Tips for Thought

The Optical Lasso: Beware Of Neptune's Dark Side (2nd Edition)

Testimonial Reviews:

1. Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers’ Favorite:

The Optical Lasso: Beware Of Neptune’s Dark Side by MarcCorwin is a thrilling science fiction adventure story. A dying boy. A creature that has lain dormant for thousands of years. One of the best leaders in all of mankind. Commander Jason Cody has been taken prisoner and tortured by an alien enemy. His cellmate, Cat, is a lieutenant, leader of The Fighting Fury, an elite women’s combat team. She is beautiful – too beautiful – and Jason has a hard time trusting her. But trust each other they must even after she discovers he’s been missing for years in a wormhole on the other side of Neptune with his Optical Lasso, an invention of his own that allowed him to see the future and the past. A wormhole that is now avoided by all because of the deadly enemy that lurks within. Can they learn to trust one another long enough to face the battle ahead?

The Optical Lasso: Beware of Neptune’s Dark Side by Marc Corwin is a snappy and unique sci-fi tale that spans 40 years and two timelines – the past and the present. This is a thoroughly fascinating story, one in which I couldn’t help but become engrossed. There is plenty of action in the battles that are fought across the universe, in the incredible weapons, including the Optical Lasso, and in the creatures that Marc has created, showing a very active imagination. This is a story of good against bad but it is a unique take on the sci-fi genre. Tyunee is he descriptive nature of the story leaves you in no doubt as to what’s what and leads you through the story as though you are living it yourself. This is one journey you won’t want to miss; entertaining and a real page-turner!

Review Rating: 5 Stars – Congratulations on your 5-star review!

(Anne-Marie Reynolds is assistant professor of Music History at the Faculty of the School of the Arts of the State University of New York at Geneseo.)

2. K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite:

The Optical Lasso: Beware of Neptune’s Dark Side is a work of science fiction aimed at young adults and above, and was penned by author Marc Corwin. Set in the near future of the galaxy in the 22nd century, the re-emergence of a missing planet sets in motion a chain of events which could prove cataclysmic for human life. Lieutenant Cat Miles is an elite fighter and a strong leader, but even she feels out of her depth when she finds herself captured and imprisoned with a commander who went missing a very long time ago. Learning to trust him could be the key to survival, or it might spell her doom and that of planet Earth itself.

Although young adults can read this novel due to the mild nature of its more violent scenes, the characters fit more into an adult reading niche based on their ages and motivations. Cat is a strong female lead who maintains her femininity well despite the male-dominated nature of the sci-fi and battlefield settings. She and Jason have good chemistry which is highly readable, and together they lead a strong plot line which is well conceived and well delivered to produce interesting elements of mystery, surprise, action, and discovery as the story progresses. The mystery of Vixus transports us to a strange new world which is highly atmospheric, verging on sci-fi horror in its most tense moments. Overall, The Optical Lasso: Beware of Neptune’s Dark Side is a tense and engaging sci-fi tale that fans of the genre are certain to enjoy.

(K.C. Finn is the author of more than 25 novels in just five years in the writing business. She is multi-award-winning, having received the coveted Chanticleer Best Gothic Fiction 2016 award for her novel The Book Of Shade, a 78,000-word fantasy novel that took just 16 days to pen.)

3. Ray Simmons for Readers’ Favorite:

I thoroughly enjoyed The Optical Lasso by Marc Corwin. I found it an interesting mixture of space opera, alien invasion, scientific intrigue, and good old-fashioned action and adventure. It also had an element of male-female interaction that boosted the human element of the story and added a certain tension to the whole thing. I really enjoyed this story and feel it might make a good series with a little time and serious thought. Marc Corwin has some big ideas and, given time, these ideas and characters can become part of a great science fiction series. The plot and action sequences are superb, and the writing is great. I really feel that The Optical Lasso could become the beginning and cornerstone of a series on par with the works of David Webb or even The Foundation series by the late great Isaac Asimov.

