Category Archives: Dystopia Earth

Where are the Aliens?

Happy soon-to-be Fourth of July.

A few announcements first :

I was listed in the top fifty science fiction blogs (#29 to be exact) So that’s nice.
https://blog.feedspot.com/science_fiction_blogs/

Also, I wanted to mention my author’s website https:/sheronwoodmccartha.com. It goes into more detail about my life and books. Check it out.

I encountered an article on the Live Science website that offered nine more reasons (in addition to Fermi’s from my previous June blog) on why were haven’t found aliens. So, I thought I’d share.

1. Aliens are all under the ice where we can’t see them. We know several moons where ice covers the planet, but water exists under it. If in our solar system, then possibly it’s a prevalent condition throughout other parts of the Milky Way.

2. Aliens are trapped on super planets. Super planets have ten times the mass of Earth along with 2.5 times the escape velocity. Aliens may just be stuck on their own world without the technology to reach their escape velocity just yet.

3. We’re looking in the wrong places because the aliens are robots. We ‘re looking for analogues of ourself, but maybe the aliens have evolved to intelligent machines and live in places inhospitable to humans.

4. We’ve already found aliens but we’re to distracted to realize it. Maybe we have let our preconceived notions of aliens prevent us from recognizing them.

5. Humans will kill life or already have. The thinking here is that humans bulldoze their way through the galaxy, not noticing smaller in-the-way organisms… Much like a construction worker bulldozing through ants.

6. The aliens triggered climate change and died. So, maybe we should take care.

7. The aliens couldn’t evolve fast enough to survive planetary change and died.

8. Dark energy is creating increasing distances between us and none of us has the technology to span the widening gulf.

9. We are the aliens. This is a popular theme for science fiction. I used it. Earth is a seeded colony from meteors carrying bacteria from other worlds. Scientist call this the Panspermia theory. I went with Alysia being an earlier and forgotten Earth colony.

You got a theory? Just let me know. It’s all good fodder for science fiction stories.

For the complete article, go to:
https://www.livescience.com/63208-alien-life-excuses.html

For this blog I’m discussing Sideris Gate: Paradisi Exodus: book 1 by Cheri Lasota.

This is one of the books in the Paradisi collection where various authors are writing books within the same universe. I previously read Faces of Janus and The Janus Challenge by Andy McKell. Andy presents a different viewpoint on the escape from Earth for the last ship, the SS Challenge.

Between Mountain and Sea by Louisa Loci was also an enjoyable story that I reviewed earlier. That adventure takes place on the colony planet and describes the founding families that arrived there first, and the conflicts they encountered.

Paradisi Exodus describes the frantic escape from an Earth on the verge of nuclear winter. The SS Challenge is the last ship out of eleven and contains the families and friends of the builders and scientists who constructed and developed the fleet. They had a contract that if they would build the ships, their families would earn a place on the last ship out. Days before lift off, one of the leaders, Solomon Reach, of the group called Reachers, discovers a plan to replace them with some remaining founding families and associates who didn’t qualify (illness or age) for the previous ten ships.

Thousands of founding families’ associates still remaining behind are smuggled onto the space station into the Serica section with a plan to evacuate the Reachers and replace them. But Solomon Reach gets word of the betrayal and gathers a small band to prevent the takeover. Violence erupts in the corridors, Reach is tortured in order to discover his sabotage plans, while nuclear weapons are let loose down below on Earth. In the midst of all the commotion is a romance between Reach and the daughter of a founding member who wants his people off the ship.

I feel Lasota leans a bit heavily on emotional elements of the story. Everyone has a back story of lost lovers, sisters, family ties and left behind wives. The angst gets to be a bit much as each one feels they should have a place on board. Lasota explores this ethical question of who has a right to decide which person stays behind to face sure death, and who gets a place on the ship for a possible new life.

There are many more offerings by authors in this exciting and interesting collection. Reading the same event or visiting the same location and experiencing it through different authors brings new levels of understanding to the total story.

