Fata Morgana: A Refreshing Gin n' Soda with a Twist!

Title: Fata Morgana
Author(s): Steven R. Boyett/ Ken Mitchroney
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Expected Publication: June 2017
Genre(s): historical fiction, WWII, sci-fi, fantasy
Recommended for: fans of realistic WWII warfare scenes, and enjoy a little fantasy with their historical fiction
Synopsis (via goodreads.com): 

At the height of the air war in Europe, Captain Joe Farley and the baseball-loving, wisecracking crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress Fata Morgana are in the middle of a harrowing bombing mission over East Germany when everything goes sideways. The bombs are still falling and flak is still exploding all around the 20-ton bomber as it is knocked like a bathtub duck into another world.

Suddenly stranded with the final outcasts of a desolated world, Captain Farley navigates a maze of treachery and wonder—and finds a love seemingly decreed by fate—as his bomber becomes a pawn in a centuries-old conflict between remnants of advanced but decaying civilizations. Caught among these bitter enemies, a vast power that has brought them here for its own purposes, and a terrifying living weapon bent on their destruction, the crew must use every bit of their formidable inventiveness and courage to survive.

Fata Morgana—the epic novel of love and duty at war across the reach of time.

I just spent hours finding the perfect cast for this book, and lost the post. Where's "Wen" when you need him!!!   

I am surprised at how much I enjoyed this book; I've not read much WWII historical fiction, and I don't think anything to do with the U.S. Air Force, but I do loves me some good sci-fi!  Fata Morgana is a classic WWII American Air Force drama juxtaposed with epic science fiction, and it works!!

The WWII action is so well-researched you can't help but get caught up in the surreal-ness of the violence of war. The technical aspects are astounding, but better yet, the constant banter between characters, even during life-threatening moments,  feels authentic as well: "Let's go boys," [Broben] called out over the interphone. "Those Nazis aren't going to bomb themselves."

As this is an ARC, I'm not supposed to really quote too much, but you can't help but feel astounded at the scenario(s) these young men/ boys found themselves! Details about their flight conditions into battle seem absolutely barbaric in our present-day... 75-plus years after the fact!

Whatever boyhood they had carried with them into service had been shot, shaken, blasted, burned, belly-landed, and grieved completely out of them. 

Boyett and Mitchroney don't pussyfoot around common prejudices of the day, but turn it back on the hardened WWII pilots when Martin Proud Horse joins the crew, and we 21st  century readers can enjoy the "good ol' boys" being put in their place.

Similarly, had this been actually written in the '40's or '50's the character Wennda would most likely have been a damsel in distress, needing the captain and his crew to save her and her people. Instead, Boyett and Mitchroney write her as a powerhouse warrior, woman or not, and she is an awesome force to be reckoned with!

However, I do have a quibble or two...

1. I really liked the science fiction element, but it was a bit tricky to follow during the climactic moments near the end... and,

2. There was little to no character description for the men!  Everett is literally just referred to as "Everett," and possibly a large man who worked beside another large man, Garrett. While this might not bother some readers, when you're trying to keep TEN male crew-mates straight, especially during a frenetic battle scene, a little physical description would be helpful.

Which is why I cast the characters using any tidbit my detective skills could glean from the story. (I also tried to take actors from WWII movies/ TV to help set the scene as well...)

Otherwise, this was a great, jaw-dropping yarn, and one I would recommend to someone with a penchant for realistic WWII reenactments, as well as enjoying adventure alongside ten men from the 1940's being dropped into a whole other world, using their scruples and comradeship to survive.


4/5 stars

Thanks for reading! Keep reading to see my perfect casting (which will be helpful to those just beginning Fata Morgana!), and to see the bios of the dynamic duo who wrote this bad boy!

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this advanced copy, which in no way affected my review!

