Tag Archives: military science fiction

Science Fiction and Fantasy Picks for 2016

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Dialogue. A great book often has witty dialogue…and Scott Lynch has witty dialogue in spades. His characters’ conversations reveal the bond of friendship that runs deep in spite of outrageous adventures. So, I’m looking forward to his next book, Thorn of Emberlain. This is an author who I have already read and loved.Thorn of Emberlain

Three Body ProblemThe number one reason a reader picks a certain book is usually word of mouth. A member in my Powell’s reading group shook my arm and insisted that I read The Three-Bodied Problem by Cixin Liu. After checking out strong reviews, I added it to my list.

The second reason most reader select a book is because they already like other books by that author. I’ve read and enjoyed  a number of Katherine Asaro other books. Many of her works have won awards, most notably The Quantum Rose, which won the Nebula in 2001. So, when I saw she had a new one out, I put The Veiled Web on my list. She’s good at science fiction romance with a heavy science emphasis since she has a PHD in Physics.

The Veiled WebRookie Privateer I found as a free book that piqued my interest. A lot of my bloggers like military science fiction, so, hey, this one is for you guys. Subject matter is a major reason to select a certain book.Rookie Privateer

They say a cover often sells a book, and in the case of A Child of Our Time, that’s what happened. This was also found on a free book website. I also liked the title and subject matter. However, it only had one review. Knowing how hard reviews are to come by,
I decided to take a chance, go wild and put it on the list. In this case, I have nothing to lose. It’s only 123 pages, however, but part of an ongoing series. I’ll sample this and see if I want to continue with the rest.

So here are the next five:A Child of Our Time

Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch
The Three Bodied Problem Cixin Liu
A Child of Our Time William Bowden
The Veiled Web Katherine Asaro
Rookie Privateer Jamie McFarlane

I know with the arrival of the new year, most readers and authors are organizing their calendar for 2016. To help you with some good advice, I found this website:

https://geediting.com/blog/the-120-best-websites-for-writers-2015/

The 120 best websites for writers. I have used several of these websites to help me in my writing one way or another. Maybe they can help you too.

So that’s the second half of my list of ten for 2016. I hope you have a wonderful year and read many great books.

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Glad Tidings for Self Publishers

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I write about human clones, so I keep an eye out for news on cloning advancements. Here is a startling article I found on news.yahoo.com.

Boyalife in China is setting up an extensive animal cloning factory in partnership with Sooam from South Korea to be located in Tiajin, China where it will to clone cows, dogs, racehorses and other animals.

Okay…is this step one? How soon will human cloning follow, and what will be the guidelines? Scientist there have already indicated that they can clone humans but are holding back because of politics and public sentiment.clones

I just published on Amazon my eighth book, Time’s Equation in ebook and I’m waiting for the proof of the paperback. Now I’m staring marketing in the eye and can’t hide out with the excuse that I’m under a publishing deadline. Marketing my favorite exercise…not.bk8_cover_print

To inspire myself and confirm that I’m on the right path, I am reproducing (with additional comments) an article I saw on wiseinkblog.com.

Read and rejoice all indie authors.

Self-published books accounted for 31% of all e-book sales in the Kindle Store in 2014. Indie books account for 31% of e-books.

However,
40% of all e-book revenue is going to indie authors. In other words, indies are raking in more money, which means that their sales figures are higher than many of their traditional counterparts. Comment: We can receive 70% of retail revenues for eBooks over $2.99. And self publishers can set their price for both ebook and paperback, balancing marketability and margin profit.

Which brings us to …
Indie books represent 25% of books on Amazon’s e-book bestseller list. Readers aren’t nearly as prejudiced against indie books as they were even a few years ago, and their buying practices suggest it! Comment: Looks like self publishing is becoming more and more “acceptable.” Maybe the story is more important than who publishes it. Maybe Indie authors are being more careful about how it is written.

And in addition…
You can safely dismiss the 50 Shades effect. Only 1.2% of self-published books sales are for erotica titles, which proves that you can indie publish successfully without writing a sex book. Comment: Thank goodness as porn is not in my writing comfort zone.

