SPSFC2021: It’s The Final Countdown!

We are fast approaching the end of the first inaugural Self Published SciFi Competition and folks, this one is going to be a photo finish!

After starting with 300+ books our ten teams of judges have narrowed the field down to seven finalists, and y’all, I have firsthand witnessed the incredible amount of care that the judges are putting into the SPSFC and it is awesome to behold. The willingness to set aside so much of your own free time for one specific and time consuming task is humbling to see and I am honored to be a part of it all.

I say that to say: This has not been an easy journey. The nature of competitions like this mean 1 shall rise and 299 shall fall, right? BUT this competition has worked hard to shine as bright a light on the fallen as I have ever seen in any such competition. From the beginning I watched reviewers working hard through the initial allotment of books to try and find the ones to move forward, and watched as many championed books they discovered in the initial draw that didn’t make it into the next round. Books that had next to no reviews/ratings on GoodReads suddenly started getting attention, and started being blogged about, and started landing on TBRs of folks who aren’t a part of the competition! And that was only the first round! For the record three books I dearly wanted to move past the initial round in my team’s allotment did not, but those three books will be read and reviewed once the dust settles from the SPSFC, along with other books I came across in this competition that weren’t in my team’s draw.

And THAT is the magic of the SPSFC! It doesn’t just spotlight one amazing book, it creates reads and reviews for many books! I know two members of my team have read through most if not all of our initial draw, and are working through all thirty semi finalists, not just the ones we picked up! It is awesome to see. While nothing is perfect and I am sure some books didn’t get reviews out of the initial parts of the competition, many did, and that is something I am so happy about.

Now we come down to just 7 books, and getting to that 7 was tough! There have been a lot of strong attachments developed between readers and the books they love! One that didn’t make it out of my team’s top ten won my favorite book of the year award for 2021! I am telling you, there are some incredible works in this competition, and paring it down to just 7 finalists was tough, as books you love and champion don’t make the cut. However if it wasn’t for the SPSFC I wouldn’t have known about most of the books I’ve read so far, or have left to read!

So a huge and hearty shout out to the teams of judges who have been reading these books and offering their ratings and reviews as I know that takes effort and helps spread awareness of the books! Another loud and heartfelt shoutout to the authors who stepped willingly into the ring and let their novels fly! And a thankful and meaningful shout out to Duncan Swan and Hugh Howey for bringing this competition to life!

We now bring to you the final round of the SPSFC for 2021 and invite each of you to read these works alongside us as we dive into them!


Team Red Stars’ SPSFC Top 3

This is tough! Team Red Stars had ten AMAZING books to read for Round Two, but can only pass along three books into the next round of the SPSFC. I am so appreciative of the judges on our team and how much work, thought, and effort went into reading and judging these books. It was a very difficult choice, and as with previous rounds some of my personal favorites did not make the cut! If you would like to pause and look at our top ten that we read you can view that HERE and for those unfamiliar with the SPSFC you can read about it HERE

As a Team of Judges we would like to say thank you to the authors who joined in. You have already seen, and will continue to see reviews from us for your books, and I can safely say that each of us would highly recommend the ten books we had to select from. However as stated only three books can advance from us so without further ado here are (in no particular order) the three books that Team Red Stars will be advancing into the next round:

DOG COUNTRY by Malcolm F Cross is a brilliant and insightful SciFi that not only has one of the best covers you’ll ever see (I had to purchase a physical copy for my shelves because it is gorgeous) it also has one of the best stories you will ever read! To quote from Team Red Stars judge William Tracy’s review: “This is a very thought-provoking book with some great worldbuilding and character moments. That said, it’s not a very happy book. It’s not going to make you cheer for the protagonist over the villain—there’s not always a clear definition of who those are—but it is a very well-written book.” (See full review HERE )

OF CINDER & BONE by Kyoko M is an incredible SciFi in a universe that closely parallels ours, but with Dragons! AND absolutely awesome character interactions and development! Quoting from Team Red Stars judge JW Wartick’s review: “Kyoko M. has created a truly fascinating alternate now that is carried by some of the strongest characters I’ve encountered in this contest.” Read the full review HERE

AGE OF ORDER by Julian North is a dystopian SciFi that grips the reader and makes you not want to set the book down! As William Tracy says in his review: “Wow. Just wow. Take the best parts of The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Snow Crash, and Brave New World, and bundle them together. That’s what I got out of this story. This is one of those books were I was eager to dive in every time, and had to stop myself from reading “just one more” chapter.” Read the full review HERE

These three books will now pass from our hands into the next round of the SPSFC and we are thrilled to have them represent our team’s selection. We truly wish we could have passed along our whole selection of ten because wow did we have some AMAZING books! With that in mind we did want to share one honorable mention because in competitions like this the goal is truly more eyes on more amazing books so we think the book that was our first runner up just behind these three in the overall voting deserves a spotlight as well:

ZENITH by Arshad Ahsanuddin was greatly loved by our team of judges and is one of the best books you could read! It barely missed out on being in our top three, so as first runner up we wanted to give this book a shout out. As one of Team Red Stars judges Suzy says in her review: “We have great characters, and then we have a really interesting plot. It is so full of twists and turns. And the end… oh my that end!” You can read the full review HERE AND expect to hear about this book here on RedStarReviews again very soon!

