Tag Archives: downloaded personality

A Self Publisher Markets and John Scalzi’s latest

IMG_0193This self publishing gig isn’t as easy as it’s cracked up to be.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” you mutter.

There is a world out there willing to give advice, but how good is that advice for your situation?
Who knows?

I can only tell you what works for me…and what doesn’t.

With some success last month, I once again threw myself into the marketing fray. Since I had extra funds in the marketing budget, I decided to advertise two places during my KDP Select free book week.

Robin Reads has been getting buzz lately as an upcoming site still reasonably priced. For $20, I got the number one spot. That was sweet. My criticism of Robin Reads as a reader is that I haven’t figured out how to select out the genres I prefer, so every day I get a list of all types of books which is a pain to page through. I’m not into steamy romances or zombie thrillers…but many readers are.

However, as an author and advertiser, I received fourteen hundred downloads in one day (9/19) for my anchor book, Caught in Time. Not great, but better than I expected for the price. Now usually, a program like that is immediately followed by retail sales of other books in the series.

Crickets.

Added to Robin Reads, I spent $70 at Freebooksy for one day (9/21) where I have had great success, so I was rubbing my hands together in excited anticipation. I got almost a thousand downloads that day. So, over two thousand plus free downloads.

Retail sales? Crickets.

April Aasheim author of The Witches of Dark Root,  reports good luck advertising on Facebook. I’ve been reluctant to try. Anyone having good luck with that?

Meanwhile, The Fussy Librarian sent this out in their newsletter. I thought it interesting. It talks about an article that claims paperback sales are picking up and Ebook sales diminishing.

Seriously? I find that hard to believe. My sales are mostly in EBooks, although paperbacks are readily available.

http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=1fa68a8fb20ec8a1817392970&id=a8f7a5bbb8&e=d0ae4f54e9

The End of All Things2This week I’m suggesting a favorite author. John Scalzi is deeply entrenched in traditional publishing in many forms: hardback, paperback, iBook, audio, short story serials etc. He recently came to Powell’s again to promote his new book The End of All Things.

Now there’s a catchy title. It’s available in hardback for $24.99…thank you, big publisher (TOR)…or free at the local library, no taint involved in the free price.

This science fiction soap opera takes place in The Old Man’s Universe, meaning in the universe of his John Campbell Award winning book, Old Man’s War.

True to form, Scalzi does something different. Humans have expanded into space, only to find it populated with thousands of alien species. The Colonial Union formed to protect humans but kept Earth ignorant of aliens so as to provide colonists and soldiers by using consciousness of old people in repurposed bodies.Old Man's War

Many of the alien species threatened by these superhumans formed their own alliances called the Conclave.

Then Earth found out it was being used and got angry. It stopped providing experienced conscious minds and bodies. Without Earth to provide bodies for fighting, the Colonial Union found itself in trouble.

Unbeknownst to the Colonial Union, bitter infighting and politics now threatens to tear the Conclave apart.

The first story of the book is told by the sole survivor of an ambush on the ship the Chandler. A mysterious splinter group known as the Equilibrium has been secretly pitting the Conclave and the Colonial Union against each other. This secret third faction is made up of individuals from the different groups who plan to overthrow all other contenders. While all on The Chandler and any escape pods are ruthlessly killed, Rafe Daquin, recently hired as third pilot on the Chandler, is allowed a consciousness in order to pilot the ship, but he is separated from his body and reduced to operating as a brain in a box.

So your narrator for the first section is a brain in a box who tells the events of the attack and how he thwarts his enemies working without a body.

The Last ColonyThe second part of the book tells events from the point of view of Hafte Sorvalh, the second most powerful individual in the Conclave, or the advisor to Tarsem Gau, the Conclave leader. This story is political theater at its best and Scalzi is a master of clever dialogue. Subtle nuances of behavior by politicians during a Conclave Congress reveal that this powerful body of aliens has its own problems, and act more like humans than most imagine.

The third section brings in favorite character Harry Wilson from the other books in the series who thwarts an Equilibrium attack and interrogates one of their leaders in an attempt to unravel their plans. This section reads more as a spy thriller.

