“Dude, where’s my jetpack?” I loved this T-shirt when it made its debut (threadless?) a few years ago. It appears to be based on an article in Discovery magazine from 2007, where the authors had the revelation, that, in fact, the future was here and it sucked. Flying cars? Nope. Jetpack? Nope. Aliens? Nope (well, microbes, maybe, whatevs). Warp speed? Nope. Lightsabers? Nope. Nada. All we get is some news analyst tool rubbing his smartboard on CNN, or the lurking dread of someone trying to instant chat you on Facebook. My first reaction to the realization that technology is actually pretty stagnant? I glorified the survivalist branch of speculative fiction. You know it, you love it — siphoning gas from overturned tanker trucks while dirt biking and shotgunning through desert wastelands. “Red Dawn”-style bug-outs in the mountains. And those books and movies are, frankly, awesome — but S. Andrew Swann’s latest trilogy brings a li’l swagga back to spaceship sci-fi. S. Andrew Swann (aka “Steve”) is a Cleveland writer who has published about a dozen novels on DAW books, a respected sci-fi/fantasy publisher that’s been around for almost 40 years. What’s terrible is, I didn’t really know about his books until pretty recently, and I suspect there are more people like me out there. So don’t be like me: Check out a professional, local writer (this isn’t some self-published memoir, people!) and trust me, the books are excellent. This is the first trilogy I’ve completed in seven years. (Seriously, the last one was “His Dark Materials”.) The chapters feature a James Patterson-esque short, tense style that keeps you reading and reading long into the night. It has really cool extensions of today’s technologies 400 years into the future. (Nanotech, DNA manipulation and artificial intelligence have become known as the “heretical technologies”.) There’s an anarchist planet called Bakunin, which is simultaneously the Detroit and the Switzerland of the Milky Way. There’s loads of political intrigue as the Catholic Church and the Islamic Caliphate square off (sort of) for galactic supremacy. Strangely enough, the Lutherans seem to have no place in the year 2525. (Is this guy from Ohio? No Lutherans, really?) Finally, CAT PEOPLE, yo. I said it: Much like bacon or a nurse’s outfit, cat people make anything better, and in this case much, much better. Two years ago, I would have said pish-posh to such silliness, but one thing the Great Recession hasn’t taken away (besides our jobs, cars, vacations — hell, even eating out is pretty much gone) is our ability to dream a time and place that is not our own. I’m excited to read science fiction that’s a pure escape from our current reality, and I’m glad that the fine art of the story hasn’t been lost. There is enough “real” science that you can suspend your disbelief and believe in the action, and there is enough action that you want to keep reading and won’t get bogged down. This series is the porridge that’s just right. So, here’s the shameless plug: Please consider an afternoon in Massillon on Saturday, March 12 from 1-3 p.m. Steve Swann will be signing copies of the Apotheosis Trilogy (“Prophets”, “Heretics” and “Messiah”) at Backlist Books in Massillon, along with three other great authors signing books as well. (Paranormal romance! Horror!) Get there early and spend an hour at the art museum (one block away), get a mocha at the Chit Chat, some pizza at Smiley’s or a sandwich at the Blue Heron. Check out Massillon’s very own awesome art gallery, the 13th Floor. Check out Massillon’s other book stops, too: Heroic Adventures comic shop and the Village Bookshelf. Learn how to make a day of it with nary a chain store in sight, because the day is coming when we might be all you’ve got!