Tag Archives: L.E. Modesitt

Twelve Authors to Binge on in Science Fiction and Fantasy

img_1018Santa will soon be sliding into town and my rushing around to get ready is taking time from writing and reading. But in attempt to get you ready for the holiday doldrums, I’ve come up with twelve binge reading ideas.

Because once the hooha dies down, there may come days in a row where you are tired of parties and company and would like to do a little binge reading.

I’ve picked out twelve authors randomly (for the twelve days of Christmas) who offer a good binge-reading experience.

1. Frank Herbert’s Dune Series. Dune is a classic with incredible world building and intriguing characters. After Frank Hebert’s death, his son, Brian Herbert and fellow writer, Kevin Anderson, added a number of readable prequels and additions to the storyline. Just out in September 2016 is Navigators of Dune that tells about the strange ship navigators that can fold space.

Fool's Quest2. Robin Hobbs and all her Realm of the Elderling books are good. Start with the Assassin’s Apprentice and read on up to her current Fool’s Assassin.

3. William Gibson’s Sprawl Series. William Gibson is the father of Cyberpunk. Neuromancer is his Hugo winning start, but the rest in the series : Mona Lisa Overdrive, Count Zero Interrupt, Zero History etc. are interesting, particularly if you look at the dates when they were written and current technology and events.

4. Lois Bujold’s Vorsigan Series. Read how the irrepressible Miles Vorsigan deals with life. I even enjoyed the more recent Captain Vortapil’s Alliance and Miles wasn’t the main character. Bujold has won numerous awards for this series and others in the fantasy realm.Barrayar


5. C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner Series. Start at the beginning, but her latest, Visitor is seventh in the series and an amazing study on how to handle first contact with an alien race. Also, Cherryh has an Alliance-Union Series of merchant ships caught in the politics of war among planets. My all-time favorites of Heavy Time and Hellburner are in this series. Rimrunner, Merchants Luck, and the Hugo award winning Down Below Station are stand alone stories that also take place in the Alliance-Union Universe. I also want to mention a good fantasy series of hers called the Fortress Series

Expanse Collection6. James Corey’s The Expanse Series. Recently this exciting series hit television with some interesting visual effects. In January, the second season is due to fire up and continue the storyline. Start with Leviathan Wakes and read up to the new Babylon ‘s Ashes just published December 6. Space Opera at its best.

7. Joe Abercrombie ‘s First Law Trilogy. A fantasy trilogy that you won’t be able to put down. It starts with The Blade Itself, Before They were Hanged and ends with Last Argument of Kings. If you’re a delicate reader, this one gets gritty… Fair warning.First Law Trilogy

8. Brandon Sanderson has several series. His Mistborn Series breaks into two trilogies. The most recent just out is Bands of Mourning. (See my blog on it) Also his The Stormlight Archive with Way of Kings and Words of Radiance is quite good. Doorstoppers, both of them.

The Lies of Locke Lamora9. Scott Lynch and his Gentlemen Bastards series has also been a favorite of mine. The first is The Lies of Locke Lamora, then Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves. Soon to come out is The Thorn of Emberlaine. Great adventure in the life of Renaissance swindlers.

10.  L. E. Modesitte has written sixty books! His Saga of the Recluse Series is very popular and his Imager Series just had its seventh book released today called Treachery’s Tools. He has several other series that are more hard science and futuristic. One of my favorites is Gravity Dreams and the Octagonal Raven. Lots to binge on with this author.   Imager

Ender's Game

11. Orson Scott Card. Can’t forget his Ender’s Game, one of the most popular science fiction books of all time. (made into a movie) Spin offs from this series are still popping up, so start now and be on the look out.

12. And last but not Least…Sheron Mccartha’s The Alysian Universe series. Now you knew I would have to mention it. For all the books in this series look right and see my listing.

These are just a few series or large books to binge on over the holidays when you want to escape the madness of the holiday or the frenetic relatives. There are more equally as good I haven’t yet mentioned (and might). Do you have any favorites? Let us know.

Until then,

May the Christmas Spirit be with you.



