Category Archives: Alternate Universes

Author: Juggler in disguise

As an author, I often feel like a juggler, tossing a multitude of balls around, trying to get everything accomplished.

First ball that gets thrown into the air is the time needed for the actual act of writing. Many experts suggest delegating specific segments of time each day to write.

Doesn’t work in my life.

Sometimes my creative juices are flowing and the words pour out. At other times, I stare at the wall wondering what is going to happen next, or I have other events that demand my attention. Yesterday, I was at the dentist.

That’s when Larry Brook’s outline suggestions help me move to the next chapter. When I start a book, I spend time laying out an outline that encompasses his plot points and pinch points. I have an idea of the overall scheme of the book. The devil is in the details as to how it is all going to happen.

But how do I know to do this?

Research.

That ball of time is important, but it takes time to learn about the writing game if you’re planning on being good. Hundreds of websites offer helpful advice of how to improve your writing. I have to balance what will make me better against what will confuse me. Not all advice is right for what I write. I have found that science fiction is written differently than, say, fantasy. Readers of science fiction want fast moving action with lots of tech toys and interesting science. The best stories also include relatable characters and an interesting plot. Fantasy leans more toward elaborate descriptions of time and place. Characters often have a mentor who guides an acolyte fighting against evil creatures. Often a magic system is in place. Rarely does it happen in a futuristic society. Romance readers require a still different format. Taking the time to understand your genre is critical.

Then there’s editing that bounces into the picture. I doubt there is any author that gets it right on the first draft. As for me, I have my writing group edit, I edit, and often a professional editor goes through it. I spend hours using the search/find on words such as that, was, looked, and lately some. I love to repeat words and often need to tighten up my sentences. So a lot of time is spent in the editing penalty box… And still I find errors. I also edit over fifty pages a week for my writing group as a reciprocal for their edits. However, I find editing others’ work helpful to understand what makes my stories sing.

The third segment that I have to juggle around is blogging and reading other websites. I love to blog about my favorite books and read what other authors are doing. (hence, this blog) I spent a huge chunk of time on Utube watching Brandon Sanderson’s lecture series. It was helpful. I should interact more on Facebook, Twitter and others, but it takes so much time because I end up going down the garden path. You know what I mean. You start to read one article, and next thing, hours have passed and you’re asking: How did I end up here, and where has the time gone?”

I spend a major part of a day on my blog, but I can’t even begin to blog until I’ve read the book that I want to suggest. Have you seen how long some books are? Actually, it’s my own fault, as I like to submerse myself into a world. But keeping up on the reading is a major commitment.

Then there’s marketing. Gah! Now with this time sphere, you can vary your involvement. A signing or attending a convention takes a huge portion of time and money. Signing up for an ad takes only money and a little bit of time. An author has to weigh the results to his bottomline. Time needs to be spent researching the best avenue for marketing according to the author’s resources and situation. An author with a bestseller and an eager publishing house may spend days traveling and attending conventions or signings while a self-publisher with a modest pocketbook (like moi) may be more limited. Each individual has different options available. I attended a craft show and sold very little, but a fellow fantasy writer in her own hometown where she was well known sold sixty paperbacks at a Christmas open market. Seasonality can be key. And a book about a dog’s journey might sell at a vet’s, or an advice book sell in a small boutique, whereas science fiction might not sell well there.

Side note here is that next Friday (after Easter is over) my book Cosmic Entanglement will be advertised on Freebooksy and be offered free for a limited time only on April 20, 21, and 22. Although this is the third book of the series, it can be read first.

Time travel stories will let you do that.

Last Friday Free Kindle Books and Tips advertised Caught in Time. They just wanted a mention in my blog and here it is. So check them out. In March I advertised with Book Barbarian. They take only science fiction and fantasy, but I sold the whole series to a couple of readers.

You can buy the series and get a special price on Amazon. Amazon provides several ways that help authors sell. Check out my Author’s Central page under Sheron Wood McCartha.

Which brings me to the business part of the juggling act. Yes, if you are serious about the time commitments that you will need to make, then you should take the time to rough out a business plan or at least a business direction. We all know that if you don’t know where you are going, often you’ll get lost or end up in the wrong place. How many books do you plan to write this year? How much do you need to sell to pay for a cover? And, gosh, who’s going to do it? Do you keep track of sales? Do you even control that information? How are you going to publish and distribute? A big publisher? A small publisher? Self publishing? And how are you going to decide?

