Category Archives: Science Fiction book review

How Readers Pick Books

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To select the first five books that I want to read for 2014, I followed Mark Coker’s study on how ebook buyers discover books.

http://blog.smashwords.com/2011/09/how-ebook-buyers-discover-books.html

Surprisingly, or maybe not…word of mouth is still the number one way readers select books.

So my first selection breaks my rules of only reading science fiction because Peter at Powell’s became wildly enthusiastic  telling me about The Lies of Locke Lamora by Stephen Lynch. Peter is the science fiction and fantasy expert and lives and breathes books at the number one bookstore in Beaverton. So, when I asked what would be his top pick for me to read….I listen…and listened…and finally  grabbed the book he was waving around out of his hand and bought it.The Lies of Locke Lamora

The second method of selecting what to read…is, of course, reading a new book by a favorite author. Often if I like one book in the series, I go on to read the whole series. But for my next choice, I just went with a favorite author who has a new book out.

The human DivisionSo, The Human Division by John Scalzi is my second choice.

Besides, I wanted to add military science fiction to the list as it’s a popular genre with my readers. Also, Scalzi has great humor and action. Every book I’ve read of his, I have enjoyed.

No brainer

Lists are a third way people often select what they read. So I went to Goodreads, Amazon and Google to look at what books are making the 2013 most popular science fiction lists.

Time bound by Rysa Walker struck my fancy because of the subject matter. Also, she won Amazon’s breakout novel award for 2013. Not a bad list to be on. Here is a new author, that is number four on Amazon’s science fiction best selling list and sounds like something I might like. Timebound

Getting onto a top selling list is crucial if an author wants to sell a lot of books. Unfortunately, it can be a matter of serendipity. Somehow the story gets the attention of a few readers in a sector, and then a few more, as the word spreads. Next thing that author jumps into a top one hundred list and that propels the book forward. The more lists, the more readers, the more sales. People do check what everyone else is reading. And people love to make lists and share what they like.

So that brings me to number four, which is reviews and story summaries. Once a reader decides he wants to find a book, he may gather several titles that pique his interest. In deciding how to narrow his choices down, he looks first at the cover and then, the story blurb. What is the story about? Does it sound interesting?

I found Reality Check on a list and also under “if you like this, then you’ll like…”Reality Check

I am not a YA reader, but I will cross that line if the story sounds compelling. So a compelling story blurb is important if you want to appeal to readers. Three young adults leaving Earth for various reasons and starting out on a new world appealed to me. So I read the reviews, which for the most part were very positive.

A word on reviews…

I don’t think there’s a book in existence that hasn’t had at least one troll give it a poor review. Even the Bible probably has a review that criticizes the continuity of plot, or lack of depth to certain characters. People have opinions and some give opinions when in a poor frame of mind. That’s life.

However, I do read reviews and consider the comments…and so do a lot of people when making their selections. Time and money is too precious to waste on an awful book and reviews give guidance by people sharing their opinions on what they liked and didn’t like. Taste does vary, but a really good book, one worth reading, often has a majority of readers that like it. So good reviews are important.

The Snow QueenAnd last for this group, The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge. I read this long ago and really liked it. I’m now working on my next novel, Someone’s Clone that uses the viewpoint of a clone. So, I want to revisit this book because of the subject matter.

And that is my fifth reason for selection. Subject matter. If you like time travel, you gravitate towards that. If you like military scifi, that’s where you head. You may wander off course occasionally to try new pastures, but usually the reader will return to his favorite subject matter, and for me that usually means science fiction.

Here are my first five for 2014. I’ll read others, too, as they come along. Sampling the new and grabbing up classics I may have missed.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Stephen Lynch

Reality Check by Christopher Nuttall

The Human Division by Scalzi. Goodreads list

Time bound by Rysa Walker

Snow Queen Joan DeVinge

For something new with classic science fiction themes, you might take a look at my series and see if one catches your fancy. Check out the right hand panel and get the New Year off to a fun start.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Classic science fiction, Discovering new a Earth, ebook marketing, genetic manipulation, military science fiction, modifying humans, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, time travel, YA science ficiton

Fresh Science Fiction and Holiday Sales

IMG_0165The results are in…Are holiday bazaars a good place to sell books at Christmas?