Filed under Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, fantasy series, first contact, Hugo winners, Mistborn series, science fiction series, science fiction space opera

Do You have a Yen for Some Hard Science Fiction?

Image 1Hard science fiction…so hard that it’s like knocking your head against granite. L. E. Modesitt, Jr. in his latest novel, Solar Express presents a compelling plot against the background of a developing war among the Sinese Federation, Noram (U.S. Military), and India. Much like the fear that drove the development of the atom bomb, fear of another country getting control through space drives these three power superpowers to secretly start weaponizing space.

And then an alien object is sighted headed in system towards our sun.

The problem becomes that Modesitt wants to get each detail completely accurate and properly measured. The main character, Chris Tavoian, low orbit shuttle pilot, is promoted to major and sent out on a covert mission to investigate the alien artifact, conveniently categorized as an asteroid to keep secret it’s alien nature. Each minute is painstakingly recorded, each angle of the artifact explored while under the time pressure of an approaching Sinese spaceship.Solar Express

Meanwhile, back on the moon, his love interest, Alayna Wong-Grant who discovered the alien object, and doesn’t understand why no one has mentioned it in the media, is investigating the mechanism of multi-fractal mini-granulations found in the sun.

See what I mean? More science with big words.

A thrilling plot, rife with politics, told through memos and emails between moon-bound Alayna and alien-probing Chris. Theirs is a relationship developed through correspondence, much like our online dating and email nowadays.

I wanted to really like this, especially since Modesitte is a favorite author, but I struggled through it. However, if you have been yearning for hard science among the slim pickings of good science fiction offerings of late, and an interesting plot, this may be a good read for you. Modesitt explains the rational for his novel.  http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2015/11/17/another-reason-for-pseudonyms/

My marketing has slowed because I have been catching up on my writing. My life as an author is like being on a seesaw. Personal life, writing or marketing? It’s hard to balance all three. I needed more time for writing, but needed to put a plan in place for marketing, at least for this month. Sales declined while my attention was on the wedding.

Caught in Time, my first in a series, will again be available for free Thursday, March 11 through Sunday March 13 through the KDP Select program. I decided to shortened the time to only three days to leave room for another campaign later. If I don’t promote, sales tail off.

I chose Free Kindle Books and Tips because I have not used them before as an ad venue, and also Choosy Bookworm. These are two new sites that I’m trying out, and I’ll let you know if they’re productive. I have to also balance the cost of promotion against possible sales.

I love writing this blog, but Facebook and Twitter are not my thing. My life is quiet because I like it that way. I get my excitement in my stories. Never mind SnapChat, and that other thing. I am verbal, but not able to think up witty things on social media.

Sharing results is helpful, so I’m offering a link to an interesting article on what makes people buy self-published books. Lots of pretty graphs and hard data by a favorite blogger of mine from the Emerald Isle.


For you fantasy fans, I must say that I’m enjoying the Magicians series on the SyFy channel even more than the books.

Isn’t that a switch? Check it out and my review blog on the book.

My Powell’s book group meets tonight and we’re discussing John Scalzi’s Redshirts. I’m ranting and raving about the editing. TOR is his publisher and promotes him extensively, so you’d think it would be better edited. I tried to find a science fiction ebook from a promotion, but the one I read was so poorly edited, I stopped completely and would not recommend it; the other was forty pages long and not worth recommending either at that length.

More on this in my next blog as I’m trying to finish Redshirts. Add finishing reading my books for my review blog to that wobbly seesaw.


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Results of Summer Science Fiction Marketing Program

photoThe results are in from my summer marketing experience.

A few comments first. I couldn’t do everything, so I picked what interested me. You will put energy into those things you want to do and slide if you’re uncomfortable with doing it. So pick what you think you’ll like to do. And do that.

I am not a famous author (yet) and I have a small platform. I am not John Scalzi who shows up for a book signing and gets a large crowd at Powell’s. I haven’t won a Hugo (yet). I Twitter some, but usually stare at the feed and think, “What the heck can I say interesting?” I enjoy writing and editing, so most days I’m doing that rather than having coffee with friends or grabbing a movie. Consequently, my local network is small because friendships take work and I keep busy with family and writing.

