Category Archives: military

Transhumanism in Military Science Fiction

IMG_0165What if the next step in human evolution is not crafted by Mother Nature, but birthed from our own science labs?

If you follow Ray Kurzweil at all, you know there are amazing things happening in science around the world.

We are already on the path to Transhumanism.

My fellow blogger Veronica Sicoe recently did an amazing blog on this topic. She defined it as “Transhumanism is a movement that aims at upgrading humanity through technology and scientific advancements. The idea is to enhance the human body and mind, from the development of advanced life-like prosthetics to repair damaged functionality and the development of life-prolonging technologies, to customizing healthy body parts on demand and adding new functionality, and even merging humans and machines such as by uploading yourself into a computer or sharing your neurological hardware with an AI. Transhumanism means basically anything that would make humans faster, smarter, longer-lived and more versatile than nature could ever achieve within foreseeable time.”

Science fiction provides a fertile ground for exploring this topic. War is horrible, but the many casualties returning to society have pushed science to develop more and more sophisticated medicine and technology. We now can control a prosthetic hand through thought.

Think about that!

No wait! Don’t.

Also, no longer clunky metal apparatuses, prosthetic limbs often look and feel real.

What about an embedded computer in a human brain? Coming up in my next novel, I do this to a clone. Stretching to the future as my timeline extends, I am now writing about the next step in human development, evolution?, and it is exciting and challenging.

What can and will we do to extend our lives, our capabilities? And what are the moral and ethical questions that go along with altering what it means to be human. Science fiction often explores this question of, what is human? At what point do we say a downloaded brain into a computer interface is no longer human? Or do we call a cryo-frozen brain implanted into a cloned body, human? Is the identity of the original still legal? Or considered another identity entirely? How should society’s laws regulate what is acceptable or not? Should we rigidly determine what is acceptable or let science flow free to find its own limits?

And then, there is the dark side.

What uplifts us, can also destroy us. Embedded weapons can not only shoot at the enemy, they can be used for criminal activity. People can be cloned, or in desperate circumstances, donate body parts to black markets. Already many are on a list, waiting for a donated heart, liver, lung and would be willing to pay a lot to get one. Opportunity for criminal activity.

Death's Head Again, the military provides fertile ground to explore transhumanism, and I have found an undiscovered gem in David Gunn’s Deaths Head: Maximum Offense. 

I stumbled upon this  novel while searching through the new arrival shelf at my local library.

Yeah, yeah. I go there occasionally.

This is a part of a series, and I encourage you “balls to the wall” scifi military fans to check out the others too.Death's Head 1 If you are all posies and flowers fantasy, this isn’t for you. But if you like a badass protagonist who is 98.2%  human with enhanced healing ability, superior strength, unusual agility and sociopathic tendencies, well then, pull up a chair and check this one out.

It reminds me of Peter Hamilton’s Mindstar Rising, only a little more gritty.

Oh yes, he also has a lethal parasite that resides in his throat that bends time and space, and talks directly to AIs. Yet most of the beings he deals with consider him little more than a Neanderthal creature.

So there are aliens that are even more transhuman that try to manipulate him…oh heck, kill him.

The United Free are immortal, arrogant, and can bring back the dead…

And do. More than once.

The other end of the Galaxy’s Spiral is home to the Metalheads or a race of cyborgs who are very lethal and aggressive.

And his enemies.

The protagonist, Sven Tveskoeg (what is with strange scifi names?) is given an assignment to lead his ragtag unit called the Aux (auxiliaries) into the artificial world of Hekati and find a missing citizen of the United Free. What he finds is the StarFist, an enhanced military force, seriously mean inhabitants made up of abandoned miners, illegals and misfits, and a situation set up to kill him.

Day of the DamnedHis unit contains Haze, his intelligence officer, who’s brain is cybernetic and can control computers and machines. Rachel is his sniper with deadly skills, Neen, his first officer who wants his position and Shil.

Oh yes, and a seventeen year old greenhorn colonel, Colonel ViJay, is put in charge of the group who has no combat experience whatsoever. Sven has to follow his frustrating orders until partway through the mission he realizes that ViJay is the son of General Jaxx, one of the most powerful men of the Octovian society. The situation demands that ViJay learn quickly what it means to be a soldier, or die. And Sven gets to be responsible for him.

Worse than that, Sven’s gun is sentient, a free citizen that constantly backtalks at him using heavy sarcasm.

I did say gun.

All makes for an interesting, and riveting transhuman experience in the military genre.


Filed under alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, artificial intelligence, artificial nature, Cutting Edge Science ideas, downloaded personalities, gene modification, genetic manipulation, military, military science fiction, modifying humans, Robots in science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction science, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Transhumanism

Does Science Fiction have a Gender Bias?

IMG_9503Is reader gender important in science fiction?

I’ve been led to believe that men and women read different types of stories.

In our writer’s group we have four women and two men. When we only had one male, the criticism was always…give more description and detail. What do the walls look like? What are they eating? Wearing? Facial features?

Then we added another guy.

Suddenly we were talking about action in the story!

Myths of the MirrorI put a lot of action in my stories, but our fantasy writer does eloquent description and engaging characters. Check out Myths of the Mirror by D. Peach. I have been learning a lot from her on how to paint details and characters into my story.

Now, suddenly, with another male voice in the mix, the comments have become…when are they going to DO something?

We don’t know what color his protagonist’s hair is, or if  eyes are blue or green…but Ted writes compelling military action stories.

