Category Archives: Disaster Fiction

Science Fiction Apolcalypse: Water, Water, Nowhere

Image 5-5-16 at 1.50 PM (1)I love Spring. Flowers are blooming, birds are returning, and readers are collecting good novels to load onto their tablets for summer vacation.

I’m trying to put together a marketing strategy so I won’t miss this opportunity. Even though Jason Ladd’s website of author experiences with various ad sites was helpful, I’m still trying to sort out my best path. (See previous blog for link)

I applied to Book Butterfly over a week ago and am still waiting for a response. Who knows where things got gummed up? I sent them an e-mailed indicating that I need to move ahead one way or another. They are expensive and didn’t appear to do that well in the survey, so I might be better off somewhere else, anyway. We ‘ll see.Image 1

Meanwhile, Freebooksy is still generating generous sales from a one day promotion. They were a delight to deal with and reasonably priced for the great results. A reader in Australia purchased the whole collection today, most likely from an April 8th promotion. A shout out to them with a warm wish that they enjoy the whole series.

This week I picked up Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (you know what they say about falling knives). I had read and reviewed his Windup Girl and liked it. Also, this title appeared on a lot of reading lists. So I gave it a try.

Water KnifeThere needs to be a warning posted on the cover. The story contains some of the most intense violence and graphic sex that I have ever encountered in a book. If you are a rabid Mad Maxx fan, then, you’ll love this. If you like sweet romantic or intellectual scifi stories, walk away.

America, particularly the Southwest, is falling into the Apocalypse. Bacigalupi provides a cautionary tale of what could happen if America doesn’t pay attention to how it manages water. The focus is the Colorado River. A water knife cuts water from an area by blowing up dams or water-treatment plants, turning surrounding cities into desert wastelands and redirecting the river’s flow.

The story opens with a hired water knife, named Angel Velasquez, destroying a water-treatment plant at Lake Mead near Culver City, Arizona. The operation effectively cuts off its water and puts the city into a slow death. It also affects Phoenix. Hired thugs from California, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado are all used by big politicians to keep the water flowing into their cities by means of extortion, murder or intimidation.

A central figure is powerhouse politico Catherine Chase, who deals with the courts, legal issues, and corrupt politicians in order to protect Nevada and keep the water flowing, especially for Las Vegas. She bosses men like Angel who go out and do the dirty work.

Another central figure is Lucky Monroe, journo, who writes about the dead bodies and exposes the political corruption while she dances along the edge of danger with each story she writes. When she uncovers a story about hidden senior water rights that everyone wants to get their hands on, she is targeted and tortured for answers. A trail of dead bodies and shifting alliances follows the search for these elusive rights, turning her into a girl on the run.

The viewpoint of the downtrodden casualties in this battle is Maria. She is a migrant Texan, struggling to survive by whatever means she can,  but she’s trapped by the guns of the border guards who prevent her from crossing the border and leaving Arizona.

Gritty, powerful, thought provoking, Bacigalupi makes you thankful for the water in your tap, the safety and comfort of your home, and the freedom to go where you want, as he instills fear for a future of horror if we don’t pay attention now. It’s Mad Maxx combined with the House of Cards on steroids.

Just fair warning. You won’t forget this one anytime soon. Sweet dreams.

Drowned Cities

2 Comments

Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Disaster Fiction, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic, Self-publishing

Alien Invasion

Image 1I’m back to the business side of publishing and writing, now that my daughter’s wedding is over. I’m finishing up my ninth book that is in the same universe as the other novels, but it doesn’t take place on the planet Alysia and has a different cast of characters for the most part. It takes place on a starship that is part of a fleet of ships seeking a habitable world.

Lots of fun to write.

Currently, one of my characters is designing robots to make up for the low population due to a recent epidemic. It made me think that finally robots are becoming more and more a part of our society. Years ago Isaac Asimov wrote his famous Caves of Steel, book 1 of his robot series. Even made it into a movie starring Will Smith. He had robots act indistinguishably from humans. We haven’t gotten there, but here is a link to an article that talks about recent strides in the field.download (1)

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32334571

If you’re not familiar with her blog, yet, then I urge you to look up Kriswrites by Kathryn Kristine Rusch. She and husband Dean Wesley Smith have had a foot in the traditional publishing world and a foot in the Indie world. Together they have written hundreds of books, a great number which are science fiction… And they live in Oregon.

A recent blog talked about the direction of publishing and compared it with television. It’s all good, but the choice bit for me was:

“As Hugh (Howey) and Data Guy have repeatedly shown, writers publishing indie make significantly more money per title (and in general) than writers who go traditional. Not too long ago, traditional publishing’s argument was that they brought the books to more eyeballs.