The answer is NO!

Maybe if you had a targeted non fiction book such as one that explored the local area, or highlighted a certain hobby…

But even then, I would say, probably not.

http://kriswrites.com/2011/04/06/the-business-rusch-promotion/ recently wrote a blog that confirmed this conclusion. (Wished I had read it before I signed up) She is a well known prolific Oregonian author writing under several pen names, depending on the genre her book falls into. I have mentioned her before in recent blogs, so check her out.

She said that even when she attended a cross genre book signing event, success wasn’t strong.

Best results for her came at the recent Powell’s book signing last November when thirty popular science fiction writers cozied up around a table directly after the close of Orycon. (Local science fiction/fantasy convention) People came specifically for the books and to meet their favorite science fiction authors. They loaded up.

Even then, she and her husband, Dean Wesley Smith, went for the reunion with old friends, rather than any staggering profit.

So, that marketing avenue investigated and crossed off.

I may, however, attend the Northwest Publishers Convention here in Portland in July. Anyone coming there is coming to buy books, not holiday trinkets.

And I won’t freeze to near death.download

I did have time to read a very interesting new scifi book this week called The Humans by Matt Haig. It uses a concept I have thought about myself and have explored a bit in my next book.

The story is about an alien that comes to Earth and assumes the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a famous mathematician who makes a break through discovery on the Reimann Hypothesis that would advance civilization light years giving them immortality and a disease free existence. The leaders of the Vonnidorian civilization feel the humans are not ready for the advances it would bring, so they want to obliterate all traces that would lead anyone to it.

Our alien protagonist is put to the task.

the humansIt lands on Earth and assumes the body of Professor Andrew Martin after others have abducted and killed the original. The alien finds himself living in a dysfunctional family whose son has been ignored and the wife put second to the Professor’s most important career. Feelings are bitter and estranged.

His job is to find out who knows about the discovery and erase all knowledge of it by killing them, using his extraordinary alien powers. These powers  enable him to control bodily functions, such as stopping a heart or influencing human thoughts.

Of course, he gets caught up in the lives of the individuals of his family and his fellow mathematicians. What at first he judges as contemptible and ugly, he grows to understand and value.

A very interesting book with comments on what it means to be human as an alien mind stumbles around trying to make sense of our world.

As an example: He leaves his supposed son a list of ninety-seven thoughts on his computer. Number seventy-four says, “A quark is not the smallest thing. The smallest thing is the regret you will feel on your deathbed for not having worked more.”

A quirky book of laughs, pathos, philosophy and action that most will enjoy.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling science fiction, book fairs, Book reviews, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction in modern day

Marketing books through holiday fairs

IMG_0174Jingle Bells! Whew. There’s so much going on this past week that I haven’t had time to read.

Instead, I want to let you know about a t.v. series hosted by James Wood called Futurescape on Tuesday night at seven o’clock Pacific Time that deals with cutting edge science and future concepts. Immortality, altering the genetic code, and future exploration are only a few topics covered in the last few shows. It’s well done with radical future concepts grounded in current research. For example, powering a spacecraft through plasma gas. Since writing Past the Event Horizon where I had to consider how the starship the Seeker would be powered, I have been interested in any new ideas coming from current research. Using plasma gas to power a ship is a new intriguing idea to me.

touching-crystal-thumb-1 Also, I want to whop and holler since I have just published my sixth book in the Alysian series called, Touching Crystal. This is an exciting novel that starts out with a comet colliding with one of Alysia’s moons and goes from there to one heart stopping adventure after another.

Writing the novel was the fun part. Editing, formatting, marketing and running a business was the tough part.

This past weekend I attended a large craft fair in Portland in freezing temperatures. Record cold. We were in an outside plastic tent and if it hadn’t been for the warm friendships of fellow authors and the large attendance, I would now be a Popsicle.

downloadUndaunted, this Saturday I am one of 79 vendors at the Hip Hop Happening in Sellwood, Oregon. If you’re in the neighborhood, please drop by and say, “Hi.” I’ll let you know how it goes and if I’m still “hopping” afterwards. Luckily, we are supposed to be indoors this time around.