Check out “To Dance With the Ladies from IO6” by Ted Blasche. When the women fussed at him, he said that he wants the reader to engage his own imagination to create the character…and plot and action drive his stories.

Both work.

Why am I blogging about this?

Because as a writer, I need to figure out my audience, and I’m not so sure science fiction is as male dominated as some might think. Or that women are all about pretty description and intense emotion in a story. I know I’m not. I like both.

I was brought up short when one of the female readers from my book group critiqued Rendezvous With Rama by commenting that she really liked how clean and straightforward the writing was. Several chimed in that David Weber just put in too much description.

Is such a thing possible?

I had thought Rendezvous With Rama dry and needing more description. I wanted to meet the aliens or have the ship on some dramatic mission, rather than have our solar system be just a fuel stop.Rendezvous with Rama

Plot, character and description is a three pronged stool and the writer needs to keep in mind the audience he, or she is aiming at while writing.

Thank goodness, science fiction is also malleable. It can be intellectual with lots of science like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, or laden with love and emotion like The Time Traveler’s Wife by Niffenger. It can be a mystery like Kathryn Rusch’s Retrieval series or military like Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

The fun is that you can write a variety of sub genres under the cloak of science fiction. Caught in Time is a basic time travel romance with a war thrown in for the guys. A Dangerous Talent for Time is more a quest story, almost young adult, as two main characters are in their late teens, early twenties. Then, Cosmic Entanglement has a murder mystery. Past the Event Horizon takes place on a starship and is very Star Trek with a space battle and emphasizes the science and physics of space . Space Song involves pieces of all elements: romance, military, mystery, science, young

So, today I’m wondering how to connect with my audience, and is there a gender bias there? Anyone know of any research along those lines?

Next week I’ll be in Nashville giving a talk on “Time Travel and all things science fiction,” and signing books. Also, a big wedding, and later, a hot card game with relatives. So, timing on when I get my blog out may be influenced by wild social activities. Fingers crossed.

Fair warning.

Next question is: Does science fiction have an age bias? What kind of science fiction is read by young, middle-aged and the mature audience? Is it different? Is there a preference that is determined by age? I know my twenty something daughter, who rarely reads science fiction, got caught up in The Hunger Games trilogy. Was it the plot or the characters? Maybe both.

And what group or subset is reading the most science fiction? Young kids? Old guys? Housewives?

Today, we ask questions of the universe. Tomorrow we seek answers.


Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, blog information, Classic science fiction, dragons, fantasy, hard science, Hard science fiction, Hunger Games, Mars, military, military science fiction, science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction science, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, space ship, space travel, time travel, Uncategorized, YA science ficiton

Popular Military Science Fiction

IMG_0174Spring’s here! I’ve got the fever.

I want to sit out on the back deck, watch the birds, smell the flowers and read something really good.

What would be good to read? I asked that question at my book club, and when two members got into interrupting each other over what they liked best in a particular series, I knew it was one I had to check out. It is an older series, but that means that you don’t have to sit around and wait impatiently if you want to read the next book in the series. So, I took the plunge.

The title was On Basilisk Station by David Weber and it introduces the whole Honor Harrington series.

Yes, I know, another series…sigh.

An additional reason I wanted to read this was that one of my most popular blogs is entitled Military Science Fiction. This was an earlier blog when I was first getting started, but it has held up in the most hits category…so my readers like military science fiction…and this fit the bill.

With a bonus…a hot female protagonist.

So here’s a popular military science fiction…with a hot female as the Captain who has an alien cat riding her shoulders. The only thing missing is a dragon or two, and they wouldn’t fit well into her aging  light cruiser.

OnBasiliskStationHonor Harrington graduated top in her class. She’s described as having a “strong boned face” and short cropped hair. Still, the arrogant eldest son of the Earl of North Hallow, Pavel Young, had expected compliance when he tried to rape her at the academy, but instead he got a humiliating beating.

Which he never forgot.

She’s given Fearless, an over-age light cruiser  with an armament that, as she takes command, is being gutted and replaced with top secret weapons promoted by Lady Sonja Hemphill of the Red Admiralty. Honor is then tasked with a battle “exercise” to prove the weapon. She wins the first exercise with clever tactics but tips her hand. Once the weapon is revealed, the opposition team in all subsequent battles beats her severely and embarrasses Admiral Hemphill. Honor makes her look like a fool and earns her enmity and the enmity of the Lord Admiral, her cousin. The result is Honor is exiled to Basilisk Station in disgrace and set up for ruin by a superior who hates her.

Basilisk Station is the punishment station for the Royal Manticoran Navy where the worst incompetents and those who incur  The Lord of the Admiralty’s displeasure are sent.

And now, that is Honor Harrington.

Worse, when she arrives, who greets her but Captain Lord Pavel Young with a smirk on his face as he leaves her by herself and her single  ship to patrol the entire system while he heads home for a refit, setting her up for failure and a ruined career.

Then the aborigines of the system’s only inhabitable planet are being supplied a dangerous homicidal, hallucinogenic  drug and taught how to make advanced weapons.

Large powerful cartels and merchants are using it to smuggle and reap large profits. The last thing they want is a by-the-book navy uncovering their operations and shutting them down.

And, Someone is Up to Something, and it looks like the nearby system of the Republic of Haven is eager to expand its territory west, but first it has to go through the Central Junction that is currently being held by Manticore, and Basilisk Station is in the way.

With the head of the Manticoran Admiralty dismissing Basilisk Station as unimportant and unaware of any possible problems, Honor stands alone in a crippled ship with a demoralized crew that blames her for their disgrace, and proceeds to attempt the impossible task of patrolling the entire system.

