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Check out yesterday’s guest post by Pauline Baird Jones for a little bit of how this collection came to be.

Review of Claws & Effect

Claws & Effect is an anthology of stories that have previously appeared in the ®Pets in Space collections. If you have read ®Pets in Space 1-5, you have also read these stories. I have read the collections and in each one, the contribution from Pauline Baird Jones stood out as one of my favorites. If you have read her Project Enterprise books, but missed the pet-centric stories, you will want to add this book to you shelf. Here is a short review of each story.

Review of The Real Dragon

This one is considered to be the bonus story, as it is not technically part of the author’s Project Enterprise series. Still, it fits nicely with all the others. I have no experience with bearded dragons as pets, or for that manner, any reptile as a pet. However, if I was going to have such a pet, an alien dragon that is able to communicate telepathically, pilot space ships, and type would be absolutely the best. Peddrenth (awesome name) is very cool and with him as a pet/friend, I think I might be considered cool also. But then again, I probably would not tell anyone about him because then someone would want to study him, maybe dissect him and then where would I be. So there goes my hope for coolness. Peddrenth is as much a hero in The Real Dragon as Emma and Mazan are heroine and hero.

Review of Time Trap

Once again, Ms. Jones tackles time travel with her usual quirky humor. This time, she uses a manhole cover to effect the time travel. It’ll make you think twice about stepping on one of those when you walk down the street. The animal in this story is not so much a pet. Sir Rupert is a parrot. A very smart parrot. He talks. Yes, I know parrots talk, but Rupert has actual conversations. Rupert is more of a co-worker to Madison, who is trying to ferret out a mole working against the Rebellion. (See how I snuck in another animal or two there.) Escaping the traitor’s trap sends her right into the arms of Sergeant Briggs (via the manhole cover). Briggs is a well-liked character from a previous Project Enterprise novel, so I was very happy to see him get his own story. The interaction between Madison, Briggs and Sir Rupert is entertaining to read and they really do make a great team.

Review of Operation Ark

USMC Sergeant Carolina City (Caro) is charged with repatriating a shipload of sentient beings that all bear some resemblance to animals an Earthling might be familiar with: turtles, eagles, pandas, etc. Along for the ride is Kraye, a human that was pretty much raised by robots.

So the human that was raised by robots has a hard time understanding other humans, especially a certain Sgt. City, his feelings toward her and her unspoken communication toward him. Luckily, he has Bull (robot) and Rocky (squirrel) (yes – moose and squirrel – Ms. Jones did that!). Bull and Rocky try to coach Kraye, which leads to a few smirks, but ultimately, he is going to have to figure things out for himself.

Caro, the human that was raised by humans also has a hard time understanding Kraye. He may look like a human, but he has robot-like reactions and doesn’t pick up on any of her non-verbal communication. Bluntness may be required.

But before they can figure each other out, all sorts of adventure will keep them busy. Someone has betrayed the mission and the effort to take all their passengers to their home planets is anything but a ride around the park. Action-filled with spooky giant spiders, Operation Ark has humans, robots and other assorted sentient beings that are in for danger, tricky maneuvers, heroic actions, Greek alphabet code names and maybe, just maybe, a kiss or two. Pauline Baird Jones again succeeds in making me laugh out loud at her quirky humor, race through her action scenes and cheer when the spider gets it!

Review of Cyborg’s Revenge

While Cyborg’s Revenge can be enjoyed as a standalone (sufficient background supplied), having read Maestra Rising did give me a boost up into the story line.

Rap and Ale are two newly created cyborgs. Sort of new. They were once fully human. Then their consciousness was transferred to robots by an evil genius. Then the good guys helped them transfer back to human bodies. Finally, they were enhanced with AI’s and robotic extensions and that made them cyborgs. Now all they want is to live in peace. So, they go after the evil genius that turned them into robots. Hence the word ‘Revenge’ in the title.

It is during this mission that Rap first finds out that Ale is female. That must have been a fun surprise! It is also during this mission that Rap and Ale figure out how much they mean to each other. The former robots trying to figure out their very non-robotic emotions makes for a cute g-rated romance.

The pet in this story is not one most of us would consider to be pet. Snake is handy when you need to transport something into tight places. And makes a good spy when hanging out in those tight places. Snake is loving in a way that only snakes can be.

I like how the author pulled a few characters from a favorite series (Project Enterprise) and gave them their own satisfying happily ever after.

Review of General’s Holiday

I am a long-time fan of the Project Enterprise series.  General Halliwell is a recurring semi-major character who really deserved his chance at romance.  Halliwell, who likes to wonder WWPD (What would Picard do?) runs into the engaging and lovely Naxe and her friend who happens to be a frog.  If you read Ms. Jones’ book, you now that sentience can occur in just about any type of creature.  Add some impressive, if scary, plants, a long-deserted ship complex and some bugs that create quite the buzz and you get another Project Enterprise adventure full of plenty of Picard moments.

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