While you’re pondering that momentous decision and reading blogs about it or talking to colleagues, the laundry is beeping, you’re running out of food, and the house needs a vacuum. Maybe you have delegated some of these chores to a significant other, but life and family still come rolling in and want attention. I have a smallish social life, but Sunday I’ll be attending a family and friends get together. I spent two hours at social security today so my daughter’s married name will be legal on her taxes.

Juggle. Juggle.

And finally, (or maybe not) is that ball with the great big word job. Whether you’re a mom, and your job is raising kids, or a wage earner out in the business world, that ten-ton ball can be hard to juggle around. You’ll have to reshape and be creative with your tosses.

It can be quite an act for anyone wanting to be an author.

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This week I picked an unusual book for me.

I warned you.

I’m not one for fairies and such, but trans-dimensional worlds were involved, and again it was a Powell’s reading selection. I’m trying to keep up in my reading group and writer activities also.

It turns out that Tinker by Wen Spencer was delightful.

Tinker is a feisty, petite orphan who scratches out a living in a junkyard located in near-future Pittsburg, which now exists mostly in the land of the elves. A trans-dimensional gate built by her father is responsible for the situation. When a pack of wargs chases Windward, an Elven noble, into her scrap yard, she saves his life and becomes entangled in the royal elven court, which is full of intrigue. Tinker is one of very few who is able who understands the science involved in building the gate that brought Pittsburgh to the land of the elves. When certain enemies discover that, she becomes vulnerable to kidnapping by those who want to control or destroy the gate.

Possessing genius level mental ability, steel-toed boots, and a “take no prisoners” attitude, she takes on the NBA, the Elven court, technology smugglers, and an amorous, but powerful, elf out to change her life in disturbing ways.

A delightful, fun romp with engaging characters and non-stop action, Tinker takes everything in stride, including her first kiss.

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Filed under Alternate Reality in Literature, Alternate Universes, Best selling author, fantasy series, Marketing and selling novels, modifying humans, Paranormal Romance, Self-publishing, the fae, Wizards and magic

Time to Read: Bone Clocks

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Interesting science news:

Currently I’m writing about space travel. It’s a story called Worlds too Far and has been a blast to write. I had the convoy of ships stop at an asteroid field for water and minerals…then I saw this great article on space.com.

Also turns out that oxygen has been found within a comet. There’s more out there in space than man can imagine…. except for we science fiction types.

http://www.space.com/30582-asteroid-mining-water-propulsion.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=more-from-space14-space-future-spaceflight

In the marketing information section:

This month I’m back to marketing. I will be trying out the Amazon Countdown for Caught in Time January 22 thru 29 and combining with Booksends on January 22 @ 99 cents and Bargain Booksy @ 99 cents on the 23rd. With Countdown, the price goes up every two days so get in early for the best price. I like that doing it this way encourages readers to act immediately rather than put off a purchase. Caught in Time is my first book, although often I’ve said that with time travel you can read any of the the first three and be fine. Each book in the series has a stand alone story. I’ve tried to model Lois McMasters Bujold’s concept of a series having a timeline with each book complete in itself.

November’s marketing strategy turned out well using Booksends for Cosmic Entanglement and carried over into December where I was too busy to do much marketing. Now’s a new year and I want to keep momentum going.

Figuring out marketing is difficult. Personal signings require a large local fan base and craft shows aren’t always successful. Having said that, one of the authors in my writing group sold 70 books at a local book fair over the holiday. So, you never know. The word got out.

Bone Clock D. MitchellBook Review:

This week I’ll report on one of my 2016 selections. A lot of people have read this to mixed reviews. It is different– Urban Fantasy with a background of paranormal.

Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Voice. Sometimes a story has a character with a distinctive voice brought on by unique dialogue and particular behaviors.

Bone Clocks tells a story unlike any I’ve read in speculative fiction. Actually, it’s four sections told from different viewpoints that intersect each other, going from 1950 to the far future.