They don’t. Now the playing field is level. If indie writers publish trade paper books, audio books and ebooks on all platforms, then the writers will make more money on (good well-written well-produced) books than they would if they went to traditional publishing.

Period.

Those of us who have been in this side of the field have known it for a long time. We finally have more than our personal numbers. We have two years of data.”

To read the complete article go to: http://kriswrites.com/2016/02/10/business-musings-money-talks/ and catch up on her other informative blogs.

cixin liuThis week I read The Three Body Problem by Cixen Liu and was puzzled. This book was nominated for a Hugo. I can only suggest that since it was published by TOR, a lot of politicking must have gone on. I never notice Indie books getting nominated, even best selling ones. Hmmmm. Anyway, the author is Cixen Liu and the English translation is by Ken Liu. Cixen Liu is the most popular and prolific writer of science fiction in the People’s Republic of China. He has won their Hugo equivalent eight times already. Reviews on the book were extremely positive.

But I struggled through it, falling asleep repeatedly as I tried to finish. Better than a lullaby.Three Body Problem

The first third of the story deals with the politics of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and has no science fiction elements. The reader learns of the persecution and public murder of young Ye Wenjie’s physicist father and her subsequent framing by a colleague who writes an incendiary book and claims she is the author, not he.

She is sent away to a lumber camp to work for several years, but then is relocated to a secret military installation because of her technical skills. This is during the time when America’s SETI program was popular, and China didn’t want the West to be the one to make aliens their allies. This Chinese secret project sends signals into space and, after a time, Ye makes contact.

Enter the science fiction portion.

Various eras of Trisolaris are experienced by a character named Wang who plays a popular underground virtual game. Soon a group of scientist and others are playing this game and we learn of a world named Trisolaris that is sending the game to Earth. Ye has decided the awful human race needs to be refined by these aliens and signals them to invite them in. Since their world is highly unstable and headed toward an extinction event, they are eager to come to Earth and what looks like paradise.

Eventually a group on Earth forms to prepare Earth and help the aliens conquer the planet. Another group tries to seek out and eliminate these radicals who would destroy Earth by encouraging unknown aliens to take over the planet. Lots of spy games and violent arrests ensue.

Needless to say, politics fill the book. However, Liu doesn’t shy away from his hard science either, incorporating a lot of physics into the story. While I embrace science in a science fiction story, for me, the story dragged. In addition, the names were confusing. There was Yang, Ding, Wang, Shi Quang, and Ye Wenjie to name a few main characters.

Somehow, contact is made through this virtual game that gives the reader an idea of the world of Trisolaris, but as a story plot, it didn’t seem realistic. Still, an unstable world that has to deal with three erratic suns has its interesting side.

The Dark ForestThis is the first book in a trilogy not completely out in translation, and I’m debating on reading the rest. After all the commotion of advancing aliens, Ye still waits for them in the end, leaving the reader curious as to what might happen when they finally do reach Earth.

And thank goodness, the science fiction elements make the book more interesting.

Leave a comment

Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Cutting Edge Science ideas, Disaster Fiction, first contact, Hard science fiction, Hugo Nominations, Political Science Fiction

Amazon Marketing

IMG_0165

I have been asking myself lately whether enrolling in Amazon’s KDP Select was worthwhile. I know of writers who swear they sell more on Smashwords or the iBookstore, but for me Amazon sells more, hands down. I kept two of my books up on Smashwords just to compare as my ads reach all platforms. Sold two this year compared to hundreds on Amazon. That’s an enormous difference. However, I have noticed in the last three months that my Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Prime sales are starting to compete strongly with my standard retail sales.

Bear in mind that a recently broken shoulder caused all marketing efforts to dramatically halt. Now I’m in restart mode and evaluating past efforts. The question becomes: “Would those sales have happened, or would they have gone to someone else if I hadn’t been on KDP Select?”

Sales on KOLL are dependent on what Amazon puts in the kitty and over time have averaged around $1.62. My usual royalty is around $2.75 or more. Am I winning or losing with this strategy? That’s why Nicholas Rossis’s blog that interpreted Hugh Howey’s author earnings was so interesting. (See previous blog for Howey’s link). Rossis states that Indie author’s using KDP Select earn 13% more and with KOLL, Amazon is providing incremental earnings to Indie authors. Yea!

Check out his interesting blog.

http://nicholasrossis.me/2014/10/25/kindle-unlimited-conclusions-from-hugh-howeys-latest-author-earnings-report/

For June, I’m experimenting with Book Gorilla and have scheduled an ad for June 15th when Caught in Time will be offered for $.99. The special will run to June 20. I’m hoping to catch those readers who are looking for an adventurous time travel summer read and are stocking up their Kindle, iPad or Nook now.