But best yet…
In Smashwords’ 2014 survey, they found that pricing your e-book at $.99 won’t make you rich. In fact, $2.99-3.99 is the sweet spot for a bestseller, and earn more in sales than books priced higher. Comment: I read Mark Coker’s excellent article on self publishing and have priced all my eBooks at $3.99. However, I see a movement by traditional publishing to raise the bar, and in fact a large number of popular authors published traditionally are ebook pricing at $10 and up.

Think you can only release shorts and novellas on e-book? Think again. The bestselling books in e-book are usually over 100,000 words. Maybe because they’re easier to hold? Comment: I usually shoot for 100,000 words, although read my previous blog that discusses a trend towards shorter novels that get bundled later on.

And increasingly…
According to Bowker, 458,000 books were indie pubbed in 2013 in the US. That’s up 437% from 2008! The self-publishing ranks are growing, and with increasing number comes more exciting and innovative strategies to publish your perfect book. Comment: I own my own ISBN and list on Bowker.

Best news yet…
It’s a good time to be a woman. Indie bestsellers are twice as likely to be written by a woman than traditionally published bestsellers (67% versus 39%). Comment: Yeah! Since I am one, this was good to hear. Science fiction used to be male dominated, but new female authors are getting noticed.

(See me jumping up and down)

This week I’m reading two polar opposite books. Golden Son by Pierce Brown and Solar Express by L. E. Modesitte, Jr.

Golden SonGolden Son is part of a trilogy consisting of Red Rising, Golden Son and Morning Star.
A universe where color dictates the social hierarchy of humans. Darrow is a red, his father a low class miner under the thumb of the golds. After Darrow’s beloved wife is hanged by Golds, he vows vengeance and using high tech and body carvers is transformed into a gold where he hopes to infiltrate and destroy them from within. Then, he gets to know Golds from the inside; their conflicts, their deceptions and their humanity. Darrow becomes “Reaper” a feared battle warrior who kills thousands, but not without remorse or guilt as he tries to change a society spread out among worlds.Red Rising

While the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, I personally found the story a bit overly dramatic. Darrow is on a mission to disrupt a rigid and inequitable social structure and provides some exciting battle sequences, but the angst and internal drama was a bit much for me.

The constructed world, however, with Roman names and culture that contrasted with high tech weaponry and biology was very interesting.

Solar ExpressDue to the holidays, I have not completed Solar Express, but L. E. Modesitte is one of my favorite authors. So far, it is dry and a bit slow, but that is Modesitte at the beginning of many of his stories. The idea of discovering what at first appears to be a comet, but turns into an alien artifact that changes the sun, is fascinating. So I’m sticking with it for now. Stay tuned.

While husband and in-laws have recently chopped and brought home the living room tree (I’m in Oregon where there are tree farms ten minutes away from me), decorated the house, enjoyed a large Thanksgiving dinner with new relations (daughter’s newly engaged), published my eighth book, Time’s Equation, I haven’t finished reading Solar Express and will report on it next week.

As people immerse themselves in the holidays, reading may taper off, but hopefully buying picks up, although November was a good month for my sales. How about you?

After all, a good book makes an excellent gift at a good price for anyone to enjoy. And the sheer variety of great titles makes it easy to personalize for that special person.

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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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Writing Science Fiction and a Military Scifi Review

photoIf you are an author or writer, I have three interesting links for you to check out. The first is a lecture series on Utube given by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, Way of Kings, etc.) for classes at BYU. Seventy-two fascinating lectures cover all aspects of writing: characters, setting, plot and the business end of getting published the traditional way: networking, queries, agents, etc.

You might want to grab a bag of gummie bears before you start. A great lecture series from one of our current best, free on Utube.

The second is a link to the short story market. Where to put a short story if that’s what you write.

Http://wwww.duotrope.com.

The third is a survey by Freebooksy, an advertising site for free and discounted books. (So they are biased) The author signs up and when his book is offered free on KDP Select, Freebooksy features it for the date requested. Readers sign up and get e-mails of these free and discounted books at no cost for the service. Sometimes, the sites that do this charge quite a hefty fee to the author for a promo and are picky about what books they list. Still, the numbers in the survey are interesting.

http://freebooksy.com/author-blog/2012/9/18/freebooksy-report-the-state-of-kdp-select-free-promotions.html

Poor Man's Fight  by Kay Elliot

This week I read Poor Man’s Fight by Elliot Kay. This is the first in a series recommend by my ex-military reader and I quite enjoyed it. Bonus is that it is a well-written Indie published series; a gem glittering in a pile of self published novels. To see a self-published author take care with his story and presentation makes me proud.

