Hot Science Fiction New Release

IMG_0165With the flood of science fiction stories coming out, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ferret out the good stuff buried in the new slush pile of easy publication.

 I’m getting increasing cranky with authors writing stuff that I get fifty pages in, and I don’t care what happens. This has happened with both established and Indie authors recently…but more often with the self-publishers.

 As an author myself, this scares me. I want my readers hanging on every word I write. So, what is the magic alchemy that keeps a reader turning pages long after they have vowed to quit in order to sleep, to eat, to breathe? To so enthrall a reader that he or she rubs reddened eyes and mumbles, “Okay, just one more chapter, then I’ll stop.”

 Here’s an interesting blog by a reviewer who attempts to answer that question, and provide insight to any authors out there.

 http://creativityhacker.ca/2014/08/26/the-5-most-common-writing-mistakes-that-break-reader-immersion/

 Cibola BurnAs both a series writer and reader, I recently picked up Cibola Burn by S.A. Corey (who we know is Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). I’ll have to admit the title rather put me off, but the cover was awesome. Besides, I liked the first three books in this intriguing space opera series.

 I also had the usual issue of a newly released, traditionally published book in that it was available only in hardback at a high price of $27.00 or for an ebook at $12.99. Thank you not Hatchette Group.

 Rant. Rant. Rant. Ahhh. Library solution.

 For me, Cibola Burn is the best so far in the series. It’s sort of a Firefly meets Apocalypse Now.

 The mysterious gate (Abaddon’s Gate) has opened up a vast new universe of empty worlds to human exploration. Made homeless by the destruction of Ceres, a shipload of desperate humans rush through the gate, searching for a place to settle. Life is like the wild west frontier, but they manage to eke out an existence on one of the brave new worlds. Then, word comes that the big corporations and governments are sending their ships with papers that contain deeds and property claims all tied up in pretty ribbons and fancy legalese to kick the current settlers off their land. Many on the ship are scientists coming to study the new world and send back reports.

 The “squatters” revolt to protect their homes. A bomb meant to explode the landing pad accidentally kills a shuttleful of passengers, including the “new mayor.”Abaddon's Gate

 A fast trigger finger on the surviving security chief from the new ship retaliates and a feud between the original settlers and the new arrivals bursts forth. Familiar characters from the earlier series, James Holden and crew, are sent in by Earth diplomats to mediate the dispute.

 Holden lands just in time to witness the security chief shoot the leader of the more violent settlers in the eye, igniting a blood feud.

 As the conflict escalates, Holden is one of the few to look around the planet, notice alien artifacts of a long dead civilization and wonder what killed the former residents all off. A highly intelligent, amorous, female scientist provides him with disconcerting observations and ardent help, much to his discomfort.

 The answer to his question is important. Amidst violence erupting from both sides, the humans suddenly realize that more is at stake then their own petty squabbles as the long buried and hibernating alien artifacts stir and awaken.

 The taste of a Firefly episode lingers at the back of my mouth, which isn’t unpleasant. “No good deed goes unpunished” also reverberates throughout the story as Holden puts human life ahead of regulation and power grabs, while trying to do the “right thing.”

 I found the solution for the panting, young scientist insulting, but it didn’t destroy the story for me. Although this book could stand alone, it is best enjoyed after reading the three previous novels. Still, I must say that I enjoyed the story and recommend it.

Assassin's Fool In this age of hard to find good science fiction, I keep stumbling over fantasy novels. And since Robin Hobb has come out with a new novel, Assassin’s Fool, that continues the Story of FitzChivalry and the Fool, I just had to read it.

 I’ll give you my reactions on it next week.

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Results of Summer Science Fiction Marketing Program

photoThe results are in from my summer marketing experience.

A few comments first. I couldn’t do everything, so I picked what interested me. You will put energy into those things you want to do and slide if you’re uncomfortable with doing it. So pick what you think you’ll like to do. And do that.

