a huge asteroid strike, and they died. Instead of going wherever it is the dead normally go, they come here. And then they die anyway, cut off from their home universe’s source of energy.

I’m not sure which is scarier – that when they arrive here they are energy vampires, or that no one has tried to talk to one of them to figure out what the hell is going on. But then, the various government security forces are treating these people, the Echoes (also called fades because well, they eventually do) as enemies and security threats. There is a lot of “shoot first and ask questions later” going on. With the added fun factor that sometimes the Echoes are too faded to shoot – the bullets go right through.

Also a bit of “torture first and let them die” going on. The security services are not treating the Echoes as displaced persons – they are just a threat. Admittedly the trail of sucked dry dead bodies they leave in their wake does urge caution.

Only the scientists want to find out the whys and wherefores of the Echoes. They see (sometimes they don’t exactly see) people. Admittedly, people they want to experiment on a bit, but still people.

Tess Caulfield is a psychologist and parapsychologist at the Seattle Psi Institute. And the FBI has brought her an Echo to talk to. The FBI calls him “Echo 8”, because he’s the eighth Echo they have captured. Tess finds out his name is Jake.

Tess and Jake find a way to communicate. He needs energy to survive in our world. She needs answers. And poor Jake, stuck between universes, finally finds someone he can love. But never touch. In her world, he sucks the energy from her every time they are in close proximity. In his world, the shoe is on the other foot and Tess can’t touch him.

But theirs is not the love story that weaves around this book. That is the relationship between Tess and the FBI agent who is assigned as her bodyguard (and minder). Ross McGinnis has talents of his own, talents that he has suppressed. Ross is disillusioned when he discovers that the FBI’s plan is to use him, Tess and the Echoes for missions that Congress would not approve of, missions that will tear the soul out of anyone who performs them.

Tess and Jake go on the run, with disastrous results. Ross sucks it up and does his job, until he
discovers that his career in the FBI is not worth his life, his sanity, or especially his love for Tess. And that the force he signed up with is not the one he is now working for. But before everything can be straightened out, he will have to take a trip to the dark side, of his job, of his soul, and to the other Earth that has been ripped in two.

Whether he can make it back from all that is a big risk – with a big reward if he can figure out his demons. And if Tess can let go of hers.

Escape Rating B+: There was a point about 2/3s of the way through where I almost stopped reading – the story got very dark and it looked like no one was going to get a happy ending out of this one. Or even an ending where someone doesn’t turn completely to the dark side of the Force. (Don’t worry, things do get brighter). I felt for the characters so much that I didn’t want to see anything terrible (or at least terribly permanent) happen to them.

Although Echo 8 is being talked about as a love triangle, it really isn’t. Jake may be what Tess would have chosen if her world hadn’t gone completely off the rails, but it did and he isn’t. And he does seem to be mistaking a bit of his gratitude for love, but Tess is the first person who has cared about him at all in a long time.

Ross is much more of a puzzle. Tess and Ross have a lot of chemistry that both of them are trying to ignore. He distrusts her work – because he’s always had a niggling feeling that his excellent hunches might be more than just hunches. And he doesn’t want to know, because it will change his view of the world.

Ross is very obvious about his skepticism, and Tess is definitely hostile with him. He denigrates her profession at every turn. No one would want to put up with that. She also resents having a bodyguard, and she is sure (correctly) that the FBI’s agenda is not hers, and she doesn’t like the idea of someone she can’t trust watching her every move.

The story surrounds Tess, Ross and Jake, and their collective attempt to find a way not just to communicate with the Echoes, but to work together for the collective good. Jake is initially just selfish, and Ross has very divided loyalties, but they all have to find a way to figure things out. There are a lot more Echoes around our world than anyone guesses, and the count of mysterious dead bodies is climbing everywhere. The security services have kept things under wraps until now, but that can’t last.

We all know of people who seem to suck our energy out of us, but how do you find common ground with someone who literally can – and will die if they don’t? It makes things more interesting (and darker) that one character is a soul sucker of one kind or another whichever world he’s on.

Echo 8 is mostly of the laboratory-type of SF. Tess is a researcher, and the story turns on the number of ways that her research can be subverted, and how badly.