Because it’s her duty.

How she succeeds makes for a fun and interesting read. She straightens her cap, pets her treecat, Nimitz, and takes on the enemy with admirable grit and determination.

Once I got past the first several chapters about the intricate politics and detailed military facts with innumerable names to figure out, I began to enjoy the story more. After Honor gets to Basilisk Station, the whole situation becomes interesting, even though, problem after problem is thrown at her.

You have to admire her grit and determination and evaluate her response to obstacles against your own life. I found myself petting my cat, adjusting my shirt, and getting on with what was necessary and right just as she does.

A few point of view changes create confusion at times, but the story is worth it, and most likely, I’ll be reading more in this popular series.

Speaking of popular series, ah hem…

A Dangerous Talent for Time HQ (1)I have expanded my distribution and put a few of my books on Smashwords. As a gift for Mother’s Day or just as a treat because you took the time to read this, I have a coupon for a free copy of the second book in the series, A Dangerous Talent for Time. This is my longest book and is a fun romp around Alysia in search of the answer to a riddle while the characters fall in love, fight battles, meet exotic characters and deal with a time talent who can control events and shift the future. It’s my daughter’s favorite book in the series. Coupon code JU87K

Thank you for the many who downloaded a number of my books during the Liebster Awards Blog and my KDP Select experiment. It was fun and I appreciate your response. If you have the time, and like the book, I would really appreciate you writing a short review on Amazon, Nothing fancy…a few words. Just go to the book page and scroll down to the reviews and you’ll see how easy it is.

And thanks to Cathy Reynolds for her great reviews. You have a generous heart and inspire me to write more exciting adventures. Thank you…hug.


Filed under Best selling science fiction, military, military science fiction, Political Science Fiction, Science fiction world building, space ship

Overheard Conversations

“Down the hall. It’s a 10 x10 room with an orc in it.”

“That second glass of toxic waste is what did me in last night.”

“She’s with either the klingon or a guy in an aviator’s outfit.”

YEP, you guessed it.   ORYCON. Where else would you see a cardboard box with a periscope peeking out and riding an elevator? Or a captain of a spaceship walking in Earth heavy gravity?

Orycon is Portland’s annual science fiction/fantasy Con. And it can get pretty weird…and wonderful.Vance Kovacs

One of the most important things  writers can do is to attend a workshop, a Con, or join an association or a writer’s group. Get out and about and meet your readers and fellow authors. Learn something new and make new acquaintances. I met my editor at a Con and the leader of my writers’ group.

Boy, am I glad I did.

Here in Oregon, Orycon is the big event where writers can learn how to hone their writing skills, navigate the treacherous waters of publishing, and network with fellow writers and well-known science fiction and fantasy authors through panels and chance encounters. There’s a whole gaming culture, art gallery and deep into the evening…there’s filking.

This year  Author Guest of Honor was my friend Mike Shepherd who whispered that he just got offered a three book contract for a new series with a new protagonist in the universe of Kris Longknife. Artist Guest of Honor was Vance Kovacs. Check out his beautiful pictures on book covers, movie treatments, games and films at (see picture above) Editor Jess Hartley has her fingers in the pies of gaming, fiction and game design. Media Guest of Honor, Aaron Duran has a popular blog and podcast called

Gaming entrepreneur Clayton Callahan brought gaming fun with his “Quick and Easy Games.”

I attended two writing workshops where in August I had turned in 7500 words  each of two upcoming novels to be evaluated by professional authors. (Bill Nolan being one) If my ego can weather the corrections, my stories will be stronger for all the great comments offered me.

Special thanks again to Carole Cole who does a fantastic job at arranging everything for the writers’ workshops…down to the chocolate. Criticism goes so much better when there’s chocolate in your mouth.

Some suggested venues for this area are: the Willamette Writer’s Conference, The Clarion Workshop and other private workshops. These cost more money, but are not genre specific and do not require costuming skills. Local writing groups are sprinkled around the area. Check them out. Powell’s Bookstore in Cedar Crossing has a great science fiction book club if you are an avid reader and want to join up with folks with the same interests. Also associations such a the Northwest Independent Writers Association and the Portland Writers Group offers networking opportunities where writers share what they know and talk about their work.

And there’s no telling what you might overhear at any of them. Get out, get about and join the fun.

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Filed under alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, book fairs, Classic science fiction, Cons, fantasy, Filking, military, military science fiction, science fiction, science fiction series

Trying Something New: Seven Steps

Sometimes it’s good to get out of the old rut and try something new…a new lipstick, a new dress, a new recipe, a new friend, a new job..or a new author.

Earth Shattering, I know. But bear with me.

Recently, I had to tear my favorite authors from my cold hard grip and take a flying leap off the cliff’s edge into the abyss of a new author.

Well, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but I did take a deep breath.

In selecting a new author, what does a reader look for? I recently selected Dissolution of Peace by Richard Flores IV and here is the seven step process I used.

1. The Cover:  They say that you can’t tell a book by its cover and that’s somewhat true. Recently, I tried a story because it had an awesome cover of a beautiful girl with wires coming out of her head, but the story was about a Jesuit Priest in a jungle. So, the cover brought me to the book, but I felt betrayed by the story. Then, there’s the horrible cover, such as Lois Bujold’s first cover for Mirror Dance, but I already knew that Lois could deliver a good story, so I bought the book anyway. The back part of the cover is important also. Often, I will check the back for a summary of what the story is about. If it sounds good, then I might buy it.

