Review: City of Torment (Abolethic Sovereignty #2) by Bruce Cordell

The blog lag continues. This time my excuse is that I’ve become addicted to GTA V RP on Twitch and binging shows I’ve had in my queue forever on Netflix before my subscription ends (they jacked the price again, so I’m canceling for a while in protest). I do highly recommend Love, Death & Robots, and the new Ultraman.

Anyway, I did finish this one off earlier today. It was a good read and a decent sequel. I can recommend that you Happy Readers check it out. I’ll let you know how book 3 turns out too, but I’ll be jumping into the next Frontiers Saga first.

I have plans to work on some short stories, and I really have to firm up some D&D campaign details ASAP. That means the next review could be a while. But for now…

Here’s the Amazon Blurb:

Lovecraftian horror from award-winning Forgotten Realms® game designer Bruce R. Cordell.

Raidon Kane travels to the subterranean fortress of the somnambulant aboleths, bent on killing the Eldest in its sleep. But he isn’t the only one bound for the hidden city. A warlock, an arch fey, a pirate, and a high priestess of the Abolethic Sovereignty all have designs of their own on the Eldest–if they don’t kill each other first.

And now the review!

City of Torment (Forgotten Realms: Abolethic Sovereignty, #2)City of Torment by Bruce R. Cordell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story continues to spin in interesting ways in the second book of this series. Character development and growth along with interrelationships were balanced well with action and plot progression.

The cliffhanger of book 1 is taken back up at the start and sets the stage for the reasons the story goes in the direction that it does. You find out much more of the origins of Japheth’s pact. Seren’s backstory is revealed. Captain Thoster has light shed on his hinted-at issues as well. All in all, the characters of questionable character are shown to grown into likable (if still flawed) individuals. The story becomes more complex and remains interesting. The action and descriptiveness of the events are what we all want to see in our minds when we play a nice game of D&D.

The ending is very much geared to hook you into picking up the next book in the series. I’m torn on that being good or bad, but since the series in general has been worthwhile reading, I’ll defer to good. I will be reading on into book 3 of the series myself.

I give this one three stars and call it a Worthwhile Read.

View all my reviews


Check out my books over on Amazon.com! I currently have two published. Both are available on Kindle Unlimited, and on Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free if you have Amazon Prime.

If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

eConscience Beta

Peacekeeper 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.


If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

Horizons Unlimited

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

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Review: Plague of Spells (Abolethic Sovereignty #1) by Bruce Cordell

It’s been a while since the last blog, and even a longer while since the last review. The reason for that is that I’ve started and paused on 2 different books (1 for its slowness, and 1 because I got distracted) while scattering my time resources to the winds and the Forgotten Realms wiki. That actually brings us to the book I’m reviewing today. It was an addition/insertion to the TBR pile because it was part of the Forgotten Realms lore in which I was steeped. I needed to know details.

Luckily, It was good enough that I can recommend it to you, Happy Readers!

Here’s the Amazon Blurb:

Lovecraftian Horror in Faerûn!

Blue fire sears the face of Faerûn, leaving the twisted and mutilated dead in its wake. But a rare few escape death–and suffer some mystical mutation. Raidon Kane is one of those who survives, the wake of blue fire burning the sigil of the amulet he wears into his chest and binding him with all the power and responsibility it entails. With everyone he knows and cares about dead, Raidon must find within himself the strength to lead the fight against the rise of an elder evil the likes of which would be the end of mortal kind.

Award-winning game designer Bruce R. Cordell depicts the rise of a monstrous nation of elder evil as only he can in this brand-new trilogy Abolethic Sovereignty. Dedicated to showcasing one of the most fascinating new aspects of the changed face of Faerûn, this trilogy is packed with the exciting battles, wizardry, and monsters that are the hallmark of Forgotten Realms novels as well as introducing a new never-before-seen element of Lovecraftian horror to Faerûn.

And now the review!

Plague of Spells (Forgotten Realms: Abolethic Sovereignty, #1)Plague of Spells by Bruce R. Cordell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this one up because I’m doing some Forgotten Realms research for a D&D campaign (character backstory). This was the first D&D derived novelization I’d ever read, so I was curious how it would be done comparative to DM guide books and adventure modules. I was pleasantly surprised.