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Filed under Alien worlds, aliens, Discovering New Worlds, Dystopia Earth, space ship, space travel

Squishy Robots and Book Ad Promotions

Are we Indie writers shooting ourselves in the foot, so to speak?

Today I’m running a promotion on Book Barbarian for Caught in Time. This is my first in series and I’m offering it free. Often the first of a series is the one that ad sites want. I did this to reach out to a pool of readers of science fiction who may be interested in my books. Discoverability is difficult for most Indie authors, and promotions are one easy way, but they cost. I chose Book Barbarian because it targets science fiction and fantasy and is at a reasonable cost. The top site is Bookbub where I recently ran into an article that was really a promotion piece, which raised some questions I wanted to ask.

Below is the last section from the piece I discovered on Flipboard that extols their site. Bookbub is considered the top ad site for books, difficult to qualify for, and very expensive. However, authors swear it’s effective. It’s the last sentence of the “article” that is causing me concern.

Book lovers are Obsessed with this Site. (Flipboard May 9)
By Bookbub.com

…”Book lovers have now become practically obsessed with this concept. In many cases, they’ve downloaded hundreds of books and saved hundreds of dollars using the service.

“I now have more books than I can read in a lifetime,” said Suzie Miller of Auburn, WA. She said she has downloaded more than 350 free ebooks using the service.”

As a reader, I use the service, and like Suzie Miller, (a real person?) I have downloaded more books than I will be able to read this year.

But is this a good thing for authors?

Your book gets downloaded, but may sit in a reader’s library for ages.
Or, maybe they read it and buy out the series.
I’ve had both things happen.
But I’m afraid authors are devaluing their hard work, and readers are not as eager to download the offerings as much as they used to, or buy books at retail. Why pay full price when you can get a similar book free or heavily discounted? Are we harming future revenue?

Am I right or wrong, or somewhere in between?

Do I, as an author, have a viable alternative?

No answer here. Just putting it out there.

NASA Develops Soft Robots for Future Space Missions

What do you think of when you hear the word robot?
Probably something made of metal with hard edges.

Maybe not. Often I throw in interesting science pieces and this article on building soft robots, with space in mind, caught my eye. I wanted to pass it along.

https://www.space.com/soft-robots-could-crawl-on-the-moon.html?utm_source=sdc-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190509-sdc

…”The advantage of a soft robot is that it’s flexible and, in some ways, better able to adapt to new environments. Soft robots move in ways similar to living organisms, which expands their range of motion, perhaps making it easier to squeeze into a tight spot, for example.”

Also, probably easier to transport when weight is so much a factor.

…”By design, the actuator has chambers, or air bladders, that expand and compress based on the amount of air in them,” NASA said in the statement. “Currently, these two interns are operating the design through a series of tubes in the air bladders, allowing them to control the movement of the robot. By adjusting the amount of air in the chamber of the soft robotic actuator, the robot can flex and relax, just like a human muscle.

In particular, the interns are investigating four key properties of the actuators — mobility, joining, leveling and shaping — and how to use them in space exploration. Mobility refers to how the soft robot moves in its environment, while joining concerns how robots can link together (for example, to make a large temporary shelter). Leveling refers to how actuators can create a surface, such as filling in space underneath a lunar habitat, while shaping examines ways of adding strength to materials like dust shields.”

Once you hear the idea, it makes so much sense. Of course, I’m wondering about the computer components and how they operate the robot and the toughness of a material that can stand up against a space environment.

But NASA is working on it. Thinking outside the hard metal box.

This week I’m talking about Sea of Rust by Robert Cargill. Mainly because I mentioned robots in the blog, and this story is all about robots.

The story begins thirty years after the apocalypse and fifteen years since the murder of the last human at the hands of robots.

We’re extinct, and the world is dominated by an OWI or One World Intelligence that shares consciousness and is trying to upload all the remaining robots into its mainframe.