I do like to blog about books I like, and I like people. I don’t have a big marketing budget, and so far have used book sales to cover all expenses such as editing, covers and marketing.

Having said this, I decided to try two approaches. One was to use Amazon’s KDP Select programs. The other was to get out and do person to person.

Which would be most cost effective?

Hands down, Amazon won. In fact, it blew me away. At zero expense, I enlisted in the KDP Select and put the first book in my series Caught in Time on sale for free for five days after Mother’s Day. I submitted to Bookbub for a listing during my free days. It would cost $100 to list on their site and I’m sure they get affiliate fees in addition…but I wasn’t big enough for them and got turned down. I submitted to Sweetfree Books and received a very enthusiastic response and got a listing there for free for my free day.

I also Tweeted and blogged about my upcoming deal.

Cibola BurnNow…I am a follower of Dean Wesley Smith and several others and my cunning plan all along was to write a series as a way of selling my books. I’m also a fan of Lois Bujold, Ann McCaffrey, Lee Modesitte, Sharon Lee, and others who have big series. In fact the two books I’m reviewing next are part of an ongoing series I have been reading: Cibola Burn and Fool’s Assassin.

The first day Caught in Time went free, over 800 books got downloaded worldwide. The second day, 3000! I had expected some lag time with the others in the series, but immediately readers started to buy them, and in fact, A Dangerous Talent for Time did amazingly well.

At the end of May, there were 4500 free worldwide downloads of Caught in Time and over 60 books sold at retail in two weeks by the time the program ended.

Excited, I plunged into the Publisher’s Book Fair to sell person to person. For this, I shared expenses with Diana Peach (Myths of the Mirror, Sunwielder) I bought $100 worth of paperbacks of my titles to fill out my inventory. I bought two crystal necklaces ($50) as incentives for a three book deal, and I paid $25 toward renting the space. I bought flowers ($10) to decorate the table and chocolates ($5). Diana paid parking, drove, paid half the rent and brought the tent she had borrowed from a friend. She also purchased inventory, brought chairs and decorations. We spent from 10 a.m. To 5 p.m. standing and talking to people…which was a lot of fun.

I sold six books at discounted prices.

Okay. We had fierce competition because over fifty tents all around us were also selling books.

Did I mention that I had fun? But my feet hurt.

So, next was the Amazon Countdown Deal experiment for July. This ran seven days and I was doubtful about how successful it would be, but it didn’t cost a dime and required very little time and energy.

Blam! Right away, readers all over the world started buying. They started with Caught in Time and then nibbled on the others. In fact I sold almost as many A Dangerous Talent for Time as I did the Caught in Time deal. July was my best month ever.

But I had a book signing in August to round out the summer. And another Countdown Deal with Cosmic Entanglement because now I was a believer. For the book signing, I advertised on my blog, Twitter and Goodreads. Once again, I bought flowers and added to inventory since I had sold out Caught in a Time at the Publisher’s Fair, and everyone buys the first in a series. But Jan’s Paperback Books provided cookies, table, tablecloth, chairs. I just had to show up with books and a smile. Diana bought $150 in radio advertising to see how that would help sales. We both put out the word to our multitude of friends.

Debbie and Jody of Jan’s Paperbacks were terrific hostesses. They agreed to consign two of our first two books. So locals, you can find my paperbacks there in Aloha, OR.

Neither I nor Diana sold a book.

Those who showed up knew me and had already bought. At a following book club, three people whispered they were going to come to my signing, and I had to tell them that it had already happened.

But did I mention that I had fun?

And sore feet.

But…I had one more promotion for August, and the Cosmic Entanglement Countdown Deal rolled around with me rubbing my hands in excited anticipation. This a great read and because I do time travel, it is also a good starting book. I expected wondrous things.

The universe has a way of surprising you.

I don’t know whether it was the timing (school starting), the title, the cover, reading fatigue or happenstance. I didn’t sell as many as before. But an interesting thing did happen. I sold four KLL/KOL books. These are books sold through the Kindle Lending Library and the new Kindle subscription program…and I sold a few on Smashwords…those not on the KDP Select Program. I hadn’t sold there in over a year.

