Amazon Reviews for Incense Rising
“Incense Rising” is a great read. This sci-fi thriller set in the near future grabs you from page 1 and does not stop! The characters are realistic and the way Dr. Schrock includes “news feed” breaks in the story are attention grabbing, creative and make the story seem even more true to life. For a first novel, she has done a great job and I look forward to her next work. I love the cover design!! —Martha Sarasua
Sci.-Fi. Intrigue. Mystery. Hint of romance. Hopefully a sequel. Kudos Nancy Schrock. A futuristic fantasy set in a world that offers its readers a heaping plate of ‘food for thought’. In todays world, could some of the actions we take or fail to take, lead us to become a world in which Incense Rising exists?—Nikki
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Second story, by N. J. Schrock, called “The Silver Strands of Alpha Crucis-D,” is purely SF. (It’s also her first sale. Congrats to her; a first sale to F&SF is a coup!) The story involves a scientific expedition to a planet where the astronauts find what may be a brand-new form of life. How they discover this, and what they do about it form the basis of the story. Nicely written, in my opinion.
“The Silver Strands of Alpha Crucis-D” by N. J. Schrock
The third consecutive piece of flash fiction (and last of this issue): a group of explorers is on Alpha Crucis-D, speculating about the nature of the silver filaments in the air. While some aspects of the phenomena are never conclusively decided (though the reader may unscientifically feel sure), a severe problem presents itself when certain incompatibilities are proved.
This is a beautiful piece of scientific prose poetry with fascinating ideas, descriptions, and chemistry (literally), and is also a great first sale. I feel one slight dissatisfaction, though, in that stories these days seem to rarely be content with “oh wow” (as in the first page or two, which I read with my eyes probably shining and my jaw agape, probably looking like a happy idiot) and usually fall for the “oh no” element of a story which is supposed to provide a sometimes unnecessary plot tension (as in the latter part of this one) though the author may have felt it thematically necessary. Either way, this is the second story of this issue that I thought was particularly enjoyable (along with “The Liar”).
SF Crow’s Nest, Patrick Mahon
At the other end of the spectrum, I was completely bowled over by ‘The Silver Strands Of Alpha Crucis-d’, not least because it is N.J. Schrock’s first published story! This is an extremely accomplished hard SF story about the potential risks that human exploration of other planets could pose for any native ecosystem, mixing rigorous science with an emotionally engaging human dilemma. I can’t wait to read more fiction by Schrock.