Enter Brittle, an independent robot trying to survive a wasteland that once was our Midwest. But its mind is deteriorating and body parts are losing function. The only way to replace them is by scavenging other parts from similar robots

So it’s a bit gruesome to start.

There are other solo machines wandering the wilderness, and they form a pack with Brittle, trying to escape assimilation.

If you can handle the grimness (think Madd Max), then the story is interesting from the robot’s point of view, and the interaction, almost human, of the robots that struggled to survive and evade assimilation makes for a worthwhile story.

And finally,

I want to give a shout out to Tabby’s fantastic book club. They were a warm and amazing bunch. I don’t think they expected someone who could talk as much as I did. Enthusiasm does that to me. So, thanks for your hospitality.

It was a fun way to meet new people… and show off my books.

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Filed under artificial intelligence, Best selling science fiction, Dystopia Earth, hard science, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Post Apocalyptic, Robots in science fiction, science news

Publishing Wrap-up 2016 and Five Scifi Selections for 2017

IMG_0174January has certainly gotten off to a contentious start. How does that affect book sales? I would imagine that readers are turning on the television to get the latest incendiary news distortion or taking to the streets to loudly voice their opinions…

…rather than quietly reading.

Kristine Rusch has a lengthy blog that talks about Indie publishing as a business and some current trends. She discusses the fact that sales were down in 2016 and the reasons why. Publishers say there was no breakout novel. Election noise took away reading time. The ebook publishing business is leveling off.

My sales were good until November, and then, I also saw a downturn. I’m seeing it in January, but I’m blaming politics and a lack of marketing enthusiasm. I’m a bit burnt out on marketing at the moment. I need to catch up on my writing and fill up the piggy bank because having the necessary funds to see you over the down part only makes good business sense.

She mentions that also. Here’s the blog: http://kriswrites.com/2017/01/18/business-musings-2016-disappointments/

January is one of the most fun months of the year for my blog because I get to select books to read for the year. Sometimes a book doesn’t meet the publication date (Thorn of Emberlain ) and sometimes I decide the book isn’t up to my standards and don’t mention it. (Split Second) However, it’s a way to prime the pump and get enthusiastic about reading. I have found lately that good science fiction is hard to find. There’s a mishmash of books out there but very little in the “got to read” category.

Anyway here’s my next five:

all-the-birds-in-the-sky1. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. I keep seeing this on recommended lists. I have avoided it because I really don’t like apocalyptic novels. They tend to be downers rather than contain interesting science. There’s always a struggle with the environment, and too often zombies show up. But this is about a young girl who is involved in magic. A long ago geek friend she knows from Middle School gets back with her. Also, it takes place in San Francisco, and I lived in the Bay area for eight years. So, it’s on the list.

2. The Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn: I’ve been waiting on this one. I’ve read the previous books in the series (Elementals) so I know I will like this. (Rubs hands together)the-last-year

unquiet-land3. The Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson. New release. Time travel. Amazon best list. Charles Wilson (Spin) I’m in.

4. The Traitor ‘s Blade by Sebastien De Castell: Peter who works in Powell’s at Cedar Crossing has been their science fiction expert for a long time. He’s the liason for our Science Fiction Book Club. He knows his stuff, and when I whined about wanting a good book, he stuck this in my hand. Of course, I bought it and put it on the list.traitors-blade

5. Night Without Stars by Peter Hamilton. A hardback library find. Well, I’d actually been seeing this on a few a-night-without-starsrecommended lists. I’ve read earlier novels in the series also. It’s a big book which means it will take a while to read, but this is a far future space opera, and I’m ready for that.