Having said that, the plot isn’t dramatically new or the characters unique.

And that isn’t a bad thing.

Tanner Malone’s stellar school performance comes to a unexpected end when family problems and a rigged test cause him to flub his final exam for college placement. His poor performance requires him to go deeply in debt if he is to continue on to college.

Rather than go into debt, he enlists in the military that is ramping up its forces to combat the increasing threat of space pirates.

A large portion of the book deals with his trials and tribulations at boot camp. Then, the story picks up the viewpoint of the pirate horde and their grievances against the current government practices. The author flashes back and forth between the two.

Kay balances his characters nicely. You have both good and bad in both camps. In addition, he does a nice job of portraying Tanner Malone as a highly intelligent nerd caught in the grinder of the military boot camp where physical prowess and guts counts for more than independent thinking and intelligence.

Even in the pirate’s camp, brute viciousness is balanced with a likable leader and his capable, but deadly, female boatswain.

As you enter both worlds, you feel the inevitability of them meeting with violence and a lot of fighting.

If you like military scifi…future worlds with spaceships and battles, I suggest you gear up and try this one. Rich Man's War

Reviews on the sequel, Rich Man’s War,  are even higher.

 

 

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Filed under Book reviews, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Marketing and selling novels, military science fiction, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, Self-publishing, Writing Tips and Lectures

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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Military Science Fiction Series

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Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Most people are either knee deep in relatives, eating turkey and cheering on their football team or battling it out in the stores, scooping up door busting deals.

With most of my family on the East Coast and my daughter in sunny Puerto Vallarta (shed a quick tear for her…no wait), hubbie and I will be munching a hot turkey sandwich and cheering on a favorite football team. Maybe check out a sale.

With Someone’s Clone in final proof, I am now turning my attention over to the next book…named…?? Well, Gosh, I have no firm title so far.

So I thought to engage you, my blog readers, to help me. Tell me which title you would be most likely buy to read.

Saving Angels

Factoring Fate

Angels in the Equation

Angels and Equations

The Grandmother paradox

If there be Angels

The Fate Factor

Shaping the Future

Killing Time

(Your suggestion..not a published title)

There will be a prize for those selecting the winning title.

A quick note on my Countdown Deal. After blogging last week, I went to list Touching Crystal and found that I had not enrolled it in the KDP Select program yet. The rules state that you must be enrolled at least thirty days prior to scheduling a Countdown. So I listed Space Song instead and confused everyone.

My apologies.

I will set up a Countdown for Touching Crystal when it becomes eligible and let you know ahead of time.

Ark RoyalAs promised, I read Ark Royal and was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed it. It was well written and well edited. Christopher Nuttall is very prolific with several military series ( Ark Royal, The Empire’s Corp, Martial Law, The Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire) and fantasy series also. (Schooled in Magic) Okay, more books than I have room here to mention. He has over thirty-five published on Amazon and is an example of how an author can do very well self-publishing.

What I was curious about was his reviews for Ark Royal. He had 1518 reviews total for this book. That was amazing. 751 were five star, 505 were four star, 153 three star, 69 two star and 40 one star. I was intrigued by how many reviewed his book, and then at the wide variety of opinions. Some loved it, “A fun read” to those who called it bad, “Space Karaoke.” Getting reviews is painfully hard for me, or else I don’t know the secret sauce. Nuttall’s wide range of comments prepared me as a writer to understand how subjective science fiction stories can be and that every writer, no matter how good, gets a few bad reviews. For such an enjoyable story, some were brutal.

This is the first book in a series of three. Ark Royal is the name of a lumbering and aged space warship put aside in the shipyard and barely functioning. What keeps her functioning is an alcoholic captain, Ted Smith, who cobbles together her outdated systems and tenderly cares for her as he drinks himself senseless, mourning a dead wife.

Then aliens attack a Russian settled colony world along the space tramlines, and when Earth sends her best and brightest to defend her territories, the aliens tear through all those sleek new warships in an eye-opening rout. The Ark Royal, because of her heavy dense hull and projectile style weaponry, becomes the lone ship able to resist the enemy’s firepower.The Nelson Touch

Of course, a young, ambitious, newly-graduated Lieutenant, James Fitzwilliam, uses his family’s friendship with the Spacelord to try to take command, but Captain Smith’s knowledge of her idiosyncrasies just barely enables him to hang onto his command while karma makes James his XO. The Spacelord asks the young XO to keep an eye on the shaky captain and report any slip-ups.

