Chattacon 43: Dead Cons Tell No Tales – But I do!

—Note: Migrainus Interruptus kept me from finishing this yesterday, but things are better now… if much later than planned. I started this blog, but only got half-way through before I had to ditch the effort, so please excuse any seeming time-shift… carry on.—

Chattacon 43 is now dead.

Drive the last nail.

Throw the last shovelful of dirt.

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Chattacon 43 Convention Booklet

 

I know… Cheery sounding, right? Well, it matches[ed] my migraine hangover. But don’t worry, as the home brewed coffee tries to kick in and ‘fix’ the last remnants of the sinus/neck/head-ache that clobbered me starting Saturday eve and lingered through my ride southward home, my mood will slowly return to it’s mildly pessimistic and wholly sarcastic norm. In the mean time, I will regale you with a tale of terrible accommodations in a foreign land along with a terribly fun time with some really awesome people.
Chattacon was great. Remember that… set it aside, but keep it in mind as I bitch…um, I mean explain.
Friday, I arrived bright and early (1 PM), with zero traffic grievances along the way, at The Chattanoogan… then I drove all the way around it because my smart-ass phone (TM) wanted to just show me where it was, but not actually how to get into it… which you do around the back side, FYI. I was able to check in early (yeah) and ended up on the fifth floor (not so yeah, but elevator). Two trips had me ensconced in the room. I noticed  a slight odor from the bathroom, but figured it was just a lingering scent from previous guest that had yet to clear, because the cleaning crew had just recently left. I closed the door to let the vent system do its job, and thought no more about it. Next was put the vehicle in the parking garage, which took three floors of circling. I kept a careful eye out out for Parking Fairies, but thankfully they remained hidden. (I found it when I left today that it’s because they have two full time Leaf Blower Ogres that roam the garage during the day making lost of noise and blowing dirt around randomly to keep them under control.)
Next, to the registration counter…badges not ready yet for staff (I volunteered to help with gaming). So, then it was on to the meeting where the jovial game crew would be assigned their tasks. I walked in the direction where I though my map of the hotel had indicated things would be. Did I mention the front is not really the front, but the back is more the front for guests? This makes mental maps turn upside down in case you don’t think about it carefully. After a nice half-mile hike to the farthest reaches of the hotel I was fully convinced that someone had closed a corridor off and failed to put a detour sign.
I returned to the other wing of the building and, with a slight pant, asked the front desk just where the heck was the Ochs room (gaming room name for a former Chattanooga mayor or something… I knew that much… Mental map, you see). I was pointed in the opposite direction down a hallway that I had failed to notice the first time through (registration was set up on the opposite side of the REAR foyer).
After pondering the situation, mentally flipping my mental map like a lost person seeking north without a compass, I proceeded down said hall. Encountering others with badges and various nerdly attire convinced me that I was not, indeed, being punked… right up to the point I encountered the wholly unexpected T-junction in the hall that was no where in my mental map. I paused, mentally crumpled the mental map and discarded it as useless, then proceeded to enter cartographic mode in order to create a new one based on the new-found junction. I felt like Columbus charting the Indian Isles!
I headed off to the right while my Right Guard, having had enough of the long journey, decided to mutiny and go left. Had I listened to my armpits, I would have arrived sooner, but alas, my course was set. As the corridor curved, I passed the art show, and dealer’s room, and the con-suite. A hard left at an unexpected corner revealed a rest-room and the Amphitheater. I recognized this from the previously discarded mental map, which I immediately tried to un-wad in my brain once again, but by this point I was sailing on a cloudy sea at midnight with no compass.
I continued my leftward journey and found yet another con-suite… and then a third… and then an art show yet again. Just as I was about to use my emergency snack crackers to leave bread-crumbs for myself, I noticed the sign which read ‘Gaming – Miniatures’. Ah ha! Something new! I persevered and finally found ‘Gaming – RPG Room’… I was getting so close! At this point, I had somehow gone left at at least seven ninety-degree corners and had yet to return to my starting point. I come to believe that I was inside a gigantic conch-shell, when at last I found the ‘Gaming – Board Games’ room. At last Columbus had found the path to India!