As a former Seattleite, it was also fun to get the science-fictional tour of different versions of the city. I loved the twisted sense of deja vu.


sci fi romance quarterlyOriginally published at Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Interview with Author Sharon Lynn Fisher + Giveaway

Today I would like to welcome my fellow Seattle-ite, Sharon Lynn Fisher, who recently published the Ophelia Prophecy (reviewed here). It’s an absolute terrific science fiction romance, sort of Frankenstein meets Romeo and Juliet. Only an SF writer could make that combination work, and it so does!

Marlene: Welcome Sharon! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

ophelia prophecy by sharon lynn fisherSharon: Thank you for having me!

Okay, you left that one wide open, so let me see …

Besides being an author, I’m senior editor for SilkWords, a “pick your own path” romance short story site. I’m also mom to a sassy seven-year-old. I live in Seattle. Like any good Seattleite I enjoy doing outside things (hiking, rock climbing, biking). But it rains for nine months of the year so also I love to read and watch movies and good TV. I’m an INFJ, and an Aries. I like cupcakes and shoes. I have a freaky orange cat.

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Sharon: Being a half-time single mom and also having another job, there’s really no such thing as a typical day in my life. When I’m writing something new, even less so. Some days I may not write more than a few paragraphs, and others I may write 10 or 15 pages. But I do find I need some dedicated headspace for writing. I need to say to myself, “I’m writing,” and cut off from social media and other unrelated tasks.

I’m a reformed pantser. After having to completely rewrite my first novel from page 1, I realized that fully pantsing things is a form of self torture (at least for me). It leads to writer’s block and panic attacks. I still completely pants my first chapter, but after that I write a one- or two-page synopsis and work from that. Nothing too detailed or it takes all the fun out of the writing.

Marlene: What can we expect of The Ophelia Prophecy?

Sharon: It’s a post-apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet story with exotic locations and lots of action. The romance between the hero and heroine — a human woman who’s lost her memory and a member of a human/insect transgenic race — is a slow burn that boils over suddenly once the substantial obstacles are overcome. I know what you’re thinking: “Insects, ew.” It’s not like that. Trust me.

Marlene: If The Ophelia Prophecy was turned into a movie who would you want to direct it?

Sharon: Hmm, I’ve never thought about that one! Christopher Nolan seems to be the go-to guy for sci-fi these days. Actually, who directed Orphan Black? I LOVE that show. I want that guy. I want that actress, too.

Marlene: What made you choose science fiction as your genre? Especially science fiction with a romantic bent?

Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn FisherSharon: I always answer this question with “it chose me.” And it’s true. I had mainly written fantasy romance up to the point I wrote my debut novel, Ghost Planet. While I did make a conscious decision to try my hand at sci-fi, I did not know it would mark a long-term shift in my writing. I enjoy the research so much, and it really opened up a whole new world for me. I’d been struggling to come up with what I felt like were original ideas for fantasy.

As for blending sci-fi with romance, I don’t think I’ve ever written a story without romance. It may be that I never will!

Marlene: What do you hope to say to people with your writing?

Sharon: Considering some of the social issues I raise in my stories, oddly, nothing. I want my readers to escape to another world. I want them to keep turning pages because they can’t stop. I love this quote from a recent review: “Her books, so far, are the exact kind of high-quality popcorn that I’m looking for when I need a mental vacation.” My work is done here.

Marlene: What projects do you have planned for the future?

Sharon: I have a third Tor book coming out early next year, Echo 8. On my blog I describe it (unofficially) like this: Parallel-universe romantic suspense that explores possible connections between quantum physics and psi (also a Bermuda Love Triangle between a parapsychologist, an FBI agent, and an energy vampire).

I plan to write a sequel to Ophelia based on the other couple, Iris and Carrick, who are set up in this first book. I also have another stand-alone in the works. I don’t want to say too much about that one, but it’ll be my trademark blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance, set in modern-day Portland.

Marlene: Because I’m a librarian, I love to ask this question: Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

Sharon: Because I’m an author, I’m embarrassed to say: I don’t know! Ack. Maybe my father? My mother says I learned to read by pointing at words in the newspaper and asking him what they were. I’ve had a passion for reading for as long as I can remember. It could very well be that I introduced myself to the love of reading.

Marlene: What’s the book that you most want to read again for the first time?

Sharon: I think I’d have to say the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask!