I am not a famous author (yet) and I have a small platform. I am not John Scalzi who shows up for a book signing and gets a large crowd at Powell’s. I haven’t won a Hugo (yet). I Twitter some, but usually stare at the feed and think, “What the heck can I say interesting?” I enjoy writing and editing, so most days I’m doing that rather than having coffee with friends or grabbing a movie. Consequently, my local network is small because friendships take work and I keep busy with family and writing.

I do like to blog about books I like, and I like people. I don’t have a big marketing budget, and so far have used book sales to cover all expenses such as editing, covers and marketing.

Having said this, I decided to try two approaches. One was to use Amazon’s KDP Select programs. The other was to get out and do person to person.

Which would be most cost effective?

Hands down, Amazon won. In fact, it blew me away. At zero expense, I enlisted in the KDP Select and put the first book in my series Caught in Time on sale for free for five days after Mother’s Day. I submitted to Bookbub for a listing during my free days. It would cost $100 to list on their site and I’m sure they get affiliate fees in addition…but I wasn’t big enough for them and got turned down. I submitted to Sweetfree Books and received a very enthusiastic response and got a listing there for free for my free day.

I also Tweeted and blogged about my upcoming deal.

Cibola BurnNow…I am a follower of Dean Wesley Smith and several others and my cunning plan all along was to write a series as a way of selling my books. I’m also a fan of Lois Bujold, Ann McCaffrey, Lee Modesitte, Sharon Lee, and others who have big series. In fact the two books I’m reviewing next are part of an ongoing series I have been reading: Cibola Burn and Fool’s Assassin.

The first day Caught in Time went free, over 800 books got downloaded worldwide. The second day, 3000! I had expected some lag time with the others in the series, but immediately readers started to buy them, and in fact, A Dangerous Talent for Time did amazingly well.

At the end of May, there were 4500 free worldwide downloads of Caught in Time and over 60 books sold at retail in two weeks by the time the program ended.

Excited, I plunged into the Publisher’s Book Fair to sell person to person. For this, I shared expenses with Diana Peach (Myths of the Mirror, Sunwielder) I bought $100 worth of paperbacks of my titles to fill out my inventory. I bought two crystal necklaces ($50) as incentives for a three book deal, and I paid $25 toward renting the space. I bought flowers ($10) to decorate the table and chocolates ($5). Diana paid parking, drove, paid half the rent and brought the tent she had borrowed from a friend. She also purchased inventory, brought chairs and decorations. We spent from 10 a.m. To 5 p.m. standing and talking to people…which was a lot of fun.

I sold six books at discounted prices.

Okay. We had fierce competition because over fifty tents all around us were also selling books.

Did I mention that I had fun? But my feet hurt.

So, next was the Amazon Countdown Deal experiment for July. This ran seven days and I was doubtful about how successful it would be, but it didn’t cost a dime and required very little time and energy.

Blam! Right away, readers all over the world started buying. They started with Caught in Time and then nibbled on the others. In fact I sold almost as many A Dangerous Talent for Time as I did the Caught in Time deal. July was my best month ever.

But I had a book signing in August to round out the summer. And another Countdown Deal with Cosmic Entanglement because now I was a believer. For the book signing, I advertised on my blog, Twitter and Goodreads. Once again, I bought flowers and added to inventory since I had sold out Caught in a Time at the Publisher’s Fair, and everyone buys the first in a series. But Jan’s Paperback Books provided cookies, table, tablecloth, chairs. I just had to show up with books and a smile. Diana bought $150 in radio advertising to see how that would help sales. We both put out the word to our multitude of friends.

Debbie and Jody of Jan’s Paperbacks were terrific hostesses. They agreed to consign two of our first two books. So locals, you can find my paperbacks there in Aloha, OR.

Neither I nor Diana sold a book.

Those who showed up knew me and had already bought. At a following book club, three people whispered they were going to come to my signing, and I had to tell them that it had already happened.

But did I mention that I had fun?

And sore feet.