The two are sent out to confront and delay the alien enemy until Earth can build the ships it needs. Also on board for this dangerous mission are a ragbag crew and a group of obnoxious embedded reporters. The mix is volatile and the pressures both inside and out would be enough to drive even a teetotaler to drink, much less a vulnerable captain who swears he’ll stay sober through the war.

The Trafalgar GambitThe inevitable space battles are nicely balanced with a crew who fight their own internal battles and put a human face on war. Also interesting is the process of trying to figure out how the aliens might think, what they might look like and what technology and society they might have developed.

Sometimes first contact can get outright deadly and dangerous.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling science fiction, Book reviews, ebook science fiction, first contact, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, military science fiction, science fiction, science fiction series, space ship

Indie and Legacy: A Reader’s Choice

IMG_0174Sound the trumpets, wave the banners…Someone’s Clone is now available in ebook form through Amazon. The paperback version will be out around Thanksgiving. Time travel, clones, mystery, a space station, main character with a computer in his brain, adventure, romance…it’s all there.

Writing a 350-page book has taken a year, mainly because I work with a writers group of five other authors that meet twice a month. We critique twenty pages at a go. So it takes time, but it’s well worth it. And then, I offer an advance copy to three or four Beta readers who make excellent suggestions on how to make that better. someones_clone_front-cover_v2_finalSometimes, I employ an independent editor, particularly if a certain section is in question, or I have extra funds sloshing around in my book account

As an incentive, I am offering Touching Crystal, the previous book (6), starting November 21 to the 28th through Amazon’s Countdown Deal. So the best price (.$99) is at the earliest date and goes up a dollar every few days. This can be read as a stand alone, as can Someone’s Clone, but both are richer if the reader is familiar with the earlier books. Needless to say, this is the first time ever I have discounted Touching Crystal…and it won’t last long. So mark your calendar. There’s a deadly comet in it.

touching-crystal-thumb-1I recently attended an Author’s Seminar at Jan’s Paperback in Aloha, Oregon. If you are in the area, and like to read from the physical book, just call Debbie or Jodie at 503 649 3444 and I’ll provide a signed copy of any in the series for you. (Give a bit of lead time).

I watched the broadcasts about the Rosetta Project and saw the Philae Lander successfully hop onto a speeding comet. Science fiction becomes science reality. It was exciting. (See previous blog for more)New Image of Comet ISON

This week I’m reading The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter Hamilton. Hamilton’s civilization has advanced far into the future where humans regenerate, clone themselves, have embedded technology that enables telepathy, and live practically forever. Space travel has wormhole technology, but there is a barrier separating a region in the universe known as the Void where the physics is different…time is different.

Bored humans become eager to risk their lives for new discoveries and unknown adventure. So several expeditions venture forth to Abyss Beyond Dreamspenetrate and explore this region.

Hamilton has established his credentials as a foremost science fiction writer with several other series and novels, which I have enjoyed. (see previous blogs) At over 600 pages, I am still reading this one, but the going is lumpy.

An action-packed start bogs down with detailed science and description. Laura Brandt is “tank yanked” when things go wrong on an expedition to the Void, which lies at the core of their galaxy.

For those scifi readers who like hard science, Hamilton’s description of physics is interesting, but I wanted to move on after a bit. The stories start with the mounting disasters faced by the shuttle scientists as they explore an alien formation of crystal “trees” circling a planet’s atmosphere in the Void. The trees carry “eggs” that soon attack the crew and attempt to absorb them. Interesting non-stop action runs for eighty-eight pages with no chapter breaks until book two.

Now, you’re in a different story, but the same universe. This story concerns a wealthy, powerful, and long-lived human, Nigel Sheldon, who clones himself and entangles his thoughts with his clone as he prepares to send his doppelgänger on an expedition. The book ends as the clone’s ship slips past the boundary and into the Void.

The next section or “book” begins in a military unit on a planet presumably inside the Void. This is full of action and an interesting alien that drops onto the planet in an egg shape, lures in humans with thoughts and emotions, manipulates, and devours them.