We met and hung out for a while discussing the do’s and don’t’s of proper game lending. I eventually decided I should go back to my room and bring down the pile of games I brought with me. Of course, I decided to go the opposite direction from which I had arrived, just prove to myself that the corridor was round. It was… I went around it twice before I found that stupid hallway leading back to elevators. I did solve the mystery of the repeating rooms in the process when I finally realized the art show and secondary con suite were in fact accessible from two sides of the Tardis… I mean hallway.
Games were delivered, badges picked up, and soon I had time to kill before Opening Ceremonies.
I placed some of my bookmarks for eConscience Beta on the freebie tables.
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Front
eCon_Bookmark_layout_back
Back
Then I swung by and perused the Art Show where I was able to harass some old friends. There were some great pieces in there, but well outside my price range. Next was the first panel I wanted to attend. It was going to be ‘Publicity for Newbies’ which would teach me how to Pulicitize stuffs! Unfortunately, influenza (or recovery from such) held several guests back from attending (to whom I am grateful for sparing the rest of us) which meant the schedule had to change last-minute. The result was basically an almost empty room that turned into a random conversation between four people and the fill-in panelist for thirty minutes, which was quite pleasant, as I got to know some new people that way.
At the Opening Ceremonies, attendance was low. I got there a bit early and was entertained by a ten year old girl (the con chair’s daughter) sitting up front with two of the GoH’s, Todd McCaffrey & Peter David. This same girl was given the task of introductions, and some subtle lessons in humility. Note: No matter what you have accomplished, a ten year old is not easily impressed! With a round of detailed introductions and speeches, the con was declared officially open!
I was to host a game of Castle Panic at 10PM, so I decided it might be a good idea to find some dinner. This was the beginning of my hotel disgruntlement. You see, it had been revealed when I arrived that there would be not ‘hot food’ at the con suite because The Chattanoogan did not want the competition with their in-house restaurants. I had been expecting to subsist on that source, but now I had to ‘scrounge’. Of course, as luck would have it, Friday night was ‘All you can eat seafood buffet’ at the Main Street Grille. I’m sure many would appreciate that, but I, being allergic to seafood, was not please in the slightest. I was even more displeased when I learned that it that the ALL in ‘All You Can Eat’ had a double meaning… there was NOTHING ELSE BEING SERVED. So, I spent the next hour trying to find an outside source of food that would not charge me an arm and a leg to deliver. Finally, I ended up waiting almost an hour for a pizza to be delivered. I planned to use that for my meal the following lunch as well.
I managed to scarf down three pieces before my slotted time for hosting the game rolled around. I set up and then waited until some unsuspecting victims arrived. We spent the next hour and a half getting our castle torn down around our ears. We almost had the Orcs, Goblins and Trolls defeated, but managed to wrest defeat from the jaws of victory with a really bad last pull of the cards. Alas, defeat!
But the night was still young. I manned the gaming desk and sat bored for an hour, occasionally rattling my chains to draw attention to my book that I had stowed away on the corner in hopes of a sale. My sequestration did not last long, however, as I was soon rescued with more conversation with friends, old and new. This lasted up until the clock struck two, then I excused myself to my boudoir in preparation to turn into a pumpkin for the night.
Now, my ire at the hotel in general was still only in the range of ‘slight’ at this point. When I reached my room, it went back up a notch when I discovered the bathroom had retained the odor I previously mentioned. Just out of morbid curiosity, I checked to make sure someone had not dropped  deuce in the tank of the toilet out of some morbid spite, but that was not the source. It was not something I could point toward, complain, and get a resolution of quickly, so I let it slide. It wasn’t ‘horrible’, just slightly off-putting. I didn’t want to have to change rooms. I wanted to sleep. So, I closed off the bathroom and let it slide. I never found source the entire weekend, nor did it go away.
The next morning, bright and early at 10 AM, I awoke to enjoy my first mug of coffee. I always bring my own pot because ‘no coffee’ is ‘no good’. I always manage to forget something too, which in this case was filters. I used three tissues carefully arranged to make up the deficit, though, so hurray for Engineerity! It was really a good thing I had that coffee to warm me up, too, because when I turned the shower on to it’s fullest ‘hot’ setting what I got was lukewarm water at very low pressure. This was my last straw as far as patience went with The Chattanoogan. It had been added the ‘shithole country’ list.