Scalzi admits to frantically trying to finish writing on time and missing deadlines as he travels around for signings and marketing. It makes the book choppy. You can imagine him writing a section, dusting off his hands and sending it in.

Still…

I enjoy Scalzi’s interesting science and clever dialogue. He makes reading science fiction both fun and enlightening…

And that’s the way it should be.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, aliens, Aliens in Science Fiction, artificial intelligence, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Cutting Edge Science ideas, downloaded personalities, science fiction space opera

What Ad Sites Should You Market Your Book On?

photoMy horoscope said that I need to change things up in my daily life.

So, I changed my blog background from dark to light.

What do you think?

Radical, I know. But don’t go easy on me. Tell me what you really think.

This morning I did the analytics for my August sales and was pleasantly surprised.

Thank you, wonderful readers. I hope you are enjoying the series.

I’m currently finishing up edits for the eighth book, Time’s Equation and eagerly waiting to see what the cover is going to look like. Late October is my publication target…before the holidays.

So marketing in August: What worked? What didn’t?

Book Gorilla at $50 cost didn’t return a net profit. I was so excited to see how that campaign would turn out…and it didn’t. I posted the discount at $.99 at their suggestion, which means I would have to sell over 144 books to break even. I didn’t.

Timing? Genre? Promotion? Who knows why.

On the other hand, The Midlist at $20 cost, more than made up for it. Go figure.

This month I am using my profits and plowing them back into the business. I will offer Caught in Time, my first book, free through Robin Reads ($15) on September 19 and Freebooksy ($70) on September 21. Freebooksy is a favorite, and when I was setting up my marketing for September, I defaulted to it out of frustration. I saw too many venues with no way of knowing what would work.

What I needed at the time was Cheryl Bradford’s list of ad sites and Nicolas Rossis’s plan of attack…which I now provide for you because both are so awesome. Thank you, Cheryl and Nick.

http://nicholasrossis.me/2015/08/30/bookbub-insights-launch-a-new-book-thats-part-of-a-series/?c=22638#comment-22638

This will save you hours of research and make your marketing much more efficient.

full list of websites where you can advertise your ebook price promotion, courtesy of Cheryl Bradshaw.

You’re welcome.

So with September settled, I cast about for a story to recommend. After reading and discarding several options, I found Dark Space through a Freebooksy special. FREE! And very readable.

And guess what…as of right now…it’s still free. But I don’t know how long that will last. FYI.

Dark SpaceDark Space, book 1 by Jasper Scott, is a military space opera in a series.

Freelancer and ex-convict, Ethan Ortane, is deep in debt, hiding out with the rest of humanity in Dark Space. An alien race, the Synthians, invaded the human galaxy with one goal in mind… to wipe out humans. Now the last remains of humanity hide out in Dark Space behind a stargate guarded by the Valiant, a carrier ship of the Imperial Star System Fleet.Dark Space 2

But Ethan has gotten deep in debt to crime lord Alec Brondi, and his ship, and therefore his means of support, is badly damaged. His only way out is to comply with Bondi’s deal to infiltrate and sabotage the Valiant.

If that isn’t enough to make Ethane follow through with the plan, Brondi kidnaps Ethane’s beautiful crewmember and threatens torture if he doesn’t comply.

Ethane steps into a dead soldier’s persona, infiltrates the Valiant, and finds that things are not what he expected…Dark Space 3

which all makes for an interesting story and start to a fun series.

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Filed under ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Implanting humans, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Marketing and selling novels, military science fiction, science fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing, Space opera, space ship, space travel, Transhumanism

Call for Beta Readers

IMG_9518I spoke too soon.

What a surprise you say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your read now that the weather is cooling off.

Aaaahhh.

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

Going to the Dark Side

IMG_0180Summer is a wonderful time of the year here in the Northwest. We have cooled off to high seventies in temperature, and other than gardening, I have time to read out on my shady deck under tall pines.

