A Time For Ryda by Phil Stern

Eve Scott arrives at a Ryda university on a mission of her own, not unlike the pilots who risk their lives every day. She stands up for what she believes in though, and her cover is that of a college student, all curves and sensuality that no one would suspect is the Resistance – or would they? Posing as Heather Dupree about to attend Venter University on her birthday no less, she hands them her passport and no one is the wiser. Not when she is as beautiful and charismatic as she appears, yet there are always others who notice certain parts of how humans interact, and it can prove problematic. As Eve she was originally worried about the authorities finding a D.N.A. sample from the past, but now that they were destroyed along with everything else, she is content that she can carry on her role for the resistance.

It's a promising start for a science fiction novella, and for me it has a lot of V television series influence in it with the Resistance, having beliefs above and beyond what humans who are occupied are supposed to have, and how life can be threatening when you live in fear of being recognized as an infiltrator. Phil shows how much of a difficult position Eve has put herself in by becoming an undercover spy for the resistance. Using the Lieutenant she meets at the beginning of the story, he shows the reader the danger she might put herself in if she gave them cause to think she was Resistance. The Lieutenant telling her that if she mixed with the rebels it would mean she would be found out anyway causes a shiver down the spine. The authorities are thorough when processing a newcomer to Ryda, and the Gandians are ever watchful, or so it seems. There are also plenty of traps for the newcomer, and even though she has been there before as a child, a great deal has changed. Dangerous mind bending drugs in the form of leaves are hawked by dodgy vendors in the hope of ensnaring her - she can smell the scent of the leaves, but has, by her own admission to keep her senses attuned of their own will, as using the leaves might well unmask her if she talks to another person while under their powerful influence. Eve remembers how she felt when she had been in love with Peter, he was the love of her life, and she felt she could never love another. Their love was so deep that she couldn’t stop thinking about it, and that is even more so now that she is alone in a place that acts more alien than familiar sometimes. Phil puts her in more danger when the Gandians start to take a fancy to her good looks and sensual figure,and it isn't long before she is put in the spotlight and in great danger when she doesn't want to blow her cover. Peter, being a part of the resistance movement, brings back her old memories as she is set to meet him again, and the prospect of it makes her yearn for the past. She has to wonder though whether or not he is the same man as she thought, or has he changed as a result of all that has happened recently.

A Time For Ryda acts as the start of Phil Stern's Unbridled Boundaries Series of independent science fiction and fantasy novellas, and judging from this one, it's definitely a five-star success as it's short, swift, and gives hope for a planet that is under the dark oppressive power of an enemy. Luckily there isn't too much technobabble as that can put off first time readers of science fiction, and this isn't just a love story either, it's about the Resistance movement and what can be achieved if you're careful enough. At 40 pages it has the ability to grip the reader with ease and take them into the eerily covert world of Ryda. They can read it in bite size pieces in their work breaks or college breaks as it is a novella that will appeal to all.

8/10 A gripping journey into the eerily covert world of Ryda.

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