Review: Sector Six

Sector Six
Sector Six by Micky Neilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A creepy Star Craft II short story about a band of human mercs in the Corprulu Sector that end up in the wrong place (a Moebius Corp secret base) at the wrong time. Good Read.

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Review: The Weak and the Innocent

The Weak and the Innocent
The Weak and the Innocent by Ryk Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Episode #14 of the Frontiers Saga proved to be somewhat of a transition story. While it does contain some action scenes (which I’ve come to expect & really appreciate in this series), they are small in comparison to previous books, thus is was a much slower read. That does not mean a bad one, as the story continues to grow and branch into a much larger sphere with many potential tangent stories and character lines to follow. The tech continues to hold sway over the events of the story, and new ships and weapons are in development. One drawback I did see was the somewhat repetitions explanation for why one particular ship was being redesigned… once or twice is fine, but I don’t need to read about it four times. “She explained why they wanted to make the changes yet again.” would have saved much time and boredom in spots. I also have found myself skimming the back and fourth dialogue of command… repeat command… aye. It gets old. But, those are really my only complaints. The book was good, and I’m ready for a hopefully much more exciting Episode #15. This one was a Good Read.

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Q & A about my novel – eConscience Beta: The Peacekeeper Index (Book 1)

Update: 6/7/16

Today, I completed this novel… the rough draft of it, anyway. The editing must be done, and I want BETA READERS before I publish.  But, it is good enough for me to call the story complete. Currently, the word count is 99,032 words, which I’m sure will come down with editing. It is approximately 500 pages (in MS Word format). It has taken 329 days from when I originally started it (about 65 spent actually writing) to complete. Part of that was a six month gap for work, along with just being stuck on the plot. I thank God for letting me get ‘unstuck’ and getting this done!


Original Post: As I approach the 61,000 word mark in my first attempt at writing a novel, I am being asked a few questions about it.  I thought I’d put together this little Q&A for people to check out.   (I mean it.  Go check it out.  Don’t make me come over there!)


Q: What’s it called?

A: eConscience Beta: The Peacekeeper Index (Book 1)

That is my current working title.  It has changed several times, and may change again.

UPDATE: The current working title is still eConscience Beta as of right now. The subtitle stuff is going to change a bit though, I think. Maybe.

Q:  What’s it about?

A: Below is the blurb I’ve put together for it.

THE PEACEKEEPER INDEX

In the near future, machines can read your mind. Convicted criminals on the Peacekeeper Index are infused with Peacekeeper Nanites; specifically tailored to an individual person’s brain wave patterns, they can interpolate thought, emotion and motor cortex signals to `KNOW` when someone is about to do something that they are consciously aware of being a criminal act… and stop them.

IN THE BEGINNING…

Henry  Fain – a mostly unsuccessful petty criminal – is the first man to ever be injected with fully functioning Peacekeeper Nanites. He is the guinea pig of Dr. Percival Transki – head researcher at Peacekeeper Incorporated’s Nanite Division – whose commitment to his project knows no bounds.

Not even ethical ones.

A laboratory error leads to the termination of Jenny Hoskins, the outspoken and conscientious senior researcher of the project, leaving her career in shambles. Now it falls on the shoulders of fellow researcher Emmet Haslet to watch and record the results of an increasingly unsettling series of events set up by Transki to evaluate the functionality of the nanites in Henry’s head.

With Jenny’s once promising future destroyed; Emmet between an ethical rock and a hard place; and Henry’s very existence a complete personal nightmare – all at Transki’s hand – the three must work together to find a way to restore their lives… and possibly stop a madman in the making.

Q:  How did you come up with that?

A:  It originally started out to be just an idea for a series of short stories.  In fact, I wrote the first story called “Unintended Consequences” before this novel plot came into being.  I only decided to write this story (not a novel yet) because I wanted to explain the ‘origin’ of the Peacekeeper Nanites.  From there, it became an novelette, then a novella, and finally I bowed to the demands of the muse to make it a novel.

