Category Archives: Cyberpunk

Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading List for 2018

Happy 2018 to everyone. Yes, it’s hard to believe we have a new year starting again, and although there was plenty of tumult around me, this past year was a good one.

I’m currently working on the third book in my Terran Trilogy called The Weight of Gravity. This trilogy is part of the overall Alysian Universe series, but from a completely different prospective. It makes the tenth book I’ve written, along with other shorter works in anthologies. Kristine Rusch talks about author burnout, and I’m battling a bit of it myself. Maybe the new year will energize me.

When I set out to pick ten books for the upcoming year for my blogs, I noticed that my kindle library was bursting with books gathered from various ad sites that I promised myself I would get around to reading. So, that’s where I will draw from for some of my selections. I’m worried that ebooks are getting cheaper and cheaper, many are offered for free, and personal libraries are filling up so buyers don’t need to purchase quite as much to satisfy their reading needs. A lot are free. As a reader, I like it when I don’t have to spend tons of money on books, but as an author, I wonder where the trend is going, and will I be able to keep up my income? Are we reading more or spending less? Or both? Or does it even out?

This year, I had my highest month ever, and lowest, in royalty income. Several authors mentioned a similar situation of lower royalties, blaming it on the distraction of the election and following political commotion. Since my lowest month was January, I’m buying into the theory. Luckily, the summer months brought a welcome increase in sales with August my best month ever. A number of authors have commented on this seasonality of book buying, and I’m thinking to research this further in another blog.

In my December blog, I always select five books to add to my reading list for the year. This time, I wanted to consider a mix of stories with time travel and space opera foremost but also include a bit of fantasy. I wanted to suggest both traditional and self-published novels. Last year, I discovered a few new authors who wrote in a series, and I decided I should continue their works. Along that line, the Expanse Series is coming back to television, so I picked the newest release, Persepolis Rising by James S. A. Corey. I’ve read the earlier novels and blogged on several of them, so check it out if you want to know more. If you haven’t read the books, the television version can be confusing, but I love the special effects, even though I disagree with the choice of actors who play the characters.

The second book on my to-read list for 2018 is Angel City Blues by Jeff Edwards. Yes, I know that I selected this last year and don’t know why I didn’t read it. I loved the first book, Dome City Blues and this will bring in an urban cyberpunk genre that will be a fun contrast to my other choices.

My next choice is Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn. This fantasy just appeared to be a fun book to read. Any book that starts out saying, “Sneaking out of the palace may not have been one of Aniri’s best ideas” has me hooked. As third daughter, Aniri is under no pressure to marry and hopes to wed her fencing instructor lover. Then, she gets a marriage proposal from a barbarian prince in the north who has his own secrets and… Not science fiction, but it sounded too good to pass up.

Time travel is a favorite of mine, so when I saw Crossing in Time advertised, I stuck that in my kindle library. The blurb asked, “If someone took everything you live for, how far would you go to get it back?” Turns out, the main character would go far into the past to change events in order to get back a loved one, and that idea intrigued me.

Finally for now, the fifth selection comes from a popular author that I never got around to reading until a year or two ago. Andre Norton has become a favorite of mine, and I have been eyeing her Time Traders sitting in my kindle library. Time to read it.

There you have my first five. In January, I’ll add five more. As you know, other books may be selected as I see fit. Sometimes, publishing schedules change, or other ideas take precedent, so this is not cast in stone, but only serves as a guide. I offer suggestions and comments for books I think readers will like, but I’m not a professional reviewer and don’t take review requests any more. However, I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy for years and love to share this passion with fellow enthusiasts.

This time around, I noticed that a deciding factor was the blurb. Cover and blurb are so important in a reader’s selection process. So, authors, put extra effort into those two elements to help sell your stories.

Here they are to start:

Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn
Angel City Blues by Jeff Edwards
Crossing in Time by D. L. Horton
Time Traders by Andre Norton
Persepolis Rising by James S. A. Corey

Also, for the new year, I would like to recommend you check out Kristine Rusch’s blog on the state of publishing. Not only does she live in Oregon like I do, but she is in the traditional publishing arena along with being a strong advocate of self publishing, having self-published many books herself. She has written several series in several genres under various pen names and is thoughtful and knowledgeable about the total spectrum of publishing, both Indie and traditional.