Still, a good cover with a tempting blurb on the back can tantalize readers with the promise of a good story and often is the first step towards them buying it. New author Richard Flores had a gorgeous cover that was spot on about his story.

2. The Interior: Next, I usually flip through the pages to how the book is formatted. This is more important than you might suspect in that poor formatting, ill-placed chapters, wonky fonts, often shout out that the author doesn’t care about his or her reader. At first, Richard had  reasonable front matter. Plain, simple, but clean. But the paragraphing indents were off. Annoying.

Now here’s the thing.

I, myself, am struggling with the new flowable text. My paperbacks look beautiful. Everything stays in place and behaves. However, when it goes to e-books and flowable text, everything changes around. What looks professional on my iPad, reconfigures to some weird formatting on my kindle. Or visa-versa. The formatting just won’t stay put.

That is the beauty of the e-book. For us older folks, we can enlarge the print without having to sneak a large print book off a store’s shelf under our coats. And I have over one hundred books on a light weight iPad or kindle for anytime reading with no pending library fine.

Still, having the paragraph indents change bothered me. Set up the book to either have reasonable indents or space between paragraphs. Readers need the eye relief. Long pages of blocky print with a three space indent, or changing indents is exhausting. Easy fix.

3. Technicals: We are talking about grammar, sentence structure, spelling and word choice.

All the stuff your high school English teacher talked about. At least I did when I taught.

You insult your reader if you don’t at least make an attempt. Now, these mistakes are like fleas on a cat. No matter how hard you, as a writer, try to eliminate them, there are always more lurking in your text.

Gads! I know. I have read through my own work a multitude of times, given it to a professional editor, had beta readers look it over, my writing group, a professional workshop critique, and still the odd comma, the shy apostrophe, the computer respelled words crop up. Even in a traditional press book this happens. But if it’s flagrant, then the reader is kicked out of the story. Do that too many times and you lose your reader.

As I began reading Richard Flores’ book, this wasn’t  a problem. His sentences flowed smoothly and his grammar and spelling made a sturdy framework for the story. I could delve deeply into the book without the distraction of poor grammar or bad spelling.

4. Action: It used to be that a story began calmly at the beginning with describing the world and the characters and gradually picked up pace. Not so any more. Editors are expecting action on the first page and they want to be hooked by page two or your story’s in the dumpster.

Wham, bam, start the story strong.

I’m ambivalent on this. Where can a writer go from there? I am the personality type that likes to look around and get my feet under me before things go wild.

So, in the Dissolution of Peace, the story begins with one of the protagonists on a shuttle coming toward the warship that she will be serving on.

After trolling through back alleys of Urban Fantasy, I was ready for this military style world and outer space adventure. The description of the ship, the internal dialogue that told me that Janice Kanter hated space, her enigmatic partner who just arrives from a fellow officer’s funeral, all intrigued me, and set me comfortably in her world.

Chapter two introduces Captain Christina Serenity, a recently injured ship captain, who is the youngest captain in the fleet. She has just survived an attempt on her life and is covering up her injury in order to get back into duty so as not to lose her ship. Someone is out to kill her, so she has been assigned two bodyguards to protect her. She has a conversation with her commanding officer, Admiral McCorvick, who appears to want to discredit her and get her away from Earth. The Mars colony is building a fleet and a war is brewing between Earth and Mars. So, there’s lots of conflict, even though no one’s been shot just yet.

Okay, I’m in.

A reader wants a story that gives him an experience… To go “Where no man has ever gone before.” Or possibly, can’t go at the moment because his couch isn’t space worthy and the wife doesn’t want him off fighting Martians around dinnertime.

5.  Believable Characters: Along with exciting events, the reader wants a satisfying emotional experience…to feel strong emotions at the right time in the story, to live through another person’s eyes and be more than he can be in his own skin. So, the reader can’t be told how the character feels, but must experience the character’s life. Feel his dreams, hopes, fears, love.

In other words, “Show don’t tell.”

Yes, that’s me screaming in the background. This is a struggle I have, and the hard part of writing but vital.

This was done well in Dissolution of Peace. You had several  characters that were all dealing with emotional conflict. I wasn’t overwhelmed by it, but then, I remained reasonably involved. Captain Serenity’s courage and determination to duty against the pull of true love is well done. Janice Kantor’s character arc as she changes from hating space to becoming a competent bodyguard in space is also good. The feelings and emotions of Corporal Mike Carlson, the secret admirer and captain’s bodyguard is also good.

6. Story Arc: This is the stream that carries the reader along and is important to keeping him in the story. There is an arc to every story…a beginning, a middle and an end. In Dissolution of Peace, Richard starts with conflict that is interesting enough to engage the reader. A brewing conflict between Mars and Earth. Okay, fine.

Then, just when there’s a bit of a pause, an unexpected alien race comes on scene, and Serenity has to deal with a first contact situation. Then another alien race shows up.  And the two are deadly enemies. One to side with Mars and the other to side with Earth and we’re not sure if either can be trusted. Add in an old friend who turns out to be leading a terrorist  group that is trying to start a war.

Amp up the tension and suspense.

Next is another attempt on the brave, young, and beautiful Captain Serenity’s life, and we’re turning pages at one o’clock in the morning.

Throw in unrequited love between captain and her body guard…that no one can know about, or they’ll be thrown out of the military, and she’ll lose her ship…well…you see my point.