When payday came, I had eight lines of income coming in. The USA, UK, Fr, AU, CA, EU, KLL/KOL and Smashwords. Then Amazon POD or the CreateSpace Paperbacks kicked in some too.

So, what have we learned boys and girls?

Amazon rocks. Don’t hesitate to experiment around. Online was better in this case and more cost effective than person to person. Series are good. Be in it for the long term.

And keep trying different stuff.

Anyone have comments on what did and didn’t work for you? I’d love to hear it. Maybe a guest post?

Here’s an interesting article on this subject.


Because I blathered on, I’ll review Cibola Burn next week…stay tuned.

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Story Structure Specialist

IMG_0165Discovering titles to read and actually obtaining them depend are certain variables. Easy access, pricing, and availability are a few factors.

Last week I read The Lies of Lock Lamora by Stephen Lynch first because it sat within quick reach on my night stand. It had been enthusiastically recommended by Powell’s knowledgable science fiction special, Peter, and I looked forward eagerly to reading it.

It delivered big time.The Lies of Locke Lamora

What surprised and caused me wild hope was that Lies was published in 2006 in Great Britain and I’m just now hearing the buzz about it from a local Portland bookstore and noting recent popularity on Amazon.

Eight years ago.

Maybe it takes some time for even a really good book to catch on…

That’s why I maintain optimism and consider myself writing for what they call the “long tail” (tale?) Fingers crossed.

Red Skies under Red SeadI enjoyed it so much that I’m currently reading the next in the series, Red Seas Under Red Skies and finding it also delightful and engaging.

Either way, my second book on my 2014 list to read is fresh out of the publishing house and was within fingers reach off the new book shelf at my local library.


So this week I’ll review The One Eyed Man by L.E. Modesitte.

But first, since I’m organizing and crafting the next novel in my series, I wanted to mention Larry Brooks who has published a non fiction book called Story Engineering. For anyone working on the writing of a story, I found his words of wisdom useful and would like to pass along his name.

I first met him at Orycon when he gave a lecture on structuring a story. Writers often get an idea and then start writing without any consideration of the way a story should be crafted or where they want it to go. For anyone who is writing, I suggest you consider his ideas…they may make your story stronger and give you direction on how your story should flow…because they are rules to the writing game if you want to succeed.

His blog, www.storyfix.com was voted top blog for writers in 2010 and still runs strong.

Here’s an interview on Utube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGq84WOQfqM.

Now for my second book on the 2014 list.

L.E. Modesitte is certainly one of the more prolific science fiction writers around. He has several series under his name that entertain significant popularity.

The One-Eyed ManThe One Eyed Man is a stand alone novel that opens with Paul Verano coming out of court after a nasty divorce that leaves most of his wealth to his cheating wife and ungrateful daughter.

Paul is a consulting ecologist with a PhD in ecology from the University of Bachman and has made a reputation for himself in the field. He is offered a lucrative contract to Sittara, a colony planet and chief source of anti-aging biologicals that extend life expectancy more than two fold for the wealthy residents of Bachman. So, invaluable.

For Paul, the trip will be relatively short, but his expected return will be 125 years later on Bachman…hopefully by then all problems and players will be distant memories. So the contract, while too good to be true, is compelling for him in his current situation.

Sittara is an interesting planet with such high winds that most of the population live underground and the dominant vegetation is a low growing purplish green grass. Foreboding whirling sky tubes roam the skies, but no one knows whether they are sentient or not.

The One Eyed Man is essentially a mystery that slowly our ecologist unravels. It explores the issue of human impact on an alien environment. True to form, politics and economic greed also create problems. Verano keeps insisting he is only there to measure and insure that the colonies are not hurting the environment, but no one believes him.

Some try to murder him. Most lie to him.

If you are a fan of Modesitte, you will enjoy this slow paced mystery. The alien world itself is intriguing. The egnimatic woman who wanders the planet with the mind of an eight year old and the age of an ancient knows more than people suspect. And Paul gains access and disrupts every big corp executive as he methodically measures air quality, chemical output and various parameters so he can complete his job properly.

Wild escapades, nonstop action and bantering dialog in The Lies of Lamora make an interesting foil for the more intellectual and thoughtful philosophical mystery of The One-Eyed Man...