Here’s the link:
http://kriswrites.com/2017/12/27/business-musings-the-year-in-review-overview/

With 2017 ending, and 2018 about to begin, I wish a bright future for everyone… and happy reading.

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A “Cool” Science Fiction, Cyberpunk Read.

 

 

 

This week I have two exciting blogs to share. One compares 100k authors ($5000 per month) to Emerging Authors. ($500 per month) to see what makes them different. This is a study done by Ferol who is COO of Written Media, parent company to Freebooksy, Bargain Booksy and other ad sites. The survey covers responses from 38,000 authors. The findings are interesting. Here are eight takeaways from the survey.

1. The longer an author has been writing, the more money they tend to make. So if you’re struggling with just a book or two, have patience. Persistence is key. Keep writing.

2. Publishing Indie is a viable way to success. Of those in the 100K, 72% were Indie and 28% were hybrid. Although authors in the survey were more Indie authors than purely traditionally published authors (5%), none of the traditionally published authors were in the 100K pool. Realize that authors like James Patterson didn’t take the survey, so it’s skewed a bit to Indie authors. Those in the hybrid group had 28% in the 100K versus 17% in the Emerging Authors group.

3. “Going Wide” or limiting to KDP Select didn’t make a difference in how much money the authors made.

4. The 100K group spent more than $100 on professional looking book covers. However, none spent over $1000. Looking professional is key but you don’t have to spend a fortune doing it.

5. Also key is spending money for a professional editor. Ninety-six percent of the 100K group spent for professional editing. Half spent at least $250-500 while 20% spent $500 to $1000. Fifty-six percent of Emerging Authors spent up to $50 but realized how important it was to at least have another pair of eyes on their work.

6. As to marketing, in both $100K category and Emerging Authors, the author handles marketing. Even so, the authors that make more money often hire assistants to help with their marketing.

7. Don’t quit your day job. Sixty-six percent of Emerging Market Authors are supported by a day job by either themselves or a spouse. Twenty-eight percent of $100K have the support of a day job.

8. And finally… The more hours writing=more books=more payout. Emerging Authors write 19.8 hours per week while 100K spent 28.5 hours.

These are quick highlights of an interesting survey. For you number geeks who like more details, including graphs and numbers, go to:

https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/2017/06/07/100k-author

Next, check out Sandra Beckwith’s blog. Sandra Beckwith has been in the book business a long time offering advice through blogs and books. Recently at a convention, she realized there are five things she thought authors knew, but apparently they don’t. Here are the five. For explanations on each, check out her blog at :

https://buildbookbuzz.com/5-things-I-thought-you-knew/

1. A traditional book contract isn’t an option for most authors-to-be. Too many believe the myth of write a book, send to a publisher, and become famous. Unless you have a big following or are related to the owner of the publishing house, self publishing is a better option for the new writer.

2. Readers don’t care when your book was published, they just want a good story. This goes against the old ways when a book earned the most money at launch; then a few weeks later was abandoned. Now it isn’t so. I doubled my income in my second year and increased my income in the third year. Books don’t have a shelf life anymore. They can be available for a long time.

3. Even authors with traditional publishers have to promote their books.

4. If your book looks and reads like a traditionally published book, no one will know it’s self-published.

5. People will disappoint you. You thought your mother or mother -in-law or sister would jump for joy at your publishing a book. What you heard was, “I don’t read science fiction.” (true story) Find those readers who love what you write and don’t worry about friends and family…unless they love what you write. Then cherish them. (true story there, too)

Okay, great stuff here to help think through what it is to be a successful author.

On to this week’s book suggestion.

This week I found a fresh fun book in the cyberpunk, mystery, humor style. Think Blade Runner meets Dashiell Hammett with humor. Liquid Cool by Austin Dragon was free on an ad site with a great cover and intriguing title. It starts off slow. The first several chapters have different viewpoint characters.