With that poor beginning to the day completed, I managed to warm up with my second mug of coffee and proceeded to my first panel of the day. ‘Playing in Someone Else’s Sandbox‘ conducted by Peter David.

Peter David

When I arrived at the room, I found said Sir, sitting grumpily outside the door waiting for someone to let him into the room. Hotel staff were soon badgered to do their job (strike seven… or was it eight?) and the doors were opened five minutes past starting time. Once inside, it was just myself and Mr. David, who was a bit surprised that the attendance was so low for a Guest of Honor panel. I explained that there had been copious amounts of alcohol consumed the night before into the wee hours of the morning by many con-goers, so many of them were probably still stumbling around finding breakfast and hangover meds. It did allow me the opportunity to mention my own book, of which I showed him a copy. I gave him a bookmark as well, but I have no idea if he kept it. Yes, that’s right, I showed off my SINGLE SELF-PUBLISHED novel to Peter David, prolific author of over 100! So… what’cha gon’ do about it! :p

Others finally showed up, and soon we were regaled with tales of pitfalls and head-butting, many quite humorous, that had happened to him in course of his writing career. I knew he had written for Star Trek (I have 31 of the damned books). I did not realize he had also written episodes of Babylon 5, many movie novelizations, and a huge number of comics. I’m not a comics guy, so please forgive what must seem unforgivable ignorance on the subject. Taking in the tidbits, as an aspiring author, I have an admiration for his ability to bite his creative tongue and do the work. The take-away secret that I acquired with regards to playing in someone else’s sandbox was ‘don’t get too attached because the work, world and characters don’t belong to you.’
An hour break before the next panel of interest let me head up to the room to scrounge my left-over pizza. Strike nine was the front desk informing me that not a single microwave was available to use to heat it. Of course, they could bring me one to my room (and charge me a fee), but it would take time… if they even had one left. It was at that point that I resolved that never again will I attend a convention without sammich makings. Lunch would have to wait for another hour and a half unless I wanted to miss the next panel, at which point I would have to spend another twelve dollars minimum in the bar downstairs for a burger. Not to mention the fact that most of a $15 pizza was going to be wasted. My stingy wallet was groaning in despair at this point.
The next panel was about ‘How Much Science Should A Science Fiction Writer Know.Stephanie Osborne was one of the ‘out sick’ panelists, but Mark Wandrey, Rob Howell & Christopher Woods ran with the theme. Ultimately, two conclusions were reached. One, you should have just enough science to satisfy your audience, but not so much that it becomes info-dumpy (unless you are David Weber, in which case rules do not apply to you). Two, Mark Wandrey likes mechs. 🙂 I’m going to have to add his Four Horsemen series to my ‘to read’ list now, I think.
Finally, the rumblings of my stomach forced me to override the grumblings of my wallet and I decided to head to the Foundry for a burger. The con had provided us with tickets to potentially win a free 2 night stay with entries earned by patronizing the hotel food establishments. For that reason, I ignored a friend’s advice to go across the street. The friend tagged along, and after seating ourselves, getting our own menus, we eventually got to place an order fifteen minutes later. The poor waitress was the only one working the place at 2 PM, although she did get some help about thirty minutes after that. This new person we flagged down and asked if we were going to be served our food. She went to check and found that they had apparently given it to someone else. ??? There were only seven people in the whole place. I informed her that I had to be elsewhere at 3 PM so they needed to bring me mine in a to-go box. I did eventually get the food, which was good, but I was going to be late for the one panel I did not want to miss. I was wondering about my Karma at this point, but my friend reminded me that I should really consider the Karma good because I did end up getting the meal for free. I’m still not sure about that.
On a positive note, I did make my panel before the book signing began. It was the Peter David Meet & Greet. I had to drag my box of books out of its hidden cubby in the game-room, stuff them in my bag, and hustle through to the back of the panel room, but I still made it. More tales of daring-David-do ensued. I learned some fannish lore (apparently well known in Comicon circles) regarding Teddy Bears and Babylon 5’s J. Michael Straczynski. I also learned some inside scuttlebutt about Star Trek movers and shakers. It was highly entertaining, and Mr. David is quite the casual name dropper. I was a bit impressed, but then again, I’m not a 10 year old. Anyway, below is a picture of the books I got signed. It’s not all I own (15 out of 31), but I would not have had time to get them all signed anyway.
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After that, the convention was a series of games interspersed with bouts of a sinus/neck-pain induced headache. I did manage to shake it off to play host for Five Tribes: The Djinns of Naquala with some new friends. I had to call it quits early though, and decided to see if the shower in my room was hotter at one in the morning… nope. Strike fourteen?
Sunday was the wrap-up with game & prize give-away and the Closing Ceremonies. Attendance was anemic on that one. I delivered my complaints. They were heard, but most likely ignored. Many excuses were given for why things would probably not change next year. I nodded, smiled, and wrote it off as a lost cause.
Summary: Chattacon is disorganized but fun. I would go again if they changed hotels and found a way to make the con suite have hot food. I have a bad feeling they are going to crash and burn as a con if they don’t up their game, though. Which is a shame, because the people are fun and friendly.
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Review: Islands of Rage & Hope (Black Tide Rising Book #3)