But…I had one more promotion for August, and the Cosmic Entanglement Countdown Deal rolled around with me rubbing my hands in excited anticipation. This a great read and because I do time travel, it is also a good starting book. I expected wondrous things.

The universe has a way of surprising you.

I don’t know whether it was the timing (school starting), the title, the cover, reading fatigue or happenstance. I didn’t sell as many as before. But an interesting thing did happen. I sold four KLL/KOL books. These are books sold through the Kindle Lending Library and the new Kindle subscription program…and I sold a few on Smashwords…those not on the KDP Select Program. I hadn’t sold there in over a year.

When payday came, I had eight lines of income coming in. The USA, UK, Fr, AU, CA, EU, KLL/KOL and Smashwords. Then Amazon POD or the CreateSpace Paperbacks kicked in some too.

So, what have we learned boys and girls?

Amazon rocks. Don’t hesitate to experiment around. Online was better in this case and more cost effective than person to person. Series are good. Be in it for the long term.

And keep trying different stuff.

Anyone have comments on what did and didn’t work for you? I’d love to hear it. Maybe a guest post?

Here’s an interesting article on this subject.

http://tarasparlingwrites.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/what-makes-people-buy-self-published-books/

Because I blathered on, I’ll review Cibola Burn next week…stay tuned.

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The Anti Hero in Fantasy

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What is happening to the hero who is firm of jaw and pure of heart? Where is the man who faces dangerous odds in order to rescue fair damsel?

Lately he’s the clever, disfigured dwarf (Game of Thrones), the contorted torturer (The Blade Itself), or a multi identitied spaceship (Ancillary Justice).

The Blade Itself2

And the fair damsel is an ass kicking chick with knives to spare and attitude.

The two books I read this week have both.

Prince of FoolsThe first is Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Fools.

Jalan Kendreth of the Red March, tenth in line to the throne, likes boozing, gambling and womanizing. He is a man of no ambition and an admitted coward and liar.

He is a royal prince, who adheres enthusiastically to the rights of royally. As he leaps out of a noble lady’s window pursued by an antagonistic older brother, he justifies his roguish actions with a wide grin.

He admits to cowardice with nary a qualm, never revealing he was running away when he ran into the surprise attack and won the war. He’s acclaimed a hero, and doesn’t hesitate to trade on the glory it brings, always forgetting to mention his true intention at the time.

He lines out his philosophy by saying, “Enjoy the world while you can, I say. A shallow enough philosophy by which to live, but shallow is what I got. Besides, deep is apt to drown you.”

Through an act of sorcery, Jalan becomes entangled with a fierce Viking slave, Snorri ver Snagason who is bent on revenge for atrocities to his family. Snorri is a blonde mountain of a man with a abundant courage and a good heart that turns dark when violence taps into his “blood rage.”

Throughout the whole book Jalan is pulled along in Snorri’s wake as he struggles to free himself from their sorcerous bond. Snorri misinterprets a lot of Jalan’s actions as heroic, while Jalan recognizes the more realistic truth of his intentions. Often he tries to ply the influence of royalty only to find the farther away from court and his own country he goes, the less influence it wields. Deference turns to yawns as Jalen scrambles to find new levers with which to survive.

Prince of thornsEvidently there is a prior series that begins with Prince of Thorns set in this same universe and wildly acclaimed. The story is dark and edgy. While there are dark and edgy moments in Prince of Fools, the humor between the two men as they struggle with each other, gradually becoming fast friends, dominates the book. I loved the banter and developing friendship as the two search for release from each other. But when Jalan is told that all he has to do to be released from Snorri is to order him killed, he responds by inquiring if perchance there might be another way.

Mark Lawrence writes a thoroughly engaging story with their “buddy adventure” as the main thread. If you like your hero a bit tarnished, and your world rich with description and magic, then I recommend Prince of Fools.