I plan to keep reading because Hamilton’s world building is intriguing. He challenges the reader with mind-bending concepts and offers a peek into a possible far future. He stretches the ideas of what humans may become and what they possibly could do. He throws in heavy science, but also includes some dramatic action.

Ark RoyalNext blog, I plan to talk about Ark Royal by Christopher Nuttall. Christopher Nuttall writes an extensive military science fiction series that is getting noticed. This series was recommended to me by an avid military scifi enthusiast. So when Nuttall put the first book in the series at a nice discount, I snapped it up and slid it onto my Kindle shelf. Now, I plan to check it out for you and pass along my impressions.

I think a novel is selected because of the story, combined with other people’s recommendations, whether it be on a list or in person. I didn’t check the publisher first to see if I wanted to read either book. Peter Hamilton’s book is published by Del Ray, an imprint of Random House…one of the Big Five publishing houses and was on some list of “new books to read.”

Christopher Nuttall’s came as word of mouth and is published digitally by Amazon Digital Services and in print form by CreateSpace.

I think the readers of today select what they read from a variety of places. How nice to have both the tried and true authors from legacy publishers to choose from and, also, the new, exciting, emerging self publishing authors.

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Military Science Fiction and Time Travel Shows

IMG_0165Time travel. Seems to be an “in” thing lately. Why do I say that? Because I’m currently enjoying the series Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I was impressed with the job the producers did of translating from book to television. My first book Caught in Time has a very similar flavor, and revolves around a beautiful woman who is sent back to a more barbaric past and has to learn how to survive. In my case, Rowyna struggles on an Earth colony planet in an English style setting. So, it’s right on trend. Outlander

Also, the new series Forever about an immortal who is a medical examiner is a pleasant surprise. Not quite as good as Sherlock, the main character teams up with a female cop, but has the same sharp mind when it comes to solving crimes. And there’s the added twist that if he’s killed, he comes back again. And he does, more than once, naked and wet.

1076x560(9)If you’ve cut the cord, but are a Netflix fan, Continuum is a great time travel series to check out. After watching the first episode, I did some binge viewing. This series is also about a female cop, but one from the far future that is thrown back into our current present along with a band of terrorists determined to change that future. Some neat special effects and switching from present to far future make it interesting.

So there’s a few science fiction shows I wanted to call to your attention.

One of my more popular blogs was on military science fiction. I read Robert Buettner’s Orphan’s Series and liked it, so when I saw he had a new Orphan’s Legacy Series, I quickly checked it out. Overkill is the first in this series with Undercurrents the second and Balance Point the next. Actually, it was the 2014 announcement in Amazon of Balance Point that tipped me to the series, but I read Undercurrents because it was available.

UndercurrentsJazen Parker has left the military and runs a most-of- the-times quiet bar. That is, until the King of the Spooks, Howard Hibble, tempts him back into duty by offering Jazen a way to find out more about his mysterious father and rescue a captured past lover. Curiosity this time might kill the officer as Jazen parachutes into a politically interdicted planet in order to save the kickass spy he still loves and uncover a secret operation on a supposedly low tech planet. He’s running out of time with little resources. An eleven year old girl and a ragtag band of rebels led by a beautiful young duchess join with him to rescue his not forgotten love and uncover a secret operation that could threatens the peace of five hundred planets.

Robert Buettner throws in a lot of goodies. From a high altitude parachute dive to a wild ride on rapids, he keeps the action coming. Balance PointThrow in a captured and tortured beautiful spy who he still loves, and you’ve got a mixture of romance, danger and military espionage. I particularly liked the wisecracking young girl who kept Jazen off balance, and who knew far more of death and war than an eleven year old should.

OrphanageBuettner keeps his chapters short, so I kept reading just one more chapter before quitting…and then maybe another…and another. His style is clear and easy to understand. It isn’t necessary to read his previous books, but you just might want to.

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Science Fiction Hugo Awards

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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

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Science Fiction: More Marketing and An Exciting Military Series

IMG_0165Word of mouth..still a powerful means of getting your book out there, but there’s no way to control it except by writing a story worthy of mention.

As Mark Coker says, “Content trumps all.”