The start is the strongest part of the book, as fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes has a row with her mother and hies off to live with her boyfriend only to discover him in bed with her best friend. A fifteen year old, torn by betrayal, doesn’t stop to consider the dangers and struggle in store for a homeless and penniless young girl as she runs off aimlessly and grief-stricken.

But Holly is no ordinary girl. She hears “radio voices” and, as a young girl, was visited frequently in the night in her bedroom by a strange and ghostly woman who would have conversations with her. Something is going on behind the curtain, but Mitchell is shy about revealing all too soon.

We skip to Hughe’s part in the story. Hugh Lamb is the opposite of Holly. A rich kid at university with low morals and a clever mind, Hugh manipulates his friends, eventually causing one to suicide. In the end of the second section, he briefly meets up with Holly but selects to follow strange, shady beings who promise immortality and awesome power. We leave the dangerous Hugh tripping off with his new companions. The timeline then continues with Ed, a wartime journalist and Crispin, an embittered author, past his prime.

Eventually two factions reveal themselves in the background. One powerful and immortal faction fights for the survival of humankind; the other immortal aliens, are trying to consume humans. The ending is a bit of a let down and confusing for me.

However, the strange and powerful immortals in the background fighting for power while only certain human with psychic powers are aware was interesting.

Still, if you are looking for a different slant to a speculative novel, you might enjoy the Bone Clocks.

Some readers did; some didn’t.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, Alternate Universes, Best selling science fiction, book fairs, Comets and asteroids, ebook marketing, hard science, Lois McMasters Bujold, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction science, science fiction series, Self-publishing, Space opera, time travel, Uncategorized, Urban Fantasy

Glad Tidings for Self Publishers

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I write about human clones, so I keep an eye out for news on cloning advancements. Here is a startling article I found on news.yahoo.com.

Boyalife in China is setting up an extensive animal cloning factory in partnership with Sooam from South Korea to be located in Tiajin, China where it will to clone cows, dogs, racehorses and other animals.

Okay…is this step one? How soon will human cloning follow, and what will be the guidelines? Scientist there have already indicated that they can clone humans but are holding back because of politics and public sentiment.clones

I just published on Amazon my eighth book, Time’s Equation in ebook and I’m waiting for the proof of the paperback. Now I’m staring marketing in the eye and can’t hide out with the excuse that I’m under a publishing deadline. Marketing my favorite exercise…not.bk8_cover_print

To inspire myself and confirm that I’m on the right path, I am reproducing (with additional comments) an article I saw on wiseinkblog.com.

Read and rejoice all indie authors.

Self-published books accounted for 31% of all e-book sales in the Kindle Store in 2014. Indie books account for 31% of e-books.

However,
40% of all e-book revenue is going to indie authors. In other words, indies are raking in more money, which means that their sales figures are higher than many of their traditional counterparts. Comment: We can receive 70% of retail revenues for eBooks over $2.99. And self publishers can set their price for both ebook and paperback, balancing marketability and margin profit.

Which brings us to …
Indie books represent 25% of books on Amazon’s e-book bestseller list. Readers aren’t nearly as prejudiced against indie books as they were even a few years ago, and their buying practices suggest it! Comment: Looks like self publishing is becoming more and more “acceptable.” Maybe the story is more important than who publishes it. Maybe Indie authors are being more careful about how it is written.

And in addition…
You can safely dismiss the 50 Shades effect. Only 1.2% of self-published books sales are for erotica titles, which proves that you can indie publish successfully without writing a sex book. Comment: Thank goodness as porn is not in my writing comfort zone.

But best yet…
In Smashwords’ 2014 survey, they found that pricing your e-book at $.99 won’t make you rich. In fact, $2.99-3.99 is the sweet spot for a bestseller, and earn more in sales than books priced higher. Comment: I read Mark Coker’s excellent article on self publishing and have priced all my eBooks at $3.99. However, I see a movement by traditional publishing to raise the bar, and in fact a large number of popular authors published traditionally are ebook pricing at $10 and up.

Think you can only release shorts and novellas on e-book? Think again. The bestselling books in e-book are usually over 100,000 words. Maybe because they’re easier to hold? Comment: I usually shoot for 100,000 words, although read my previous blog that discusses a trend towards shorter novels that get bundled later on.