There you have it! An amazing set of books to pass along into the overall! We are excited to read on into the next part of the competition and excited for all the authors featured here and featured throughout the SPSFC and hope everyone is inspired to pick up and read the books you see here that appeal to you. Thank you for reading!

Announcing Our SPSFC Round One Top Ten!

As stated in the previous post right now Team Red Stars has completed our initial reading allotment for the Self Published Science Fiction Competition and have cut 21 books from our 31 book allotment. This leaves us with 10 books to read in full and then advance 3 of those 10 into the next round. This means we have a Top Ten from the first round! Let’s take a look at these 10 books! Here they are in no particular order:

REFRACTION by Wick Welker

This one has me intrigued! Not sure where the story will go but the main character has me compelled to learn the answers!

ZENITH by Arshad Ahsanuddin

I was hooked from the get go! SciFi with Space Travel? Yes please!


I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting when I opened up this book, but the character interactions won me over immediately!


What if we humans were gone? Would those that came after care to restore us?

AGE OF ORDER by Julian North

You can’t help but cheer on this main character!


As you turn from page one to page two you realize this is a book you WANT to read!


The more you read the more this story pulls you in.


Really getting Rendezvous With Rama feels! That is a good thing.

THE TRELLIS by Jools Cantor

Details matter and this one has the details that matter!

DOG COUNTRY by Malcolm F Cross

I had a hard time stopping reading this one to get to the first 10-20% of all the other books on the allotment!

There you have it! Team Red Stars’ first round top ten for the SPSFC! We encourage you to read along with us as we seek out the best self published SciFi book! Please check out our team’s blogs for further info on our Top Ten and all other things SPSFC related for our team:





Follow along and let us know your thoughts on any of the books we’re reading! We’d love to hear from you!

SPSFC First Round Cuts For Team Red Stars

Team Red Stars has completed our first round of reading! So we read at least 10-20% of 31 books and then selected ten to read all of before passing three of those on into the next round. This means that we sadly had to select 21 books to cut from the competition. This has not been an easy choice!

However at the heart of the Self Published Science Fiction Competition is the goal of bringing increased visibility to Self Published SciFi so after discussing it our team decided together to share mini reviews on the 21 books we have cut after the initial sample. Hopefully this helps the books gain more visibility and readership!

I’ll be featuring five of the books here and you’ll find the other sixteen divided between three of the other team members: William Susy and Joseph will feature their posts at the same time as this one. Soon after this we’ll unveil our inner top ten that we’ll whittle down to three. Without further ado here are the five cuts I will be featuring, and personally intend on reading further in at a later date!

THE COLDSUIT by Andy Wright

I really enjoy the premise and execution of this story! A conflict between humans and aliens, with a young individual who is caught between the two and torn on the inside about which is truly the side they should be supporting. I found this story to be emotionally moving, and truly intriguing. PLUS! I loveee the cover! This is a cover that catches my eye. The characters are well constructed and the author gives the depth within quick sketches that don’t slow down the story.


Such an excellent lead character! I can’t wait to see what adventures Quinn has! A young girl with a large destiny and a strong will who sets off across the galaxy to find what her future holds but ends up battling for her life. This is a VERY interesting story with great promise. One of the better main characters I’ve come across in a while, and very well written! Really draws you into the character’s life and story right from the start. Also a cover that I just love!

PETRA by Matthew S Rotundo

Petra had me hooked right from the start! In the star travel age there still is crime and imprisonment, but what if that prison were a whole planet, and what if there were dark secrets hidden in the system, and a person positioned perfectly to bring them to light, while a prison planet uprising is brewing! I normally don’t do the “this book reminded me of this other author” comparisons in my reviews, but in starting this book I was immediately drawn back into my teen years when I started reading an author by the name of Timothy Zahn. I really felt like I was reading something Zahn might have written, and just enjoyed the magical ability some stories have to draw you in and make you forget everything but the story you are reading. That’s an incredible gift to encounter, so I am eager to see where this story goes!

THIS BLUE BALL by Wayne V Miller

This Blue Ball by Wayne V Miller was not the story I expected upon reading the description! It is intriguing, engaging, and quite the adventure to try and sort out what the story within the story is. I really enjoy a book that makes you pause and consider what you just read, and here is one that will do just that!

