Stone & Iris by Jonathan Ballagh

Title: Stone & Iris
Author: Jonathan Ballagh
Illustrator: Ben J. Adams
Date Added: May 25, 2017
Date Started: July 1, 2017
Date Finished: July 5, 2017
Reading Duration: 4 days
Genre: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction

Pages: 32
Publication Date: January 10, 2016
Publisher: Self
Media: Paperback

Shares Paradigms With: SOMA, The Matrix


A mysterious breakthrough brings Alison Shaw to the edge of her vanishing world. Everything she knows will soon be gone—everything except the memory of an unlikely friend. But is their bond strong enough for her to hold on to? And is a memory worth living for when nothing else is left?

This book was gifted to me personally by the author, but I still write my review with critical awareness and in good faith, though I suppose it remains entirely possible, if not probable, that I have some unconscious biases based on our cordial rapport and friendly correspondences.  I believe writers need to support one another, giving critiques when necessary and giving credit when and where it’s due.
I had to read Stone & Iris twice in order to understand it.  This is one of the best things any story can force me to do in regards to being ingenious enough to require knowledge of the end in order to comprehend the underlying intricacies of the plot.  I hesitate to divulge too much detail, since uncovering the truth about Alison, Jeremy, and David is the core revelation that leaves you reeling, and it more than likely will require at least two reads.  Since the story is only 32 pages, it’s not a lengthy foray per se, but if you want to understand what really happened, it will require more than just a pondering skim.
Though it doesn’t take place within Ballagh’s Quantum Worlds Series, Stone nevertheless lays a foundation for it, and it could be considered the precursor to the artifex (the androids in his fore mentioned Quantum Worlds duology) and AI technology.  The narrative appears to be confusing, because it’s supposed to be.  Certain characters switch roles in seemingly nonsensical ways that nevertheless have valid reasons.  Writing a story that is purposely haphazard is no easy feat, because you’re seeking to deliberately confuse the reader so that they will wonder why they’re confused.
The author told me that Stone & Iris is the work he’s most proud of, and that pride is more than warranted.  It’s a calculated yet bittersweet story about consciousness and reality that shows the lengths to which we will cling to what we truly love.
5 stars.

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The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh (The Quantum Worlds #1)

The Quantum Worlds

The Quantum Ghost (TQW #2)–>

Title: The Quantum Door
Series Title: Quantum World
Author: Jonathan Ballagh
Illustrator: Ben J. Adams
Date Added: February 18, 2016
Date Started: March 3, 2017
Date Finished: March 31, 2017
Reading Duration: 28 days
Genre: Mid-Grade/Young Adult, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian

Pages: 255
Publication Date: August 14, 2015
Publisher: Self-Published
Media: eBook/Kindle

Shares Paradigms With: Stranger Things, The Matrix

Discover what lies beyond the Quantum Door. The mysterious woods behind Brady and Felix’s house have been deserted for years. But things change when a fence goes up and the brothers notice strange things happening at night. From the moment they dare cross the fence, the brothers enter a world of dark technological secrets that will rock the foundation of everything they know to be true. And once they enter, there’s no turning back. *Some places are better left alone…*


This was a decent mid-grade/YA science fiction novel with excellent pacing, non-stop action, and relatable characters.  Often when you have two (especially same gender) sibling characters, their descriptions will start to run together, but this wasn’t the case with Brady and Felix.  The older Brady is more cautious and a bit shier, while his younger brother Felix is bolder, almost reckless, and an inventive genius.

The story reminded me of Stranger Things right off the bat with its “mysterious girl in the woods,” and “strange power outages,” but that’s about as deep as it goes with that particular narrative.  The Matrix-y parts have to do with the neurogeists (“brain ghosts”), which are terrifying antagonists similar looking to the sentinels that the boys and their new friend Nova have to face beyond the titular door where she comes from.  There are more Matrix-like paradigms, but I’d be wading into spoiler territory if I revealed them.  There’s also an interesting God motif insofar as all powerful beings choose not to intervene, and humans pay the (potentially deserved) price for our own hubris, but even deities can regret their choices.

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