We start The Optical Lasso in dire straits indeed. Jason Cody, the supreme commander of the human defense effort, has been taken prisoner. He is joined in this alien cell by Lieutenant Janet Miles, the leader of an elite platoon of combat soldiers. These two characters are written beautifully, and it is easy to see why mankind may have a chance despite the technological advantages that the aliens have. The characters are sympathetic and represent the best humans have to offer. The ex plot is complex but makes perfect sense as we go back and forth through time to see how we got to the present day. Marc Corwin is a great writer and The Optical Lasso is a very good tale.

Review Rating: 5 Stars – Congratulations on your 5-star review!

(Ray Simmons is the author of four distinguished works: Yeh-Shen: A Traditional Chinese Cinderella Tale, The China Formula: Crisis in the Party (The Lambros Legacy Book 1), The Four Greatest Chinese Folktales, and How To incorporate English Into Your Life Instead of Just Studying It All Your Life.)

4. James Wegg for Chanticleer Review:

“Join forces with Supreme Commander Cody to battle an all-powerful evil infecting the universe in this multi-faceted Sci-fi thrill ride!”

Marc Corwin’s non-linear novel is jam-packed with science from the present era and over a century into the future. The wide-ranging tale of good versus evil overflows with wormholes, various iterations of the “dark side,” a truly miraculous invention (the lasso), shape-shifters, creatures that would not be out of place in Jurassic Park (notably the deadly goth, bringing literal meaning to “bat out of hell”), and all manner of spacecraft. It’s a veritable buffet for sci-fi devotees!

At the center of it all is Jason Cody who nearly dies from what appears to be an incurable malady before reaching his seventh birthday, when a chance meeting with a puss-spewing creature immediately turns his fortunes around. The boy genius follows in his father’s footsteps into the U.S. space program and soon becomes the star astronaut. Using the science of his own invention while braving a treacherous wormhole on the way to Neptune and beyond, the incredible journey is accomplished in astonishing time, but Cody appears to have simultaneously vanished from the universe.

Along for the ride in every sense of the word, is Lieutenant Janet Miles (a.k.a., Cat), the famed leader of the Fighting Fury (an all-female rescue team taking on harrowing assignments in the 22nd century). Incredibly, she teams up with Supreme Commander Cody to break out of a torturous prison. The escape itself is almost as fantastic as the fact that her sudden partner ought to be well over a century old and is as buff as the day he hurled away from Earth.

The nemesis of nearly everyone in the book comes in the frequently altered shapes (evil incarnate predicted in the Centurions). Yet, it soon becomes apparent that this crimson entity who desperately wants to steal Cody’s lasso and put it to work for his own foul intentions is also the devil that wreaks havoc on Earth. Satan’s lair is the “now you see me, now you don’t” planet, Vixus, fully able to change its rotation and fueled by a mysterious force.

Corwin has set himself an enormous task creating this multi-layered narrative aided by a large supporting cast filled with god-fearing troops and leaders alongside heartless liars who covet power and glory at any cost. The timeline shifts and backstory excursions, aided by the chapter headings, work very well.

Finally, the ending is bound to produce mixed reactions, but without a doubt, readers will have a devil of a time getting there.

(James Wegg is managing editor of JWR an “independent global view of performing arts & film and a regular contributor to Rotten Tomatoes, Online Film Critics Society, The American Record Guide and Chanticleer Review.)

5. Diane Donovan for Midwest Book Review:

The Optical Lasso: Beware of Neptune’s Dark Side gives space opera readers a run for their money in a galaxy-wide sprint set in 2140 CE that combines the hard science of a planet that regularly reverses its rotation and vanishes, with a military battle that involves Earth and spacers in a riveting clash of people and ideals.

To define Marc Corwin’s story as that of a traditional space opera alone would do it a disservice. Subtle nuances of challenge and change run deeper than a surface-level action piece. Nuances range from a female leader who defies her own perfection as she faces off with a male counterpart who has proven himself unreliable and unpredictable, to a planet which holds the same properties—the promise of immense, untapped, yet unreliable power.

Space opera usually is questionable in its science and often overly melodramatic in its action, but Corwin’s story resides in the outer limits of new possibilities, whether he’s presenting a woman whose quandary is whether or not to trust and throw her cards in with a male counterpart, or an evolving relationship that mirrors the same questions about Earth’s alliances and survival.

