Category Archives: artificial nature

Ad Survey for Self Publishers

Happy Autumn!

As my blog readers know, I often talk about marketing. I do this not because I’m any marketing guru, but because I like to share information in the hopes it will help other authors out there. I occasionally use ad sites. When I don’t, sales slump, and when I do, sales do better…depending on the effectiveness of the site.

That’s why over the last two years, I have participated in Jason B. Ladd’s survey on results authors have found for various ad sites. Before I was buying blind on whether they were effective or not. Even though his samples are small, they do shed light on some of the sites and their effectiveness.

Of course, genre plays a role. Robin Reads appears to favor the romance writer whereas Book Barbarian is limited to science fiction and fantasy only. Bookbub is the clear winner for garnering most downloads and sales, but very expensive and practically impossible to get accepted unless you have a million five star reviews. Also, I notice lots of famous author’s backlists show up there, most likely supported by traditional publishers. Amy Tam has listed and Isaac Asimov, Gordon Dickson and others listed recently. I’m not in that league … yet.

So, Jason and helpers took all the results of ads sent in by self publishing authors and compiled the results to see if the promotions are worthwhile. He asked the question : Is spending money on ad sites worth it? Here’s a good look at how the ads broke down by genre and what you can expect to pay and what you can expect to receive in downloads and sales.

Here’s the link : http://www.jasonbladd.com/run-book-promotion-numbers-say-yes/

In addition, he has published a book on how to get reviews called Book Review Bonzai. I need reviews, but when I read the method, it looked like a lot of difficult work. It involves using software programs that scrapes the internet for reviewers, putting information on a spread sheet to keep track, and batch e-mailing them to ask for a review. It works, but sounded very time-consuming.

Besides, I’m a reviewer who likes to choose what I review rather than be hounded into writing one. Nonetheless, this may just be what you are searching for to pump up your reviews. Having a good number of reviews is important as often certain advertisers require a minimum number before accepting your novel. This could be the very tool you have been looking for to increase your reviews.

This week for my science fiction suggestion, I’m returning to a favorite author.

Catherine Asaro has just released the next in her Skolian Saga called The Bronze Skies. This is a stand alone in the story of Major Bhaajan who comes from the Under City of the City of Cries. She calls it book eight in the Skolian Empire series but it follows the more recent Undercity title published last year.

The story:

Born into the slums below the City of Cries on the planet Raylicon, the orphan Bhaajan broke free of her crushing poverty and joined the military. There she rose in rank to become a military officer with the Imperial Space Command. Now she is retired and offers her service as a private investigator. Undercity tells the story of her first investigation, which I reviewed last year.

The Bronze Skies continues her story, as she takes on solving an odd murder witnessed by the Ruby Pharoah.

The House of Majda rules the City of Cries and Cries rules the planet Raylicon. Three formidable sisters hold power in the house of Majda. The oldest, Vaj Majda, serves as the General in the Pharaoh’s Army which makes her joint Commander of the Imperial Space Command. The youngest, Colonel Lavinda Majda, is a high Commander in the military, and the third, Corejida Majda  runs the finances of the empire.

The Ruby Pharaoh, Dyhianna Selei (Skolia), is descended from the Ruby Empire, a far-flung civilization that at one time stretched across the stars. It collapsed, and now an elected Assembly rules. Dyhianna, as the Ruby Pharaoh, controls and monitors the interstellar meshes that tie humanity together. The meshes even extend into a different universe, Kyle space. You couldn’t visit the Kyle but you could transform your thoughts there if you were a trained operator with proper enhancements. This enables instant communication light years across interstellar civilization. The Ruby Pharaoh has to have a certain genetic lineage to give her this ability.

The murderer is Jagernaut Daltona Calaj who walks into the financial office at Selei City on the planet of Parthonia and shoots the aide Tavan Ganz. Jagernauts are thought to be unable to murder like that.

Major Bhaajan gets involved when the Ruby Pharoah claims to have witnessed the murder and suggests the AI node implanted in the jugernaut’s spine may have been corrupted. And now, the murderer, Calaj, is on Rayliccon and suspected of hiding out in the Under City—Bhaajan’s old stomping grounds where very few upper level humans can survive.