I was surprised at how well the magical abilities and appearances of creatures and characters were portrayed. While there was a bit more ‘tell’ than ‘show’ at times, that did not happen often enough to detract from the work as a whole. I was fully immersed from the start. The action scenes were described well which served to pull you along. It was standard fantasy writing with a hint of the familiar as I recognized the creatures being described. The plot of the story was also engaging. Had I not already known a significant portion of lore regarding Faerûn, I might have been at a bit of a loss, but I can’t say that for certain. The 1st book does end in a significant cliffhanger, so be warned if you plant to read it for yourself.

Overall, I liked the book. I plan to continue with the series. I can recommend it as a fast paced and entertaining read for anyone who likes either High Fantasy or Lovecraftian adventure. I give it 3 stars and call it a Pleasantly Surprised Good Read.

View all my reviews



Check out my books over on Amazon.com! I currently have two published. Both are available on Kindle Unlimited, and on Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free if you have Amazon Prime.

If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

Peacekeeper 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.



If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.


HAPPY READING!

Dungeon Mastering is Cooperative Pantsing.

When it comes to writing, I am–for the most part–a Pantser. When I come up with ideas to write about, they usually start with a premise about an event or technological breakthrough that makes a big splash on society. Most of the time, the society is human or a mix of human and alien. It may be futuristic, dystopic, or it could even be otherworldly or magical in nature. The setting rarely matters.

The Pantsing Wizard art by Julie Pascal

My point is that my ideas don’t start as an outline for a full story with a discreet start, middle, and end. Instead, I have to come up with the story that happens in my ‘imaginary world’ as I go along. I have an instigating event, into which I add characters to experience it. I write their reactions to this event in my imaginary world, and then I write some more… and some more… and some more. Eventually, I come up with the ‘big problem’ for them to overcome (if the instigating event wasn’t it already), at which point I know what the whole story is going to be about and how it will end (i.e. getting the problem solved). After that, I have to go back and fill in the middle. I never know how long it’s going to take for my characters to fix their problem, so I just write until it all ties together.

The writing style is often referred to as Pantsing. No, I don’t mean pulling someone’s pants down around their ankles and laughing. It’s derived from the phrase ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ which was coined in the early days of aviation when pilots flew their planes without instruments to help them.

Now, I have read ‘writing advice’ from some very famous authors saying that you should never write the first word until you know the ending of your story. I have also read the exact opposite advice from other authors just as famous. What this tells me is that no one should give writing advice as if it’s the Gospel.

So here’s some absolute Gospel writing advice… Do it the way that works best for you. Try Plotting, which is the opposite of Pantsing, and outline the whole story before you start. Most teachers will tell you to do this. The problem is that most teachers are trying to get you to write term papers and essays, not fiction, but I digress. Try it. It might work fine for you. If not, you may be a mix of a Pantser and Plotter. Or, you could be like me and be stuck with letting the story tell itself.

OK, OK, so what does all this have to do with the blog title? What is Cooperative Pantsing? What does Pantsing have to do with being a Dungeon Master for an RPG? Well, I’ll lay it out for you… but first, let talk about what happens in a typical D&D campaign for the uninitiated.

The DM (Dungeon Master) creates (or borrows) a world. They decide the rules that govern reality in this world (does it have magic, high technology, psychic powers, normal boring Earth existence), the physical shape and make-up of the place (land, water, space, etc.), and what its current state of political existence is (unexplored frontier, a cityscape, medieval towns, a deep dark dungeon, a wide land full of empires and city-states, a loose conglomeration of un-allied planets in a strange galaxy, anything you want, really). For example, Dungeons & Dragons 5e campaigns often take place in Faerun, a massive continent that is both ancient and unexplored in a time of swords and sorcery.

The players (PCs) create characters of various classes (jobs with skill sets) and races (types of beings such as Humans, Elves, Dwaves, Gnomes, Tieflings, etc. – There are many). They take those choices and combine them with some random dice rolls to come up with a unique character that they add other customization options onto within the rules of the RPG being played. Next comes the really fun part… the backstory. The players decide WHO their character is, what happened to them in the past, what their motivations and personality are, all the things that make them an individual.

The DM also comes up with a quest, or series of quests in which the players engage. It may be a huge over-arching one, an unplanned free-form series of them that are thought of on the fly, or a combination of the two. Examples: Free the kidnapped villagers. Kill the dragon terrorizing the countryside. Rob the rich noble or the wizard’s tower. Find a valuable treasure in the deep dark dank dungeon.

So, do you see where I’m going with this yet? Here, let me start pulling the strings together with this statement:

A Dungeons and Dragons campaign is a cooperative creation of a story generated by the same method a Pantser uses to write a novel.