By the way…don’t forget the second season of the Expanse starts on television tomorrow night February 1, Syfy channel. Watch that rather than the political insanity. Or, maybe the politics of the future there will look frightening familiar, and you can get a two-for-one.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Alternate Universe Stories, Best selling author, Best selling science fiction, Dystopia Earth, fantasy series, first contact, genetic manipulation, Hard science fiction, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, time travel

Review of Dome City Blues: A science fiction murder mystery

Image 1How do you buy your books nowadays?

Do you saunter down to the local bookstore and browse the shelves, picking out twenty-five dollar hardback or fifteen dollar trade paperbacks?

Or do you open Amazon and check out the suggestions on the front page, then click on best seller and free lists by Indie publishers at $2.99 to $4.99 or free?

Or do you grab a cup of coffee and open your iPad email to see what books certain ad sites are offering for free or discounted ?

Or do you check out your books at the library?

I must admit that I do all the above. Lately, however, I have been picking up books off the ad sites more and more. Stashing books on my Kindle takes up little room, and they don’t degrade over time or have overdue fines.photo

I used to concentrate on the list from the Hugo and Nebula awards. I thought that a popular vote had to result in a good book. Often this was true. Now, I notice that the books presented mostly are from traditional houses with a strong marketing team…TOR, Orbit, etc. and seem to repeat certain authors.

Don’t get me started on how disappointed I have been lately with the Nebula offerings I have read.

Still, as you can tell from my blog, if I like a particular author, ( Bujold, Asaro, Lee and Miller, Lynch, Gibson etc.) I quickly pick up their next book in the series in any of the above ways.

Powell's booksAlso, word of mouth or blogs (similar to mine) still impact my choice. Powell’s has a dynamic science fiction and fantasy reading group, so I often ask fellow readers what they are reading and will buy several books after our lively meetings. Powell’s also offers special deals and pricing on various books, but are constricted by purchasing through the catalogue. (there are exceptions) I must admit, they support local authors and have a robust author signing schedule.

Jan’s bookstore also offers used books with good prices and partners with Kobe for ebooks. They are friendly and helpful, but I’m getting lazy and don’t often drive across town for a book as much as I used to.

A lot of fans attend conferences and conventions to discover or support authors. Portland has Orycon and the Willamette Writers Conference. I used to attend every year, but more as an author for the panels than as a place to suss out my next novel to read. Still, a lot of traditional authors sponsored by bigger publishers with a bigger budget than mine go that route with great success.

Studying how books are bought can help an author decide what marketing path works best for his or her situation. Putting a book in a bookstore hasn’t worked for me. Attending conferences can get expensive and exhausting. Orycon is getting insular with the same locals appearing on panels and no top selling names as in the past. There is a definite traditional publishing bias and a bit of snobbery against Indie publishing. So, I quit going. Things may have changed since I last went, but I’m skeptical.

Last time I went to Willamette Writers, there was little to no science fiction offered on the panels or by interviewing agents, and I paid over five hundred dollars to attend. (that didn’t include the dinner). Now, I’d rather spend that on a good cover and editing. What is working for me is publishing more books and ad sites. It’s a spiral both ways. The more books you sell, the more your name gets out, the more books you sell.

Of course, the critical factor is to write a really good book. It helps to have a good marketing team with a lot of money to splash around and get the word out at the launch. I don’t, so I have to build slowly. I doubled sales and income last year from the previous year, and am on track to double again. Right now, sales are great. But I need more reviews…especially if they’re good. (hint)

So remember, it’s a long game now, and persistence and patience often are a winning combination.

Dome City BluesLast week, I talked about the trend of blending genres. When the author no longer has to figure out what section of the bookstore to place his book, or abide by a publisher dictating genre rules, then he or she can write a story that mixes genres. Science fiction romance, science fiction murder mystery, etc.

So I took a sharp right turn from my usual fare and picked up a book from an ad site. The title Dome City Blues by Jeff Edwards caught my attention. The title says it all. Mike Hammer meets Blade Runner.

I was in the mood for it.