Lately, I have been restless, trying to find a good cutting-edge future science fiction tale. I dove into cyber punk with mixed results in Gibson’s The Peripheral and Charles Stross’s HaltinG StatE. (See previous blog for further comments).

Since I have been advertising my books on different websites, also with mixed results, I decided to download a few free and discounted books from Freebooksy and Sweetfreebooks. In my several marketing campaigns, Freebooksy and more recently the Midlist have given me the best results. The vaunted Fussy Librarian and Book Gorilla have cost me money while delivering poor sales. Having said that, other authors claim good results from them. Once again, various factors of timing, cover, taste, and reader who just wanted a time travel book at that moment, come into play.

Post HumanSo I chose the Post Human Series by David Simpson, Mirrored Time J.D. Faulkner and Star Wanderers by Joe Vasice. Why? The Post Human series had far future humans with transhumanism where humans are using technology and science to evolve past being human. Also, there was a suggestion of inter-dimensional realities that intrigued me. I’ll admit that so far the story is chock full of future science and action. The writing flows well with few grammar or punctuation errors.

The early episodes, however, are short and choppy, skipping over large spans of time. All that I could deal with, and did, until I got snagged on the changing point of views. Rapidly switching point of view with no warning or break is a new writer’s curse, and often the writer isn’t aware of what he’s doing until it’s pointed out to him. In this case, three pov jumps in one paragraph, and I put the book down. I may pick it back up later because of the interesting ideas and technology.Mirrored Times

Sometimes I’m not strong of will and cross over to the dark side. When the temperature hit over ninety last week, I reached for chocolate Haagen Daas to cool off my mouth and make my taste buds dance.

What diet?

At the same time, I reached for a fantasy in the form of Mark Lawrence’s The King of Thorns sitting soKing of Thorns seductively on my reading table. I had read his Prince of Fools and liked it. The reviews said King of Thorns was even better. I would be traveling into the realm of dark fantasy and knew it.

Now, there is also a Prince of Thorns that you should read first, but like chocolate Hagen Daas, I didn’t mind not having another flavor at the moment and confused the earlier book with Prince of Fools.

King of Thorns is a can’t-put-down book. And that’s just what I wanted. The writing is gorgeous with gasping wit, heart-pounding action, and tear-filled emotion. A bit gritty, but bearable.

You continue the life of Jorge Ancrath who at age nine has vowed to avenge his slaughtered mother and brother, and punish his father for not doing so. Now at age eighteen, Prince of thornshe is King of Renar, having taken the land through slaughter and death from his evil uncle. Jorge is not a delicate lad. He’s on a mission to rule the world and doesn’t play by the rules.

The story begins outside his castle where he is surrounded by thousands of the Prince of Arrow’s men. Orrin Oildan, Prince of Arrow, also hungers to be Emperor and sweeps kingdoms into his hand as he marches victoriously across the land until he reaches Jorge’s rough castle. Unlike Jorge, who is beset by sorcerers at every turn and considered mean and ruthless, Orrin is the fair-haired ruler whom everyone calls great and good. Every sorcerer and witch prophesies the triumph of the Prince of Arrows for the Emperor’s throne until Jorge is weary of hearing it. But it doesn’t slow him down a whit.

The book jumps back and forth in time, starting with Jorg’s wedding day, and then returning four years into the past. There he travels with his band of disreputable friends across the land from one wild adventure to another. Adventure and wedding flip back and forth moving closer in time as the book progresses.

Clever, haunted, and powerful, Jorge has the touch of necromancy in his fingers and carries a dangerous box of memories everywhere he goes. Trying to save a young fire Mage, he also learns to play with fire.

There are also hints of science fiction within the fantasy-flavored tale when Jorge refers to “the Builders” who seem to be great men from Earth’s past. He meets a holograph who is a downloaded personality of a past scientist. The holograph tends a forgotten machine deep under Jorge’s maternal uncle’s castle. Along the way, Jorge also accumulates artifacts from the past that become important to his survival.