I still have many ideas for other stories in this universe that I really want to write.  So the plan (as of now) is to write those (after this) and put them in an anthology and call it Book 2 of the Peacekeeper Index.  Some may be long, some short.  I don’t know yet.

Q:  What genre is it?

A:  Hmmm.  Good question.  It was supposed to be Science Fiction because of the ‘Big Idea’ being nanites for behavioral control.  The characters and the book really want to be drama/thriller though, so that’s what I’m going with.  It also has a bit of humor thrown in, so….  I keep thinking that it will probably end up like a bad episode of Leverage.  The other short stories I plan in the Peacekeeper Index series may not be the same genre at all.  In fact, I think I’ll mix it up just for the fun/experience of it.

Q:  When will it be done?

A:  I don’t know, but the target is to have the rough draft finished by Mid Oct (2015).  UPDATE: Yeah, that didn’t happen. The rest still applies though…

After that, I will edit it at least once for things like overuse of passive voice (aka show, don’t tell), verb tense, grammar, etc.  I know it has lots of ‘issues’ that I need to fix.  Then I want to recruit a helper or three to read it and tell me what else needs work.  Only after that will I send it to a bigger group of beta readers for feedback.

After the beta reader feedback, I will decide if I want to pay a ‘real editor’ to look at it or not.  I will also have to get a book cover made and learn how to format it correctly for both e-book and paper.  I will then release both at the same time on Amazon.  That’s the plan.

(If anyone wants to help do a book cover, or knows a good editor, please let me know!)

UPDATE: Seriously folks, I need an artistically minded individual here… anyone?

Since I’ve never done this before, I have no idea how long it will take.  I’m still trying to self-teach the ‘how’ of it.  If it’s published (independently, of course) before New Years, I will be amazed.

UPDATE: Obviously, I was not amazed. The new target is my birthday. Why? Because I need to aim at something.

Q:  Can I read it when you’re done?

A: Yes!  Please!  I need some beta readers who will give me feedback on the book and help me resolve problems they see.  I will put together a questionnaire for anyone who wants to be my guinea pig… umm, beat reader, and they can help me make a better book before I put it out there for all the other suckers ….umm, customers to buy.

UPDATE: The questionnaire will be done in the next week. The book won’t be ready for beta reading by then, but I’ll post the questionnaire to scare off the people who hated book reports in high school.

Q:  Why are you writing a book?  I thought only weird people, pre-teens and starving artist types wrote books?  (OK, nobody really asked this, but I want to explain why, so….)

A:  I’m writing this because I am a fan of science fiction, and I want to attempt to copy that which I love.  I also want to leave something behind me that I can call a legacy, and this is my attempt.  I am not really in it to make a lot of money, although that will be the indicator of my success.  If people like it, I will keep on going.


So, I hope I’ve covered anything you might have been wondering about my crazy claims about writing a book.  If not, leave me a comment below or on Facebook, etc. and I will try to answer it.

Review: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July/August 2015

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July/August 2015
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July/August 2015 by C.C. Finlay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Individual Story reviews below: (Average 3 stars)

Novella

Johnny Rev by Rachel Pollack (3 stars)

In a world, our world, where magic is ever-present and hidden in plain sight from those who aren’t supposed to see it, one man faces a terrible circumstance. But not really. He faces it with a copy of himself, but somehow, the copy just doesn’t want to go away after its task is done.

I liked this story. The plot was good, the characters were cleanly developed with good detail. The story was fast paced and kept me in it the whole time. There was a whole lot of backstory hinted at, and almost too much info about the world mentioned but glossed over. I actually went looking to see if this was a continuing story line, but didn’t find anything. I did find that the author is unsurprisingly into tarot and spirituality. The story is quite filled with that sort of thing, but I took it for what it was… an entertaining story.

Novelets

The Deepwater Bride by Tamsyn Muir (3 stars)

An eldritch horror short story. It was well written, but not quite as creepy as some. I think that was because the main focus was message… (i.e. the budding romance between the two female main characters). I’ll leave it there.

The Body Pirate by Van Arron Hughes (2.5 stars)

Very confusing until you figure out what is happening between the blackbirds/humans and all the pronounification (see, i can invent words too!) Written in an interesting way (split screen text) in places. Kudos for trying something new, but it was not great. No character depth.