Here’s how:

  • The DM invents (or borrows) a world, and creates an instigating action.

This is the same as establishing the initial idea for a novel. The Big Problem or Antagonist(s) causing it set the stage for the conflict to be overcome.

  • The Players are inserted into this world and must deal with the situation(s).

This is how I create the main characters of a novel. They are the heroes of the game or the protagonist(s) in the novel. In this case, the players will do it themselves, but there are writers who claim that their characters define themselves as well. I’ve experienced this to a certain degree myself, although I keep a tighter rein on my characters. They are MY voices after all!

  • The DM describes/decides how the world reacts to the players’ decisions within its established ruleset.

The author does the same for the setting in a novel. They might introduce other characters to help further this, which is the equivalent of creating NPCs (Non-Player Characters) in the D&D game. Those characters have their own motivations, goals, and personalities that the PCs have to then deal with.

  • The Players develop, change and grow during the journey.

Character development is a primary key to any good story. Sympathy (or Antagonism to) the characters is what helps a reader invest in the outcome of the story. In the case of D&D, it’s what keeps the players interested and provides the enjoyment to everyone, including the DM.

  • The DM leads the characters toward the major event/conclusion/Big Bad Evil Boss, but the characters/Players decide how they want to get there. The route can be very circuitous at times, and a good DM rolls with the punches.

This is how a Panster must write the middle of the story as the main character’s personality dictates their reactions. It’s even worse when you have no control over the decision process like a D&D game. I have often compared DMing to Herding Cats! I can’t imagine how painful it would be to be a Plotter and try to do that with a D&D campaign! It would all be wasted in a heartbeat!


So, if you are a budding writer with a desire to create, but you just can’t seem to keep up with those strange voices in your head. You know, the ones that keep going in directions other than the ones you intended? Maybe you should take break and try being a Dungeon Master for a bit. You’ll gain valuable experience in Cat Herding that you just might be able to use to your advantage in writing. You’ll also have a lot of fun in the process!


Check out my books over on Amazon.com! I currently have two published. Both are available on Kindle Unlimited, and on Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free if you have Amazon Prime.

If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

Peacekeeper 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.


If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

Review: The Unseen (Freelancer #2) by Jake Lingwall

The Unseen (Freelancer Book 2)

The Unseen by Jake Lingwall
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Character flaws are things to be fixed, not justified or glossed over. That’s the biggest reason that I cannot give this second book in the Freelancer series anything higher than 2 stars.

The usual thing to do with a character is to have them start out flawed, then recognize that flaw (usually after it lands them in the crap) and then correct it. When you start with a Mary Sue with two big flaws that she (and maybe the author?) can’t see, then don’t fix it but carry it over to the next book… you get a repeat. The same problem Kari had before (easily manipulated) is still there. The other issue is that the ‘flaw’ that she sees in herself (getting people hurt because of her actions) is not the REAL problem, but it BECOMES one even while she extols her virtue for not having done the necessary thing to keep evil from continuing. On no less than five occasions I found myself saying… just kill the guy and damn the consequences… don’t play the game his way… but no, the pages just kept going. *sigh* The dummies on the television don’t listen to me either.

This rest of this review is a spoiler. I don’t have any more time to spend on a 2-star trying to keep it from being one. Read ahead at your own risk.

After escaping the clutches of a power hungry manipulative egomaniac (who happens to work for the government) and almost being killed along with the boy she didn’t even know she liked (but apparently everyone else did?) in the first book, Kari the super-hacker, aka Freelancer, tries to settle down to a normal life of self-indulgence. Unfortunately, she manages to fall into the clutches of a power hungry manipulative egomaniac (who happens to want to overthrow the governments…both of them, as the U.S. is now in a second Civil War).

So, hopefully, you can see my problem here. She learned nothing from her first hellish, mind-scaring, life-trauma event and simply fell into the next one. For a person who is super-smart and can solve so many problems, she is beyond naive. It’s so bad that it completely ruined my suspension of disbelief. I knew who the bad guy was the instant he was introduced.

The whole YA silly teen/young-adult relationship thing just added a level of obnoxious to top the whole thing off.

And that’s why it gets two stars and no more of my time. I’m skipping book 3 because I fear it will be just more of the same.

View all my reviews on Goodreads, or look for them here on the blog!


Check out my books over on Amazon.com! I currently have two published. Both are available on Kindle Unlimited, and on Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free if you have Amazon Prime.

If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

Peacekeeper 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.

