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Piers Platt. Piers Platt, $4.99 e-book (354p) ASIN B07DHZ8R6Y

Platt (Escape from Oz) puts a relatable face on the future of human warfare in this affecting tale of self-discovery, conflict, and loss. Sam Ombotu-Chen is an aimless college graduate with a worthless degree and a bucketload of guilt-driven depression following the death of her best friend. Trying to make something of her life, she signs up for StreaMercs, a company training remote warriors (“deathstreamers”) to wage war on the encroaching extraterrestrial horde known as the Octipedes, or Ochos, on distant planets. Their battles are broadcast as entertainment to earn money. Through several clashes, Sam transforms from a novice made flush by beginner’s luck to an experienced StreaMerc with millions of viewers, and trains naive “noobs” to survive on foreign beachheads. Sam weathers fortune and heartbreak on her way to an interplanetary conflict that jeopardizes the future of the Ochos and humans alike. Platt brings otherworldly conflict down to Earth in thrilling action sequences; adroitly portrays the bleakness of depression; and crafts a well-rounded cast that’s diverse in sexuality, ethnicity, and gender. This is a must-read for fans of video game streamers and futuristic SF. (BookLife)