And increasingly…
According to Bowker, 458,000 books were indie pubbed in 2013 in the US. That’s up 437% from 2008! The self-publishing ranks are growing, and with increasing number comes more exciting and innovative strategies to publish your perfect book. Comment: I own my own ISBN and list on Bowker.

Best news yet…
It’s a good time to be a woman. Indie bestsellers are twice as likely to be written by a woman than traditionally published bestsellers (67% versus 39%). Comment: Yeah! Since I am one, this was good to hear. Science fiction used to be male dominated, but new female authors are getting noticed.

(See me jumping up and down)

This week I’m reading two polar opposite books. Golden Son by Pierce Brown and Solar Express by L. E. Modesitte, Jr.

Golden SonGolden Son is part of a trilogy consisting of Red Rising, Golden Son and Morning Star.
A universe where color dictates the social hierarchy of humans. Darrow is a red, his father a low class miner under the thumb of the golds. After Darrow’s beloved wife is hanged by Golds, he vows vengeance and using high tech and body carvers is transformed into a gold where he hopes to infiltrate and destroy them from within. Then, he gets to know Golds from the inside; their conflicts, their deceptions and their humanity. Darrow becomes “Reaper” a feared battle warrior who kills thousands, but not without remorse or guilt as he tries to change a society spread out among worlds.Red Rising

While the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, I personally found the story a bit overly dramatic. Darrow is on a mission to disrupt a rigid and inequitable social structure and provides some exciting battle sequences, but the angst and internal drama was a bit much for me.

The constructed world, however, with Roman names and culture that contrasted with high tech weaponry and biology was very interesting.

Solar ExpressDue to the holidays, I have not completed Solar Express, but L. E. Modesitte is one of my favorite authors. So far, it is dry and a bit slow, but that is Modesitte at the beginning of many of his stories. The idea of discovering what at first appears to be a comet, but turns into an alien artifact that changes the sun, is fascinating. So I’m sticking with it for now. Stay tuned.

While husband and in-laws have recently chopped and brought home the living room tree (I’m in Oregon where there are tree farms ten minutes away from me), decorated the house, enjoyed a large Thanksgiving dinner with new relations (daughter’s newly engaged), published my eighth book, Time’s Equation, I haven’t finished reading Solar Express and will report on it next week.

As people immerse themselves in the holidays, reading may taper off, but hopefully buying picks up, although November was a good month for my sales. How about you?

After all, a good book makes an excellent gift at a good price for anyone to enjoy. And the sheer variety of great titles makes it easy to personalize for that special person.

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Filed under alien life forms, aliens, Aliens in Science Fiction, Alternate Universes, artificial nature, Best selling science fiction, Clones, Clones in science, Comets, ebook marketing, first contact, gene modification, genetic manipulation, hard science, Hard science fiction, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Marketing and selling novels, military science fiction, Political Science Fiction, science fiction, Science Fiction Anthology, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Science fiction world building, science news, Self-publishing

Quantum Theory Noir Thriller: hard science in science fiction

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Grab your chisels ladies and gentlemen. For those of you who have been mumbling that McCartha has gone soft, this week’s review is for you.

It’s all about hard science fiction.

For what is the most challenging, the most difficult to get your head around, the least understood of all the science theories?

Quantum Theory.

You bet. It changes even as you look at it, and a cat-in-a-box can be both dead and alive until the observer decides it’s fate.

Schrodinger’s Gat attempts to explain Quantum Theory, Probability and Permutation as the main characters manipulate events at every toss of a coin.

Welcome to a hard science novel that tackles a challenging subject and gives lectures along the way. Yes, throughout the book are serious science lectures where the author warns you that if you’re after story only, you should skip the next several paragraphs of dense science theory.

Of course, when anyone says, “Don’t read this, or look away,” that’s when I dig out my glasses.

Told in the first person,using the voice and ambience of a Dashiell Hamnet novel, Schrodinger’s Gat is a simple story that  explores the quandary of fate versus free will and the puzzle of parallel dimensions.

Interested?

Yes, please.

Schrodinger's GatFailed writer, teacher and divorced father, Paul Bayes succumbs to depression, tosses a coin and lets its outcome direct him to step in front of an oncoming Bart subway.

There are several depression ridden moments…be warned.