THE COMBAT CODES by Alexander Darwin

What interesting world building right from the start! A SciFi in which the fates of planets are determined by single combat, and this is the story of those warriors. Excellently written in a style that draws you in and keeps you turning page after page, this is a fully realized story that I enjoy reading! Solidly interesting characters coupled with a promising concept that is delivered well. I really want to get to know more of these characters!

There are the five cut books I am featuring on my website. As stated above please check the websites of my fellow team mates for the other sixteen we cut, and we’ll share the ten we will be reading in their entirety soon. BUT please let me encourage y’all to click on the links for these five very interesting books and give them a try yourself! I think you just might discover a new favorite author or two if you do!

Announcing Upcoming Announcements For SPSFC!

As y’all know I have the joy of working with Team Red Stars for the amazing SPSFC and we are almost ready to announce our cuts from our initial allotment of books! We will then follow that with our release of our Team’s Top Ten Books from the allotment. These are the ten we will read in full prior to passing three along to the third round of the competition.

So what does all this mean? Well I am glad you asked because I value communication! Our team was given 31 Self Published SciFi Books to read 10-20% of and then cut 21 of those books, leaving us with 10 to read in full. We have worked hard at this and while it has not been easy to cut those 21 books we have done so and we look forward to sharing these cuts with you soon!

Why are we not sharing the cuts yet? Because at the heart of the SPSFC is a goal to bring greater visibility to more Self Published SciFi Books! So our team talked amongst ourselves and we have decided that we want to provide feedback not only on our Top Ten but also on the 21 that were cut. This can take a little time to write up. So we are creating a soft deadline of next weekend.

Now to break the fourth wall as it were and talk directly with y’all, I started this blog post hours ago and had to pause it to take care of and spend time with my family, and as I write this I’m just thinking about and appreciating how much of a labor of love this is for the reader/judges and also for the authors! Everyone is pouring in their personal time here, and I want to say a heartfelt thank you and we see you. Thank you.

Ok so the goal: next weekend (Nov 13,14) our team will give brief reviews of each of the 21 books we are cutting, and then we will post our team’s top ten!

So please check out our teams blogs and follow along for this fun journey! You can find us here:





What Is This SPSFC You Blog Of?

If you saw my last post and were like “Yes, very nice, but what is this SPSFC of which you blog?” well I am glad you asked!

The SPSFC is the Self Published Science Fiction Competition and it is a brand new shiny annual competition designed to take around 300 books that are voluntarily submitted, vet them through ten teams of judges, and select one book as the very best of those 300 books!

As with all competitions there are certain criteria for book selections, which may or may not change slightly from year to year. This inaugural year is teaching the hosts and judges a lot! Our current criteria does include (but is not limited to) the book must be self published, over a certain word count, has to be SciFi, and either a standalone or the first in series.

The concept is loosely based upon the popular SPFBO and hopes to bring forth lots of reviews and eyes upon books! For this first round each team of judges (we’ll meet Team Red Stars in an upcoming post soon) starts with around 30 books apiece, and we’ll read 10-20% of each of those books then select ten books for the team to read in full. Once we’ve read those we will pass the top three books on to the greater group of all judges, and so will each of the other teams. Every judge will read all of those thirty and then we’ll winnow them down to a top ten, and then top one. It will be quite the process!

I can say that everyone really is very excited and eager to dive into these books! This will be a lot of reading and a lot of fun. I truly hope you follow along and hopefully you also discover some new to you books that are bright stars in the sky!

And that in a nutshell is this wondrous thing we call the SPSFC!

Time To Read For SPSFC!

Hello and welcome to Team Red Stars’ list of books to read for the first ever annual Self Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC)! I am thrilled and honored to be leading a team of judges for this year’s competition, and we will be meeting each of them in another blog post very soon! However this post is alllll about the BOOKS! You see the SPSFC takes around 300 self published SciFi books, ten teams of judges, divides those books between the teams, and then fierce reading and reviewing battles take place through a few rounds until there is a clear winner! Ok that is a bit of an oversimplification, but the core concepts are there! I’ll post another blog shortly diving into the details of the SPSFC for those interested in a bit more info. So moving along: the Team I am honored to be a part of gets to enjoy reading the following books to kick off our part of the SPSFC! So without further ado please allow us to unveil the 31 books that have been allocated to Team Red Stars: (ok one more “ado” please let me know which cover is your fave!)

Above the Sky by J.W. Lynne

Age Of Order by Julian North

Banneker Bones And The Giant Robot Bees by Rob Kent

Detonation by Erik A. Otto

Dog Country by Malcolm F. Cross

Dragon’s Baby by Miranda Martin

Edge Of The Breach by Halo Scot

Extinction Reversed by J. S. Morin

Eye Of The Storm by R. K. King

Infinite by Jeremy Robinson

Memories Of The Khassos by Leah Flaherty

Of Cinder & Bone by Kyoko M.