My only complaint with the story is that in two critical instances, the author uses my own tricky plot twist to escape an almost impossible situation. One I use in Caught in Time when the bandits try to rob and rape Rowyna, and the other in A Dangerous Talent for Time when Brand de Fyre Elitas, like Jorg Ancrath, faces overwhelming odds in a battle.

Not fair!

Mark Lawrence will be remembered for the plot twist over me, I’m sure. Just like, since July 15, another author has come out with the title Caught in Time. The second one came out last year, well after my publication. (Sound of moaning and hair-pulling)

Oh well, I liked it when I wrote it, and I liked it again in Mark Lawrence’s story. In fact, I liked his whole story a lot. It made the chocolate ice cream go down so cool and sweet, as I slipped over to the dark side.

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Filed under Best selling science fiction, Book reviews, Cutting Edge Science ideas, downloaded personalities, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, fantasy, fantasy series, genetic manipulation, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Marketing and selling novels, modifying humans, Noir Fantasy, science fiction, science fiction series, Transhumanism, Wizards and magic

Locus Award Winners

photoThank you to all the readers who took advantage of my limited free offering of Someone’s Clone on July 5 through 9th. It rose to #1 on Kindle> free> science fiction> time travel and #1 on Kindle> free> science fiction >genetic engineering.

Quite the heady experience. I hope you are enjoying the story and explore other stories in the Alysian Universe. (See right panel for summaries)

Saturday, July 18th, I will be offering Caught in Time for a limited time at a bargain $.99. I am exploring various marketing plans. I will advertise on the Midlist so it should be interesting to see how well it does. Recently, a fellow author commented that Indie authors are hurting their sales by offering these special deals. I want to explore that idea in an upcoming blog.

What do you think?

And NOW…

The winners of the science fiction/fantasy Locus Awards have been announced. I was intrigued that many of the winners were books that I selected to comment and review in my blogs. Can I pick them, or what?

You can find my blog on Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie who won the 2014 Hugo, and now her follow up, Ancillary Sword wins the 2015 Locus for science fiction.Ancillary Justice

I also recently recommended The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. (January 29 blog)

Thoroughly enjoyed it.

First Law TrilogyCurrently, I hold an advance copy of Half a World by Joe Abercrombie on my reading table. I recommended Joe’s First Law series and wrote a blog on it in 2014. Really liked the trilogy. I may have to start the series with his Half a King before I read Half a World. I like a series, but sometimes it’s a pain to have to go back and read the first book or sit around tapping your toes waiting for the next book.

You hear me, George R. R. Martin?

Last week, I mentioned William Gibson’s The Peripheral…having been quite a fan of his other novels, but so far, not so much this one. I haven’t finished it, however. I also mentioned Charles Stross’s HaltinG StatE, which ended up being quite good once I got into it. If you’re a gamer, you’ll like it. (P.s. That’s how he spelled the title)51wHalting State0l9FLDeL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_

Nancy Kress is also a favorite author, and although I don’t often read short books, I may have to put her Yesterday’s Kin on my reading table.

Finally, I have read several of Jay Lake’s novels, and as he was a Portland author,  I had lunch with him before he died. His battle with cancer was heroic, and many local authors and fans miss him. Winning for Last Plane to Heaven is a fitting tribute.

LOCUS AWARD WINNERS
Winners for each category appear in bold.

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Winner: Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)Ancillary Sword
The Peripheral, William Gibson (Putnam; Viking UK)
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu (Tor)
Lock In, John Scalzi (Tor; Gollancz)
Annihilation/Authority/Acceptance, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)

FANTASY NOVEL

Winner: The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Steles of the Sky, Elizabeth Bear (Tor)
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
The Magician’s Land, Lev Grossman (Viking; Arrow 2015)
The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot US)

YOUNG ADULT BOOK

Winner: Half a King, Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey; Voyager UK)
The Doubt Factory, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
Waistcoats & Weaponry, Gail Carriger (Little, Brown; Atom)
Empress of the Sun, Ian McDonald (Jo Fletcher; Pyr)
Clariel, Garth Nix (Harper; Hot Key; Allen & Unwin)