Islands of Rage & Hope (Black Tide Rising, #3)Islands of Rage & Hope by John Ringo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

YES! Finally we get to a real Ringo ringer! This one was perfectly balanced in terms of action, character development, and that patented Ringo ‘Holy crap, how did you think of that! That’s so friggin’ cool’ factor. I got several ‘Hell, Yeah!’ fist pump moments in this one, and one hell of an ending!

The plot takes you from the Atlantic crossing from the Canary Islands to Gitmo. Then you have lots of different scenarios encountered during the clearance of the Windward Isles as they search for the ingredients to make vaccine for the sub sailors that are still trapped in self-imposed quarantine. The last two ‘missions’ are pretty awesome, but I won’t spoil those.

The main characters grow a lot in this one, and the Smith girls are still hyper-capable, but not as in-your-face Mary Sue as the last book. You get to meet some other folks that I found quite interesting, but I won’t spoil that for you. Hey, you even get to meet some royalty in this one!

Even the logistics portions of the book seemed to be more interesting and less info-dumpy that the last book. Probably because it’s interspersed with more action. And, thankfully, the mil-speak was much better explained in this one. I actually learned quite a bit.

I highly recommend this book, and it alone make the series worth diving into. I give it five stars and call it an Hoorah! Read.

View all my reviews

Book Launch: Planetary Anthology: Mercury

Announcing

Planetary Anthology: Mercury

The day has finally arrived & I’m super-excited!

My short story Quicksilver (first non-self-published work), has been released as part of the Planetary Anthology: Mercury published by Superversive Press.

Help make this a great launch by  grabbing your copy on Amazon.

Take a look at this awesome launch video put together by Ben Zwycky.

 

Here’s the blurb:

MERCURY!

Innermost of worlds, blasted by the sun by day and frozen by night, Mercury remains an enigma. Mythical Mercury was also the messenger and trickster, and known for blazing speed and wit. Here are thirteen tales of science-fiction and the fantastic featuring Mercury.