Petra by Matthew S Rotundo

Quinn Of Cygnus: Lift Off by A M Scott

Refraction by Carson Welker

Skybound by Lou Iovino

The Coldsuit by Andy Wright

The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin

The Echo Effect by John McGuire

The Golden Crunk Of Cringle by Ken Rudisill

The Jagged Edge by A. J. Frazer

The Lore Of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King

The Revolution Will Be Tokenized by Cristoph Brueck

The Shepherd Protocol by Fowler Brown

The Trellis by Jools Cantor

Things They Buried by Amanda K King & Michael R. Swanson

This Blue Ball by Wayne V. Miller

Turnabout by Carmen Webster Buxton

Wherever Seeds May Fall by Peter Cawdron

World Of Difference by WJ Donovan

Zenith by Arshad Ahsanuddin

Book 46 of….

Y’all know I’ve been reading the Horus Heresy for *does imitation of Obi Wan’s voice from Ep IV* “… a long, long time. A long time.” and truthfully I’ve really been enjoying it! Admittedly when I first started reading it the first time through I thought they were moving too fast by the third book and worried they’d have it resolved by the fifth book. Wow was I wrong! I remember getting so frustrated that the series went sideways that I bailed at book 8. It was years until I returned and started over, and I’m thankful I did and that I had a better understanding of what I was getting in to.

The Horus Heresy is a story about a galactic civil war and the writers (there are multiple working together) are going to show you every aspect of it, which really does make it galactic in scale!

I’ve written about this series before, and given updates as I have journeyed through it, but as I just completed book 46 Ruinstorm, and started book 47 Old Earth, I just wanted to pause for a moment and say: Damn. I love this series!

Ruinstorm by David Annandale hit pause on the series to take us across the Galaxy to three Legions of forces trying to get back to Terra to stand beside the Emperor in his hour of need, but it’s ok because the book before it (Tallarn by John French) ALSO hit pause on the series to take us to a specific planet with a specific part of the war (also Tallarn was INCREDIBLE). I say all that to say: this series hits pause on the doomsday clock often, and it normally works out!

While this is a review of Ruinstorm, it is more a review of the entire series itself. I have to say I am loving reading it and the fact that I can be almost 50 books into a series and still be loving it should speak volumes (see what I did there?) so if you like Military SciFi with a good dose of GrimDark then don’t hesitate on this series.

A Must Read Author

Every reader has a must read author or two that they absolutely love reading and HAVE to read everything the author has written! It’s an instant buy when you see their books, or a preorder when you hear that they have a new book coming soon. You just have to read their books! Like drop your TBR pile on the floor and grab this book!

For me Benjanun Sriduangkaew has become that Must Read Author! I don’t properly have the words for how amazing I find her stories to be! Each new story just leaves me saying THIS IS WHAT SCIFI IS SUPPOSED TO BE! Yep. That good.

Not only are the stories amazing but so are the covers and titles! I am a title buyer. If I see a cool title I want the story that goes with it! And there is one of her short stories that has the GREATEST title that I’ll share at the end of this post.

So what type of stories does she write? Space Opera! I loveeee a good Space Opera! Star Wars is a good example of Space Opera, or Iain M Banks’ Culture Novels. Galactic battles and larger than life consequences to actions. BUT she tells the stories differently. They aren’t told from the perspective of the colonizer, but from the colonized! The apocalypse has happened for these characters and now they must deal with the Empire that is trying to subjugate them. This perspective matters.

This is smart and bold SciFi that is powerfully written that shows society that has progressed but still has lessons for us today. Highly recommend.

Where to start? Well remember I told you about a fantastic title and said I’d share it? Allow me to share it and suggest this short story as an excellent entrance to Benjanun’s work!

You And I Shall Be As Radiant is a perfect intro for a new to Benjanun reader! This short story with an amazing title will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

Benjanun Sriduangkaew has become a must read author for me, and if you give her a shot she might just be for you too!

April Fools TBR

What is one book on your TBR that you’ve been saying to yourself for ages that you’ll eventually one day maybe perhaps sometime soon get to it and read it? That ONE book you never quite seem to get to no matter how much you PROMISE you will get to it? Let’s read that book in April!

We ALL have one or two of those books that always get shuffled down our TBR no matter how often we set it atop the pile and promise we’ll read it next. This April lets give it a go!

The goal of #AprilFoolsTBR is to finally give one of those books a go! They’ve waited on us long enough so each of us should pick one up and give it a read! It doesn’t have to be the same book as anyone else is reading, this is a unique sort of buddy read where we join in solidarity and read a book that we have wanted to read for ages!

Are you up for joining in the fun? Share what book you’ll be reading!