There is a rhythm to a good story that keeps the plot line and emotions moving higher and higher, so the reader keeps turning the pages, and then twists the story and makes the reader gasp.

7. Ending:   Of course I can’t tell you the ending of the story. SPOILER! But all endings must have a climax where everything is at risk and something awesome happens and then a resolution that makes the reader close the book with a satisfied smile after being on  emotional roller coaster. You want to have everything explained and tied up.

Unless you’re writing a series.

Which I am. And apparently, Richard Flores is.

His ending is explosive, but not final. I didn’t go, yes, wow, done…rather, now I want to read the next book.

And that can be okay. Most likely I will. His story is good. Lots of action, good emotional points and I love the landscape…or rather the wide open void of space that he traverses. I left my soft chair and became a love-crossed, beautiful captain of a starship who protects Earth and tries to stop a war.  And I sneaked into the world of a strong, competent bodyguard on a military spaceship who saves the life of the woman he loves, but can’t let anyone know how he feels about her.

Okay now…You try something new. Check out my right hand column for a few suggestions.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven LEAP!


Filed under alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, Classic science fiction, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, first contact, Hard science fiction, Indie authors, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Mars, military, military science fiction, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Space opera, space ship, space travel

Guilty Pleasures

Guilty pleasures…chocolate…definitely chocolate. A glass of fancy wine, not the table stuff…the good stuff…a new outfit, shoes maybe and yes, ice cream…with a rich fudge topping and cherry on top.

And a really good science fiction novel.

Sometimes on Sunday morning, my mother would line us all up for church and count noses. She had three girls and a boy to get ready, so it was quite an undertaking. We’d be standing there at the door ready to go and dad would be missing. He had the car keys, so she would go searching, only to find him in the bathroom hunkered down, avidly reading some science fiction book.

He’d look up and blink. A guilty pleasure.

She wanted him out and about DOING something useful. He just wanted the excitement of strange worlds and exotic creatures.

I am my father’s daughter.

One of my favorite authors has a new book coming out November 6. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMasters Bujold. I thought I would give you a heads up, since this is the latest in a long series, and you might need a running start.

One of the things that older series best selling science fiction authors are doing is combining several books, repackaging them and reselling them with a new title and new cover. Lois is doing this, so be aware that what might look like a new book could be just two novels combined with maybe a novella or short story added in. I know she had some issues with the covers when some of the earlier books first came out, particularly Mirror Dance, but the latest covers are really nice.

In traditional publishing, authors have no say over how their covers look. Some can be pretty awful and the Mirror Dance cover was grim. Lois even said so.

I bought it anyway.

The new ebooks also are allowing, nay encouraging, authors to put out short stories and novellas since shelf space is not an issue with them. So she has sprinkled a few of those on Amazon.

Now I have met Lois and was amazed at how natural and down to Earth she was. She was really nice, and not weird like some scifi authors can be. She was a guest author at Orycon back in 1998 and I had her sign several of my books by her.

Her series centers on Mile Vorkosigan, who is handicapped by a birth accident and his bones are very brittle. He is also extremely short. However, what his body lacks, his mind makes up for and he gets into unbelievable situations with his manic behavior and wild schemes. Lois has a wicked sense of humor, which I  enjoy very much. Miles has a clone brother, and a cousin Ivan. This newest book is supposed to be about Ivan and his escapades and I am eager to check it out. I’ll read it and let you know down the road how I liked it.

Before you read the newest one, you might start with the earlier books. Barrayar (won a Hugo1992), Shards of Honor, The Warrior’s Apprentice, The Vor Game (won Hugo 1991), Brothers in Arms, Borders of Infinity, Falling Free (won Nebula 1988) Ethan of Athos, Mirror Dance,(Hugo 1995) Young Miles, A Civil AffairCyroburn (latest out 9/2011) and others repackaged. She also has two fantasy series you can look into if you like fantasy, or just a good read. Paladin of Souls (won both Hugo and Nebula 2004).

She has quite dominated these prestigious awards, so I’m not the only one who likes her. You might too.

A guilty pleasure.

Currently, I’m reading several series books that I recommended earlier.  Mad Ship by Robin Hobbs is an older novel while Sisterhood of Dune is just out by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert. I’m enjoying both.

I’ll report on them soon, so stay tuned.

Enjoy what’s left of summer. Enjoy a guilty pleasure…or two.


Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Classic science fiction, Cons, Hugo winners, military, military science fiction, Nebula nominations, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, Science fiction world building

Hidden gems in Science Fiction

Art, music, literature, dance, the creative arts are all subject to an individual’s taste. However, in many cases the cream does rise to the top. Many of my favorite stories are other reader’s favorites too. Check out my recommendations in past blogs and you get a sense of what I like. It’s all over the science fiction/ fantasy map.

That’s why I like lists such as the Hugo and Nebula awards. Having said that, several times I have overlooked a good story based on a snap judgement.

In the fantasy genre, Robin Hobbs was such a writer. Her first attempt at writing failed. Then, Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden changed her pen name to Robin Hobbs and her series took off. I was told this and decided to pass on her novels until years later when a friend was reading her and commented that she was really good.

I started with the Farseer Trilogy: Assassin’s Apprentice book1…and loved it. I was also drawn to the title. What would it be like to be an assassin’s apprentice?

The first trilogy contains a lot of my favorite story plots. Good Prince Chivalry has a bastard son, Fitz, more often called “the Bastard”, who lives in the shadows at the king’s royal palace. Prince Chivalry is shamed by his bastard’s existence and he and his current wife are exiled from court. But Fitz stays. Fitz is given to the stable master and then, the king’s assassin to raise. Fitz holds the royal line’s ability of telepathy and can bond mentally with animals, particularly one wolf that he saves.