 

Hunting PartyI’d never read anything by Elizabeth Moon, but I heard her name often enough. So I thought to try one of her novels. Several people in my book group offered enthusiastic suggestions, so I settled on the first in a series called Hunting Party.

Descended from a famous family of Admirals, Heris Serrano resigns her commission from the military due to mysterious circumstances that gradually are revealed. Although beneath her dignity, she hires on to captain a space yacht owned by Lady Cecelia de Marktos, a wealthy eccentric.

Lady Cecelia’s passion is riding horses, and she is bound to a hunt at Lord Thornbuckle’s, known to his peers as Bunny. Owning an entire planet, Lord Thornbuckle has recreated his version of an old English hunt. Unfortunately, before Cecelia can get away, her sister ropes her into taking along her spoiled son, Ronnie, and his three friends, George, Bubbles and Raffele. Bubbles is Lord Thornbuckle’s daughter.

Seems Ronnie, the profligate son, bedded the prince’s current mistress and then bragged about it, causing full royal fury complete with death threats. So Ronnie is put on probation and sent away with his maiden aunt and a few friends.

All the commotion has set back the schedule, and Heris is pressured to get underway without a full inspection. Only gradually, after launch, does she come to realize how lax and sloppy the former captain ran the ship. A serious problem develops into the journey that requires they put in the nearest shipyard for repairs. Heris tries her best to calm down her new employer who will miss opening day by suggesting a bet. If the repairs extend past a certain deadline, she will learn how to ride, and if they make their timetable, Lady Cecelia will learn about her ship.

Contraband is discovered as parts are replaced, causing legal delays, so Heris agrees to train on Lady Cecelia’s mechanical mount on board the ship and ride at the hunt. Cecelia relents and agrees to learn more about her yacht. The two develop a friendship.

They arrive, a bit late, but intact. Ronnie is bored by the hunt and suggests a midnight escape in Lord Thornbuckle’s flitter with a picnic at dawn. Bubbles remembers a childhood island where the family would go camping. They head there, but as they approach the island, they are waved off. When they circle back, they are shot down.

It turns out the island is being used illegally for a different kind of hunt and Heris’s former crew is involved. Now Ronnie and his friends are also in danger for their lives.

Moon turns in her version of The Hunger Games that involve an old nemesis of Heris’s and a mysterious Mr. Smith that wears boots that leave a royal print.

Plot drives this story and provides a pleasant tale with danger, friendship, intrigue and bravery. Not a wilting violet among these strong females with Heris as the kickass captain who can take charge when things become dangerous, and who has extra guns and attitude to spare.

 

 

 

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Science Fiction Hugo Awards

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Excitement! The Hugo winners were announced this past Sunday. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie took the prize for best science fiction novel.

Made me happy. (See my March 12 blog that comments on the novel)

Ancillary Justice

Also, winner for best novelette is Mary Robinette Kowal for her “the Lady Astronaut of Mars.” Mary is formerly from the Northwest and keeps in touch. Recently, she was at Powell’s bookstore for a signing…and puppet show. Mary is an accomplished puppeteer also. She was reading from her recent novel, Without a Summer. Mary writes in the Jane Austen style and milieu, but adds steampunk magic to her stories. In fact there are rumors that she’s Jane Austen who has time traveled to the present day. Compare the photos of Jane and Mary at the end of the blog. Eerily alike?

But it’s only a rumor. *wink* I promised not to tell.

Charming and energetic, she was delightful company during a small dinner afterwards. She told us of plans that scheduled her to drive to a signing in Gresham the next day, and later that night she was meeting friends in Portland. It seems TOR authors do quite a bit of traveling. She is also the Vice President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Hmmm…

Shades of summerAs much as I like Mary and wish her well, I notice a strong presence of TOR, Orbit and Baen writers in the winning list once again. Is the Hugo a closed shop to big publishers only?

What about Hugh Howey, Ryk Brown or Christpher Nuttall? All with popular novels that are selling extremely well.

Is that a sniff of politics I smell? Collusion?