FIRST NOVEL

Winner: The Memory Garden, Mary Rickert (Sourcebooks Landmark)
Elysium, Jennifer Marie Brissett (Aqueduct)
A Darkling Sea, James L. Cambias (Tor)
The Clockwork Dagger, Beth Cato (Harper Voyager)
The Emperor’s Blades, Brian Staveley (Tor; Tor UK)

NOVELLA

Winner: Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
“The Man Who Sold the Moon,” Cory Doctorow (Hieroglyph)
We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
“The Regular,” Ken Liu (Upgraded)
“The Lightning Tree,” Patrick Rothfuss (Rogues)

NOVELETTE

Winner: “Tough Times All Over,” Joe Abercrombie (Rogues)
“The Hand Is Quicker,” Elizabeth Bear (The Book of Silverberg)
“Memorials,” Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s 1/14)
“The Jar of Water,” Ursula K. Le Guin (Tin House #62)
“A Year and a Day in Old Theradane,” Scott Lynch (Rogues)

SHORT STORY

Winner: “The Truth About Owls,” Amal El-Mohtar (Kaleidoscope)
“Covenant,” Elizabeth Bear (Hieroglyph)
“The Dust Queen,” Aliette de Bodard (Reach for Infinity)
“In Babelsberg,” Alastair Reynolds (Reach for Infinity)
“Ogres of East Africa,” Sofia Samatar (Long Hidden)

ANTHOLOGY

Winner: Rogues, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, ed. (Bantam; Titan)
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-first Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s Press)
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, Rose Fox & Daniel José Older, eds. (Crossed Genres)
Reach for Infinity, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
The Time Traveler’s Almanac, Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer, eds. (Head of Zeus; Tor)

COLLECTION

Winner: Last Plane to Heaven, Jay Lake (Tor)
Questionable Practices, Eileen Gunn (Small Beer)
The Collected Short Fiction Volume One: The Man Who Made Models, R.A. Lafferty (Centipede)
Academic Exercises, K.J. Parker (Subterranean)
The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume Nine: The Millennium Express, Robert Silverberg (Subterranean; Gateway)
MAGAZINE

Winner: Tor.com
Asimov’s
Clarkesworld
F&SF
Lightspeed

PUBLISHER

Winner: Tor
Angry Robot
Orbit
Small Beer
Subterranean

EDITOR

Winner: Ellen Datlow
John Joseph Adams
Gardner Dozois
Jonathan Strahan
Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

ARTIST

Winner: John Picacio
Jim Burns
Shaun Tan
Charles Vess
Michael Whelan

NON-FICTION

Winner: What Makes This Book So Great, Jo Walton (Tor; Corsair 2015)
Ray Bradbury Unbound, Jonathan Eller (University of Illinois Press)
Harry Harrison! Harry Harrison!, Harry Harrison (Tor)
The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Jill Lepore (Knopf)
Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better: 1948-1988, William H. Patterson, Jr. (Tor)

ART BOOK

Winner: Spectrum 21: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, John Fleskes, ed. (Flesk)
Jim Burns, The Art of Jim Burns: Hyperluminal (Titan)
The Art of Neil Gaiman, Hayley Campbell (Harper Design)
Brian & Wendy Froud, Brian Froud’s Faeries’ Tales (Abrams)
The Art of Space: The History of Space Art, from the Earliest Visions to the Graphics of the Modern Era, Ron Miller (Zenith)

Enjoy the reads.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, artificial intelligence, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Locus Award Winners, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series

Science Fiction Hugo Awards

IMG_9518

 

Excitement! The Hugo winners were announced this past Sunday. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie took the prize for best science fiction novel.

Made me happy. (See my March 12 blog that comments on the novel)

Ancillary Justice

Also, winner for best novelette is Mary Robinette Kowal for her “the Lady Astronaut of Mars.” Mary is formerly from the Northwest and keeps in touch. Recently, she was at Powell’s bookstore for a signing…and puppet show. Mary is an accomplished puppeteer also. She was reading from her recent novel, Without a Summer. Mary writes in the Jane Austen style and milieu, but adds steampunk magic to her stories. In fact there are rumors that she’s Jane Austen who has time traveled to the present day. Compare the photos of Jane and Mary at the end of the blog. Eerily alike?