If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

2018 Year In Review: Books & Writing & Dungeons & Dragons, Oh My!

Well, 2018 has certainly been a year, hasn’t it? Time to examine those accomplishments (or lack thereof) and decide what to do with the next 12 months (or not). As you can see, my motivation is at ebb tide at the moment of this missive, so maybe the act of looking back will help… let’s see…

I did manage to exceed my 2017 read count by a whole 176 pages! I was down two books though, with only 29. I do know that much reading that is not counted up includes tons of editing (re-reading), research for writing, and also research into Dungeons and Dragons rules and lore. I’m totally counting the Dungeon Masters Guide & Player’s Handbook for D&D 5th Edition this year! The D&D wiki is also a rabbit hole of infinite depth down which one should carefully tread, lest you be engulfed and never return! So, yeah, I’ll count all that as a win.

The writing has taken a backseat for a while, although I did publish my Horizon’s Unlimited Anthology. I wrote and expanded on several short stories and submitted those. One was over 22,000 words! I have not yet been able to settle into a mindset that will allow me to continue another novel. I also have picked up that new hobby that I mentioned before…

You see, early in the year… Feb/March? I decided to try my hand at being a Dungeon Master for D&D 5th Edition starter set campaign The Lost Mine of Phandelver. This RPG is supposed to be a fairly short introductory campaign to help new players and new DMs (Dungeon Masters) learn the ‘art’ of play D&D. I had played through that campaign myself as a player, so I was hoping it would prove to be an easy way to get started as the man behind the screen… Weeellll…

I have a tendency to embellish things when I think they are a bit on the boring side. My players also have this same characteristic trait. I quickly found that if I dangled a shiny side-story in front of them, they would instantly shoot off in that direction before I could comprehend what I had done to myself. This is how LMoP become a nearly year long campaign with a follow on Custom Campaign #2 to be run me in 2019.

Oh, and we’re maybe…sorta…kinda… going to try recording it an seeing if people on YouTube want to watch it. That means I now have to learn video recording & editing software, etc. I have already started this, and it will be time consuming. It is why the ‘plans’ that I mentioned back in November never really happened.

Anyway, that’s what’s up with my life and hobbies at the moment. But, let’s get back to the BOOKS!

I only had 4 books that (5 if you count my own, but I’m biased) made the 5 star cut this past year. 7 earned a 4 star ranking. There were some good comics/graphic novels in the mix as well, but I count them separately.

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

Total books read for the year: 23 (+4 Comics/Graphic Novels + 2 RPG Source Books)

Total pages read for the year: 7,646

Book ratings: 5 – 5 stars, 7 – 4 stars, 11 – 3 stars, 2 – 2 stars, 1 – 1 star

Comic ratings: 1 – 5 star, 1 – 4 star, 2 – 3 stars

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 2019!


Showcase of some of my favorites from 2018 are below…

Five Star Books

Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1
A Space Adventure Anthology
by J. D. BeckwithMy Book
Planetary: Mercury by Superversive Press (includes a short story by ME!)

My Review

A Place For War (Z-Day #3) by Daniel Humphreys

My Review

I Am Justice (The Frontiers Saga: Part 2: Rogue Castes #9) by Ryk Brown

My Review

Islands of Rage & Hope (Black Tide Rising #3) by John Ringo

My Review

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

No Written Review – Buy Here

Four Star Books

Planetary: Venus by Superversive Press (includes a short story by ME!)

My Review


Fade & Night’s Black Agents by Daniel Humphreys

My Review

Retaliation (The Frontiers Saga: Part 2: Rogue Castes #10) by Ryk Brown

My Review

Strands of Sorrow (Black Tide Rising #4) by John Ringo

My Review

CTRL ALT Revolt!
(Soda Pop Soldier 0.5)
by Nick ColeMy Review
Critical Role – Vox Machina: Origins #1, #2 & #3 by Matthew Colville & Matthew Mercer

No Written Review – Buy Here

 

Review: Freelancer (#1) by Jake Lingwall

Freelancer

Freelancer by Jake Lingwall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review is going to sound a bit critical (“surprise, surprise” says anyone who knows me and/or my reviews), but I don’t mean it be taken as a negative review. I like this book. It is a good read and I do recommend it for anyone with an appreciation of YA fiction or just fun reads. The critical part is for the character ‘as written’–which was very consistent– and a bit of the world concept.

Now, when I first started reading this I found myself being fairly critical of the writing style. It does not start out with polish and feels a bit choppy. It seems like it could be ‘first time author’ syndrome or maybe just YA style. There were also some fairly apparent editing issues that jumped out at me while in hyper-critical mode. Fortunately, I was able to push that aside (or got used to it – shrug) and continue with the book, which turned into a fairly decent read.