Action-packed descriptions embracing science and military strategy alike will delight readers seeking a fast pace in their sci-fi reading:

“Okay, people. Stay sharp. On my command, kill all backup systems except for life support. The ship will throw off an electronic signature of being mortally wounded. With the Indiana ’s power shut down, we’ll piggyback off their high intensity tractor beam, which will sling us back toward the beam’s source. It should be quite the ride.”

It is quite the ride, as Corwin leads readers into realms of possibility that include psychological entanglements, attacks, murderous actions, and danger that comes not just from the elusive, mysterious planet Vixus, but from within ranks and individuals.

The result is a compelling saga that romps through universes and psyches with equal force, leading a host of characters through nefarious intentions and puzzling physical realms of possibility. These are inhabited by spies, devil’s disciples, and the secret of an optical lasso which “must stay hidden, or all will be lost.”

Libraries strong in action-packed sci-fi favored with a high-octane dose of engrossing scientific possibilities will find The Optical Lasso a winner that ends with an unexpected rise from the ashes of possibility and a “to be continued” conclusion that leaves the door wide open for the next book.

(Diane Donovan has been reviewing books for over 35 years. She is a generalist reviewer who enjoys fiction, nonfiction and children’s books.)

6. The Moving Words:

Deep within the hidden headquarters of the Galactic Corps, Admiral Thomas Nathaniel Burns ponders the mysteries of the universe. The sudden discovery of Vixus, a planet with the ability to reverse its rotation, sets in motion a series of events that leads Captain Knight and the crew of the Indiana on a mission to investigate its unique properties. As they venture to the outer reaches of the Milky Way, they encounter unexpected obstacles, elusive truths, and a power struggle that could reshape the galaxy. With the fate of humanity hanging in the balance, the race to uncover Vixus’ secrets becomes a high-stakes endeavor.

From the first chapter, readers are drawn into the story of Supreme Commander Jason Cody and his quest for justice and revenge against the dark forces. The first pages show Cody imprisoned by unknown captors. Another key character, Lieutenant Janet “Cat” Miles, enters the picture as he navigates his captivity. Cat is a skilled warrior and leader of an elite combat force. She is also taken prisoner, and to her surprise, she finds herself confined alongside Cody, who disappeared years ago after accidentally going through a wormhole on Neptune’s dark side. Their meeting marks a pivotal moment as they must learn to lean on each other to survive their shared ordeal.

“The Optical Lasso: Beware of Neptune’s Dark Side” highlights the significance of trust between these two leaders and features adventures, aliens, exciting battles, and mysterious elements.

Marc Corwin captivates readers with a premise that challenges their understanding of the galaxy and presents a mystery to unravel. His world-building is remarkable, immersing readers in a future where technology and space travel have evolved to new frontiers. He balances scientific concepts with storytelling, making complex ideas understandable. And that is why readers can easily follow along as they journey alongside the characters through a thrilling space opera.

As the story unfolds, this book brings readers to a world where the boundaries of known science are tested, and the quest for wisdom becomes a race against time. The characters are well-developed, each with their motivations and flaws. Their camaraderie allows readers to connect emotionally with their triumphs and setbacks.

One of the strengths of the writing is its exploration of scientific theories. Corwin seamlessly integrates elements of astrophysics, wormholes, and parallel universes into the narrative, providing an intellectually stimulating experience. The book also explores the themes of trust, survival, and sacrifice and effectively blends fiction and fantasy, making it a must-read for fans of both genres. In addition, it is important to mention the philanthropic aspect of the book. The fact that half of the royalties earned from the sale will be donated to the Grace Science Foundation is a worthy initiative. This foundation aims to aid in developing cost-effective cures for rare diseases that affect millions of people globally.

With “The Optical Lasso: Beware of Neptune’s Dark Side,” readers will find themselves engrossed in the quest to uncover the secrets of Vixus, pondering the vastness of the Milky Way and contemplating the limits of human knowledge. Corwin’s work is recommended for those who seek an exploration of the cosmos and those who relish a quirky impression of storylines not often found in novels of this genre.