The Under City is a place of scavengers, of a hidden people who never see the sun and live a brutal existence. For ages, they have been ignored by the upper class citizens of Cries who live on the surface, and only recently recognized. Because she was born there and lived a brutal childhood there, Bhaajan knows the lingo, the culture, and the people. The crime boss of an illegal brothel and gambling house is her lover. So she is uniquely qualified to track down the illusive culprit who is said to be hiding there. Her search into the underground and where the trail leads makes the story more than a simple murder.

I found the story appealing on various levels. Bhaajan is an interesting character with conflicting emotions concerning her background and current status in a highly stratified society. This is an involved universe, so be prepared for clumps of background information to be dumped into the story to keep you up-to-date.

Bhaajan has an implanted, sentient AI that has formed a close bond and they have an ongoing conversation with each other, which I find delightful. Her body has been augmented, making her powerful physically. Her relationship with Jak, who grew up with her, is a sensual one and conflicted, although her one goal is to better the people of Undercity. This society is rich in culture and forms an intriguing storyline in and of itself.

But most interesting is the desert ruins outside of Cries, hinting of a long gone civilization and visitors from the stars that originally colonized the plant, and then mysteriously disappeared. Within these ruins, she discovers powerful AIs who are maintained by a mysterious cult of cloned telepaths…and one rogue AI that awakens from a crashed starship and is out to destroy all humans

At the center, is Dryhianna, whose mind grapples with the artificial intelligence within the mesh and Kyle space, and discovers this hidden and powerful AI that wants to wipe out all humans.

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Counting Spaceship Colonists

IMG_9518Writing science fiction often takes you off into the weeds of future speculation. When I took on the Terran Series and started writing A World Too Far, I had to figure out how many people and ships would be traveling. I also had to state a reason for the mission.

I didn’t want the reason to be that the Earth was annihilated or destroyed. I hope that as time goes on we do things better and more efficiently. Stephen Hawking says that we need to expand out from Earth in order to survive long term. The “Not Everyone in the Same Basket” theory. I think we have enough people like Elon Musk that we don’t need a catastrophic event to push people out into space. So I made the reason for the expedition the fear that humans need to diversify to other planets in order to survive…and the plain old human drive of seeking adventure and new worlds.

Okay, how many then? Two names kept cropping up. One was John More who said 160 was enough. Local Portland University anthropologist Cameron Smith said 14,000 to 40,000.

space-station-485590_640

Wikipedia:

Estimates of the minimum reasonable population for a generation ship vary. Anthropologist John Moore has estimated that, even in the absence of cryonics or sperm banks, a population capacity of 160 people would allow normal family life (with the average
individual having ten potential marriage partners) throughout a 200-year space journey, with little loss of genetic diversity; social engineering can reduce this estimate to 80 people.[6] In 2013 anthropologist Cameron Smith reviewed existing literature and created a new computer model to estimate a minimum reasonable population in the tens of thousands. Smith’s numbers were much larger than previous estimates such as Moore’s, in part because Smith takes the risk of accidents and disease into consideration, and assumes at least one severe population catastrophe over the course of a 150-year journey.[7]

Cameron Smith in Acta Astronautica
April–May 2014, Vol.97:16–29, doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2013.12.013

Estimation of a genetically viable population for multigenerational interstellar voyaging: Review and data for project Hyperion

I find that previously proposed such populations, on the order of a few hundred individuals, are significantly too low to consider based on current understanding of vertebrate (including human) genetics and population dynamics. Population genetics theory, calculations and computer modeling determine that a properly screened and age- and sex-structured total founding population (Nc) of anywhere from roughly 14,000 to 44,000 people would be sufficient to survive such journeys in good health. A safe and well-considered Nc figure is 40,000, an Interstellar Migrant Population (IMP) composed of an Effective Population [Ne] of 23,400 reproductive males and females, the rest being pre- or post-reproductive individuals. This number would maintain good health over five generations despite (a) increased inbreeding resulting from a relatively small human population, (b) depressed genetic diversity due to the founder effect, (c) demographic change through time and (d) expectation of at least one severe population catastrophe over the 5-generation voyage.

That’s quite a range.
What to do?

I started with sixty ships with two hundred per ship that worked the ship and two hundred in cryo. But then as the ships approached the designated planet, a population campaign increased the live colonists to five hundred per ship, give or take. That put us in the range of thirty thousand along the lines of Cameron Smith’s estimate.