Throughout history, the planets of our solar system have meant many things to many people; Planetary Fiction explores the themes associated with these heavenly bodies as well as their astronomical, mythological, and in some cases even alchemical significance.

Included in this volume are 

In the Palace of Promised Immortality by John C. Wright 
Schubert to Rachmaninoff by Benjamin Wheeler 
The Element of Transformation by L. Jagi Lamplighter 
In Tower of the Luminious Sages by Corey McCleery 
The Haunted Mines of Mercury by Joshua M. Young 
Quicksilver by J.D. Beckwith 
Ancestors Answer by Bokerah Brumley 
Last Call by Lou Antonelli 
Deceptive Appearances by Declan Finn 
mDNA by Misha Burnett 
The Star of Mercury by A.M. Freeman 
Cucurbita Mercurias by Dawn Witzke 
The Wanderer by David Hallquist

 

Review: To Sail a Darkling Sea (Black Tide Rising Book #2)

To Sail a Darkling Sea (Black Tide Rising, #2)To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book 2 of the Black Tide Rising series is the continuation of the exploits of the Wolf Squadron, a rag-tag flotilla of ships and survivors of the zombie apocalypse. John Smith and his daughters Sophia (age 15) and Faith (age 13) continue to save as many people as possible at sea while pushing forward with plans to save humanity by reclaiming the land. First, they have to perfect their techniques for moving the fleet and clearing some beachheads.

The plot of this sequel is basically the continuing story of trying to get your ducks in a row… and the ducks are drunk. The hinted at objective from book 1, reclaim Guantanamo Bay and start manufacturing a cure, is postponed due to weather (hurricane season) and is only launched on the last pages. The rest of the story is about the re-establishment of military discipline & organization, and supply lines. It’s a book about logistics. It’s interesting, but it is also NOT much of an action adventure book. Sure, there are a few zombie encounters which keep the pacing decent, but the focus is heavily on military maneuvers, the reasons for following orders, and a lot of inside jokes that you almost have to BE military to understand. I am not, so they fell on deaf ears.

I also find that the Sophia & Faith characters are annoyingly Mary Sue. It’s difficult to suspend my disbelief at times, especially when they all start talking the same. The stilted replies of “Point” (meaning ‘You have a point.’) and “Works” (meaning ‘That works.’) from different characters is standing out so much that I cringe when I see it.

I like the series. I like the premise. I even like the logistics discussions. I just hope the third book is better with more action. I give this book three stars and call it a Mediocre Read.

View all my reviews

2017 Year In Books (& Writing)

My 2017 book-reading summary seems a bit anemic at first glance. Only 7300 pages?!? Only 24 full length novels? Compared to 2, 3 & 4 years ago, this is less than half of my usual. Here’s the thing though…. I also PUBLISHED a novel. The read-through count during editing was at least four times. And I also wrote lots of stuff (still unpublished, but coming soon). And I read tons of stuff on the Internet in the name of research.

Before I get to the reading/reviews summary, let me tell you what I managed to WRITE.

Novels Published: 1 – eConscience Beta
Stories Accepted to be Published: 2 (19,300 words)
Short Stories Submitted: 3 (24,500 words)
Novellas Written: 1 (49,500 words)
Stories Outlined or Started: 3 (6,200 words)
Blog Posts: 31: (18,660 words)

Grand Total: 118,000 words <—that’s a novel’s worth folks!

Yeah, like I said… busy. Anyway, back to the books I READ.

I found some really good books this past year. It’s probably the best quality reading year I’ve had in quite some time. 15 books at 4 to 5 stars out of 31 is (mathing….) >48% above average. That’s really good!

Here’s the breakdown for my reads & reviews this year.

Total books read for the year: 24 (+5 Comics & 2 Short Stories)

Total pages read for the year: 7,392

Book ratings: 8 – 5 stars, 7 – 4 stars, 15 – 3 stars, 1 – 2 stars, 1 – 1 star

I would love to hear from any readers in the comments.

How many books did you read in last year? What were your favs?