Another interesting character in the story is the fool. Of course, the fool spouts out wisdom that sounds like nonsense and, over the series, plays an important part in Fitz’s and the king’s life.

The second trilogy picks up the Fool’s story with the Tawny Man Series: Fool’s Errand, Golden Fool and Fool’s Fate. There is also a dragon series in the same universe and a Mad Ship’s Series.

Something fun for everyone.

All are good reads. I recommend them to you if you like fantasy and fantasy escape stories along the lines of Patrick Rothfuss and Terry Goodkind.

If your taste runs more to hard science, spaceships and modified humans, then I want to mention Jay Lake’s Death of a Starship.

Jay is a member of my Portland Writer’s Group and as of this 2009 publication has over 240 published short stories and eight novels, Green published by TOR is his most recent. He also has won numerous nominations and awards for his writing. He was co-host at the recent Hugo awards and is battling cancer.

It’s not an easy war. We are rooting for a victory.

Death of a Starship starts off with an exciting space battle that ends with a large battleship, the Enver Hoxha, mysteriously disappearing.

The Grand Ekumenical Security Directorate that investigates rumors of aliens and strange disappearances sends Father Jonah Menard to investigate rumors of its reappearance. Along with the father, travels a bodyguard in the form of a manufactured creature called an angel. Having pale skin, red eyes and deadly wings, the angel can survive for a limited time in vacuum and is a formidable fighter.

To counteract these creatures, the military has a secret branch that has created Biones, which are enhanced humans designed to kill angels. A third vector is Micah Albrecht,  out of work ship engineer, who finds a key lock to a hidden boat off of the Enver Hoxha.

All converge in the pursuit of power, survival and aliens.

A surprisingly good read…for me.

Because…several elements of the story echo ideas and elements in my own novels and I sometimes wonder if there aren’t certain ideas floating out in the ether that various writers pick up and incorporate into their stories, not realizing that others are thinking along the same lines. I wrote my story years before I read Jay’s and yet there are similar elements. Disconcerting.

A mass consciousness? Where do we writers get our ideas?

For me they bubble up out of my consciousness from past stories and experiences. An idea or story plot appears in my mind and I want to see where it leads and what it looks like in full bloom.

Some days I’m just a blooming idiot, making the world more colorful and fragrant.

p.s. Here’s an awesome piece by John Scalzi mentioned in last week’s blog


Filed under alien life forms, Best selling science fiction, fantasy, gene modification, genetic manipulation, hard science, Indie authors, Indie Science Fiction Authors, military, military science fiction, modifying humans, Nebula nominations, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Space opera, space ship, space travel

Best Selling Military Science Fiction

IMG_9503When I think about being on board a spaceship that feels real, I think of C.J. Cherryh’s Alliance Universe series.

Finity’s End was a surprise in that I expected an end of the universe story, and got a space ship named “Finity’s End” instead. The story deals with the transition from war to peace and how the merchants who travel space have to survive in the uneasy new alliance. Also in this series is Tripoint, which is the story of a young boy whose mother was raped by a ship’s captain and has preached revenge to her young son his whole childhood. The boy is kidnapped by his step-brother onto his father’s ship where he has to deal with strained family ties, and the truth.

Merchanter’s Luck, also in the series, is about the merchant ships who ply the spaceways and the big conglomerate ships who starve out the small independent ships. It has the feel of spaceships and the details of living on them that Cherryh is so good at.Downbelow Station

Others: Rim Runner, and Down Below Station. (received a Hugo) I am currently interested in this series because I am editing my novel about a space voyage on board a ship in Past the Event Horizon  and want to get that same virtual feel that Cherryh gives.

Another good space voyage novel is Timothy Zahn’s Icarus Hunt.

This is about the pirate captain who you can’t help but like. Again, the gritty life among the stars that holds danger and starvation at every turn as crew and captain try to hold the ship together at all costs. A surprisingly good read. With a touch of romance thrown in.
The Lost Fleet 1When I asked my writers group what their favorite science fiction was, my military guy said, “John Campbell and his Lost Fleet Series.” This is a popular series of a renegade military ship on several space adventures. Black Jack Geary, is pulled out of “survival hibernation” to lead a fleet of ships against the alien enemy. He has to overcome his earlier hero persona and the myth that has grown up around him over the last many years. I have read the first three and agree that it’s good, but I think you military types will enjoy it even more. Now the most recent (May 2012)The Lost Fleet:Beyond the Frontier has come out and continues Geary’s story. This time he is caught between two alien enemies and an antagonistic high command.

I showed up at Powell’s bookstore the other night thinking that Richard Morgan of Altered Carbon (won a Hugo) fame was speaking. It turned out that a book club had read him and was discussing his novel. Still, I met some nice ladies and had a good discussion. Interesting that one saw a religious tone to his book. I considered the question of how would our world be changed if we could be immortal? If we each had a cortical stack with a back up locked away. The group read it as a mystery. The mystery being that a murder is committed and the protagonist has been “backed up” and brought back to life, but the time of the murder is missing in his memory and evidence suggests that he was the murderer. What happened between his last saved identity and recent events?