And then there is an odd murder.

Once the story settles into Cruz’s steady viewpoint, the story takes off. A main feature of the book is the setting. It takes place in the future in a crowded megacity city where it constantly rains. (Portland?) Cruz repairs and builds classic cars, but can barely make ends meet. The society is rigidly structured with well-delineated areas, Uptop being where the richest hang out.

Easy Chair Charlie, one of Cruz’s friends, gets killed and the glib explanation that he started a shootout with police doesn’t ring true with Cruz. Cruz has a bit of ADD and is a germaphobe, which makes him quite the character. He is a bull dog who won’t let go when a puzzle confronts him. He begins to poke around, and soon is asked by his friend Run-Time, who manages a transportation service, to look into who killed Easy Chair Charlie.

Next thing Cruz knows, he’s being called a detective, given an office, and the case is getting more and more complicated. Although his life is threatened numerous times, he’s willing to continue for the thrill of it. Beside, he needs a steady job to impress the snobby parents of his fiancé, China Doll.

The names in the story are a hoot, and there’s quite a bit of humor along with the fast-paced action. Expect twists and turns as Cruz deals with crazy in-laws-to-be, a strong-willed girlfriend, and danger around every wet and slippery turn.

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Filed under Cyberpunk, ebook marketing, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, Self-publishing

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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Comets and Book Clubs

IMG_9503We are landing on a comet tonight! This is a momentous event. After ten years of chasing, using gravity assist, the Philae Lander, a robotic spacecraft, will catch up to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, or 67P, and anchor itself there for hopefully a year long ride.

The Rosetta project, led by the European Space Agency with contributions from NASA and others, will be studying this comet in order to better understand the composition of comets, thought to bring water to primitive Earth, and possibly life itself. Eventually it will be within 180 million km of the sun and expelling water and gases because of intense heat.New Image of Comet ISON

Find more at: CNN.com: Rosetta Landing or www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta

This is the ESA’s official website, where you can find the latest news, images and animations on the spacecraft and its lander .

touching-crystal-thumb-1Why does this intrigue me? My sixth novel, Touching Crystal deals with the impact of a comet against Alysia’s moon, Thanos, and the resulting consequences to my world of Alysia.

Science will now explain what was once mystical, a harbinger or omen for humans. Although it took ten years to get close enough to land, the idea that we can interface with a moving comet offers hope that we may be able to divert any future threats to Earth from this type of cosmic threat.

Although, we certainly didn’t see the meteor that crashed into Russia last year and took us by surprise. We were too busy staring at a passing asteroid.

NeuromancerI am currently reading Snow Crash, as it is a selection of my Powell’s Book Club and we meet tonight. It is a Hugo winner classic from 1992 and is very different. Think William Gibson and his Hugo winning book, Neuromancer, which created the sub genre of Cyber-punk in the early 1990s and you have an idea of the story.Snow Crash

The Powell’s book club is a rowdy group of fifteen to twenty-five or so science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts who have been meeting for over ten years at the world famous bookstore of Powell’s in Beaverton. They are awesomely intelligent about science fiction and not shy about offering opinions.

Makes for lively discussions, so I need to be prepared.

Abyss Beyond DreamsI also plan on reading The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter Hamilton, and will report on that new offering in the next week or two.

someones_clone_front-cover_v2_finalBut first, I have my proof for Someone’s Clone in my hot hands and expect a November 20 publication date. Until then, I’ll be working feverishly to put the final touches on it and conquer the format and download monster.

Check out Amazon for this exciting new adventure, one of my best to date. A murder, a mystery, time travel, romance, aliens…this one has it all…so stay tuned.

 

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Writing, marketing and the web

Authors used to think that they could write the great novel, sit back and that was that. It’s no longer the case. Even with the big publishers, a lot of the marketing work falls on the shoulder of the author.

However with the internet, a lot of authors and businesses are using the web to get out and get to know their readers and customers. They are spreading the word with twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. A long time ago I was told that the computer would free us up and give us more time to do recreational activities. It seems to have worked the other way. I spend more time now at the computer than I do any other activity except sleeping.

