Category Archives: war

Science Fiction Selections for 2015

photo A new year is upon us, and there’s lots of excitement on the horizon, especially in the science fiction book world.

I get to select five books this week to put on my shelf to read for 2015. I may not read them all in a row or at once, but throughout the year, adding others as I go along. The selection process proved interesting. Various factor were at work, and good science fiction was hard to find.

But first, I finished the Martian by Tony Weir and eagerly recommend it. What I learned is that humans have ingenuity if they just keep trying and remain focused. Yes, some of the chemistry got heavy and Mark’s personality included offbeat humor, but it’s wonderful to read a book where the characters are decent people. People from all over the world worked together for a common goal of saving a life, no matter what the odds or outcome. Makes me proud to be human. I like that feeling.

Enough said…I don’t want to spoil it for you.

So how to chose?

Goblin Emperor by Katherine AddisonWell, word of mouth is one way. My friend Lea recently suggested the Goblin Emperor, and that will be my fantasy pick. Lea knows books, especially scifi and fantasy, having 24,000 in her home, give or take.

I was skimming through Goodreads and bumped into The Rosie Project again, where someone recommended it as one of their favorites for 2014. They say you have to see a product more than three times to buy, and I remember seeing this title on several recommended lists. So, it went on mine.Rosie Project

Free is the price I can best afford and factors into my choices occasionally. Since I have recently offered Cosmic Entanglement in my series free through KDP Select, I now browse the free lists and websites for interesting Starship Magetitles. Starship Mage attracted my attention. I thought I would give it a try.

Sometimes after seeing a recommendation, I’ll read the summary to get a feel for the story. Departure is by A. G. Riddle, an author I have never heard of, but the blurb sounded intriguing. I may take off with this one. All the Light You Can See has been hitting the hot selection lists, but after reading that it was about Nazi Germany and a young, blind, Jewish girl, I gave it a pass. I’ve read enough about that shameful part of human history already. So, the summary or story blurb affects my choices also.Departure

Poor Man's Fight  by Kay ElliotTed Blasche (retired), my scifi military specialist, has been urging me to read a series that starts with Poor Man’s Fight. This is a self-published series that has been high in Amazon’s ratings and also suggested several times on my front page there…making it my military selection. I’ll give it a go. Thanks for the many suggestions, Amazon.

Ted is also in my writers group that recently had a spirited discussion on time and how it works. There were some back of the napkin drawings involved and various analogies with branching streams or electric currents. It sparked me to think that the past really isn’t a fixed event, but an entanglement of perceptions…that the past for each individual is different, and given events are perceived differently by each individual involved. New information can change the perception of a past event , so it’s not totally static. Also, how close you are to an event or how far away changes the impact and individual perception dramatically. If you experience a plane crash, that event is far different for you than for a disinterested viewer who sees it on a newscast and then goes about his daily business. We think of the past as static and absolute, while it really depends on the witnesses and how they record and perceive what happened.

Yeah, food for thought today. Have a happy New Year and may many great things happen in 2015.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Best selling science fiction, Book reviews, genetic manipulation, Hard science fiction, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, magic, Mars, military science fiction, New York Times Best Sellers, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, Science fiction thriller, Self-publishing, space ship, space travel, time travel, war

Popular Classic Science Fiction

IMG_0174In my previous blog, I picked five science fiction novels to read for 2013.

Now I’m picking five more.

For me, finding books to read involves a lot of chance and serendipity. Take for example these five books.

After years of saying I was going to join a science fiction book club, Leah Day said I should join the Powell’s group. Now Leah is an extraordinary woman of intelligence that houses 24,700 plus novels in her home. She knows her science fiction and has Beta read for Ann McCaffery and now Nancy Scarborough. She has CRED!

So I showed up. What a great group. The Powell representative, Peter, also knows his stuff and is on top of our local scifi writers. Occasionally, we get new releases or uncorrected advanced copies to read. So the stack next to the bed is building up.

Then I turned to my writers group of science fiction enthusiasts and asked them what their top favorites were. Imagine my surprise when four of the five books they mentioned sat on my night stand ready to be read.

Serendipity. Fate had spoken. I bent my head to the omens and here are the picks.Ice and Shadow

#1. Andre Norton–suggested by Chelsea from my writers group. Andre Norton has been rattling around in my mind as someone I should read. For some reason, I never got around to it.

Now, one of the consequences of the changing landscape of publishing is that a lot of well known authors are dusting off their old backlist and the publishing houses are eagerly reprinting, repackaging and reselling popular authors or novels and putting them out on Amazon. It used to be that novels were regarded in the same category as fruit, where if they didn’t sell in four weeks time off the shelf, they were considered spoiled and thrown away.

That is no longer the case. The novel now has a long tail and can survive quite nicely for years without even bruising, thanks to Amazon and other publish on demand distributors.

They don’t rot or get bumped off the shelf due to lack of space. No need to rip them apart and throw them away.

Enter Ice and Shadows by Andre Norton. Take Ice Crown by Andre Norton published in 1970 and Brother to Shadows, also in the Forerunner Universe, slap them together, put on a stunning cover and give it the title Ice and Shadows.

Viola! Baen book publishes it in 2012 as a new novel.

Okay. I’m in.

Imperium#2. Top choice by Clayton in my writers group was Keith Laumer. Here again are three novels packaged into one. Assignment to Nowhere being published by Berkley in 1965, but showing up with a hot new cover, and now titled Imperium. So be careful when you reach or click what might seem to be a new novel out by a favorite author. You might be getting a repackaged deal that you have already read.