The Curse of Myrmelon by Matthew Hughes (3.5 stars)

A private detective with some knowledge of magic (which he is not supposed to use because it pisses of the Magician’s Union) takes on an investigation that leads to a much deeper intrigue. This story was very well written, the characters were well developed and I was pulled into the world and held there. This is not my typical genre, so it has to work hard to interest me to begin with. When it does, it gets high marks.

Short Stories

DIXON’S ROAD by Richard Chwedyk (4 stars)

I really liked this one. It’s a story about a the curator of a museum – the home site of a famous female poet on a terra-formed asteroid – that gives a very special tour to a very special person. I won’t say more because it would spoil it. I found it poignant, with great character & world development in a short package. I highly recommend this one.

Oneness: A Triptych by James Patrick Kelly (0 stars)

Cyberporn? Nothing about the world was explained. It was bad.

This Quintessence of Dust by Oliver Buckram (4 stars)

A neat little story of the robotic survivors of the human bio-apocalypse. Short and very good.

Paradise and Trout by Betsy James (2 stars)

A young boy’s journey into the afterlife. It has vivid imagery, but the story left me feeling that it was incomplete. It seems to be written for emotion rather than story, which would be fine if it had a bit more story to round it out.

The Silicon Curtain: A Seastead Story by Naomi Kritzer (5 stars)

A sixteen year old girl in the Seastead is preparing to move back to California to live with her mom after her father death, but one last thing needs doing first. A YA adventure that draws you in. I think I may be hooked me on this series now. It has a well crafted world, good character into, and that bit of intrigue I tend to like a lot.

Into the Fiery Planet by Gregor Hartmann (3 stars)

How do you sell a cinder as a vacation spot? Use your words, of course. It’s all in the presentation. A somewhat humorous look at intergalactic tourism.

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Book Review: There Will Be War (Volume I) by Jerry Pournelle (ed.)

This was supposed to show up the blog directly from Goodreads, but I’m having technical difficulties.  It’s in the Goodreads widget down below, but it didn’t transfer to the main blog page.  It will probably show up twice on Facebook because I’m doing a manual re-post.  For those who don’t read my book reviews, this will be one more thing for you to ignore.

So, without further ado…

There Will Be War Volume IThere Will Be War Volume I by Jerry Pournelle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had never read this anthology in its originally published form, so when it was re-released this year I decide to pick it up. It is an interesting collection of shorts, essays, and a few poems revolving around the theme of warfare, past & future.

If you are a military history fan, the essays might appeal to you. The science related ones were interesting, but things have changed since the Cold War died, so the ideas, while still plausible, could use a good update/corollary added to them to comment on their viability and usefulness in the modern global setting.

The updated introductions to each entry by Pournelle can also provide interesting tidbits on his career and interactions with other Science Fiction authors. I like those ‘author stories’ a bit, so I found that compelling to read as well.

The short stories are my main interest; however, and I will review them individually below.

BOOK AVERAGE = 3 STARS

SHORT STORIES (AVERAGE 3.5 STARS)

REFLEX by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (3 stars)

This story is about a space battle in Pournelle’s CoDominium Universe. It was the written as the first chapter of The Mote in God’s Eye, but got cut for length. The topic is dedication to cause vs. rules of war. You can understand the story, but maybe not the tech unless you’ve read Mote first.

SPANISH MAN’S GRAVE by James Warner Bellah (5 stars)

Not Sci-Fi, but one hell of a story. A group of soldiers in the wild west push themselves to the breaking point to rescue a young girl from a savage Indian raiding party.

MARIUS by Poul Anderson (3 stars)

A story about a great soldier in war making a poor politician in peacetime. I found it suspenseful, wondering what would happen, because you can sense from the start that something would.

ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card (5 stars)

I believe this is the original short story that later turned into the novel. It is the portion of Ender Wiggin’s story from his leadership through the endgame of the war. Ender’s Game is one of my favorite books of all time. If you have not read that, do so first before reading this, because this short story is a little different, and this might spoil some things for you.