While moaning over his life in true Hamlet fashion, he is still male enough to notice out of the corner of his eye, a pretty dark-haired girl watching him and when the coin comes up tails and he begins to step forth, she yells, “No!” and runs away.

Flummoxed, he hesitates just long enough to miss his train, and instead he takes off and chases her to begin a wild ride into the realm of quantum physics. For Tali, can locate tragedies and prevent them from happening. She dices with fate at the toss of a coin and the possibility of breaking free from the grip of fate fills Paul with hope…until the future begins to punch back.

This two-hundred and eight page story is full of action, but is also a mind-bending romp into the hard science of Quantum Physics.

You wanted it.

And if you haven’t had your fill yet,  this fascinating link shows how the dreams of science fiction writers have turned into the reality of present day science. http://www.buzzfeed.com/microsoftmsn/10-science-fiction-technologies-that-are-now-real

Check it out…science fiction technology becomes real day technology.

 

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Filed under Alternate Universes, Best selling science fiction, blog information, hard science, Hard science fiction, Quantum Theory Noir Thriller, science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, Science Fiction Mystery, Science fiction thriller, time travel

Time Travel: a Popular Scifi theme

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Recently my brother requested a good book on time travel.

Now, I know one of his favorite scifi books is Dinosaur Beach by Keith Laumer because of the time travel element where future impacts the present.

And Caught in Time...because, well, I wrote it. (See right panel)

My favorite time travel novels are Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog and Blackout/All Clear. (All won Hugo’s)

But his request fit in perfectly with what I was reading and getting ready to blog about.To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

One of the books I picked to read this year was Timebound by Rysa Walker because it won the 2013 Amazon breakout novel award and the blurb sounded interesting.

I am noticing that first person point of view is popular in “New Adult” fiction (30ish) and Timebound follows this trend. So you are in the modern day viewpoint of a teenage girl.

TimeboundNamed after her two grandmothers, Prudence Katherine goes by the name of Kate. (What teenage girl would do otherwise?) Her mother and father are separated, but speaking to each other, when her grandmother breezes into town, announcing that she has a brain tumor and asks that Kate and her mother or father move into the home she has just bought. Kate’s mother refuses, but her father moves in. Also at the house is a male friend and employee of Katherine’s called Conner and an Irish setter called Daphne.

While moving into her new digs, Kate notices a glowing blue medallion her grandmother puts out on the counter. However, it soon becomes apparent that only she can see it’s blue glow. Touching it draws her into a strange dimension where briefly she sees a handsome dark-haired young man who calls out her name before she is pulled back into the kitchen and passes off the experience to her father and grandmother as a dizzy spell. But grandmother Katherine knows better.

Katherine has a serious agenda, and that is to introduce Kate to her genetic ability to time travel using the medallion in order to prevent a murder and the changing of their timeline.

Kate is not the only one in the family to have the ability. Years ago her mother’s twin sister, also named Prudence, and Kate’s grandfather were killed in a car accident…supposedly. Prudence’s body was never found.

Turns out Kate’s grandmother was born in 2282 and went on to work as a historian for an operation called CHRONOS that sent out time travelers to research certain historical facts. She becomes involved in a charismatic traveler named Saul who sees an opportunity to manipulate the organization and set up a power base through a religious movement. The company’s main operation center gets blown up, stranding all time travelers in various timelines.

In this story, the timeline that Kate travels to is the Chicago Fair in 1899 where an attempt is made on Katherine’s life that changes Kate’s current timeline.

There is some confusion as changing the past, changes the timeline and Kate’s mother vanishes and Kate finds her father in a different life with a different family. This upsets her, but the bonus is that she meets a boy named, Trey, who believes her wild story of timelines changing and helps her try to put things to right.

Life becomes dangerous as others traveling the timelines do not want her to succeed.

An adventure in 1899 at the World’s Fair is the main focus of this novel where Kate tries to figure out what she needs to do to fix things.

While this is a Young Adult novel, I did like Kate experiencing the changed timeline and some of the danger she encounters. This definitely is the first in a series as many questions still remained unanswered.

However, my daughter would like this story much better than my brother. The writing is good, but the teenage developing romance and emotions, she would like, and he, not so much.

 

SunwielderThat said, I think Sunwielder by D. Wallace Peach is right up his alley.