Besides, I liked Babylon Five, the TV series, and wanted several ships on the journey for diversity and interest.

When the target planet was found toxic, forty ships decided not to land and jumped away. Of course, problems started happening immediately and the population underwent a severe reduction.

I needed a more manageable number of characters. I was trying to read The Dark Between the Stars by Alan Dean Foster and too many main characters overwhelm a reader. I got overwhelmed and didn’t finish the book.

As ships sought ways to increase the population, space found ways to destroy ships.

Now as I’m writing the next stage that deals with survival on a space station and alien planet, numbers again play an important role. Only so many can fit on station, and those stranded on the orbiting ships create a nice tension to those on planet that don’t want a horde of aliens invading their home and try to keep them on the station or ships.

Readers often don’t realize how much science fiction authors need to balance science plausibility with attention-keeping fictional plots and often wander off into the weeds of research.

Or maybe they do. Maybe they require it.

fortunes-pawnThis week I read Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach as it is a Powell’s science fiction readers group selection. I really enjoyed it…so much so that I’m now reading the sequel Honor’s Knight.

It’s even better.

Devi Morris is a super gung-ho mercenary from the military planet Paradox where the king reigns supreme. The universe is full of inhabited planets and ships travel all over via jump technology.

However, there is an unknown dangerous threat lurking at the edges of the universe.

Devi’s favorite possessions are her battle armor, which she has named Lady Gray, and her weapons. (Also named). She polishes them and talks about them a lot. Being a merc, she has few friends. Being aggressive and battle smart… she has few friends.

In order to accelerate her career, she has taken a job in a beaten up trading ship called The Glorious Fool. The ship has a dangerous reputation but it’s rumored to be a fast track to the rank of Devastator, the name of the king ‘s elite guards, a rank Devi aspires to.honors-knight

On board, an interesting assortment of aliens form the crew. The navigator is a cranky aeon, a birdlike species; her doctor is from a race of crablike insects that are enemies of most humans, and the cook, Rupert, well, he’s incredibly handsome and nothing like he seems.

Nothing.

Actually, nothing is as it appears and soon Devi is wrapped up in secrets that are world heavens-queenshattering with the real possibility of not surviving her tour.

But she’s a stubborn, resourceful, and surprisingly capable mercenary who soon finds herself with a few deadly secrets of her own.

Fast page-turning action with a passionate love story makes this one of my favorites, and one I recommend.

Happy Halloween!pumpkin

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Science Fiction Thriller

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I was studying Data guy’s new report on author’s earnings to understand the influences on total book sales, both paperback and ebook.

http://authorearnings.com/report/october-2016/

The data suggests that ebook sales have declined recently. However, keep in mind that more and more Indie and self published authors are using ASIN numbers rather than the more reportable ISBN number.

Also, the report mentions the influences that heavyweight Bookbub has on sales. Traditional publishing houses are paying the large fee to drive up their ebook sales and squeezing out the smaller fry. While Bookbub protests that it is fair, it really isn’t. You need a lot of reviews to get accepted and the cost is high. It’s also a matter of the higher number of sales and reviews you get, the more likely you will get more in the future. As an independent publisher, I struggle to get reviews. Sales are good, but reviews are few.

Price as an issue is also discussed. The traditional and mid-sized houses are putting high price tags on ebooks and that drives down sales. Discounting paperbacks results in selling less ebooks and more paperbacks. The popularity of coloring books that are counted as paperbacks was also a factor in the paperback sales bump.

Version 2Also, I’m concerned about the increasing availability of free books. Bundling is also a new marketing ploy that enables a reader to get a number of books for a lowered price. However, as an author, when I offer my first in a series, I get a lot of follow-on sales, so offering one free is well worth it for me and part of my marketing strategy.

There is also mention of Amazon’s recent changing of algorithms. Scam artists have infiltrated Amazon to manipulate the page reads in the Kindle Unlimited program. A number of innocent authors have been hurt in the crossfire. Since Amazon doesn’t disclose how they count these pages, authors rely on Amazon numbers for how many pages are read…and these numbers have changed dramatically recently.