~ Spinning Jenny

Character Casting: 

B-17F Flying Fortress/ Fata Morgana:

Pilot: Captain Joseph/ Joe/ "Captain Fearless" Farley, wears an A-2 jacket. That's it. And likes a clean-shaved face.
Harrison Ford wearing an A-2 jacket in Hanover Street

Co-pilot: Lieutenant Jerry Broben, thick New Jersey accent 
A young Ray Liotta, a.k.a. Mr. New Jersey

Flight Engineer: Sgt. Wendell "Wen" Bonniker, has a "drawl," and "was a beefy, sandy-haired guy"
Donnie Wahlberg, Band of Brothers

Waist Gunner #1: Sgt. Gus Garrett, "heavyweight wrestler in high school. "Blue eyes in a work-tanned face, hair the color of cornsilk." "Farmboy"
Flags of Our Fathers

Neal McDonough, apparently from Angels in the Outfield, and every other WWII project

Waist Gunner #2: Sgt. Everett, of "Garrett and Everett," the Ernie to Garrett's Bert, and no other description other than "large man" 
Tom Hardy: Band of Brothers

Navigator: Sgt. Plavitz, constantly drumming with drumsticks, "simmer down, Gene Krupa
Drummer for "King of Swing" Benny Goodman

Bombardier: Sgt. Boney Mullen, "Tall and skinny and very pale. Gaunt face impassive behind fuming pipe." Not a big talker. 
Barry Pepper: Saving Private Ryan

Tail Gunner: Sgt. "Saint" Francis - "because he was pure as angel piss" and lied about his age to enlist
Private Ryan

Radio Operator: Sgt. Wayne "Shorty" Dubuque, loves Jack Benny, painting, and shortwave radios
Gary Burgoff/ Radar O'Reilly from M*A*S*H. Wrong war, I know, but c'mon.

Belly Gunner: Sgt. Martin Proud Horse, Lakota, small Native American that throws a wicked fast ball
Adam Beach. Every time.

Wennda (see copious detailed Wennda & Fata Morgana descriptions):
Gene Tierney: WWII pin-up and actress


Bad-ass Tierney

Daniel Brühl from Inglourious Basterds. He even has the weird smile!

Those are my picks! Based on the descriptions, how do you think I did? Would you switch anyone out? Why does Tom Hardy keep getting cast in generic Large [American] Man roles? Leave a comment below!

*For the love of Wen, PLEASE don't delete this post!!*


Yowza! Maybe THIS is our Captain Joe Farley!

STEVEN R. BOYETT’s (steveboy.com) novels include the fantasy classic Ariel, The Architect of Sleep, Elegy Beach, and Mortality Bridge. He wrote a draft of Toy Story 2 for Pixar/Disney, and created the groundbreaking online music series Podrunner and Groovelectric. He has been a professional martial arts instructor, paper marbler, advertising copywriter, proofreader, writing teacher, website designer & editor, and chapbook publisher, and DJ who has played in major cities and Burning Man. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

KEN MITCHRONEY’s (facebook.com/Ratfink) film and television credits include director, head of story, director of photography, and storyboard artist on StorksThe Lego Movie, The Ant Bully, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., The Annoying Orange Show, Mighty Magiswords, and more. His comic illustration includes Ren & Stimpy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Myth Conceptions, and creating the influential Space Ark. He is an official artist for the Ed “Big Daddy” Roth estate, and official illustrator for the Oakland Athletics and at one time the Baltimore Orioles. Mitchroney has been a professional race-car driver and pinstriper, and restores and runs vintage locomotives. He is currently involved with the restoration of the Ward Kimball collection at the Southern California Railway Museum in Perris, CA. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles.

UPDATE! March 5, 2017

So I sent my review to the publisher and the authors and got some great feedback, especially about my casting choices!! (Not sure if they have a time machine, or were just inspired in general...) Also, just this week they were preparing a new press packet and asked if they could include my review! Saaa-weeeeet!!!! Fata Morgana also goes down in history as being my first HC ARC (Hard Copy Advanced Reader's Copy) in the mail!!

I know my more aggressive cohorts in this non-biz we call book blogging sometimes have piles of books sent in the mail, but this one will always be near and dear to my heart!!!

 Keep an eye out! Fata Morgana will be in a store near you June 2017!!  

Thanks Blackstone Publishing!

~ Spinning Jenny  

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