And I admire people like Morgen Bailey who has put together an in-depth website that promotes Indie authors. She has interviewed over 400 authors and I am number 68. Recently she revisited my blog and I have linked it here:

http://morgensauthorinterviews.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/author-interview-no68-sheron-mccartha.html

If you want the skinny on me, then give it a read.

There is a section on her website that lists the authors numerically and gives their name, genre, a link and short one sentence synopsis of their work. There are over 400 authors of all kinds of genres, both fiction and non fiction. It is easy to scroll down and find the book you are looking for. I rolled down looking for science fiction and when I found something interesting, I just followed the link and learned more about the book and author. I either liked what I saw or moved on. Check out #68.

Me.

Everyday I have someone sign up to follow me on Twitter. I have no idea why anyone would, but there you go. There’s no accounting what people do. Recently, new Indie author Lee Carlon tweeted me to check out his book. Now, this has happened before…Lord yes, too many times. Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book. Headache.

However, this gentlemen was very polite and offered to send it free. In a generous mood ( a rare occasion) I went to Amazon and downloaded it. Paid real money…well a credit card. It looked interesting.

I am enjoying it.

The book is well written, so you can cross off the myth that an Indie writer is sloppy with his grammar or spelling. The writing is as good, if not better, than any old school traditionally published book.

At the start, the protagonist awakes to find himself twenty-five years into a nightmare future controlled by the New Technology Corporation and digital entities. The protagonist comes to realize that during a demonstration of what was supposed to be teleportation, he was killed, digitally copied, and his copy appeared in the box across the room. The new technology of teleportation and digital downloads transforms the society and dehumanizes real people. Everyone is required to wear a chip to keep track of them. An underground society of real humans are fighting back at the multinational  corporation that created this nightmare society…and of course his copy is supposed to be the one that caused it all.

You find yourself championing a digital copy. Go figure. Although the story is the humans versus the big bad corporation (maybe like the series Fringe) the idea of digital copies running a society is interesting. The other aspect of the story is the digital animal pets or companions that are becoming more frighteningly self aware. The book raises the ethical debate of how far should we take technology and who has the right to decide what technology is acceptable, or not acceptable. Is technology’s impact on society good or bad? What kind of technology do we want in our future?

The pace kept me reading and the action was both believable and interesting. So, if you like cyberpunk style stories ala William Gibson, Phillip K. Dick and the latest, Player One, then check out d.evolution by Lee Carlon.

Next Saturday I will be attending a workshop on small business and the web. So I might pick up my tweeting pace (which is sporadic at best) and learn more about the web and marketing. Be forewarned.

Also, Past the Event Horizon is coming out in late June, or July. I am excited. I have put up the cover for you to take a peek at and it promises to be a good all around space adventure. Stay tuned.

Last weekend I was a vendor at a small business fair next to Bombshell’s in Beaverton. I met a lot of really nice people and sold a good number of books. Thanks for all for your hard work, April. So you see, I am not giving up on people to people contact.

Nawww, people are just too fun to do that.

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Distrust this Particular Read

I am a big fan of William Gibson. Starting with Neuromancer on through Pattern Recognition, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Spook Country, Zero History and others. So it was with excitement and ignorance that I settled in with Distrust that Particular Flavor, his newest offer ….and should have–distrusted, that is. It’s a series of bits and pieces of speeches and essays from different times in his life. For that, an occasional insight into the thoughts of a famous iconic writer, but not the edgy, cyber punk story that I was looking forward to.

I feel bad…seeing that we’re twitter buddies and all…but I was very disappointed as I wanted a cyber chunky story.

On the other hand, looking for a good read, I picked up Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Ghost Ship and was enthralled. I have mentioned their Liadan series universe before and this is the most recent Theo Waitley adventure. Read Fledgling, Mouse and Dragon, Saltation before you read this one, and then enjoy.

Miller and Lee provide rich character portrayals along with interesting science. This time they introduce Independent Artificial Intelligence in a starship. AI is a recent theme I have been reading about and unlike in The Ashes of Candesce, this AI isn’t the enemy, but is a ship that haunts space waiting for its captain to take charge.