But I liked them both.


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How Do Readers Select Science Fiction?


Last week I selected five science fiction/ fantasy novels to read for 2014, and this week I’m adding five more. I talked about how readers decide on what they read. 1. Word of mouth  2. A favorite author  3. Lists  4.Covers and blurbs 5. Subject matter or genre

Another criteria for choosing a book is price, particularly if the author is unknown. Because I read a lot, the cost of buying books adds up fast. But new websites are cropping up and new strategies are appearing that entice a reader to read the first book in a series at a low cost or free, in hopes the reader will follow on with the rest of the author’s books.

Sort of like a lost leader in a retail store.

Amazon offers its KDP Select program. For three months, the author’s novel is listed exclusively on Amazon and nine days during that time the author can offer the book free. What nine days the free offer stands is up to the author. The book is also listed in the one book a month free for Prime, but the author still gets his royalties if selected by a Prime Member. Sweet.

Reported results came in strong early on. Downloads of the free books were heavy and often translated into more sales on other books by that author.

Now other websites are offering free or reduced price books. Bookbub is one site that is currently popular and my first selection is a free download from that site.

Human SisterHuman Sister by Jim Bainbridge had an interesting blurb, so I thought to try it.

I had nothing to lose.

A quick note: Bookbub is expensive for an author to list on and they are becoming very selective on what books they choose to offer. However, it’s free for the reader and many say it’s worth it, both as an author and reader.

Another free source is the library. I often prowl the new books section and that’s where I found The One-Eyed Man by one of my favorite authors, L.E. Modesitte, Jr. This was a two reason selection…both price and favorite author.The One-Eyed Man

A second factor for selecting a book is a review request. Because my blog reviews science fiction, frequently I’ll receive a request to review a new author’s book. What I finally pick often is random and whimsical. So please don’t be hurt if I don’t get around to yours. Other factors may have trumped the choice and yours may be perfectly wonderful. However, sometimes the request isn’t in my genre (yes, seriously) and sometimes it’s not what I read. (Horror, demons, anthologies YA…etc.) Although, as you know, I often stray off the path if the story sounds compelling, or the author is particularly interesting or charming.

Strings on a Shadow PuppetTherefore, Strings of a Shadow Puppet is my next choice.  The book was pitched as a science fiction spy thriller by a local Portland author. I am a John Carre fan and like spy novels, although I never would admit to it in this blog. So, I thought to select this title. Besides, the author was very nice and had no problem waiting until after the holidays to be reviewed, and I appreciated his courtesy.

I put Abaddon’s Gate on my list because it was on several lists of must reads and in that line of books Amazon puts on the front page as suggestions you might like. Also, Goodreads had it on their popular science fiction for 2013.

A quick word on Goodreads. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a great website where authors can list their books. Even more so, it’s a site for readers. Word of mouth doesn’t need to be person to person in this age of social media and Goodreads abounds with readers telling other readers what they recommend and what they like. There are hundreds of threads that cover every genre of book and I am signed up to several that focus on science fiction.Abaddon's Gate

Also, Goodreads has a section where authors offer a given number of their books (paperback) free. It’s a giveaway that readers sign up for and often large number of readers will sign up for an author’s book. I had 1500 sign up for a copy of Caught in Time, even though I only offered three free. Goodreads then selects who wins and I get their address so I can mail the books. I felt it was good exposure for the first in my series. Hopefully, readers will like it and go on to buy and read the rest. (See at right)

Anyway, when I went to read the blurb for Abaddon’s Gate, I found out it was the third in a series.(The Expanse) Sigh..BUT… James Corey is a pen name for Daniel Abramson, an author I have read and liked. So, what to do?

Further investigation revealed positive reviews for Leviathan Wakes, the first book of the series, so I thought to read that first instead. Changed my mind.

Leviathan WakesSometimes the reader can start with one book idea and developing factors cause him or her to switch titles. The summary sounded like a popular military space opera that I could enjoy over several books, and I wanted to start with the first in the series.