Either way, the Hugo awards have offered me a wonderful list of science fiction stories that I have read and enjoyed over the years…especially back in the day before the internet when word of mouth was the only other way you discovered good sci fi.

If anyone was talking.

Before this blog and others like it.

So here is the list for 2014. Check it out and enjoy all the great science fiction.Ancillary Sword

The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, Loncon 3, has announced the 2014 Hugo Award winners. 3587 valid ballots were received and counted in the final ballot.

BEST NOVEL

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)

BEST NOVELLA

“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)

BEST NOVELETTE

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com /Tor.com, 09-2013

BEST SHORT STORY

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

BEST RELATED WORK

“We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

“Time” by Randall Munroe (xkcd)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM

Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films;Warner Bros.)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM

Game of Thrones “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM

Ellen Datlow

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM

Ginjer Buchanan

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

Julie Dillon

BEST SEMIPROZINE

Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki

BEST FANZINE

A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher

BEST FANCAST

SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester

BEST FAN WRITER

Kameron Hurley

BEST FAN ARTIST

Sarah Webb

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award)

Sofia Samatar

The 2014 Hugo Award winners were announced on Sunday evening, August 17, at the ExCel Converntion Centre in London, England. The ceremony was hosted by Justina Robson, Geoff Ryman. Text-based CoverItLive coverage of the ceremony was provided through the Hugo Awards web site. Video streaming coverage was provided by Ustream.

The 2014 Hugo trophy base was designed by Joy Alyssa Day

See the Final Ballot Details for a full breakdown of votes, subsequent placements, and nomination counts.

So, time traveler or not?  you decide.Jane-Austen-waxwork

Jane Austen/Mary Robinette Kowal

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Science Fiction Author Signing

IMG_0174One more program left in my marketing endeavors and the results will be in for this summer’s attempts. I’ll let you know which was the most successful: online or face to face.

On August 16, Cosmic Entanglement will be eligible for the Amazon Countdown Deal. It will be $.99 for 16/17, $1.99 for 18/19, $2.99 for 20/21, $3.99 for 22/23, then back to regular price. It’s a seven day special. Cosmic has never been discounted before, so this should be interesting.

It’s the third in the series, but, hey, we’re dealing with time travel here, and it makes a nice introduction to several other books. You get to see Rowyna as a young clone, you meet Braden and Richard as kids and discover how each finds his own path: Richard into the Timelab and Braden out into space on the Seeker. Also, you experience a pivotal scene that provided the inspiration for my current novel, Someone’s Clone due out in late Fall. Someone’s Clone begins with a murder, goes to a time jump into the future, and then involves a developing war between the Alysians and invading Earthlings.

Yes, invading Earthlings. A bit of a twist.

I want to thank Jan’s Paperback in Aloha, Oregon for supporting Diana and my authors’ signing. It was a well organized event and I very much enjoyed myself. Thanks Debbie and Jody.photo

Diana Peach (Myths of the Mirror, Sunwielder) has been a great companion author throughout all our book festivals and signing endeavors. In spite of the wind blowing over my roses and splashing water all over her at the festival, and then me juggling a water glass that landed in her lap at the signing, she weathered all liquid events with aplomb and a gracious smile. A true lady.

Recently I’ve noticed that many of the best selling science fiction novels are priced on Kindle at $9.99 and up. Run a finger over some of the well known authors and see what the bigger publishers are asking for a downloaded book. Right now Amazon is engaged in several battles to get prices down while being painted as the bad guy in the negotiations. When the cost of ebook production is so low, those margins are outrageous. The customer is paying for infrastructure and salaries of the big publishers. Also, they are supporting flying best selling authors all over for signings, thus making them even bigger best selling authors. Recently, John Scalzi tweeted that he was tired of traveling so much. The small publisher, like me, doesn’t have the deep pockets to do this. I go where I can drive. But you, the customer, are paying for these big named authors out of the prices larger publishers put on ebooks.