Sharon: I sometimes have dreams about things that actually happen. Kinda stupid things. Nothing like winning lottery numbers. One time I dreamed I was walking down the street with a friend and glanced over and saw an alligator walking next to us. The next day I went to a restaurant I’d never been to before — a little bistro that had opened in an old house. I went to use the restroom, and when I flipped on the light, I saw they’d put a large plastic alligator on a pile of rocks in the bathtub. I wrote this rather useless talent into one of the characters in Echo 8.

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

Sharon: I have an appreciation for mornings. They feel fresh and creative. But they are easily wrecked by other people speaking to me or expecting me to do things. I think I’d better go with night owl. (Especially considering my clock says it’s 10:01 PM as I finish this.)

Ophelia Prophecy Blog Tour Button

Sharon Lynn Fisher Author PhotoAbout Sharon Lynn Fisher

A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, Sharon Lynn Fisher lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2014).To learn more about Sharon, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.


Sharon is kindly giving away three copies of The Ophelia Prophecy, one each to three lucky winners! For a chance to win, use the Rafflecopter below:

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Review: The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher

ophelia prophecy by sharon lynn fisherFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: science fiction romance
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Date Released: April 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters — the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.

Some of us intend to do more than survive.
* * *
Asha and Pax — strangers and enemies — find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.

Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource — information — viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.

Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.

Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.

With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other’s secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.

My Review:

Cassandra was right, but no one listened to her. In The Ophelia Prophecy, a lot of people have an interest in making Ophelia’s predictions come true, whether they should or not.

This is definitely science fiction, but of the genetic engineering/biopunk/dystopian type, rather than the space opera version. We don’t travel off-planet, just into a not-too-distant future where the humans have been the authors of their own destruction, something that is certainly not implausible.

In this future, the desire to create “better, stronger, faster” soldiers to use against other humans led to a scientific breakthrough; the ability to splice insect and animal DNA into human DNA in order to create hybrid supersoldiers.

While it sounds like the “not-so-mad scientists” experimented with everything under the sun, by the time the story starts, the dominant hybrids are the Manti; human/insect hybrids. The Manti are not just dominant among hybrids, they have also reduced the “pure human” population to a small handful, using both semi-conventional warfare and bio-terrorism.

There’s an element of “Romeo and Juliet” meets “Frankenstein” in The Ophelia Prophecy. We start the story with a human woman and a Manti soldier in the Badlands outside the last human Sanctuary, waking up from unconsciousness with neither of them remembering exactly how they got there.

All they each know is that the other is supposed to be the enemy. But if it were that simple, there wouldn’t be a story.

Asha is hunting for her lost father. She believes that the Manti kidnapped him, for purposes unknown. And she’s half right.

Paxton is searching for a purpose. His father is the political leader of the Manti government, but the 25 years of unquestioned Manti supremacy have turned him into an autocrat. Pax is looking for a better way.

Instead, they find each other. Pax’ mission is to take Asha back to Manti HQ in Granada, to discover what she knows about how they ended up together in the first place. While at first she is his unwilling prisoner, the more they interact the more they discover in common. And the more that Asha learns about the true state of her world.

Nothing is as it seems. Not for Asha, and, it turns out, not for Pax.

Escape Rating B+: I wanted this to be longer. Or for there to be another book. There is so much more to be discovered in this world, and the place the story ends has the feeling of a new beginning, or the start of another chapter.

Pax and Asha start out on opposite sides. He’s the Manti Prince, and she’s the daughter of a member of the human governing council. What they have in common in that neither of them is content with their society’s version of the status quo. They each want answers.

We see this world through Asha’s eyes. She starts out unhappy with the conditions in Sanctuary, but believing in the version of the world that she has been told. Except that she studies the beginning of the war in the Archives, and things don’t seem to quite add up. Because they don’t.

The more Asha sees of the world beyond Sanctuary, the more her perspective changes. The more she learns, the more we learn. She discovers that not all humans are her allies, and not all Manti are her enemies, through some very hard lessons.

What she discovers is that Pax may be the only one she can rely on, but it’s a lesson that she figures out by trial and error. They are often in conflict because he takes away many of her choices, so she goes down the opposite path just to feel like she is choosing for herself.

The romance is downplayed. There’s an element of fated-mate syndrome, but one that both parties fight as long as possible. Pax because he doesn’t want to be a slave to his biology, and Asha because she has a primary mission to find her father, and becoming too involved with Pax will not get her where she needs to go.

The bits we see of Manti society are fascinating. The politics are cut-throat, and every bit as intimately deadly as The Game of Thrones. I wish we could see more!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.