And it should be warmer.

Fingers crossed.

This is a marketing experiment that may or may not be worthwhile. But as I have been saying lately, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”  Also, right now a lot of fairs and gift parties are going on. All kinds of marketing avenues are out there, and in this new world of publishing, authors and publishers are still trying to figure out what works.

Hope you can keep warm, and stop now and then to enjoy the excitement of the holiday season.

And if you’re looking for gift ideas, don’t forget books for those that read so they can be taken away to worlds unknown on wonderful adventures.

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Filed under book fairs, Comets, ebook marketing, first contact, Hard science fiction, Medical science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction science, science news

Current Science Concepts or Themes in Science Fiction

IMG_9503Have you noticed?

I have.

Certain current science concepts and themes are cropping up in best selling science fiction.

One theme sparked by current science discoveries is the search for new habitable planets. Thanks to the Kepler mission, scientists are now sorting through hundreds of possible candidates for a new Earth.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html

Interestingly, our scientists are sending robots first to investigate other worlds…just like the alien robot that crashed onto my world of Alysia.

Hmmm. Maybe it came from Earth?

Because that’s what we’re doing now on Mars.

Nanobots is also a current theme. I sent a link two blogs ago on remote control miniature robots. One of my favorite scenes in my forthcoming novel Touching Crystal (out in November 2013) concerns saving two hostages using remote controlled flying nanobots.

Lots of fun.

The Risen EmpireScott Westerfeld has a great scene in his Risen Empire that also does this, only he sends in a horde of nanobots and you don’t get to sit in the “cockpit” with  Richard Steele like my readers do in Touching Crystal.

Several recent novels by well known prolific writers touch on the theme of robots that are self-replicating and can reconfigure themselves into whole new forms as their environment changes.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/07/m_block_self_assembling_cube_robots_mit/

Self replicating nanobots are the source of possible world disaster in Larry Niven and Matthew Harrington’s new novel The Goliath Stone.

The Briareus mission took nano machinery out to divert an Earth crossing asteroid and bring it back to be mined, but things go wrong and nanobots go wild, creating a whole new entity that threatens Earth.The Golith Stone

Dr. Toby Glyer, is the genius behind the nanotechnology and uses it to effect miracle cures on Earth…long life, disease free humans with strong libidos. Now he must find his partner, William Connor, and stop the incoming danger.

While the concepts and technology of this novel were intriguing, the dialog and action bogged me down.

A lot of sitting around and guessing what game the elusive William Connor played.

New EarthWell known and prolific writer Ben Bova just came out with his newest in a series called New Earth. He uses both the theme of discovering habitable planets and medical nanotechnology that enables health and long life.

Of course, everything gets carried much farther than current technology.

Science fiction writers do that….Until eventually, it becomes reality.

Like Niven, he ascribes a dangerous element into his nanobots, but does not ban them from Earth like Bova does.

Maybe he should have.

In both, the current themes and science are interesting, but the writing could have been better and more engaging.

In Bova’s New Earth, a long term exploration ship is sent to an exciting new world that appears habitable for humans. While the eighty year trip to New Earth takes place, the passengers are put in a cryogenic sleep, unaware of a global warming crisis on Earth.

Here is another current theme much discussed nowadays…global warming.

In the story, global warming has caused Earth’s cities to be inundated and weather to shift. Economies are on the brink of disaster.

A global weather shift is also a theme I use in my forthcoming novel, Touching Crystal, but that event is caused by a destructive comet.

Several popular movies, Deep Impact and Armageddon  in 1998 portrayed how we might respond to an advancing asteroid or meteorite. Recent asteroid activity and the crash of a meteorite in Russia has reignited this theme. (See Feb. 2013 blog)

In the novel New Earth, the political leaders choose to abandon the expedition in order to attend to their own world crisis.