I’ll step off the soap box. Sorry, these rants just spontaneously combust.
So…

For those science oriented readers who are feeling slighted by a recent lack of hard science news…I have an interesting tidbit for you. With the caveat that I discovered this on the internet, and all that implies, check out the following link.

http://www.space.com/26713-impossible-space-engine-nasa-test.html

14-space-future-spaceflightTwo independent labs claim that a means of space propulsion has been validated using what they are calling the ” em drive,” or vacuum plasma thruster. The idea is to bounce microwaves around in a closed container. These microwaves are generated by using electricity powered by solar energy. The engine can work forever as long as the hardware holds out. In 2009 a team of Chinese scientists built it and claimed they could produce 720 millinewtons, which is reported as enough to build a satellite thruster.

Then, Guido Fetta and a team at Nasa Eagleworks at the Johnson Space Center has produced a paper that demonstrates a similar engine using the same principles does indeed produce thrust…but only 30 to 50 millinewtons. There’s a far ways to go, but think of the advantageous of not having to carry fuel on board, but be able to get your thrust from solar energy.

Wow! Not having to carry a heavy load of fuel would be a major advance in the traveling to Mars program. Now, how fast can it get going?

Hmmm… going to Mars for an author’s signing? Wonder when that might happen? I would think they’d have lots of time to huddle indoors and read great scifi on the red planet, eh? A future market?

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Superstar Science Fiction Marketeer

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Along with recommended science fiction and fantasy, I have been recently discussing self publishing and marketing.

 And…no one is more at the forefront of marketing for the Indie author than Hugh Howey.

I first became aware of Hugh Howey when I downloaded a free, self-published, short story off of Amazon called Wool. WoolAt the time, I didn’t realize it was a short story, but I had heard a bit about it and it showed up on my Amazon’s “suggested for you” list.

Seemed like an odd title, but it was free and intriguing noises were being made about it.

Wool2 There followed on Amazon a longer sequel of 126 pages called Wool 2: Proper Gauge for .99 and then a 106 page story called Wool 3: Casting Off for .99, a little longer at 166 pages Wool 4: the Unraveling was $1.99, and finally a 259 page novelette, Wool 5: The Stranded for $2.99.wool3

 Hugh Howey says in July 2011 he wrote the first short story, never marketed it, never mentioned it on his blog, but readers clamored to know more about the world with the silos. Offered free, many downloaded, read it and wanted more.

 So he wrote more.Wool4

Five more.Wool5

 The stories were bundled into an omnibus called Wool Omnibus Edition 1-5 for $5.99.

 Hugh Howey was on fire.

 WoolFollowing this success, he continued with The Shift series, much in the same vein as WoolFirst Shift at 236 pages, Second Shift at 266 pages and Third Shift at 282 pages all collected together and in 2013 offered the Shift Omnibus. Wool went to hardback, published by Random House, UK in 2013 and Ridley Scott Productions is discussing making a movie of Wool.

 Then, Hugh Howey opened the doors to his Silo world, and authors from all over are now writing stories and novels in the Silo Universe. Wider distribution came with audiobooks. Also, Shift can be found in Scribd’s subscription listings.

 This is where it becomes apparent that “content is king,” and some stories fire the imagination of their readers and take off to become mega hits if the author is paying attention to the new trends.

 And Howey was.

 It was an undefinable, combustible mixture of great storytelling, fresh marketing approaches and being at the right place at the right time.

 Hugh Howey has been very clever and innovative in how his stories were released out into the mad maelstrom of the new publishing world.Shift

 Then one year ago (2013), he published his novel, Dust, also through CreateSpace, that wrapped up his Silo trilogy.

 “Wool introduces the world of the silo, Shift tells the story of its creation and Dust brings about its downfall.”