I am still figuring out the best path in which to offer my books that is both cost effective and energy efficient. As a counterpoint to Coker’s idea of spreading distribution access to your book across distribution lines, Hugh Howey has a thought provoking blog entitled. http://www.hughhowey.com/no-more-shitty-baskets.

Once again, I enrolled Caught in Time in Amazon’s KDP Select and this time tried the Countdown Deal. I did very little marketing on my own and was pleasantly surprised at the results. There are hordes of readers who have found the website for Countdown deals, and also sign up for daily offerings of free books through other websites. Avid readers are cleverly pursuing cost effective ways to satiate their reading experience.

As much as I honor Coker’s efforts, for my genre, or maybe just my books, they are not selling in Smashwords. Two books have been listed there for over two years and sales are dismal. I’m not sure why as they are listed on Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Scrib’ner and now, libraries. While Smashwords sets my books on other shelves, Amazon helps me market and seeds the entire globe with them. And I am selling well there. I sell in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Japan, India, Canada, Australia and more.

It makes me dizzy. It thrills me.

So the word is spreading and not always in American English.

Which brings me to this week’s selection suggested by fellow writer Ted Blasche. Ted just recently published a gem of a short story in VFW…or Veterans of the Future Wars, an anthology of short story military science fiction. Ted holds the rank of LTC USA (retired), and is in the process of writing an exciting military science fiction series that will eventually reach publication.

Aurora He leaned forward at our last meeting and with eyes alight recommended I read Aurora cv-01 by Ryk Brown. If you check out this series, you’ll notice there’s lots to it. Within days, Ted was on book#8 and intravenous feedings so as not to have to stop reading in order to eat.

Aurora follows a well known storyline. The influential senator’s son, Nathan Scott, rebels against his father and enrolls in the space academy where he is noticed by Captain Roberts. There is competition for the spot of helm with a smart and feisty female, Cameron Taylor but Nathan’s unorthodox strategies win him the helm position. Anal and by-the-book Cameron is paired with Nathan as his navigator. Sparks fly between the two competitors.

Unexpectedly, the unit is shifted to a brand new, top secret ship, named Aurora, and ordered out for a trial run and shake down cruise to Jupiter. To Nathan’s chagrin, a one night stand from his father’s party shows up in uniform in a security position on board the ship. But Nathan can’t be distracted by complications at the moment.

Upon arriving in the orbit of Jupiter, Captain Roberts unveils a prototype jump engine on board and receives orders from Earth Command to jump to the Oort Cloud to test its effectiveness. Captain Roberts also informs the bridge that the Jung, a powerful enemy, has recently conquered yet another system, and Sol system is the last remaining free system left in the galaxy. He speculates that within a few years, the Jung may attack Sol system with the intent to take it over. However, the trial jump lands them in the lap of an unexpected Jung fleet and they’re immediately engaged in battle.

Hit and barely functioning, the Aurora inflicts damage on an enemy ship that appears to be inoperative, but a boarding party finds surviving soldiers have activated an anti-matter self destruct sequence. Tension, non stop action ensues as the boarding party scrambles away, one brave soldier staying behind to give the Aurora more time to escape the imminent explosion. In desperation, the Aurora jumps as the anti-matter explodes in the nearby ship, kicking the ship 10,000 light years across the universe, landing it in the middle of yet another unexpected battle. Immediately, the Aurora’s crew is attacked by a huge unknown alien ship. Winning, the fight, Captain Roberts gets mortally wounded, leaving Nathan, three weeks out of the academy, as captain. Now the ship is badly damaged and again involved in active combat, but this time thousands of light years from Earth.Rings of Haven

As you can see, Ryk Brown provides breath taking action. Young Nathan scrambles to save what’s left of the crew and try to figure out what’s happening in an unknown sector far, far from home. He needs to fix a damaged jump engine that is limited in how far it can function and get home so he can warn Earth of the Jung attack…but first…he needs to survive.

Legend of CorinairI don’t care if the scenario has ever been done before, I was breathing heavily through several action-packed episodes. The storyline has some great twists and turns and enough emotion and character development for most military scifi readers. The one screaming flaw was the disruptive changes in point of view. I would be reading in one point of view and suddenly flip to another, then within two sentences flip back. When you’re trying to fight a battle, this can become annoying. But other than that, I agree that this is the start of a fine new series and if military scifi is your interest…welcome aboard…and hang on.

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