The plot begins in the not-so-distant future where single-day school weeks, auto-everythings, instant stuff-printers, and ubiquitous drones make the life of a teenager almost bearable. The setting is North Carolina during a time of political unrest that is about to erupt into full-fledged civil war between the coastal states and the Middle States of the U.S. The MC is a senior in high-school who just wants to finish the mandatory indoctrination called ‘school’ and continue with her clandestine preoccupation with designing and building new and wondrous technical marvels as a Freelance hacker savant. All this is a young person’s realm. I’m sure my teen-self would have loved this book very much and found nothing amiss. My much older cynical-self just chuckles at the naivete. It’s still a decent read because the characters are realistic (if naive and a bit Mary Sue… but that’s YA in a nutshell), and the plot/pacing continues to pull the reader forward into the tale.

The high moral stance of being neutral on a pending civil war in the U.S. was an odd choice. It’s a theme throughout, but only the incompetence of the antagonist & the graciousness of the ‘enemy’ allows it to exist and succeed. I think real world exigencies would not be so gentle. Still, I have to reiterate that the book is a good read and worth continuation of the series to find out what happens next. I plan to pick it up.

I give this one three stars and call it an entertaining read.

View all my reviews

Pick up a copy of Freelancer free on Amazon through K.U.


Check out my books over on Amazon.com! I currently have two published. Both are available on Kindle Unlimited, and on Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free if you have Amazon Prime.

Peacekeeper 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.


If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

Review: Planetary Anthology: Venus

It’s been a loooong time coming for this review. This will most likely be the last review of the year for the blog as well. I might be able to get one more in, but it’s doubtful. I’m way behind on all the things, including the prophesied ‘regular’ posts here. Oh well, I should know better than to make promises, even halfhearted ones.

Anyway, without further ado… adieu.. I do… do you? Here’s the review.

Planetary: VenusPlanetary: Venus by A.M. Freeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second anthology in the Planetary Series by Superversive.

Boilerplate disclaimer: Firstly, I have to state for the record that I am an author in this anthology. Secondly, I also state that the opinions expressed in this review are mine alone, and are mostly for my own remembrance of the stories. I do this with all anthologies I read (and books, too). My reviews of individual stories sometimes contain spoilers, so read them at your own risk if you have not yet read the book.

The theme of the anthology is love and the planet Venus. You get a mix of and co-mingling of those in all the stories. Some end on an emotional high, while others end on a poignant emotional low. They are a great mix of stories that are well written and showcase a mixture of styles, genres and authors. If you read it, you are bound to find at least one author you would like to read more from. I know I did.

Don’t read further if you are worried about spoilers. I try not to, but it is difficult with short stories. Plus, this is intended for me to remember with, and other interested parties to compare notes.

Just Look, I’ll Be There by A. M. Freeman

A very retro romance feeling story of young man who’s passions drive him to make his own way in the universe until he eventually realizes he’s left the true passion of the love of his life back home.

I will describe this one as quaint, well written, but not my taste in genre. It brings to my mind adjectives like ‘sappy’ and ‘gooey,’ so if you like that, then you will appreciate this short tale of love and heroism.

Morning And Evening Star by David Hallquist

A prosperous man tries to provide the greatest treasure to his new bride that he possibly can… a palace in the skies of Venus. What he fails to realize is that she wants him more than any treasure.

The story has a futuristic Great Gatsby feel to it. Fatalistic but determined (if I remember that book right… it’s what came to my mind at any rate). Again, not a genre I appreciate overmuch. The story is a short read that brings a lot of character development quickly. You know who these people are at the end which is quite an accomplishment in such a short form. Impressive storytelling.

Ninety Seconds by Bokerah Brumley

An adrenaline junky, who makes his living by showing his extreme sports activities, heads to Venus to film a space-dive from above the planet. There he finds something even more thrilling than anything he’s experienced before.

This one is hard to talk about without spoilers. It is a well-woven tale that pulled in the sci-fi fan in me with its fantastic futuristic descriptions of places high in the sky, then hooked me firmly in place with a gripping story of a young man who falls from a force more powerful than gravity. I don’t read romance as a general rule, but this story is amazing. It brought a sparkle of teary-eyed happiness to an old curmudgeon’s day! Read this one even if you skip everything else!