Wishing you all Happy Reading for 2018!


Showcase of some of my favorites from 2017 are below…

Five Star Books

eConscience Beta by J. D. Beckwith

My Book

Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli

My Review

In Times Like These by Nathan Van Coops

My Review

The Chronothon: A Time Travel Adventure by Nathan Van Coops

My Review

Resurrection (The Frontiers Saga: Part 2: Rogue Castes #3) by Ryk Brown

My Review

   Critical Role – Vox Machina: Origins #1, #2 & #3 by Matthew Colville & Matthew Mercer

My Review

To Build A Fire by Jack London

My Review

Four Star Books

A Place Outside The Wild (Z-Day #1) by Daniel Humphreys

My Review

A Place Called Hope (Z-Day #2) by Daniel Humphreys

My Review

Rebellion (The Frontiers Saga: Part 2: Rogue Castes #4) by Ryk Brown

My Review

Fall of the Core: Netcast 02 (The Frontiers Saga: Fall of the Core #3) by Ryk Brown

My Review

Tech World (Undying Mercenaries #3) by B.V. Larson

My Review

Machine World (Undying Mercenaries #4) by B.V. Larson

My Review

Tanager’s Fledglings (Tanager #1) by Cedar Sanderson

My Review

 

Review: Monster of the Apocalypse

Monster of the Apocalypse (Monster of the Apocalypse Saga)Monster of the Apocalypse by C. Henry Martens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in a giveaway from the author a few years ago. The delay in finally getting around to reading it was partly because I’ve gone digital, and I only had the paperback. The relative short length of it and the tail end of 2017 rolling up with my reading goals still incomplete prompted me to pick it up. Finishing in on New Year’s Eve is quite the testament to procrastination.

I have given the book three stars, even though on a grouchier day I might have gone with only two. The uptick is because the story was told well, and the conclusion was very satisfying. It isn’t often you find an ending like this one in an apocalyptic tale. The author writes quite vividly, and you are never at a loss for immersion into the surroundings of the world. It can make for some tedium at times, especially when describing things that are only encountered in passing… but then again, so can life.

The tale itself is centered around a brother and sister duo trying to make it in the post-apocalyptic world 20 years after the vast majority of the population has been wiped out by plague. There are few people left, and fewer that are decent human beings. The detritus of a technological society is left behind for them to sift through as it slowly turns to dust. What once was plentiful is now becoming scarce, and scavenging nomads are beginning to realize that eventually, it will all be gone. A chance encounter with another wanderer brings information that few know about the fall of civilization and the true Monster of the Apocalypse. Despite some very hokey conspiracy theory stuff about why society had gotten so bad before the plagues, I still found the general premise of this scenario plausible.

I do have to put down the negatives I see in the book to explain why it was almost a two star. I see some writing foibles that I, myself, had pointed out to me in my own work. The two most obvious are the sudden shifts in point of view, and the lack of transition of topics. There were many times in the book where I was jarred completely out of the story by the sudden shift from one head to the next, or even to an omniscient view that told me something as fact, rather than showing me how it developed. A couple time, I even got lost and had to re-read sections to determine which thoughts went with which character. There was also a tendency to write short clipped sentences, and to jump from one idea to a completely unrelated one in the next paragraph without any trail out or lead in whatsoever. It’s almost like a mental non-sequitur that leaves you asking ‘woah, where did that come from?’ The last gripe I have is character behavior. I enjoyed the tale, even though some of the characters were a little too silly in the mistakes they made. I can buy clueless teenager, but if you say they aren’t in once sentence and then make them act that way in the next, I get irked. Consistency in character traits are important to me.

So, to sum up, I probably should give only two stars, but the good plot, the decent descriptiveness, and the more than satisfying ending pulled it out of the ditch at the end. I give it three stars and call it Decent Apocalyptic Read.

View all my reviews

eConscience Beta – Paperback Available + Author Updates

3D-eConscience-BetaEarlier this month, I posted that my novel: eConscience Beta was available on Amazon! in ebook format.

