Category Archives: Science Fiction in modern day

Publishing in Today’s World

IMG_0174I have mentioned how publishing is opening up and fragmenting in many directions. Let me give you an example of this through a specific author.

One author who is taking advantage of a host of these new publishing opportunities is Irene Radford, a.k.a. C.F. Bentley, a.k.a. Phyllis Radford, and other names more numerous than found on a wanted poster.The Dragon Nimbus

Phyl has published fantasy successfully for years with DAW through her dragon and fairy series using the traditional publishing template. She also has several cosy mysteries and science fiction novels in her arsenal there. Check off traditional publishing.

Lacing Up for MurderShe took back her rights from a traditional publisher for an interesting series called Guardians of the Balance, a fantasy that follows the descendants of Merlin through time, and has now self-published through the Bookview Cafe Co-op using the services of Amazon. Check off self- publishing.Guardians of the Balance

As a member of a writers’ co-op, she puts a hand in there in exchange for formatting, and other book services. Check off working with a writers co-op.

Of course, through the author’s group, she got this review, so check off networking too.

In addition, Phyl works with a small publisher, Sky Warrior Book Publishing that has just published her science fiction story The Lost Enforcer with co-author Bob Brown. 

Talking with Phyl, she recounted the excitement of writing via e-mail with occasional face to face collaborations. She and Bob have been working a long time on this particular story and faced an interminable wait on publishers such as Baen. With the advent of new publishing opportunities, she has teamed up with Sky Warriors to finally put out this exciting story. Check off small hybrid publisher.

At a recent Northwest author’s group that meets every other month, Phyl asked me to review her newest endeavor, The Lost Enforcer. She had noticed I review science fiction books.

I was glad to oblige.

Now reviewing for a friend is a tricky business, but I had read and enjoyed a number of the dragon books and the Guardian series. So, I jumped right in.

Unfortunately, the cover really put me off. The title is unreadable, the picture hard to decipher and the inside formatting poorly done. The first chapter page or the prologue should always start on an odd page! That’s basic formatting. Sometimes smaller publishers are just getting in the game and are still learning how to put together a book. But often, they will let the author work with them.The Lost Enforcer

But don’t judge this book by its cover. The story is quite good.

Gears and LeversAmong these accomplishments, Phyl has edited several anthologies in the Steampunk Genre, the science fiction genre, and the beer category. Yes, How Beer Saved the World reflects a series of delightful short stories on a favorite beverage.

Because of her editing skills, the reading experience for The Lost Enforcer is unimpeded by grammar, punctuation or other technical roadblocks and the story line has been given a critical eye.

For a self-published style book, this is critical.

I know, you need to stop and catch your breath now just by reading about the many avenues of getting a story out that today’s author can take advantage of, and Phyllis Irene Radford typifies how one author can go in many directions depending on what works best for her at the time.

The Lost EnforcerThe Lost Enforcer is an intriguing story where enforcer Jakai Del Quint, from an advanced civilization of the Galatic Core, pursues failed warlord and arch criminal Dorno Ban Zant to a sleepy isolated planet at the edge of the galaxy…called Earth.

A violent space battle results in Jakai hiding his seriously damaged ship and activating a cryo chamber with beacon. Dorno Ban Zant also crashes on the planet and slowly begins to build a power base among the primative natives.

A hundred years pass and one day a young female Northwest hiker, named Cody, discovers and frees Jakai from his hibernation, activating a beacon that alerts covert alien “observers” and the U.S. Military.

Both alien ship and U.S. Military arrive on the scene to investigate the beacon’s signal and exchange fire. Cody and Jakai are both scooped up by the alien ship and taken to a nearby hidden space station for evaluation of what to do next.

Jakai, intent on completing his mission to bring Ban Zant to justice, escapes the alien station with the young American girl in tow, and together they search for the alien criminal, while fleeing an inquisitive and increasingly alarmed US government.