Theo Waitley is a newly graduated starship pilot who takes her first courier job from “Uncle.” Her university scholar father, who seemed normal during most of her childhood, disappears suddenly. Finding him, Theo discovers a whole family line that is being hunted and killed by Central Administration. Theo gets put on their list. Also hunting her is an aware A1starship that has decided she is it’s captain because of a key given to her by a dying ex lover.

Great adventure and a fun read. 4 stars****

In the interesting science posts category, I found this new discovery:

http://www.astronautical.org/sites/default/files/spacetimes/spacetimes_48-6.pdf

A proposal to use the quantum vacuum as a propellant. If it can be done, there’s no lack of vacuum in space, and hence might solve the propulsion problem for star travel. Science fiction writers are always looking for valid science to enable their characters to traverse space. Otherwise, we make up something and the science is squishy. You do realize the warp drive is a fictional creation by the writers of Star Trek, and not real?

Here’s one more question:

If you believe in the big bang, where in a micro billionth of a second the universe went from nothing to filling the universe…what does that say about the speed limit of light? Maybe light didn’t exist then. I just think of the word bang and I see exploding light. So the big bang happened in the dark?

p.s. Just watched “Universe: Top ten greatest explosions.”  The comment concerning the “Big Bang” and traveling past light speed was that the universe itself can expand faster than the speed of light, but no particle traveling in the universe can go faster than the speed of light. Squish, squish, huh?

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Attention Gameplayers

http://www.visual.ly/fiction-reality-timeline

Check out this amazing visual link. (above) It shows the science fiction book that introduces an idea on the left timeline and then on the right the date on a timeline that the idea became reality.

If you are a video game enthusiast…this book’s for you.

If you are over thirty-five and reminisce about the 80’s, this book’s for you.

The story is about an Earth in the near future that is falling apart. There are no jobs, no food, gas costs a fortune and humanity escapes reality through an immersive virtual world called, “Oasis”

The creator of Oasis is a Howard Hughes type recluse that has amassed an enormous fortune and no heirs. He dies and leaves this entire fortune to the person who can find a “golden egg” in Oasis. All the clues come from the era of the eighties.

If you remember Zork , Dragons and Dungeons, Bladerunner, Wargames, Pacman, Van Halen, etc. then you will enjoy wandering down memory Lane as Wade (avatar–Parzival) answers questions from that era to gain points and  inventory that will aide him win this fortune. But he’s not the only one interested in winning a fortune.

Because Wade has had no life and huddles in a discarded hulk of an automobile in a junk yard to protect himself from an abusive aunt and her boyfriend, he has had lots of time to play every game ever invented hundreds of times within the computer universe. He’s gotten really good at them. He’s a loner who even attends school online and his few friends are avatars in Oasis. It’s also an online love story fraught with the question of who any avatar really is in “real life.” Behind that awesome young looking female avatar could be a balding fifty year old called Chuck. But Wade falls in love anyway with a spitfire of an avatar who becomes his main competition.

For five years everyone has been trying to find the first clue, a key. And then, Wade finds the first key..and the real world reacts violently. He gets offers in the millions for endorsements and interviews, but his life is also threatened by IOI a large corporation that wants to take over the Oasis and monetize it. They are willing to kill anyone who stands in their way, and they do so.

At times, I felt that there was too much explanation on esoteric computers and details of the eighties, at least for me. Once again, Wade, (Parzival) has to play a game, or remember the exact dialog and action in a movie, or recall a line from a song to get to the next level. It got late, I got impatient and I skipped ahead to the end.  I rarely do that. The next morning, I rethought that strategy and went back for the complete story.

Player One is something new. Worth a look. It has a bit of a flavor of William Gibson and Phillip Dick

If you are a geek or even have geekish tendencies…then this book is for you.

Are you Ready to be a Player?

p.s. I am now reading Ashes of Candesce by Karl Schroeder.  Add in chocolate and I’m in heaven.

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