The expedition lands and discovers highly advanced friendly aliens that carry human DNA. The natives claim to have been born on the planet, which turns out to have a hollow metal shell. They deny having interstellar travel capability, but insist that they are human. Everyday technology is highly advanced, yet no cars, or manufacturing are visible. Nothing adds up.

The Earthlings are suspicious and the exploration team divides into several factions. The main character falls in love with one of the human appearing natives and trusts their leader’s offer of friendship. Other factions in the landing team mistrust the natives. They continually warn that the natives have ulterior and dangerous motives. The story sets up a nice conflict among the two groups as to who can be trusted and what motives drive both humans and aliens.

While parts of the story bog down a bit, Bova throws in a surprising twist towards the end, which keeps the reader flipping the page.

For me, what carried the story were the interesting dynamics of psychology: from the world leader abandoning the expedition for his own local concerns to the whole exploration of the human psyche and how various individuals reacted to first contact.

Humans can be a bit paranoid when confronted by new and unknown things…and aliens, well, who knows whether they can be helpful friends or world destroying enemies?

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Humans on Alien Planets: Science fiction recommendations

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Recently I attended a seminar on advanced book marketing put on by the Northwest Writers and Publishers Association. The speaker was Cheri Lasota and her book is Artemis Rising.

 She did a great job, giving out a number of worthwhile comments on how to market your book.

The one I want to revisit is Dean Wesley Smith’s QR code card. These are plastic cards that are sold like books with the code on the back that can be scratched off and the book downloaded. Here’s a link where Dean talks about his experience in this new marketing technique

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=5343

Also, The Greener Side will create cards with, say, your cover on the front and a blurb on the back. You supply the URL that you want to send the reader to and they can download the book. They run about 250 cards for $150. You sell at your ebook price, or whatever you choose.

It’s just another interesting new marketing technique to reduce the volume of paperbacks or hardbacks that you might carry around. Someone says that your book sounds interesting; you whip out one of these cards, and using the code, it’s theirs.

Recently I talked about humans living on an alien planet in Embassy Town and it brought to mind Sheri Tepper’s Grass. Although this came out in 1990, it is a distinctive novel that fits in with my recent discussions of alien worlds…and has gotten a lot of acclaim since being published.

Besides, I thought anyone named Sheri must be an interesting read.

Don’t you agree?

GrassSo I present Grass as a “gateway” book to the many novels of Sheri Tepper.

The human race has spread out over several wolds, yet a plague is threatening to wipe out all humankind.

Except one planet appears to be immune.

The planet is called Grass because the only plants that grow are various grasses.

Tepper opens by saying,

“Grass! Millions of square miles of it…a hundred rippling oceans, each ripple a gleam of scarlet or amber, emerald or turquoise..the colors shivering over the prairies…Sapphire seas of grass with dark islands of grass bearing great plummy trees which are grass again.”grass photo

And so builds a strong sense of place both exotic and strange.

On Earth, a splinter group of the Catholic Church called Sanctity dominates. They send Lady Marjorie Westriding her husband Rigo and children Stella and Troy along with Rigo’s mistress and a few priests to Grass in hopes of finding the cure for the plague.

It’s a covert operation because the natives are not forthcoming with any information about their planet or the alien indigenous species that inhabit it.

For good reason.

The human settlements are based on South American estancias with a strong English Manor flavor. The main sport is a variation on the fox hunt. The native Hippae with their associated Hound are capable of mentally controlling those around them…

And they’re not nice.

But they are the analog to a horse that humans ride to these “hunts.”Raising the stones

The Foxen are the elusive hunted ones.

Bizarre goings on and murky associations among humans and indigenous aliens form a compelling and unique story.

Be aware that Tepper has feminist and Eco friendly leanings that form a philosophy in the story.

And yet, this is an intriguing book that you’ll remember years and piles of books later.

I know I did.

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Cutting Edge Science fiction: Discovering a new Indie author

IMG_0174“Hacking the human brain” was a recent topic in the tv series “Through the Wormhole” moderated by Morgan Freeman. If you’re not familiar with the series, I recommend it to you.