DustDust is a full novel of 464 pages. Sold in paperback ($14.78), Audiobook ($12.33) or Kindle ($5.99). I happened to grab it out of my local library in the paperback version. Before you yell cheapskate too loud, I did buy the Wool version first and then accidentally found Dust in my library. *snatch*

 As a finale to an exciting trilogy, it delivers. Once again the reader encounters the determined Mayor Juliette who understands more than anyone the horrors of the silo and desperately tries to save her people. Dust also brings back the grittiness of life in the silo with the good, the bad, and the clueless that live there.

It’s a story of the human spirit that never gives up, that adapts and copes in order to survive against horrifying odds.

But you have to start at the beginning. You have to start with Wool.

 And then, you’ll be hooked.

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Filed under Alien worlds, Best selling science fiction, Disaster Fiction, Dystopia Earth, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, environmental issues in science fiction, Hugh Howey, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Marketing and selling novels, Post Apocalyptic, science fiction, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Self-publishing, The future of publishing

Clones in Science Fiction

IMG_0174I’m out and about.

Portland’s summer weather is beautiful. So come meet me for a book signing at Jan’s Paperback Saturday, August 9 from 1:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. (See left sidebar for more details)

Currently, clones are dominating my writing in my next novel entitled, Someone’s Clone, which is due out in the Fall. It starts with murder, then time travel, conflict between Terrans and Alysians and includes the enigmatic and alien Enjelise, Angel…a stew of delightful action with an explosive ending.

So I rummaged through my reading and decided to suggest some of my favorite novels that feature clones. Both have won a Hugo Award, and both are classics of the 80’s.

The Snow Queen The first is Joan D. Vinge’s Snow Queen. I first read this a while ago, when it won a Hugo for best science fiction, but I remembered the rich description of Tiamat and the beautiful cold ruler Arienrhod. Told from the viewpoint of Moon Dawntreader of the summer people, it is a story of love and the transfer of power. With a nod to Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, this story is set in the far future on the twin sun planet Tiamat that is isolated by a stargate and suppressed by the far flung empire of the Hegemony.

Moon Dawntreader of the summer people is in love with Sparks, her cousin, but he gets caught up by the ruthless winter queen, Arienrhod, when he travels to the city of Carbuncle. To save him, Moon goes through several trials and tribulations. In an effort to prolong her reign, the Snow Queen has eight clones sprinkled throughout the summer or lower half of Tiamat. Whichever one becomes the strongest and survives will be crowned the next ruler.

Guess who that might be?

The Snow Queen is followed by The Summer Queen and is also a good read. The new queen, Moon Dawntreader, realizes that ruling isn’t as fun as she’d expected. A hidden old technology, with a enormous data base, lies buried beneath the planet’s capitol. Manifesting as the Sybil, it holds together the old Empire’s society, but is now breaking down.The Summer Queen

With the rise of the summer solstice, a century of exploitation by the Hegemony passes. Summer Queen, Moon Dawntreader, appointed to lead her people back to the ancient traditional ways, chooses instead to prepare them to meet the return of the mighty Empire on equal terms.

Complex, with description and more character driven than action, this story contains a fascinating world and future.

 

CyteenAnother Hugo winner, and one of my favorite authors, is C.J. Cherryh. Her Cyteen series also is told from the viewpoint of a clone and is filled with political intrigue, murder and betrayal.

Set in Cherryh’s Merchanters’ Universe (which you should visit extensively), Reseune is a laboratory Empire that creates genetically modified humans for a variety of tasks from farmers to soldiers. These created humans have no legal rights. They are the Azi (short for from A to Z) socially stratified and task-defined slaves.

Ariadne Emory is the chief administrator holding the power in Reseune, but one morning she is found dead in her room. To hang onto her immense power, her advisors realize they can replicate her and program her personality to take the place of the dead original. They plan to manipulate her personality to control her.Cyteen The Rebirth

Cyteen the VindicationBut Ari has other ideas.

Those who love psychological drama, politics, and the struggle to be an individual in a repressive society will like this. Those who prefer the nonstop action of a James Corey will prefer another novel.

Or you could be like me, and like both.

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