There’s a lot of data and graphs to look at and some interesting comments on the current state of the business. So, take a look and draw your own conclusions.

blended-humanThis week I’m talking about The Human Blend by Alan Dean Foster. This is part of a completed Trilogy (The Tipping Point Trilogy)  that deals with extreme genetic manipulation of humans. I picked this because it is near future science fiction that is different than my usual fare. Also, the book is by a well known author that I haven’t discussed before.

Whisper is a thug who has chosen to alter his body to extreme thinness. His partner in crime is Jiminey Cricket who has long legs and can jump far. They attack a supposed tourist in an alley to harvest his hand to sell. Whisper is attracted to a hidden shimmering silver thread that he pockets. Not long after, shadowy figures start hunting them.

The book is a chase through strange environments and even stranger people. At first, the two run, thinking it is the hand that their pursuers want. Then, after they split up to throw off their trackers, Jiminey disappears. Whisper calls forth everything and everyone he knows to evade whoever is after him. And some of the characters are pretty strange…such as alligator man.body-inc

After he is shot with tracker bullets, Whisper ends up at Dr. Ingrid Seastrom’s clinic, desperate to get the bullets removed where he shows her the thread. He hopes her advanced equipment will reveal what he carries so he will know its worth. Unlike Whisper, Ingrid is an attractive Harvard educated natural. Investigating the thread leads to a startling discovery, and it appears to be connected to a quantum entangled nanoscale implant she took out of a young girl’s brain recently. The silver thread is a data storage device made from an impossible bit of material not from Earth. Her scientific curiosity wants to know more about the strange material, so together they form a partnership.

the-sum-of-her-partsBut their pursuers appear to have a lot of clout and skilled assassins to call upon in order to retrieve the stolen thread. The result is a wild chase through a disturbing world where what it means to be human is a very blurry line indeed.

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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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Ancillary Sword and Exciting Science Fiction News

Image 1At this very moment, Cosmic Entanglement is #1 in Amazon’s Kindle eBooks> science fiction & fantasy>science fiction> space opera and #2 Kindle eBooks>science fiction and fantasy> alien invasion.
I say “at this very moment” because these kinds of things tend to be fleeting.

But still gratifying for all the hard work involved.

My heartfelt thanks to enthusiastic science fiction fans that have read my books, and especially to those who have left great reviews. Such is the lifeblood of an author. bk8_cover_print

More exciting news is that the proof for Time’s Equation is on its way, which means by the end of November the latest book in the series will be published. Here’s a short summary:

“Tempest Steele vows not to fall  again for the charms of Kayse Telluria, but when a murder occurs, and he is a prime suspect, he  jumps through a time gate in an attempt to track down the culprits.

Not thinking of consequences, she follows him to find a disturbing future and creates even more problems. But a math equation may be the answer, if only they can solve it and set the future back on the right course.

It won’t be as easy as it sounds.”

With all this happening, I did manage to read Ancillary Sword this past week. I have decided that if I start a series, there’s no problem in reading books in the rest of the series. I wanted to read a popular science fiction novel. This got nominated for the Hugo for best novel in 2015.

2015 Hugo Awards

Presented at: Sasquan, Spokane, Washington, USA, August 22, 2015
Hosts: David Gerrold and Tananarive Due
Base design: Matthew Dockrey
Awards Administration: John Lorentz, Ruth Sachter, Linda Deneroff, Ron Oakes, Dave McCarty, and Glenn Glazer
Best Novel (5653 final ballots, 1827 nominating ballots, 587 entries, range 212-387)
The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books): winner
▪ The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
▪ No Award
▪ Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Orbit UK/Roc Books)
▪ The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)

Ancillary SwordI really enjoyed it, but be aware that Ann Leckie uses the feminine pronoun in all cases and it can be annoying trying to decide whether the current “she” being discussed is feminine or masculine.

Having said that, it’s really cool that the viewpoint character named, Fleet Captain Breq Mianaai is a soldier who used to be a warship.

As the warship Justice of Toren, Breq controlled thousands of minds, but even though in one body now, she can access her crew while carrying on conversations on station and also monitoring events down planet. Even better, she carries on dialogue with her current ship Mercy of Kalr, and Athoek Station revealing that ship and station AIs have emotions…and strategies for getting what they want.