David Stalin is a retired detective and war veteran. He lives in a fun place controlled by an artificial intelligence (even gets his coffee) under a dome that is one of several that cover parts of Los Angeles. His world is badly polluted and humanity lives mostly in domed cities.

The story uses the gumshoe detective trope and decorates the action with futuristic trappings. A beautiful, distraught prostitute pleads for David to investigate her brother’s case and clear his name so she can receive compensation. It appears to be an open and shut murder with a video of him confessing to the crime of killing young girls and ripping out their hearts before he records himself blowing out his own brains.

At the moment, David is still grieving over his wife’s death where they were working a case together and she got killed, put on ice, and partially sold for parts. He has isolated himself from others, except for an old war buddy who was shot in the spine during a fight and David saved him by carrying him out. Now, this friend, John, can only walk encased in a robotic exoskeleton, but has an obsession to find a way to be whole again.Angel City Blues

David picks at the case and gets drawn in deeper. Hacking into police files uncovers a similar murder of a young girl and a public self-confession several years ago. David takes on the case, uncovering more dead young girls with missing hearts. Getting too close, he is drugged and set up to take the fall for the murder of his main suspect. With a prominent citizen dead and all evidence pointing at him, he becomes a man on the run from the police. A shadowy figure also puts out an underground contract on his head. So, all the punks and criminals are out to kill him and collect.

The case becomes more complex as an underground movement called, “the Convergence” becomes involved. They are fighting a war against the blending of man and machine. David connects with this underground resistance force that is trying to stop this next step in evolution.

While some reviewers criticized Edward’s technology, saying the convergence of man and machine will happen sooner than he predicts, I disagree. Technology is moving faster and faster, but only recently have we been able to get a robot to walk as well as a human. And many have been working a long time on the problem. We are complex creatures. Even though, we’ll have automated driving, it will also take awhile to get a complete infrastructure that supports hovercraft and self-driving cars. Considering this was written in 1992, I think Edwards did a good job of portraying a futuristic world.download (1)

Besides, not all famous authors accurately predict stuff. Right Bradbury? (Martian Chronicles) And how long has it been since we’ve had any manned flights? Forty, fifty years?

I just hope we aren’t as polluted fifty years from now as Edwards expects. Global warming aside, electric cars and environmental activism make me more optimistic than portrayed in the book.

There is a lot of dramatic action, especially toward the end, and a good dollop of emotion, both in the anger of a lost love and the terror of being hunted. Even though I got irritated at the constant smoking that the main character indulged in, I enjoyed the story.

If you like the Blade Runner style of writing, you might want to check this one out. I have no  affiliations with the author, but it is now available for $.99 and was a decent deal.

And if you like the science fiction murder mystery genre, check out my Someone’s Clone. It’s a bit of a genre blend also. (see at right). Murder, time travel and clones.

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Filed under artificial intelligence, Book reviews, Cutting Edge Science ideas, downloaded personalities, Dystopia Earth, ebook marketing, environmental issues in science fiction, Implanting humans, Marketing and selling novels, modifying humans, Robots in science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, Transhumanism

Call for Beta Readers

IMG_9518I spoke too soon.

What a surprise you say.

The usual pleasant summer found in the Northwest has beamed down hot flames from the sun all week, making the temperature soar to 103 degrees Saturday. At least the nights cool down. Any reading is being done inside. Writing too. In air conditioning. It’s temporary.

I submitted my last chapter of book 8 to my writing group. Now I want to gather a few more Beta readers. These are readers who take a manuscript and read through it checking for continuity and general sense of character behavior and plot action. If they find misspelled words, I hope they mention it. Beta readers are special and often get a mention in the Acknowledgment and a signed final copy. They are people I trust with my special creation. They are the final polish.

So if you’d like to be a Beta reader for my next book, Time’s Equation, I need just a few more. Email me at: shmccartha@gmail.com.