Here us a list of two great Military Science Fiction Series:

John Scalzi:                                      Richard Morgan

Old Man’s War                                Altered Carbon

The Last Colony                             Broken Angels

Red Shirts                                         Thirteen

Zoe’s Tale                                          Woken Furies

I may be female, but I like a good rousing fight ‘em up, get the bad aliens type of macho book. I read Old Man’s War before I knew that John Scalzi was popular. It was an unexpected discovery and I remember saying, “Hey, this is interesting. Why hasn’t anyone said anything before?”

Well, they had.

What I thought was my unique discovery turns out to be the number#1 book on the recent TOR’s best science fiction of the decade list. Not to mention it made the Hugo nomination in 2006. Do I have good instincts or what? I went on to read Last Colony which was nominated for a Hugo 2008, Ghost Brigade 2007 Prometheus award nomination and Zoe’s Tale, also nominated for a Hugo in 2009.  John Salzi started by winning the John W. Campbell award best new sfwriter in 2005.

So I checked him on twitter and found out that he is a seriously funny man. Best twitter notes ever.

He just came out with a new book, Red Shirts. Check it out.

Scalzi takes old men and downloads their experience into young buff military bodies and sends them off to fight aliens in order to protect Earth. Richard Morgan does the same, but his guy is more of an interstellar mercenary. His series takes on a cyberpunk noir type atmosphere. NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. Both writers use the idea of disposable bodies–which is perfect in a military setting. Both writers put their protagonist through an identity crisis. After reading all the above books, I was having a bit of one myself.

For you geek people. I found a blog on gravity that argues that it is faster than light. It’s rather interesting and seems to be the basis for Ursula LaGuinn’s ansible, which is a space communicator that is instantaneous. Since I have an alien space communicator in Past the Event Horizon (did I mention soon to come out? See side panel) this was very interesting to me.

What do you think? Hello, hello. Why does my iPhone do everything but have a decent phone conversation?


Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, Classic science fiction, downloaded personalities, ebook science fiction, Hugo winners, military, military science fiction, Nebula nominations, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, space ship, Tor's Reader's Choice, war

Catching Fire

Science fiction comes in many flavors. One of these can be a dystopia Earth with a social message attached.  A recent runaway trilogy of this type is the Hunger Games and like the title, Catching Fire, the second book in the series, is “catching fire” with readers all over.

I reviewed the first book of the series in a previous blog. In the second book, the reader becomes reacquainted with Katniss, our heroine, who now lives in the village with luxuries. However, her troubles aren’t over and a tricky political maneuver sends her and Peeta back into the games…this time with all the previous victors. It’s the jungle and the sea as an arena. However, Katniss realizes that her true enemies aren’t the other combatants, but the government and Director Snow.

I truly didn’t want to go back onto the killing grounds, but Suzanne Collins handles this development rather well, providing emotional appeal and non stop action once again. Four stars. I recommend it.

Another thing I want to recommend is the science fiction website Often Patrick Hester narrates various interesting podcasts and one recent one was an interview with Phil Hornshaw and Nick Hurwitch who wrote, So You Created a Wormhole?

This is a time traveler’s handbook. And if you’ll notice to the right, a number of my published books deal with time travel. So this caught my attention. Hilariously funny, it discusses the merits of various time traveling vehicles from Deloreans to H.G. Well’s bicycle contraption. What do you say to a Viking if you’ve just arrived? Consult this book. Or how do you deal with a dinosaur if you’ve gone that far back? It’s all in there.

While searching for this podcast, my eye was caught by a podcast that Patrick Hester did with David D. Levine. Now, David is in my Portland Writer’s Group and is an interesting fellow. He has been on the TV. series “Grimm” (filmed in Portland) as an extra three times so far. Check out this series if you haven’t had the chance.

He has written over forty short stories after retiring from a career of technical software writing for the likes of Intel and Tektronix. He has numerous honors and accolades, including Nebula and Hugo awards, and was a recent presenter at the Hugo Awards for the short story winner. One of his characters has been accepted into the Wild Cards Universe of George R. R. Martin…whom he has met personally. Yowza.

He was also on a panel at Orycon (our scifi convention) that discussed enclosed small groups. For two weeks, he was confined with others that simulated living on Mars. I used his comments to help the human interaction on a starship in my upcoming book Past the Event Horizon. Comes out in late June.

You see why I call him interesting? So I recently got a tweet from him saying he was in Trebon after leaving Vienna, Austria. I don’t even know where Trebon is.

Meanwhile check out a new anthology called Armored where he has a short story. Came to him in Australia at Worldcon there. It’s about armor, battles and soldiers for those of you who like military scifi.

Whether it’s teenaged girls battling an oppressive government, soldiers battling in armor, or travelers sliding up and down the timelines, you gotta admit, science fiction can be a fun read.

p.s. Don’t forget Cosmic Entanglement is being offered free only on Mother’s Day May 13 and May 14, 15 also. If you are a Prime member with a kindle, it’s also offered free once per person through the KDP Select Program.

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Filed under Dystopia Earth, Hunger Games, military, military science fiction, science fiction, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, space ship, space travel, Uncategorized, war

2011 Wrap Up & Recommendations

      2012 Hard to Believe. I just slid into making my goals this year, but I feel pretty good about at least making them. One was to get the first three books of the Alysian Universe published. I have finalized my part of Cosmic Entanglement and am now awaiting the proof. This exciting novel of political intrigue, forbidden romance, murder and mystery will be a great addition to my collection.

Because my focus was on editing and publishing, I did not get to read as much as I usually do. But I will give you my top ten reads of 2011.