Anne Leckie plays with the idea of human emotion affecting machine intelligence and the relationships of humans with self-aware AIs.

Breq is sent by the multi-bodied emperor, currently at war with herself, to the only place she would agree to go and finds that Athoek Station and the adjoining planet are morally corrupt. Bodies from conquered races are being put in cryo chambers and sold into slavery for a profit, even though forbidden. Straightening the mess out impacts Athoek’s strongly ingrained culture and proves not to be easy.Ancillary Justice

The first in this series: Ancillary Justice was nominated for every major science fiction award in 2014 (won the Arthur Clarke, Nebula, British Science Fiction and was short listed for the Hugo)

See my 2014 blog for more details.

You might want to also enjoy Ancillary Sword, the follow up, and look for the next in the series.

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Science Fiction Marketing and Cyberpunk

IMG_9503Someone’s Clone just hit number #1 in Kindle’s free Books on Genetic Engineering and number #1 on Kindle’s free books on Time Travel. Wahoo! AANNDD…The day is not over, either. #28 in paid Kindle Science fiction. Exciting stuff.

But like my days as a stockbroker, sales change hour by hour, and today’s heady success is tomorrow’s tough struggle. Market on Indie authors.

However, today I’m thrilled. (A brief humble bow ensues)

Why the spike in downloads? I enrolled Someone’s clone in KDP Select for July 5 through July 9. It is one of my favorite books in the series and can be read as a stand alone. But since it is positioned at the end of the current series, it was languishing in sales as readers were picking up the earlier books. I figured anyone reading it for free, might become interested in the rest of the series. (which is happening) This is a limited time offer for this book, and will not often be repeated.

I’m also hoping that readers will like it and write a good review. (hint, hint)

I don’t know how other books get so many reviews. Some have big publishers behind them, and others become popular and get on lists that help sales. If a book is good, it deserves good reviews. I have no problem with that. I have not gotten involved in review swaps or traveled all over for book signings, but friends and family have often supported my books…honestly. Others in the family, not so much. “I don’t read science fiction.”

Now with Amazon’s new policy on reviews, it will be interesting to see if reviews change at all or continue along the the same path. I understand why Amazon is cracking down on reviews. Fake reviews and paid reviews have gotten out of hand so that the customer no longer trusts them. Amazon is all about protecting the customer, so they have stepped up to the plate and cracked down. I just think the process will be harder for the unknown Indie author who likes to write and is not such a strong marketer to get the reviews he or she needs.

As a friend of mine says often, “We’ll see.” Peripheral

This week I am reading Cyberpunk. Normally, I like William Gibson, but I am finding his new book, The Peripheral, a struggle. So I switched over to Charles Stross’s Halting State. Both deal with virtual reality and events inside an internet game. Gibson is harder to piece together what is happening because of his constant point of view shifts. In both cases, nerd-tech language is used lavishly and often there’s an inside joke or innuendo. Also characters are not delineated clearly in Gibson’s book. I had to reread an entire chapter trying to find a name to pin to the person talking in the chapter and still couldn’t figure out who it was.

Finally, I read the summary which enlightened me to the fact that one of the main characters, Wilf Netherton, lives seventy-five years in the future. The story begins in an apocalyptic near future where jobs are scarce and money is tight. Flynne Fisher earns what she can by assembling product at a 3-d print shop. Her brother, Burton, tries to live on money from the Veterans Association since he is disabled, and often takes on online gaming jobs to augment his tight income.

Burton persuades his sister, Flynne, to take over a few observation shifts in a game for him, promising her that the game isn’t a shooter. Still, the crime she witnesses there is plenty bad.

Wilf is a high-powered publicist in a world seventy-five years in the future where reaching into the past is considered no more than a hobby. He is working online secretly as security in some on line games. Both Flynne and Wilf will soon meet and realize the impact each other’s world will have on the other.Neuromancer

Okay. Confusing in parts for me so far. But, I love most of Gibson’s other books, so I’m soldiering on. His Neuromancer is the book that began the whole Cyberpunk sub genre and won a Hugo.

51wHalting State0l9FLDeL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_Charles Stross is a Hugo winner also, so I picked up his book Halting State on a recommendation. Be aware that Rule of 34 is the second in this series.