Falling SkyThis week I am discussing Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna. This book came into my hands through my Science Fiction Book Readers that meets once a month at Powell’s. Before each meeting, Peter passes around Advanced Reading Copies (ARCS) and various books he has on hand that he thinks we might like. I grabbed Falling Sky because of the cover. And it was free.

Also, I was looking for an unknown current author to present to my blog readers who might be a diamond in the rough. In addition, Khanna mentions that the seeds of the story started at Clarion West in 2008 (near me) and his teacher there, my friend Mary Rosenblum, suggested his short story be turned into this novel. So I had an interest in seeing if he suceeded .

Falling Sky is a post apocalyptic near future that takes place in North America where a disease has turned humans into little more than rabid beasts called Ferals. Ben Gold has managed to survive by taking to the air in his family’s airship, scavenging abandoned buildings and homes for food and supplies while trying to avoid Ferals that roam on the ground. The danger is that contact with any infected human fluids transmits the disease, causing that person to become a Feral.

Air colonies have formed to protect those uninfected humans from those on the ground, but air pirates raid these colonies scavenging for food, weapons and goods. Ben discovers a group of scientists in one colony who are searching for a cure, and one, named Miranda, attracts his attention. But then an attack loses Ben his airship, and he has to fend for himself on the ground among Ferals. He vows to go after the pirates to reclaim his ship, but Miranda comes back into his life, and he has to decide whether to help her or go it alone.

Recently I have noticed a lot of Apocalyptic science fiction coming out. For example, MADD Max: Fury Road is showing in theaters. That kind of genre is not my usual fare, but the flavor of Steampunk percolates through this story making it palatable.

The writing is very readable and the story contains a lot of action as airships soar over deadly ground, trying to survive in a world overrun with human savagery.

2 Comments

Filed under Disaster Fiction, Dystopia Earth, Hugh Howey, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Post Apocalyptic, science fiction, Steampunk

Science Fiction Mystery Wins 2013 Edgar Award: The Last Policeman

IMG_0165A looming apocalypse. An asteroid heading to Earth.

With all the kerfuffle of asteroids whipping past Earth lately, the selection of The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters seems appropriate, and poses the sticky question of what would you do with only six months to live?

A clever premise.

In the story, asteroid 2011GVI is heading like a bullet for planet Earth with 100% assurance it will impact within six months.

The Last PolicemanAgainst this backdrop Detective Hank Palace is called to a McDonald’s bathroom to investigate a hanging that he pronounces a murder.

Jaws drop. Heads shake.

With suicides almost every day, and hangings in particular being his small town’s specialty, no one believes the case is murder.New Image of Comet ISON

Yet doggedly, against a world unraveling around him, Hank is determined to prove his case and bring the person to justice. As the case develops, it becomes obvious that Detective Palace is not just searching for a killer, but trying to find meaning and purpose in a world going mad around him.

But others are fleeing their jobs to drink, paint, escape to the beach, be with family, reunite with lost friends, as suddenly priorities shift. Yet some, like Hank, continue to pursue their job, trying to hold society together.

As Hank follows various leads, the police station empties out, courts lose judges and clerks, retail stores close down, and the world prepares for collision. No one cares who the murderer is, but Hank. And what would anyone do if he or she were found?

Countdown CityI found the storyline interesting and Hank Palace a bit quirky. Winters won the 2013 Edgar Award for this story and the Macavity Award for best mystery novel. Also it was an Amazon best book of 2012.

Having said that, the story focused more on the mystery of whether it was a murder and if so, who did it? Winter writes using excruciating detail at times to describe a scene while the main character remains a mystery. All we know of Hank Palace’s physical description is that he is young and has a mustache. Also, he wears several suits of the same color. Psychologically, this case is his umbrella against a rain of emotion that destroys many others who commit suicide so they won’t have to face “the final days.”

For me the book was interesting enough to mention, but not one that I would put to the top of my “must read list.”World of Trouble

This is the first book in a trilogy, and although the mystery resolves to a certain point, the asteroid continues to plunge closer in, evidently waiting for the next two novels before it can hit. This puts an unresolved tension on the whole story. If the case had proven more interesting, maybe…but enough other readers liked it that I wanted to mention it. It is also a Powell’s book group selection and should raise a fair number of comments and discussion.

For those of you interested in the business of books and publishing, I wanted to suggest the following links:

Mark Coker puts out a forecast every year for the book business that is worth reading. Here is a link: He lists fifteen changes or developments that will happen in publishing in 2015.

http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/12/2015-book-publishing-industry.html.