The show covered several studies or experiments, but I was surprised to learn that a computer can “read” what the brain is thinking just by tracking blood flow. Thousands of test subjects were shown images and a “picture” was taken of the brain for each image or concept. It appears that these blood flow patterns can be categorized into words and concepts using a computer and then another human can be asked to think of certain subjects, I.e. a beach, a forest, friendship, the computer matches the blood flow patterns and puts out words that translates what the subject is thinking.28GRAYMATTER-articleLarge

So, using that computer program, you can read someone’s mind, or at least get an idea of what he/she is thinking.

That’s a little scary.

Another part of the show explained how false memories can be implanted into a human mind. Since our legal system uses witnesses and expert testimony to determine sentencing, this is also troubling.

A Brief History of TimeStephen Hawkings is an example of how the human brain can think of words and ideas and a computer translates them into both text and speech. By the way, his book A Brief History in Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes is a suggested non fiction read for anyone wanting to learn more about our universe.

This controlling of electronic devices through thought is the jumping off premise for a debut book of local Portland author Dan Marshall. His novel Lightcap explores this idea and takes it to the next step of controlling human behavior through a cap like device.

 

Adaptech made a fortune with its Mind Drive, a product enabling control of electronic devices through thought. Wildly popular, most citizens use it as a way to act more efficiently with everything from computers to coffee pots.

Now, Adaptect has come out with the Lightcap and Adam Redmon is promoted to lead a group of employees to test this new product. However, exactly what it’s function and side effects are is not fully disclosed.Lightcap

As the test goes on, blackouts and strange dreams, along with a mysterious death, lead Adam to discover the frightening function of the Lightcap. It controls the human brain and makes individuals open to suggestion. Suggestions like murdering a colleague who has turned against the experiment. Adam is not the only subject who becomes suspicious of the dark side of the device. Dej and Aria have realized the danger also and together the three try to fight the hold that Adaptech has on them and the corporation’s plans to control whole populations through distributing the Lightcap.

After watching the show on brain hacking, this novel’s premise intrigued me. Dan writes well, his sentences clear and grammatically correct. However, since it is written from Adam’s point of view, the reader is subjected to the influence of the Lightcap.

“Adam felt like a deer in the headlights until he blinked and broke the spell.”

I went for a cup of coffee to clear MY mind.

The first part of the book is woozy as Adam loses chunks of his life. His fear of losing his job if he complains or quits makes the reader want to shake him and yell, “Wakeup.”

After a colleague goes missing and two others in the test group reveal their concern for the effects of the cap, Adam starts to get suspicious and investigate.

From there the action picks up to the inevitable conclusion…and possible sequel.

If you like cutting edge science type stories and movies such as “The Bourne Identity”, then you might like Lightcap by Dan Marshall. Available most places online and local Indie bookstores.

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Filed under Cutting Edge Science ideas, downloaded personalities, ebook science fiction, Hard science fiction, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Medical science fiction, Non fiction Science for science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science fiction thriller, Uncategorized

Time travel in science fiction

IMG_0165With summer whizzing by, I’m wishing for a time travel machine that, come winter, I can revisit these current glorious days.

Time travel is a special topic of mine. My first two books deal with it, and I return to it in the current book that I’m working on called Touching Crystal.

But there are various ways you can traverse or manipulate time if you are of the Tellurian gene line in the Alysian universe.

You can go back to the Medieval past like Rowyna Grae does in  Caught in Time.

You can change timelines or events like Brand de Fyre Elitas in A Dangerous Talent for Time.

Or you could rewind time like Tempest Telluria in Touching Crystal.

I also have a Tellurian who can stop time, and one who travels to the future.

What else? Let me know if you’ve got another good way to manipulate time. See comment space below.

TimesplashIn TimeSplash by Graham Storrs, time travel starts out with underground parties called Splash parties. Splash parties come with wild music and the drug Tempus, and fans cheer on the popular  stars of time travel called Bricks. Three or so are enclosed in a cage with jump gear and oxygen helmet and to wild music, dance and drugs, they are lobbed into the past to make a “splash.”

The most popular of the Brick stars is Sniper who is psychotic and wants to shake the foundations of reality with the longest and most powerful of all lobs. He wants to test the  “Grandfather Theory” by going back in history and killing his close friend’s grandmother.