But it’s only a rumor. *wink* I promised not to tell.

Charming and energetic, she was delightful company during a small dinner afterwards. She told us of plans that scheduled her to drive to a signing in Gresham the next day, and later that night she was meeting friends in Portland. It seems TOR authors do quite a bit of traveling. She is also the Vice President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Hmmm…

Shades of summerAs much as I like Mary and wish her well, I notice a strong presence of TOR, Orbit and Baen writers in the winning list once again. Is the Hugo a closed shop to big publishers only?

What about Hugh Howey, Ryk Brown or Christpher Nuttall? All with popular novels that are selling extremely well.

Is that a sniff of politics I smell? Collusion?

Either way, the Hugo awards have offered me a wonderful list of science fiction stories that I have read and enjoyed over the years…especially back in the day before the internet when word of mouth was the only other way you discovered good sci fi.

If anyone was talking.

Before this blog and others like it.

So here is the list for 2014. Check it out and enjoy all the great science fiction.Ancillary Sword

The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, Loncon 3, has announced the 2014 Hugo Award winners. 3587 valid ballots were received and counted in the final ballot.

BEST NOVEL

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)

BEST NOVELLA

“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)

BEST NOVELETTE

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com /Tor.com, 09-2013

BEST SHORT STORY

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

BEST RELATED WORK

“We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

“Time” by Randall Munroe (xkcd)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM

Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films;Warner Bros.)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM

Game of Thrones “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM

Ellen Datlow

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM

Ginjer Buchanan

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

Julie Dillon

BEST SEMIPROZINE

Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki

BEST FANZINE

A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher

BEST FANCAST

SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester

BEST FAN WRITER

Kameron Hurley

BEST FAN ARTIST

Sarah Webb

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award)

Sofia Samatar

The 2014 Hugo Award winners were announced on Sunday evening, August 17, at the ExCel Converntion Centre in London, England. The ceremony was hosted by Justina Robson, Geoff Ryman. Text-based CoverItLive coverage of the ceremony was provided through the Hugo Awards web site. Video streaming coverage was provided by Ustream.

The 2014 Hugo trophy base was designed by Joy Alyssa Day

See the Final Ballot Details for a full breakdown of votes, subsequent placements, and nomination counts.

So, time traveler or not?  you decide.Jane-Austen-waxwork

Jane Austen/Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary_Robinette_Kowal_at_2008_Nebula_Awards

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Science Fiction Gender Bending

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Him, her, IT!

In science fiction you can have both in the same body or alternating genders. Ask Northwest author Ursula LeGuinn or read her classic, The Left Hand of Darkness. In her novel, gender fluctuates due to monthly cycles called kemmer.Left Hand of Darkness

Currently in my work in progress, I have an angel like alien that is androgynous. There is a bit of a question about the gender, and the reaction in the humans over the uncertainty. The Enjelise can shift genders, but for most humans they remain genderless as there are only three now left on the planet. But, oh, the one still left is powerful. For me, it makes for an interesting character in my story. And fun to play with.

However, in Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie, gender goes through the wringer. Told in the first person narrative, the reader is informed that the speaker can’t recognize gender.

“Frozen, bloodied and bruised as she was, I knew her. She was Sievarden Vendaai, and a long time ago, she had been one of my officers, a young lieutenant, eventually promoted to her own command, her own ship. I had thought her a thousand years dead, but she was, undeniably, here.”

Ancillary JusticeAre you getting an image of this character in the snow? Tell me what it is. As a reader we fight to visualize the story in progress, to engage our imagination. But this character is face down in the snow with very little details given, and those at best are confusing.

And intriguing. You did see the thousand years dead part too?

And the narrator saying the person was one of his/her/its officers? What are you visualizing? Can you?

Then, as the narrator goes in a bar to get help for the injured human, rent a sled, get correctives that help heal…it explains, “I wasn’t a person, I was a piece of equipment, a part of the ship.”