Kepler 452bIn the science news: Many of you are already aware that the Kepler Project is discovering quite a few other planets out there in the universe. Recently, the most Earthlike planet has been discovered. Link:  https://www.nasa.gov/keplerbriefing0723  

The newly discovered Kepler-452b, located 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone — the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet — of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030. Finding a possibly compatible planet in which we could live is exciting stuff to an author writing about an Earth type planet such as Alysia. Science fiction becomes reality. Half a King

This week I read Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King and Half a World.

Being royalty isn’t easy when you have a hard cold father, a maimed hand, and dislike violence. Prince Yarvi, the younger prince, was happy to leave court to study for the ministry, the office that advises the king, rather than fight wars. Handling a sword proved awkward with his half a hand. But then his father and older brother are killed, and he is called back to court as the new King of Gettland.

His mother, known as the golden queen, has firm ideas on what to do. Attack their enemies no matter the wishes of the High King who demands peace. When asked how his father and brother died, Yarvi is told that his father went to speak peace with the bordering king Grom-Gil-Gorm and was attacked and killed through treachery. At his father’s funeral Yarvi swears vengeance on his family’s killer. His uncle Odem and his mother encourage him to command an army to attack his enemies. Of course, he must lead them there. Sword raised high. Gulp.

Yarvi sails to Vansterland with his uncle Odem where he finds unexpected treachery from his once supportive uncle. His loyal guard reveals his true colors and, on Odem’s orders, throws Yarvi from a high parapet into the sea to drown. But he survives. Washed up on shore, he is brought before Grom-Gil-Gorm where he claims to be a cook’s boy to hide his true identity from his sworn enemy. From there, he is chained and delivered to a slaver who sells him to row on the downtrodden merchant ship, the Southwind.

Yarvi’s grueling life at the oar and the friendships he makes as he uses his wits to figure an escape teaches him to be a man. But even freedom isn’t pleasant, as he and a few from the ship are hunted by their sadistic captain while he tries to unravel the plots of those who want him dead.

This is an adventure story of royalty sold into slavery and overcoming adversity. A young prince who tries to reclaim his birthright and become a man. A few interesting twists and turns keep it fresh. Abercrombie builds an believable world that offers solid action.Half a World

The sequel, Half a World, follows the story of young girl who calls herself Thorn and aspires to be a king’s warrior in a society where women are supposed to cook, sew and clean house. It follows her struggle to prove herself, but when the sword master makes her fight three opponents at once, she accidentally kills one of her attackers after her practice sword splinters. The sword master claims murder, and she is clapped in jail. When Thorn faces a possible verdict of death by stoning, a fellow trainee, Brand, discloses the real story to now Minister Yarvi who saves her by bundling her onto his departing ship, the Southwind.

Once again several characters from the first book join an older and more mature Yarvi as they sail half a world away in search of allies for an upcoming war. The High King plots to take over the world and his cunning Minister, Mother Wexen, has her own plans within those plots. Minister Yarvi must untangle the politics and uncover the truth as he ventures from land to land with his rough crew, searching for allies.

As they sail, Yarvi has Thorn trained to become a killing machine and his secret weapon. There is also a nice, but rocky, romance between Brand and Thorn.

Both books are worth reading and offer old fashioned adventure with clever Yarvi and the rough but likable crew of the Southwind as they sail into exotic ports and discover surprising allies.

Recently Joe Abercrombie has come out with the next adventure called Half a War.

Enjoy your read now that the weather is cooling off.

Aaaahhh.

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Filed under artificial intelligence, Best selling science fiction, Beta Readers, Cutting Edge Science ideas, Dystopia Earth, ebook science fiction, fantasy series, magic, Post Apocalyptic, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science fiction world building, supernatural, Wizards and magic

Amazon Marketing

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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.

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

Superstar Science Fiction Marketeer

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

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

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

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

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

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

 So he wrote more.Wool4

Five more.Wool5

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

 Hugh Howey was on fire.

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

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

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

 And Howey was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 And then, you’ll be hooked.

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