This story takes place in a land on the brink of war in a more medieval setting. Gryff Worden finds his family slaughtered in his farmyard. Mortally wounded, he stumbles upon a strange old woman who is a timekeeper. She offers him a Sunwield, a medallion that can return him to the critical choices that shape his life. He gets a “do over” as the medallion repeatedly brings back moments that determine life and death, or pivotal choices on his life’s path.

An intriguing concept of time travel shaped by the competent writing of this author makes this a book worth reading.

What if you could change certain critical moments in your life? How would it affect the rest of your life? A word in anger not said, a chance meeting missed or made that led you to finding a spouse?

And…is your life shared with a constellation of others that resonate with you through multiple timelines?

I’ve been wanting to read a book like this and now it’s here. Both books use medallions as the instrument that enables time travel, but in very different ways with very different people.

What is your favorite time travel book? I’ll pass it along to an eager reader..my brother.

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Filed under Alternate Universes, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Hugo winners, Portal fiction, time travel, WWII

Selling Science Fiction

IMG_9518Officially, it’s the Christmas Holiday.

At one time I loved this holiday, but lately…not so much. I feel like I’m deluged by ads and retailers trying to get me to buy, buy, buy. Brown Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday…aargh! My email boxes overfloweth.

What happened to good old fashioned holiday cheer? Or the true meaning of why we celebrate this holiday? The birth of Christ.

At one time having a birthday the day before Christmas felt exciting, but lately…also not so much.

Time sure flies.   2014 you say?

So, I decided to perk up the holiday and sign up for several holiday bazaars and book signings in order to increase book sales, and get in the spirit. Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not a marketing guru…far from it, but for me person to person sales is the most fun and often the most effective way to sell. I can twitter and tweet like a bird all week long and it doesn’t impact sales.

I love exploring science fiction via my blog, but I’m not sure it sells that many books.

I am following the current advice to write another novel and today my proof is due, and my sixth book in the Alysian Series, Touching Crystal, will be published within a week.

But, book signings and holiday bazaars usually sell my books the best.

It’s the person to person thing.

Also, I’m hoping all the decorations and buzz will propel me into the holiday spirit. And maybe sell a few books at the same time. I’ll let you know.

A side note: Looks like the supposedly spectacular comet Ison fizzled out when it came too close to the sun.New Image of Comet ISON

But, that’s a good thing, right? Besides, there’ll be others sparking up our night sky. (Apophis is one that will threaten again in 2029.)

And hopefully, they’ll all go their own merry way, too.

Book Review: I’ve been talking about newer science fiction books recently, so I thought I’d mention a classic this time around. It seems odd to me with the deluge of new books out, I’m finding it hard to discover a really exciting new science fiction novel.

the man who folded himselfI had put The Man Who Folded Himself  by David Gerrold on my book list a while ago, and then my book club assigned it to read. It was nominated for both Hugo and Nebula. Also, Gerrold is known for his Star Trek episode of “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Recently, he has several other new books out.  Maximum Gerrold: Thoughts on Technology and the Future was a non fiction that looked interesting. Also, “The Martian Child” was made into a movie and won Hugo and Nebula.

Time travel is a theme I write about, (it’s also briefly in the new book coming out) so I eagerly looked forward to reading this selection.The Far Side of the Sky

David Gerrold takes time travel to the extreme, and if we actually had time travel, it might work that way. So, maybe it’s better we don’t. He postulates that every time his character goes back in time, he creates a new timeline. He compares it to painting over a painting. The character goes back in time and creates or “repaints” a whole new universe of events.

The Martian ChildNow, I get that, but soon Gerrold’s book is populated by iterations of the same man caused by his dancing in and out of time. A future him visits the current him while both travel to a younger version in the past. A constant party flows with versions of the protagonist that pop in and out at all stages of his life.Maximum Gerrold

While the book espouses several interesting concepts and moral questions concerning time travel, I soon was overwhelmed by the various characters of the same person and the inclusion of several sex scenes. At one point there are passionate sex scenes, not only with several male versions of the main character, but there crops up a female version from another timeline

And she has a whole spectrum of her time traveling self.

Still, it is a short and interesting read if you are a time travel enthusiast

Which I am.