Starting with No.#1  Name of the Wind                                                                                                   No.#2 A Wise Man’s Fears: by Patrick Rothfuss

Both of these are in the realm of fantasy, but I still enjoyed them. They tell the story of a talented young wizard who is searching to find magical power by learning how to call the wind so that he can find the mysterious and dangerous beings who killed off his family. The first book is a charming story of his struggles to get through the University of Magic while being desperately poor. The second novel continues his life after he leaves the university and encounters the Fae and other mystical beings who teach him fighting and survival skills. Great books.

No#3 Blackout  No.#4 All Clear by Connie Willis: 

Again I have a two volume author. This story is a time travel adventure of several time travelers who get stuck in WWII during London’s bombing raids. Some critics called it frenetic and muti-charactered, but I loved the energy and humor that is so Willis. As soon as a character thinks that they have everything figured out, fate/time changes things on them. So my life. I could identify. I was aways wondering what was going to happen next, and was always surprised by what did happen. Love the time travel stories.

No#5 The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Sometimes a book starts off slow, picks up steam and then you can’t get it out of your mind, even after you have finished it. The Windup Girl still haunts me. The story paints a world after genetic engineering has gone out of control and plagues and pandemics are all over the globe. Gene splicers are trying to save a dying humanity, and into this desperate mix of men wanders a genetically engineered young girl who was originally built as a pleasure model. There is desperation in survival and after she is discarded onto the streets and abused, she is forced to counter her programing of obedience and commit murder in order to defend herself. The book raises the question of how far should we should tamper with genetic modification both in plants and animals. Very thought provoking, while still having strong plot and action.

No#6 Cryoburn by Lois McMasters Bujold

They say readers usually choose authors that they like and are familiar with. Lois Bujold is one of my favorite authors and although this isn’t her best book, it was great to see Miles again and watch him in action. This ADD character is sent by Gregory, ruler of Barrayar’s Galactic Empire, to investigate sneaky plans by the planet Kibou-daini to bring their cryogenic business to Barrayar with a takeover in mind. On Kibiu-daini cryogenics is big business and millions lie slumbering in vaults underneath the surface refusing to die.  Unfortunately, this means no one inherits and those alive and running the planet are  contemplating patricide, matricide and possibly genocide. They are desperate to get control. Then Miles discovers a possible flaw in the machinery,and the men who are hiding the fact that those in the cryogenic chambers might be dying. Great action and very Miles Vorkosigan.

No.#7 Carnelians by Catherine Asaro

Here again is a favorite author who writes a series. The Emperor of the Eubian Empire, Jaibriol Qox, and the Skolian Imperator, Kelric Skolia, have finally forced a peace treaty between their two dynasties, but both sides have extremists who want things the old way with the old powers intact. The Traders of the Eubian Empire consider the Skolians beneath them and use them as slaves. The psi talented Skolians don’t trust the Traders, and with good reason. Into this shaky detente comes an explosive song that is an inflammatory response to Eubian atrocities. Jaibriol has a deadly secret that he fights to keep and control. His counterpart, Kelric Skolia is a massive gold giant that intimidates those around him, except for the ones who really know him. A song inflames both worlds and the only way the peace treaty can be saved is through a dice game .

What I like most about Asaro is her emotional resonance and the powerful ties of family that run through all her stories. She puts amazing beings in impossible situations and creates an emotional tension in the reader.

No.#8 Behemoth/Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

This is actually a young adult series, probably because the protagonists are young adults. Still, Westerfeld takes actual historical events and twists them with bits of fiction. The book has overtones of steampunk, as the action takes place at the start of WWI. The Ottoman or German Empire is called the Clankers because their economy is built on mechanical constructs. Their weapons of war are huge metal robots. The European nations are called the Darwinians because their ships and planes are genetically engineered from living creatures. A floating Leviathan created from the DNA of  a whale crashes into the Alps where a young prince has run to hide after his parents were brutally assassinated. By trying to save him, he befriends what he thinks is a young boy his age, but the boy is secretly a girl who is hiding her gender in order to join the military and fly the big ships like her father did. Their adventures touch on historical truth and then veer off into fantastical events and creatures. It all makes for a fun read.

No.#9 A Dance with Dragons by George R R Martin

Okay, okay. I threw the book across the room. How can I not list a book that arouses so much emotion in me? Martin isn’t following the rules of story telling, but his stories are hard to put down. I did read the whole book…in two days. So that must say something. I’m still mad at George Martin. This is the most recent book in a series that has been turned into an amazing HBO special and part two will be coming out in April. The series is called “Game of Thrones” and that is what the books are about…the fight for power and the throne. Just let me say that it gets down and dirty. So if you have the stomach and like your action and characters “real”, then this might be for you.

No#10 Fledgling, Saltation, Mouse and Dragon by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee

I have always liked the Liaden Universe Series. It is Space Opera that has emotions and adventure. These three are about Theo Waitley, awkward scholar and young girl who slowly discovers her talent for being a pilot of a space ship and her secret genetic heritage. “Fledgling” is the story of her awkward early days on an academic planet. “Saltation” where she trains to be a space pilot and “Mouse and Dragon” where she discovers her true family and the secret of the man she always called “father”. “Ghost Ship”, just out continues her story.

Easy to read, with adventure and good characters, I have enjoyed all the many books written by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Oh, and yes, another goal was that I lost over 12 lbs. Yeah. See the new photo? Now on to 2012. Happy New Year and may this be the best ever for all of us. Keep reading and writing.


Filed under cryogenetics, gene modification, genetic manipulation, magic, military, military science fiction, modifying humans, science fiction, Uncategorized, war, WWII