Now in Stross’s Halting States, a crime also takes place inside an online game. Susan Smith of the Edinburgh police is called in on an unusual robbery where orcs and a dragon rob a bank inside the virtual reality land of Avalon Four. The company that owns the game, Hayek Associates, is a dot.com start up that just floated onto the New York Stock Exchange and whiffs of impropriety could crash the stock, affecting a number of powerful investors and worldwide financial empires.Rule 34

This one was easier to follow, and not because of my stock broker background. Each chapter is titled with the name of the character in which point of view it is written. However, Stross uses second person which is a bit disconcerting, but is what the gaming world uses in their instructions. Stross also uses a lot of gaming technology and inside tech-nerd slang and information.  So far the story is edgy enough to be interesting, but I’m like investigator Smith, who wonders what is all the big fuss about? The more she investigates, the more complex and bigger the case becomes. Looks like a worldwide conspiracy is using Hayek Associates to funnel money around.

Sell your Bitcoins before it’s too late.

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Growing up with Robots

IMG_9512How do you view events around you? Some say everything a person does or says is a result of how they personally interpret the world through their mind’s viewpoint.

For authors, point of view controls the reader. Using first person point of view enables the author to funnel all the events of the story through one person’s vision. With omniscient or third party viewpoint, the reader can be aware of people and events outside the main character, thus providing additional information on the story or an interesting contrast.

For a long time third person point of view was  the one most used by writers. However, recently, the first person viewpoint is gaining popularity.

The Hunger Games, Divergent, some of the New Adult (think 30s) novels use first person.Human Sister

So, I was intrigued how I would respond when I realized that my selection, Human Sister by Jim Bainbridge was written in the first person point of view.

I found Human Sister through Bookbub, which offers free or discounted EBooks. What hooked me was subject matter and an interesting blurb. Then, I went to Amazon and the reviews were very positive, even mentioning a Hugo possibility. So, when it was offered free, I downloaded it and put it on my to-read list.

One of the frustrations that I’m finding with self-published authors is that they don’t know the bread and butter aspects of producing a book.

Take formatting. (Please do) For a paperback, the title page should appear on an odd page in the front matter. The copyright information on the even page after it. Most chapters should start on an odd page, although a few start on even nowadays to save paper. Notice the first sentence after a chapter heading is not indented…and so forth. There are guidelines that the reader subconsciously is familiar with and comfortably follows, and the Indie author should be aware of them, whether Ebook or paperback. If you are an Indie author, you need to study several ebook  and paperbacks to understand how to construct your book.

Both are different..

So it was refreshing when Jim Bainbridge presented a format that showed the proper form. With no typos or grammar mistakes I noticed, I was soon knee deep in a compelling story.

The story begins on an airplane where the main character, Sara, starts chatting with the man sitting next to her. He turns out to be an FBI agent who proceeds to take her into custody to interrogate her about her parents activities.

The interrogation turns vicious for the young girl. Sara lives in a near future society that has outlawed artificial intelligence. Sara’s grandfather is a forerunner in the field and her parents have created a sentient group of androids led by “First Brother” who has awareness but little caring emotion. Sara tries to elicit emotion in this first series of androids but fails.the brain

To fix this lack, Sara’s grandfather secretly, in their Napa Valley Estate, creates a biodroid from Sara’s own nerve cells and devises a means that “Michael,” the biodroid,and Sara can physically connect into each other’s thoughts and emotions.

Sara then tells the story of growing up in secrecy, hiding from the government the existence of Michael as she tries to train him to become human. Alternating chapters appear in the viewpoint of First Brother as he enters the tale.

Sara is an innocent used by her grandparents whom she loves, and daughter to emotionally cold parents who are part of a robot rebellion. As the United States and China try to hunt down and destroy the robots, the parents and their creations escape to Canada and then to Mars, leaving Sara to get caught in the crossfire with devastating results.

Human Sister is a thought-provoking tale on the dangers of artificial intelligence, and how one young girl grows up with and loves what is not quite human.

This theme of robots is a popular one and Jim Brainbridge provides a story that will cause you to think about the pros and cons of artificial intelligence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under artificial intelligence, artificial nature, ebook science fiction, Hunger Games, Medical science fiction, modifying humans, Robots in science fiction, science fiction