Ban Zant turns up as a powerful Mid East potentate about to take over that volatile area of the world, using chaos and war in an attempt to establish rule over Earth.

The result is a combination science fiction and modern day political thriller. I found this an enjoyable fast-paced story and if you like modern day science fiction, you may too.






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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, fantasy series, first contact, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction in modern day, Science fiction thriller, Self-publishing, The future of publishing

Best Selling and Most Popular Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2013

IMG_9518With the end of the year approaching, the “best of 2013” lists are starting to come out. I am always curious as to what others consider the best science fiction or fantasy novels of the passing year.

If you check out the current list of Amazon’s top science fiction and fantasy titles, a lot of the titles are more fantasy than science fiction. This list evolves from hour to hour, but it was difficult to find my version of science fiction that contains aliens, spaceships, or transhuman protagonists. There appears to be more stories along the lines of the contemporary fantasy tale, or contemporary supernatural on this particular list.

And media has a heavy impact on the choices. Currently, number one is George Martin, number two, Orson Scott Card and number three Toiken….all have a movie now showing or an upcoming T.V. series… Game of Thrones, Enders Game, and The Hobbit. 

Some names on the list I recognize, while others appear new and interesting.

Ocean at the end of the lane kindleNumber five is Neil Gaimon and his new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I was over number 100 on the library list for this one, but finally got it checked out and just finished reading it. I am amazed at the over 2,000 Amazon reviews, of which 1000 were five stars. However, eighty-five were only one star, and a large group gave him only three. Still, that’s awesome.

Just shows that we’re all individuals with individual tastes.

As for me, I didn’t know what to expect…and I was surprised. First off, the prose broke several rules for writing being handed around my current critique group. Gaimon is not afraid to use “was” or “had” and several of his paragraphs start with subject verb, many with “I” and a verb, even several paragraphs like that in a row. He uses flashback, first person viewpoint and never reveals the name of his narrator.

All that said, his writing flows and the story captivates.

The story is about a fiftyish year old man who returns to his hometown to attend a funeral and starts randomly driving around, but ends up at a neighbor’s farm near where he grew up.

A grandmother, mother and eleven year old girl lived there when he was a boy, befriending him, and as he shows up to visit, the grandmother warmly greets him, having not aged at all.

He asks to sit by their duckpond, which the young girl, Lettie, used to insist was an ocean. She has gone away and is not there, and he misses his childhood friend. There he reminisces over a pivotal event in his childhood where innocently he became a nexus and doorway for an evil creature bent on taking over their world. Through subtle hints and innuendo, Gaimon paints the three residents as immortals living here on Earth in order to protect humans from malevolent entities that try to invade and inhabit our world.

For some reason, the young narrator totally trusts Lettie, and doesn’t blink when she reveals supernatural powers or calmly shoos nightmare creatures that show up occasionally.

The narrator leads the reader to suspend his or her disbelief and become immersed in fantastical events that sometimes turn dark…especially when evil invades the boy’s family and tries to control them.Anansi boys

I am surprised at the overwhelming popularity of the book, but I did finish it and was intrigued by Gaimon’s world. He has a big fan base and uses social media, tweeting often. (I follow him, Scalzi and others) The story walks a fine line between adult and YA fantasy. If you consider the grandmother, mother and Lettie as aliens (and Gaimon does hint that) then it has a bit of a science fiction slant. If you see them as the crone, the mother and the child, then there’s more of a mythic/legend quality to it.

Meanwhile, I am developing my reading selections for 2014. Some I will select from various “best lists” while others will be requests by new science fiction writers that appear interesting to me. It will be strictly personal taste.

And maybe we’ll visit a few of “the best of 2013” lists of science fiction along the way and talk about the choices there.

And BTW wish me a happy birthday today. I came down the chimney in a sack, it seems.

A New Year approaches, a package of wonder to unwrap and enjoy. Hope yours is a good one.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling science fiction, fantasy, Paranormal Romance, science fiction, Science Fiction in modern day, 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. 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

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