Reviews Excerpts:

“Everything in this book contains the ideal description of a science fiction book. A magical invention, a love story, a bunch of aliens, and a secret!” — Marsha James, Goodreads

“I’m at a loss for words with everything that this sci-fi novel made me think and feel. It moved me in ways I never thought possible from a work of fiction. His writing flows, and his readers flow with it.” — Emma Wells, Goodreads

“Every turn of the page feels like I’m walking through a dark alley full of popping thrilling adventures and mysterious creatures.” — Sarah Evans, Goodreads

“The Optical Lasso’s story line is unique, provocative, realistic, and full of stuff you have never seen, heard, or read about in your life.” — Margaret Scott, Goodreads

“It is a delightful blend of science fiction and superhero adventure, Corwin strings together improbable themes and makes them work.” — Tam Rose, Onlinebookclub

“An interesting mixture of space opera, alien invasion, scientific intrigue, and good old-fashioned action and adventure. The Optical Lasso could become the beginning and cornerstone of a series on par with the works of David Webb or even The Foundation series by the late great Isaac Asimov.” — Ray Simmons, Reader’s Favorite

“When you start this book…buckle up! It is fast-paced and truly intense! The author gives a science fiction lover everything with this book… intense situations, thrills, drama, intense battle scenes, aliens, and tons of danger. I can easily see myself rereading this book again and again.” — Seraphia, Vine Voice

“I enjoyed the story, character development, and dialogue. There were plenty of plot twists that I didn’t see coming and that added to the book’s mystique. It has been awhile since I enjoyed a book this much. It’s a well written and unique Sci-Fi adventure with perfect pacing. Highly recommended. — Piaras Vine Voice

“It is a fast-paced thriller brimming with excitement, replete with descriptive and menacing life forms, intergalactic battles, legendary space soldiers and equally talented and capable women combatants.” — Brian Aird, Space Cowboy, Amazon Review

“The Optical Lasso by Marc Corwin is the epitome of well-written science fiction; aliens taking captors, space covert missions, and deadline destruction of Earth. The author draws his readers into the story with intense danger, action, and drama. This is the novel science fiction fans will savor. You can picture in your mind, the thoughts and actions of the characters as the author skillfully unfolds this amazing adventure. — Jo Jo Masson, Amazon Review

The Lasso Unravels: When All Hell Breaks Loose

Kirkus Review:

In Corwin’s SF novel, Earth is under attack—and our heroes aren’t sure they’re the good guys.

In the year 2140, far out in space, Lieutenant Janet “Cat” Miles and her crewmates check the room where they had placed the body of their dead commander, Jason Cody, only to find it missing. As they investigate the now-empty room, a star map appears, showing the Laniakea cluster of galaxies (including the Milky Way) and the words “Time is running out.” The map disappears, leaving the crew even more confused than before, with no body, no map, and no clue as to what it all means. Soon after, a religious leader from Earth named Frane Paxton manages to contact the ship, informing the crew about a blockade around Earth set by unknown assailants and requesting their aid. Paxton asks them to send one of the crewmembers to Earth, alone and cloaked, to assess the situation and find a way to save the planet. Cat is assigned to the mission, but the lonely journey to Earth leaves her questioning her humanity. Back on the ship, Cat’s crewmates discover that records of Cat’s medical examinations have gone missing and that she interrogated prisoners without any backup or security in sessions that ended in bloodshed. How is the crew supposed to save Earth from an unknown enemy when they can’t even trust each other? This expansive SF novel is a direct sequel to the author’s The Optical Lasso (2019), and readers are advised to read the books in order, since much of this novel’s story will be confusing without the necessary background knowledge. Corwin weaves an intricate web of human, alien, and robotic constructs, and it’s not always clear who the good and bad guys really are. While some aspects of the complex narrative may be confusing or tough to follow, the author excels at banter between friendly characters (“‘Don’t you find all this very interesting, Miss Miles.’ Cat countered with a long cold stare, ‘Are you attempting to channel your inner Sergeant Schultz, doctor?’”), and dialogue in general.

A futuristic space opera with an overwhelming plot but engaging talk.

The Moving Words Review:

The Lasso Unravels continues the saga in the second installment of this gripping space opera, picking up where the first book, the award winning The Optical Lasso, left off. Enter a universe where the boundaries of time and space are blurred, and the world finds itself under attack by an unknown adversary. The planet’s future is anything, but certain.