It being a very hectic week, I managed to botch the announcement of the paperback’s release this week on this blog. I did announce it on Facebook in two places (which will get bumped again when I post this), but I completely forgot to say it here. So, here it is…

eConscience Beta: ALSO NOW IN PAPERBACK!

Share with your friends! Spread the word! Help a fella out!

You can also follow me on Facebook @ J. D. Beckwith – Author
AUTHOR UPDATE:
I thought I would also take the opportunity to update readers on what I’m currently working on in the writing arena. Well, it’s been mostly the publishing area lately, but part of this busy week was writing one short story. After a marathon session yesterday,
I managed to complete another short story for submission (7900 words) to the next in a series of anthologies called Planetary Fiction. I got it in on time, with a whole 45 minutes to spare! That one makes 3 short stories and 1 novella (50k words) that I have written this year in what I am calling my Horizon’s Unlimited Universe.
It started with a submission to Planetary Fiction: Mercury, which I’m proud to say was accepted. Quicksilver is scheduled to be published in January. It will be my first non-self published work.
The plan is to write one (or more if the muse takes me) story for each planet in the solar system, submitting them to the anthologies planned by Superversive Press. If they are accepted, great. If not, I will use them for my own Horizons Unlimited anthology next July.
The major precept of the H.U. universe is a future where matter to energy conversion technology has been made a reality. It is controlled by the Citizen Employees of the independent society of Atlantis, home of Horizons Unlimited, patent holder. They are the good guys, but they control their tech use with an iron hand… for the good of the world.
Anyway, I began writing for the Venus anthology in the early summer, but the story I started took on a life of it’s own and refused to be short. It turned into a 50,000 word novella (some would call it a novel, but Sci-Fi book tend to run 100k~120k-ish) so was not suitable. I’ve titled that one Escaping Aurora.
To fix my mistake of being long-winded, I came up with an alternate story that I submitted at the last minute (seeing a pattern yet?). That one I called 37 Shades of Yellow. Yes, I went there. Venus, Roman goddess of love… it matched the theme, OK? It’s still a sci-fi action story on another planet, just with a bit of romance. Anyway, I heard back that it might also be accepted for the Venus Anthology. It’s not 100% official, but I have high hopes. That was a welcome bit of news during a stressful week.
So now, I face a double-deadline for the Earth & Jupiter anthologies. Both are due by Dec 15th. *gulp* I started something for the Earth one a while back, but it keeps trying to turn into a novel. *headdesk* It’s the backstory’s fault. I actually had to create a timeline covering several hundred years into the future to keep things straight in my mind for what happens in the universe of Horizons Unlimited.
Anyway, as you can see, I’ve got plans. I’ve got ideas. What I always seem to be low on is time. I think that may have something to do with procrastination, but I’ll worry about that later.
Happy Reading, and stay tuned for further updates as I continue to try to figure out this whole writing thing!
Oh, and here’s the blurb for eConscience Beta again in case you missed it.

3D-eConscience-BetaPeacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?
And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.

 Don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon for me. It help the word to spread. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it!

Review: RIME

RIME (Kindle Single)RIME by Tim Lebbon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story is a science fiction adaptation (loose) of the poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1897). If you have never read that poem, or can’t remember it if you have, then I recommend you go back and re-read it before you read this story.

I recommend you read it regardless, because it is one of the best poems I know. Grab it for Free on Amazon.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There is a lot to unpack in this short tale. I found it likable, but with some negatives.

The favorable attitude I have toward the story is derived from what it attempted to achieve. The unfavorable attitude comes from some of the ideas posited in the ‘universe’ where it takes place.

The writing style is decent, if slightly overly dramatic. I give that a hand wave because it was trying to bring out the emotion of the poem it was modeled after. I did find myself speed reading (which for me means skipping over ‘fluffy words’) through parts of it because of this.