Of course things go wrong and get wild. People die.

In Storrs’s story, going back and disrupting or changing events, results in  a shake up in spacetime and throws causality in disarray, but eventually events right themselves. However, for awhile, the result is like being on acid as everything goes crazy and gets distorted. The effect varies from event to event depending on how critical or powerful the change is.

A lob lasts only so long and eventually the participants are yanked back into their original present, landing back in the cage they started in. The Bricks: Patty, Hal and Sniper return shaken from the splash and Splash parties are outlawed.

As the technology gets better and better, time splashing becomes more and more dangerous. Terrorists employ it to politically manipulate complete cities, and even countries.

The story shifts into searching for Sniper who has become a terrorist and plans a devastating splash that could change reality. What he plans is a mystery and the reader ponders all the events and people who he might target.

The story was interesting and engaging as the author shows how dangerous time travel can become. Lots of action and believable characters.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie WillisThis concept of time reasserting itself after being disrupted by time travelers is also seen in the Hugo award winning To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

Where TimeSplash is an action thriller, set in future and past Germany, Willis’s novel is a Victorian comedy that takes place in England. Her characters are sent back into the past to try to figure out what changed in order to reassert the future. However, the harder they try to fix things, the more complicated everything gets.

At one point, I fell off the lounge chair laughing at the crazy twists and turns the story took. It’s a large book, but well worth the read. Very entertaining.

TimeSplash is shorter, but action packed, and also suggests an interesting take on the effects of time travel. Both are a good read if you like time travel stories.

Graham Storrs is an Australian author that approached me with his story a while ago. TimeSplash is his debut novel and it has a sequel called True Path.True Path

A quick note. I reviewed Between Heaven and Hell by Tad Williams not long ago, and a sequel will soon be out on Amazon called Happy Hour in Hell. It will be released September 3. Bobby Dollar, or the angel Dolorial goes to Hell to rescue his demon girlfriend.

Happy Hour in Hell

It’s a chancy career move.

Enjoy the dwindling summer and let me know when or where I can order a time machine so I can get through winter.

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Hugo winners, Science Fiction book review, Science fiction thriller, time travel, Uncategorized, WWII

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.”

http://www.veronicasicoe.com/blog/2013/07/transhumanism-superhuman-or-inhuman/

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.

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/33701/title/Thoughts-Control-Robotic-Hand/

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.

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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

Summer Science Fiction

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Summer is here!

Life has interrupted all business activities of writing and reviewing as I have traveled across country, and family from across country have traveled to me.

For the past few weeks I have attended a wedding, the Nashville Factory  (craft and art venue), my book signing and presentation, the Nashville Repertoire’s “Look-In” on a developing play and hot, hot card games with relatives. (No, I had no chance of winning there)

(Deep breath)

I have been at the Portland Zoo, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, Tiilamook Cheese factory, cycling on Canon Beach, flying kites on said beach, blueberry picking, outlet mall shopping, and wrangling four visiting kittens.

God, I love summer.

So, what kind of reading have I done?

Imager's IntrigueA lot of follow up reading in series where I loved the first book and wanted to continue more in the series. In some cases, I’m well into it as in the case of L. E. Modesitt’s third of his Imager series: Imager’s Intrigue.

As in most of Modesitt’s books, the action started off relaxed and slow. You soon fall into the flavor and rhythm of his style.

The main character, Rhennthyl is now married to Seliora and has a five year old child.There is a lot of detail concerning his daily activities and quite a lot of political proselytizing. His Imager powers have increased, and so have his enemies who fear him. He starts off as a Captain in one of the precincts where a new dangerous drug is spreading and causing concern. Random people are dying and Rhenn feels that the situation is being manipulated by more than just the drug lords, possibly an enemy country trying to destroy them from within.

Just when the reader is wondering if anything is going to happen, a surprise attack on the Collegium of Imagisle leaves Rhenn second in charge of the Imagers and the only one who can discover where the attack came from. The story becomes a detective story as different events and pieces of the puzzle come together through Rhenn’s efforts.