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Filed under Alternate Universes, award winning scifi, book fairs, Classic science fiction, Uncategorized

Changing Book Distribution

IMG_0174Distribution…getting your books into the hands of  readers. Or nowadays, not books so much as ebooks on a wide variety of platforms.

Kathryn Rusch had a fascinating blog on this topic. I’ve attached the link, but I want to comment.

kriswrites.com/2013/05/29/the-business-rusch-the-changing-playing-field

She compared what is happening in the publishing field to what happened in broadcasting several years back. There used to be just three main television broadcast networks and they got to choose what the viewers saw. So if “I Love Lucy,” “Sonny and Cher” and “The News Hour” were on at a certain time, millions would choose between those three shows. That’s because the market was large and the distribution small.

When we had just “The Big Six” publishing houses, what we bought to read was what they decided would sell. In some cases they were right, but our choices were controlled by what they decided they wanted to offer.However, now with the advent of cable, netflix, (streaming video) and hundreds of stations, not to mention computer shows and Utube, the choices are huge and the market spreads out, picking and choosing among a wide variety of offerings. In addition, more games, video content and programs are available with time shifting to take up the market’s limited leisure time.

I play Words with Friends (scrabble) with my sister…across the country. I’m in Portland and she’s in Nashville. I watch late night talk shows at 2 p.m. thanks to Tivo and the ablility to time shift television to when and what I want to watch. I can control more than ever what I want to read or see, and when I want to read or see it.

So it isn’t that less people are reading, as the big houses might have you believe, it’s that the choices are spread out across the board filling in unique niches. Readers are packing twenty, forty, fifty or more books onto an iPad or kindle to rest at their bedside, or taking them along easily when they travel. They’re downloading stories from author’s websites or co-op writers websites where the author or authors sell books through Square Space, Paypal or an Amazon link.

The mortar and brick stores are in trouble. When we were in Mexico and I wanted something to read, Amazon downloaded onto my Kindle the best seller “The Dragon Tattoo” within minutes for less than seven dollars.

I was out of the country!

And what I’m doing is nothing compared to how my my twenty something daughter organizes her life nowadays.

We’re in the middle of a revolution, my friends, and it should be interesting what it all looks like ten years from now.

That’s why I like science fiction….because it speculates about what might come next.

Use of WeaponsAnd if you want an interesting future novel or series to read, try Iain M. Banks’s Culture Series. I recently read Use of Weapons.

Iain Banks was just nominated for a 2013 Locus Award for The Hydrogen Sonata

I’d give it 4****The first scene starts out with two very drunk men, one a high ranking lord and the other a mercenary soldier who are being shelled by enemy fire at the local palace. The dialog is very funny and the scene enjoyable. We discover that the mercenary, Cheradenine Zakalwee, (yes that’s the name) takes on various specialty jobs  for a woman known as Diziet Sma who is constantly accompanied by a bodyguard drone named Skaffen-Amtiskaw. She is an alien from an ancient group called “The culture.”

The story then is the telling of these adventures strung like pearls along a narrative necklace…only the necklace jumps around in time much like the novel Slaughter House Five.

You jump from one experience to another, each time Zakalwee almost dies and the drone or woman arrives in her ship just in time to patch him up and send him back out on another assignment.

In between the telling of these experiences, Zakalwee relives a traumatic childhood. His father is a wealthy nobleman and Zakalwee grew up on a noble’s mansion with three other children, two sisters and another young male whose father is in prison for high level treason.

Often Zakalwee is in a half-conscious state while recovering between jobs, and as he relives his childhood, he adds in pieces of the puzzle of what happened ‘back then.”

Bank’s strength is his clever dialog and interesting events. His weakness is that the reader gets very confused about the line of the story. Some of that is done on purpose, but it makes for disruptive reading when you have to stop and piece together what timeframe you’re in and who are the players this time and what are their real motivations.

Banks covers all the action with an aura of mystery that is spiced with mercenary humor. Sma (the woman) bickers with her drone as she pushes Zakalwe from one job, saves him and throws him into another. Once or twice I thought he was supposed to stop a war, but she may have really expected him to advance it. This confusion sorts out to a satisfying or at least an understandable dramatic  ending.

The book was not what I expected. There is much more emotion and interesting relationships along with battle humor.

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