Oh…Scramble, scramble. The reader is trying to get a visualization of the narrator now and with not much detail. We know the narrator has a human body at this point because of the reaction from the bar’s customers, thinking it’s a conquering Radchaai citizen, whom they hate. But…these characters are not fitting into the neat little boxes we are so used to. The narrator tries to explain while in the bar getting help.

“My own language doesn’t mark gender in any way. This language we were now speaking did, and I could make trouble for myself if I used the wrong forms.”Ancillary Sword

Okay, reader…you have been warned! Get ready for trouble…for you. But, I blithely read on, not realizing what I waded into.

The narrator admits near the end of the first chapter, “I knew Sievarden was male–that one was easy.”

No it isn’t! This little aside is surrounded by action, she referents, dialog and slipped right past me.

Then, “Nineteen years pretending to be human hadn’t taught me as much as I’d thought.”

Great! My narrator is not human, but a piece of ship equipment pretending to be human, has gender recognition problems and hints that a thousand years is nothing to it. I’m squinting trying to get a read on this person/once officer that my narrator has decided to save, nevermind the narrator himself/herself/itself.

 Chapter two explains what my narrator was originally. It was a ship…a troop carrier, the Justice of Torens, a two thousand year old troop carrier that nineteen years ago (give or take) had ancillaries connected to the A1 that ran the ship. A networked mind troop carrier aware of every muscle twitch and breath of its ancillaries. Awesome. A multi mind artificial A1.

Ancillaries?

Read on, oh reader. Ancillaries are humans from subjugated or “annexed” worlds defrosted at need, implanted with slave minds and used as soldiers for the conquering Radchaai who are led by a thousand bodied leader, Anaander Miandaai (me and Ai?) whose mind is networked among her/his cloned self.

The DispossessedDizzy yet? Keep going.

The second story line develops in Chapter two. The narrator goes back twenty years where it is now a twenty ancillary unit from Justice of Torens One Esk (Esk is a ship level of soldiers) that are dispatched with human Esk Decade Lieutenant Awn to complete the annexation of the world of Ors. There you get a full description of the subjugated world. Lots of jungle. A head priest. Yada, yada. Stolen weapons. Oops.

Now the author gets to mess with your mind even more because One Esk only uses female pronouns and you’re digging hard to figure out Lieutenant Awn’s gender. Gradually, you notice how deeply One Esk is devoted to Awn and admires the lieutenant even when there’s an affair with Lieutenant Skaait, another officer of a higher social rank and a free thinker. (stay tuned for him/her later) But which one is male; which one female? I need to visualize using the shortcut of gender with the subtext that goes along, and I’m not getting it. You’re forced to study behavioral clues. And not finding much.

Or being deliberately mislead.

Unfortunately, a main character (Remember Sievarden Vendaai from the snowbank?) that we know is male acts like a female at times, but with the constant use of the feminine gender when the narrator talks about Sievarden, I keep falling into a female box as I try to visualize this character. I still haven’t figured out what my narrator is now as far as gender. (Except maybe a toaster in human form)

Then, the reader meets the leader of this vast star flung empire of Radchaai who reveals that he/she/ it is battling with its many selves (over a thousand) for  power. And keeping secrets from her/his other selves and covertly dabbling with The Justice of Toren’s programming.

Our narrator. Oh dear.

How far can you push an A1 embedded into a human body, and influenced by human emotion until it does something unexpected? Like murder. Can a machine love more than a human? Feel as deeply as a human? Override its programming?

An act of betrayal destroys the ship and One Esk becomes splintered off from all components, surviving under the name Breq. One Esk, former ship, now named Breq tries to act human and more, plots to destroy the multi bodied leader and bring down the far flung Radchaai Empire by itself by recovering a hidden and dangerous weapon.

Already being suggested for a Nebula, this novel is challenging, convoluted. You’ll love it, hate it or think about it too much and the messages it sends on what it means to be human and gendered.

Sometimes being an author can be fun when we create unusual thought provoking societies, their worlds and the interesting characters that live in them.

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