The Main Character (no name given, MC for short) is a member of the crew on the generation ship, Cradle. It is controlled by an A.I. of the same name. The A.I. is directly connected to minds of its ‘crew’ from shortly after their births. It is several generations since they left a dying Earth to save humanity by escorting a few million sleeping humans to another star. The crew is generational, while the passengers are Earthborn.

The story itself is the MC telling what happened to the ship and why he is the sole survivor and responsible for their deaths. This is great tie-in to the Poem, as the Ancient Mariner was also a lone survivor of a ships crew whose deaths he was responsible for causing.

I think the author did a great job of steering a story set in space and the far future in parallel to the Poem. I admire and compliment the creativity that was used. I can definitely recommend reading this one (after re-reading TRotAM). I give this 3 stars can call it a Worthwhile Read.

Now, there are some issues I have with the overall universe, which I will detail below. They are spoiler filled, however, so do not read further until you read the story itself.

Go read the story, then come back and tell me in the comments section if you agree with my assessments below. As of today (11/24/17), it is Free with Amazon Prime

==========SPOILERS AHEAD!!! READ THE STORY FIRST===========

YOU

HAVE

BEEN

WARNED!

The problem I have with this generation ship is that several thousand individuals are required to maintain the ship, but instead of rotating the crew who volunteered for the mission, they utilized a breeding community who’s descendants are born and die on board, and are forced into the roles of crew. That they blithely accept this after several generations is a flawed assumption to me. They are basically slaves to the sleeping passengers and the A.I. I think some of them would have revolted by now.

The sudden blaming of the MC for all that transpires seems unjust. In the Poem, the Ancient Mariner commits an act of malice with no reason, which results in his being blamed for events that transpire after. In Rime, the MC commits an act that, while perhaps rash, was also a result of fear at being separated from contact with Cradle and all other crew – which had never happened in his whole life – and also had been ushered into a cannon emplacement on the ship that was designed to be used in defense. The A.I. of Cradle was really at fault for this situation more so than the MC, IMHO.

Ultimately, Rime of the Ancient Mariner is interpreted as a comment on appreciating the beauty of God’s creation and prayer. This story, was more of a cautionary tale about overreacting in a violent way that could result in a tragic misunderstanding & hostility between humanity and alien beings. While I can see the difficulty in projecting the encouragement of prayer in the context of space based sci-fi, the non-violence message (in the face of a threat) seemed a bit off-putting to me. That resulted in the loss of a star in my review.

Still, this is one of the better stories I’ve read in a while, and I do recommend it.

View all my reviews

Review: For the Triumph of Evil

For the Triumph of Evil (The Frontiers Saga - Part 2: Rogue Castes, #6)For the Triumph of Evil by Ryk Brown
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Despite the low rating, I still like this series. The problem with all long running series is that you always end up with some episodes that are not at the top. This is one of them for the Frontiers Saga.

The story, although well told in Ryk Brown’s usual fashion, was completely predictable. The action only happens at the last moment, and it has been all but telegraphed, with the expected outcome, since the start of the book.

The continuation of the overall story arc is only minimal, with brief appearances by the various bit characters just to let you know that they are up to something that will pay off eventually.

The main issue I had with this one was the fact that Nathan, et al, committed so much energy, and risk to achieve a very minimal goal. It was hyped as significant, but I just don’t buy it. Perhaps my disbelieve was not sufficiently suspended, but that’s how I felt reading the book.

Overall, the book is worth reading to keep up with the series, but it was sub-par for the series as a whole. I look forward to the next episode in hopes that it will be more in line with the high quality I’ve come to expect with this series.

Overall, I can only give this book 2 stars and call it a Passable Read.

View all my reviews

eConscience Beta has been released!

eConscience Beta

Now available on Amazon!

Share with your friends! Spread the word!

3D-eConscience-BetaPeacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?
And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.

For those of you wanting paperback copies, they won’t be ready until early next week. When they are ready, I’ll send out another announcement.
Don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon for me. It help the word to spread. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it!