A DEATH IN REALTIME by Richard Sean McEnroe (3 stars)

Modern tech can make war seem just like a game, but when it’s real, there are no resets.

OVERDOSE by Spider Robinson (4 stars)

This one is a trip…literally. A stoned army private saves the world with hallucinations. It’s far out man!

DIASPORAH by W. R. Yates (3 stars)

Nuclear Mutually Assured Destruction as portrayed between a Muslim Caliphate and Isreal. Eerily apropos to today’s headlines (late 2015).

HIS TRUTH GOES MARCHING ON by Jerry Pournelle (3.5 stars)

Idealistic inexperienced soldiers experience disillusionment in the face of a real war being run by battlefield politicians. Good storytelling here.

THE DEFENDERS by Philip K. Dick (2 stars)

Humanity hides underground while robot proxies fight the cold war gone hot for them above ground… or so they think. It was a good story up until the rushed ending and diatribe of kumbya singing. For me, another typical PKD disappointment.

UNLIMITED WARFARE by Hayford Peirce (3 stars)

A humorous tale about a lesson in reciprocity and unintended consequences is learned when the British try to use bio-warefare to secretly destroy France’s culture. You have to read this one with British & French accents in your head.

THE BATTLE by Robert Sheckley (2 stars)

Winning isn’t everything, sometimes the doing is the important part. Humanity finds this out when they let the military fight the Battle of Armageddon with robots.

RANKS OF BRONZE by David Drake (4 stars)

A Roman legion fights a hoard of barbarian aliens on a distant planet. This one is a great story with excellent military detail. This is how mil-sf should be written.

I AM NOTHING by Eric Frank Russell (5 stars)

It takes a diametrically opposite viewpoint to show a dictator his own inner self. I won’t say any more detail than that to keep from spoiling this superbly written and emotionally evocative story. It has the feels and made me misty eyed. Go read it.

CALL HIM LORD by Gordon R. Dickson (3 stars)

The Prince and future Emperor of Mankind returns to humanity’s homeworld, Earth, to gain a better understanding of its roots… or so he thinks. An excellent story with a twist ending.

QUIET VILLAGE by David McDaniel (4 stars)

In the 27th century, the Scouts (an organization descended from the Boy Scouts) act as a Marshall service for hire in a formerly high-tech society that reverted to subsistence living after a plague wiped out the population nearly 300 years in the past.

POEMS (AVERAGE 2.7 stars)

SAUL’S DEATH by Joe Haldeman (4 stars)

I had never heard of a sestina until this. I found the form to be genius, and the stories told by it here were amazing.

TWO POEMS: CITY KILLER (1 star) AND GROUND ZERO (3 stars) by Jon Post (Avg. 2 stars)

City Killer is in a form I don’t like. Ground Zero is iambic pentameter and well written.

THE WIDOW’S PARTY by Rudyard Kipling (2 stars)

I’m not huge Kipling fan, so this one really didn’t do it for me.

ESSAYS (AVERAGE 1.5 stars)

THE THREAT by the Committee on Space War of the Citizens’ Advisory Council on National Space Policy. (1 star) – boring
THE GOOD NEWS OF HIGH FRONTIER by Robert A. Heinlein (1 star) – rhetorical; boring
PROJECT HIGH FRONTIER by Lt. General Daniel O. Graham (1 star) – sales pitch essay; boring
MERCENARIES AND MILITARY VIRTUE by Jerry Pournelle (2.5 stars)

A speculative discussion of potential directions that the republic/military might move in base on 1980’s historical facts.

THE STRATEGY OF TECHNOLOGY by Jerry Pournelle

I only skimmed this one because it felt dull. Essays and treatises are not my thing. I won’t rank it.

THOR: ORBITAL WEAPON SYSTEM by the Weapons Committee of the Citizens’ Advisory Council on National Space Policy. (2 stars)

Interesting concepts for a KEW (Kinetic Energy Weapon). The science discussion is interesting, but it’s a treatise on an idea which bores me, mostly.

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