With ebook publishing, the cost of publishing is negligible and old stories are finding new readers. Publishing houses are realizing that rights to the electronic version that used to be thought worthless, are now quite valuable. Once denigrating electronic publishing, publishers are jumping in with full force. Money is to be made.

Buyer beware.

But I hadn’t read Keith Laumer and was looking for a good scifi military story. Clayton is active military, and was very enthusiastic about Laumer, so I put it on my list.

And while I’m talking about Clayton Callahan, he just announced that he sold his short story, “Probing Aliens.” Congratulations! A new author is born and I envision that he will be very popular. Keep an eye out for future stories.

Ganymede copy#3. Ganymede by Cherie Priest. This is an uncorrected advance reading copy and I’m very interested to see what the writing looks like. Cherie Priest lives in Seattle, which is nearby, so this is also a “support your local author” attempt. Her novel Boneshaker was nominated for both a Hugo and Nebula, but I wasn’t a fan. She writes in the world of Steampunk of which I blow hot and cold. However, here in the Northwest, there are avid fans of the genre and a number of cons where everyone dresses up and has a great time.

#4. L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Imager. Modesitt is a favorite of mine. I have read most of his other series and I like him a lot. This is the first book in his new Imager series and I have been putting off starting it. No more. I’m taking the plunge.Imager

#5. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. This novel appears on most top one hundred science fiction novels again and again. Some of the Heinlein I read, I liked, while others, not so much. He got weird later in his career. However, this was selected by my reading group and I’m willing as it is an early novel with an intriguing story line.Moon is a Harsh Mistress

So that’s it.

Except, I have a few others I’m looking at. Next week, I’m thinking about talking about anthologies. I have noticed an increase in their popularity because of POD publishing. I recently received a compilation entitled Legacy of Stars that looks interesting. So stay tuned for that. I enjoyed Wool by Hugh Howey and he is getting quite a following. I was impressed by his marketing strategy and will probably read the next episode.

Into the silo I’ll go and most likely peer out and wonder what is out there.

What’s on your scifi list for this year? What books do you want to read in 2013? How did you decide?


Filed under Aliens in Science Fiction, artificial intelligence, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Classic science fiction, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Hard science fiction, Hugo winners, military science fiction, Nebula nominations, Political Science Fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, Steampunk, war

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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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

Identity Crisis

Christmas might be the time of fantasy and dreams, but we need to balance out all that airy fairy stuff with some good science fiction military genre recommendations. I know the guys out there are ready to march to a different drummer and have I got two for you. Hup! Hup! HUP!

John Scalzi is the first.

I had mentioned him in a former website, but not here, so for all you new readers…I want to toss out his name…and Richard Morgan’s also. Gear up soldier and check out: Old Man’s War, (Hugo 2006) The Last Colony, (Hugo 2008) Zoe, (Nominated Hugo 2009) The Ghost Brigade, (Hugo 2007) (and his latest–Fuzzy Nation.. An impressive array of awards for the series. Right now Fuzzy Nation is next up on my to read and I’ll report back my opinion in a few weeks.

The premise of Old Man’s War, and the following books of the series, is that the military, in secret, takes the minds and personalities of the aging Earth men and downloads them into new buff military bodies to go out and fight the alien menace. They cannot return, however, as all ties to Earth are broken in the procedure.

There is a bit of an identity crisis here, but as a mature person, I could get used to a new, attractive, healthy body in a nanosecond…while keeping the same mind, of course. Or even an upgrade there might be nice. Of course becoming fodder for an extraterrestrial war…not so much.

Richard Morgan is the second recommendation.

Richard Morgan has a similar idea in his series. His man is a more of  a specially designed envoy, however, and he gets “resleeved” more than once in the course of the series. Morgan provides a grittier story and if you have little girl sensibilities, this isn’t for you. But if you like fast-paced action military fare, then dive in.

In both cases, fighting aliens is life threatening whether in the military or not. Of course, if your “cortical stack” gets saved, you can just resleeve into a new and better body.  Other books in this series is: Thirteen, Woken Angels, and the Steel Remains. Altered Carbon won the John Campbell award

Richard Scalzi is a prolific twitterer and I suggest you follow him as his comments on life are funny and informative…okay, mostly funny. He has a wildly popular blog at: http//

In his case, blogging and tweeting seems to have increased his popularity. In September, I attended a talk he gave at Powell’s bookstore here in Portland. As soon as I sat down, a gentleman handed me the new hardback of Fuzzy Nation and whispered that Scalzi would personally sign it for me. At a list price of $25, I almost handed it back. I don’t usually pay the big dollars for reading. I looked for a paperback version and it was not to be had. Only earlier books could be found in that format. Clever marketing. Still, the talk that Scalzi put on was very entertaining and worth the price of admission.

So, here’s a popular author hitting all the cylinders…blogging, tweeting and face to face…and it seems to be paying off for him.

Oh yeah, and writing a really good book helps too.

Please notice that I have figured out how to do the WordPress sidebar and so I have put up my published books in my series The Alysian Universe. I had planned to have Cosmic Entanglement out before the holidays, but no matter how hard I try, life keeps intervening and it looks like more towards the end of December, early January now. Patience they say is a virtue.

Not one that I happen to have, however.

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