Simultaneously, out on the far edge of the Milky Way, an inexplicable event has taken place on one of Earth’s few surviving warships, the Galactic Corps destroyer, Indiana. The body of their deceased Supreme Commander, Jason Cody, suddenly vanished from sickbay only to be replaced by a mesmerizing holographic star map forewarning of an impending cosmic crisis… Time is running out. The intrigue deepens as the commander awakens to find himself off in another part of the universe, drawn toward a mysterious light, before abruptly being pulled away. Is Earth under siege and Cody’s miraculous renaissance somehow tied to this cryptic warning that time is running out? Buckle up for The Lasso Unravels will leave you breathless with anticipation as you engage in this thrilling odyssey through time and space.

Marc Corwin’s “The Lasso Unravels: When All Hell Breaks Loose” takes readers on a gripping cosmic journey through science fiction, mystery, and emotion. The way he combines futuristic technology, time travel, and interstellar battles with the raw emotions and struggles of the characters is effortless. But he makes complex scientific concepts comprehensible—striking a delicate balance between technical detail and readability, ensuring that the story remains engaging without overwhelming the audience with jargon.

Corwin’s characters are richly developed. Readers will find themselves empathizing with their fears, hopes, and dreams, making it easy to connect with the story on a personal level. “My faith in God helped me overcome this terrible illness and live an incredibly fulfilling life.” The relationship dynamics between the characters are meticulously portrayed with emotional depth, flaws, virtues, and internal conflicts.

The book’s title, The Lasso Unravels, can also be a metaphor for unraveling mysteries, unveiling hidden truths, and exploring the unknown. Corwin’s ability to deliver on this promise is praiseworthy, as he keeps readers on the edge of their seats, eager to uncover the next twist in the plot. This book is a work of science fiction that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant. A skillful fusion of science and humanity makes this a truly remarkable read.

Midwest Book Review:

The Lasso Unravels: When All Hell Breaks Loose is best enjoyed by prior readers of The Optical Lasso. This audience will find the ongoing action, fantasy science, and trademark fast pace of the space opera genre is both engrossing and easy to absorb in this follow-up story, which continues where the prior book left off.

Here, humanity has barely survived the attack by unknown forces, and has largely fled underground in a last-ditch effort to survive. Corps fighter Lieutenant Janet “Cat” Miles is sent to Earth to assess the situation; but when she discovers that she inadvertently carries with her inner demons, her ability to act and to return home are both compromised. If only she had her male counterpart, Supreme Commander Jason Cody, by her side to support her!

As if the situation weren’t already dire, the universe itself is unraveling, with galaxies falling silent against an unknown threat that is on target for reaching Earth.

How can Cat locate her missing commander and his optical lasso, which is the only thing that stands between total destruction and survival?

Marc Corwin creates another thoroughly engrossing story marked by a satisfying blend of fantasy science and high-octane action. The story brings to life the quandaries and strengths of a female commander forced to operate outside her comfort zone to achieve different goals.

Embedded with demons, devils, and mercurial alliances, The Lasso Unravels is replete with the kind of unpredictability and original plot progression that keeps readers immersed in worlds that are extraordinary and powerfully contrasted with the objectives and perceptions of humans:

“…to keep matters interesting, Satan redirected the cosmic wake of the Royale’s demise right at the wary Phoenix . Reflexively looking skyward, Cat’s empowered vision allowed her to see the black plume of smoke from the old warhorse’s final moments. Sensing her presence, a slew of dancing devils formed a message of warning in the hexagon’s protective cloud cover: “We are coming for your soul.”

From different leaders, sexual conquests, and combatants that push the boundaries of science to achieve their goals to threads of humor which wind through the story to temper action with wry, ironic insights, Corwin has created another story that excels in a satisfying blend of action, science, and changing scenarios.

Libraries strong in space opera that seek original, action-packed writing flavored with the twists and turns of survival attempts that operate on Earthly and universe-changing realms will welcome The Lasso Unravels as a spirited, unique collection addition that nicely compliments The Optical Lasso and, once again, leaves the outcome wide open for more books.

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