And for my Indie author readers, M.L. Banner, author of Stone Age, offers a podcast with unique ideas on how to reach the bestsellers list on Amazon with your first novel.

http://blog.reedsy.com/post/110078423257/reaching-bestsellers-list-with-first-book-indie-author

Last night my writers group was awesome, so I’m up and writing more in the next installment. My next book poses the questions, “What if time travelers from the future came to your present and tried to change things? How would you react?”

I’m finding it an interesting story.

Leave a comment

Filed under award winning scifi, Comets and asteroids, Disaster Fiction, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Science Fiction Detective Story, Science Fiction Mystery, Self-publishing, The future of publishing, time travel

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.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, artificial intelligence, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Classic science fiction, Comets and asteroids, Cutting Edge Science ideas, Cyberpunk, Disaster Fiction, downloaded personalities, genetic manipulation, hard science, Hard science fiction, Hugo winners, modifying humans, Robots in science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, science news, time travel, Transhumanism, virtual reality

Superstar Science Fiction Marketeer

IMG_0165

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

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

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

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

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

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

 So he wrote more.Wool4

Five more.Wool5

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

 Hugh Howey was on fire.

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

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

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

 And Howey was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 And then, you’ll be hooked.

Leave a comment

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

Science fiction: Time Travel and Robots

IMG_9503

Two books on robots and time travel…perennial favorites.

But first.

Are you curious about social media and want some hard numbers? Check out this interesting blog by Jeff Bullas as to, who and how many, are on our favorite websites.

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/17/20-social-media-facts

So robots and time travel:

While blogging about time travel recently, several readers commented that The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein was one of their favorite time travel novels. I hadn’t read it.

So I did.

Door into Summer

And really enjoyed it. I recommend it strongly to time travel enthusiasts.

Dan Davis, a brilliant electronics engineer, creates the invention of a lifetime…a robot that does almost anything called Hired Girl. His best friend, Miles, becomes a partner and they hire a curvaceous Belle Darkin to handle the administrative side of the fledgling company. Dan immediately falls in love with her.

The salesman inside Miles wants to get the product out the door and make money right away while the engineering mind of Dan wants to make sure it will work. His fertile imagination already has two more robots on the drawing board: Windows Willie and Protean Pete, named after his sidekick cat, Pete.

Pete accompanies Dan everywhere. Well, almost everywhere.

And when Miles and Belle collude to take over the growing company, Dan nosedives into depression at their betrayal, and signs up with Mutual Insurance to take “the Big Sleep.” Then he changes his mind, but keeps the contract on him. Half drunk, Dan goes to confront Miles and Belle about their deception. After a scuffle and threats, Dan is knocked unconscious where the two discover his ticket and bundled him off into the cryo crib to get rid of him, sending him thirty years into the future.

Heinlein deftly uses cryogenics to get Dan into the future where he discovers a time machine that will transport him back into his past to right the wrongs done to him.

Time travel like this can be tricky, but Heinlein weaves a delicious story of revenge that satisfies at all levels.

The character of Dan is especially well drawn as he continually has new ideas popping into his inventive mind on how to make life easier for the average housewife, even years in the future. And the machinations of time travel and how to use it are a fun read. The exploits of Miles and Belle are also interesting as you read how Dan tries to thwart them.

Fruit of the Gods

Dan’s robots assist the ordinary person, making his or her life easier. They have no independent intelligence. However, in Fruit of the Gods by Gary Naiman, robots have evolved in intelligence and form the army that supports twelve global corporations called the Consortium.

This science fiction dystopia peeks into a future where nuclear war, political terrorists and a devastating earthquake plunge the world into chaos, poverty and starvation. Humans roam about unemployed, and economies have collapsed. Only the mining of algae off the seabed and conversion to a food called “manna” prevents worldwide starvation.

The Consortium is the ruling body that dispenses the manna and tries to run the world efficiently through robots. With all this unrest, underground rebels led by top scientists plan to bring down the Consortium.

To avert a takeover and bring down the insurgents, the current leaders bring in their top spy. Enter 0021, or Lucinda, and her robot companion, Gog, who are sent to ferret out rebel activities, but instead uncover the truth of what is really happening.

While Naiman’s Amazon reviews are glowing, it took me a little while to warm up to the story. It was well written, I just struggled to follow hints and clues as to what was happening.

Still, it moved along well and is an interesting story along the lines of IRobot by Asimov. If you like robots, dystopia stories and spy games, then you will like this.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Alien and human bonding, artificial intelligence, Best selling science fiction, Classic science fiction, Disaster Fiction, Dystopia Earth, Post Apocalyptic, Robots in science fiction, science fiction, Science fiction thriller, time travel, Transhumanism, Uncategorized