I had several other books on my list until I attended my writers’ group. Five very strong writers get together every two weeks and critique each other’s writing and discuss books and writing. Once again, word of mouth influenced me as Diana Peach expounded on the First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Diana leans toward fantasy, but I recognized Joe Abercrombie’s name as a front runner in Indie publishing. He’d done a lot at the start to promote self publishing and it was time to support him. Besides, Diana was compelling in her enthusiasm for the series.First Law Trilogy

So that’s it for now. I have no order in which I plan to read these. That will depend on how accessible they are…and that is my final factor for what I select. Are they easy to get a hold of?

  1. Human Sister Jim Bainbridge.
  2. Strings on a Shadow Puppet T.L. Evans
  3. Leviathan Wakes James Corey
  4. The One-Eyed Man L.E. Modesitte
  5. First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

Happy New Year and happy reading.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, fantasy series, Indie authors, Indie Science Fiction Authors, military science fiction, science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, science fiction series, Science fiction thriller, space travel, terra forming, Uncategorized

Summer Science Fiction


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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String Theory Influences Science Fiction

String Theory is an attempt to unite the General Theory of Relativity with Quantum Mechanics to form an overarching theory that explains “everything.” To unite the big of the universe with the small of particle theory. (see link for further explanation)


To do this, String Theory math requires at least ten other dimensions exist. String Theory was proposed in the nineties and is still being hotly debated as to its validity. Yet, the idea of other dimensions is showing up in science fiction novels and shows. It’s a fairly new direction and an intriguing one. The popular T.V. series “Fringe” deals with the concept of parallel universes.

My recent read of China Meiville’s The City and the City addresses the idea of overlapping dimensions. Think of The City and the City as a bit of Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984 all mixed together.

It concerns two contemporary cities somewhere at the edge of Europe that dimensionally overlap each other. A woman is murdered in the decaying and impoverished city of Beszal and Inspector Tyador Berlu gets the case. While inhabitants of both cities can see each other, they are taught from birth not to look directly at anything, or anyone from the other city, or they will be charged with an act of “Breach” and be whisked away, never to be seen again. This makes for a strange set of behaviors. People are constantly trying to avoid running into what they are forbidden to look at. Certain styles of dress and definitive movements provide clues as to which city an inhabitant is from. Still, the pressure of not looking at, or touching the hazy image that is often right in front of you, permeates the story.

Clues from the murder case impel Inspector Tyador Berlu into a strange border crossing from the city of Beszal into the overlapping dimension of the rich and thriving city of Ul Quoma where he joins up with his Ul Quoma counterpart, Inspector Quissim Dhatt. Of course the two men can’t stand each other, but they must work together in order to solve the case. So a bit of tension there.

The murdered girl is discovered to be an archeology student involved in a dig in Ul Quoma that is looking for artifacts from the Precursor Age. (before the dimensional split) Soon radical unificationalists, a rich foreign tycoon, local politicians, a controversial author, a young female sidekick, shadowy Breach enforcers and hysterical parents become involved.

Things get very confusing. A controversial author makes a case for a third shadowy city containing powerful beings and then loudly refutes his work. The murdered girl’s best friend disappears because she is terrified that her life is in danger. From whom exactly, is not made clear.

While the book contains the intriguing idea of multi dimensions wrapped in the structure of a murder mystery, I found the whole thing rather confusing. A lot of things kept being hinted at while not actually being said. People would look at things and then have to “unsee” them. I wasn’t sure whether there ever were aliens involved. The whole idea of the inhabitants of two cities having to step around and not look at each other or risk being taken away to Breach, is hard to believe. Everyone is terrified of “Breach” and yet throughout the book incidents of breach happen without punishment. The reader feels like he is being distracted from one red herring to another. And indeed he is.

It’s an odd book…and for that reason, interesting

If you like hard-boiled mystery novels with a science fiction slant, then this one’s worth trying.

L.E. Modesitt also has several novels with a similar flavor in his Octagonal Raven, FlashArchform Beauty and others. Check those out too.


FREE! FREE! FREE! For a limited time only May 13, 14, 15. A Mother’s Day Special. I am offering free through the Kindle Select Program my latest book “Cosmic Entanglement.”

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Filed under Alternate Universes, science fiction, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series