I enjoyed the story. Would give it four stars. Several critiques complained that Rhenn is thinly drawn with little emotion, but I quite liked him. The details Modesitt goes into about his everyday life drew me into the world that has the flavor of a French Renaissance period. He shows how people who have great power, or fame, often pay a large price in their personal life with loss of freedom and fear for their security.

Another series I’m reading is the Liaden Series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. However, the books on Amazon in this series are fairly expensive, (even Kindle version) and as I mentioned at the beginning, I have been so busy, that I haven’t had much time to read. So, I decided to try some of their novelettes that are $2.99 and run 50 to 70 pages.

ConstellationI consider it much like a tasty candy bar of summer reading rather than a full blown meal. I picked The Courier Run and will soon let you know what I think of this different way of reading. It got five stars from all eighteen reviewers; so here’s hoping.Courier Run

To that end, I have written two stories in my own Alysian Universe and may offer them as tasty tidbits around Christmas.

If you want the full meal, Constellation just came out in June, and Amazon is offering Trade Secret as a presale that will be available January 2014. Constellation is a series of shorter works, seventeen stories from Chapbooks this duo has written and is the first volume with 384 pages.

Trade SecretTrade Secret tells the story of human Jethro Gobelyn who is adopted by the Liaden clan after an ill directed bow that insults a major Liaden clan noble and jeopardizes the human’s life. Jethro wants to win his trader’s ring, but instead finds himself wrapped in interstellar intrigue and Second Board on a scout ship facing danger. He has to learn to balance his Terran heritage while learning Liaden rules of survival.

A final sad note on the passing of Iain Banks from a brain tumor. I had just started getting into his Culture Series and looked forward to many more of his books. Alas. We will miss this Hugo award winning author.

Savor summer and enjoy some good stories.

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Dad: A science fiction inspiration

IMG_9518I would like to offer a tribute to my father

since this weekend is Father’s Day.

He’s the person who inspired me to write science fiction.

He loved to read it, and often mentioned that when he had time, he would write a science fiction novel.

Then, one day he retired…and started a story, but it was harder than he thought. He came and told me that he could read it, but he couldn’t write it

And threw the torch to me.

My father has since passed; but his love, his encouragement, and his memory remain with me.

Writing good science fiction became a life long goal of mine that I worked on for many years while I managed a day job, ran a household, raised a child and tended a marriage.

Whew! Not easy.

space-song-cover-smashwords

Persistence (stubbornness?) often is key to success. His spirit and his memory kept me going, and recently I published my fifth novel in the Alysian Universe series, and plan to publish the sixth, called Touching Crystal by November of this year. I’ve put that goal up in front of me and am working hard to get there in time.

Are you an inspiring father? Maybe mother?

So in honor of my father, I put the newest book Space Song on KDP Select and will offer it free on Kindle as an ebook for three days only over Father’s Day weekend. June 14, 15, 16. If you have a kindle, iPad or other device, you can download it.

I hope you like it and maybe take a look at the others in the series.

Ender's GameWhat is your favorite science fiction story?

I realized that with all the books I have suggested and discussed, I never mention Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. 

And now, they’re finally making it into a movie.

This is one of my favorites books, and over the past several years Card has added in prequels and sequels that are pretty good, also.

Like Space Song,  Ender’s Game deals with how to defend against an alien threat.

Card focuses on Battle School while my protagonist builds a space station and warships while getting distracted by a genetic mystery.

His newest novel in the series is a prequel that comes out this month (June 2013) called Earth Afire and Earth Afiredeals with the Formic Wars.

With the box office success of The Hunger Games, it appears Hollywood is more open to science fiction stories than ever before.

Hunger Games2001:A Space Odessey did pretty well, not to mention “Star Wars” and the subsequent prequels there.

“Catching Fire” will be coming out in the fall, so if “Enders Game” does well, there’s plenty of product in the many other books in the series.

Science fiction seems to be a genre that converts well onto the screen.

What book would you like to see being made into a movie?

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Filed under alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, ebook science fiction, genetic manipulation, Hunger Games, modifying humans, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, Space opera