The Wrong Venus by Lou Antonelli

A master criminal is more well-known for his ability to escape from jail than for the crimes he committed to get there. It’s almost as if he is the luckiest person in the solar system… or knows something everyone else doesn’t.

Also hard to avoid spoiling, this tale takes an odd direction early on. It is quick, well written, and NOT about Venus. That’s all I’ll say. It’s great! Go read it!

Enemy Beloved by Monalisa Foster

The title kind of says it all for this story.
I want to discuss this one, but I can’t without spoiling the plot, so skip the next paragraph if you don’t want spoilers. If you do, highlight it to see the text.

<start spoiler text>On a Venus in the far past or far future, a young woman finds a survivor of a crashed spacecraft. She helps him to heal and only finds out the truth of his origin after she is enamored with him, and he with her. But their people are enemies, and his are determined to destroy hers, their former masters, just as they have throughout the galaxy. Her choice is impossible… her people… or her lover. </end spoiler text>

Now, anyone left of a Stepford Wife will probably at least go ‘hmmm’ at some of the scenes in this story… unless you read a lot of books with Fabio on the cover… in which case you might go ‘ooohh’ instead. It’s racy romance of a ‘man takes the woman’ variety that would make a #metoo-er clutch pearls and seek a safe-space. It’s also a really good story. It’s not my flavor, but it it’s well written and the emotions of the characters come through loud and clear! If you are a feminist, you probably didn’t make it this far into the book anyway, but if you plan to skim… skip it. If you like steamy romance, it should be right up your alley!

Texente Tela Veneris by Edward Willett

A husband and wife who probably should never have been together find a second chance at happiness on a remote Grecian island through the power of Venus the Weaver… but not how you might think.

A quick, fun, if predictable tale that blends modern society with ancient Greek legend. It has a Fantasy Island vibe to it to me. Nicely written.

The Happiest Place On Earth by Misha Burnett

Animatronic advances lead to sentient A.I.’s that survive the plague apocalypse. They have no purpose without people, though, until the last one shows up at their gates.

This story is both good and horrible. Good and horrible… is that a thing? This seems to be a pattern in stories written by Misha Burnett. It is a dark story of the future (reminded me of the little boy in A.I. sitting on the bottom of the ocean) in which robots made to bring joy and happiness, are left with purposelessness after societies fall. It is also very poignant at its end, which I won’t give away. I do recommend you read it. I found it cathartic.

Love Boat To Venus by Declan Finn

Something about mercenary ninjas giving marital (not martial.. although the two are often conflated) advice to another young couple of mercenary ninjas as they take out a team of assassins on a space ship. It was over before it started. I was confused. Didn’t like it enough to go back and figure it out. Different boats for different floaters and all that.

Venus Times Three by Margot St. Aubin

Two brothers from a family of lawyers head to Mars to settle the estate of a avariciously wealthy client and family friend; the stakes of which involved the ownership of Venus itself. Who will inherit? What is the ‘special nature’ of an unknown beauty who holds part of the will itself. Even murdering heirs seems to be on the table.

This on is a great mystery woven with detail. It seemed like the opening of a novel, but does have an ending. It was definitely caught up in it. I recommend it.

Avalon by Dawn Witzke

Prince Arthur and Merlin leave their home planet of Dora 5 and head to Venus to attend Avalon College. Merlin has hopes to become a person in his own right instead of just the sidekick of the Prince. Then he meets the Lady of the Lake… or the refugee in the aquarium on the Avalon Space Station.

A neat twist to the Arthurian Legend. A cute short tale that seems to be the opening of a larger tale… one I would not mind reading, actually.

The Rituals of Venus by Joshua M. Young

Both a sequel and a prequel to The Haunted Mines of Mercury, this tale is one of heroism, love, and faith. A man who happens to find a beautiful woman about to be sacrificed by cultists interferes. The resulting time trying to survive brings them to the point of love, but tragedy is not far behind.
I sincerely hope that Joshua Young finishes this series. It has a deeper meaning and is also a well written and exciting action adventure tale. Go read the first one in the Mercury Anthology if you haven’t already. You should probably read it first because even though this one could be a stand-alone story, the first one provides some context to things referenced here. A top notch tale!

First Cat In Space by Dana Bell

A boy and his cat share a harrowing adventure on a trip to Venus.
Super short, and awesome. And cats!

Venus Felix by W. J. Hayes

A detective for hire is caught in the middle of a setup to steal a sensitive message being delivered by a personal courier service. The courier is a woman who is much more than she seems… and so is the setup.

This one is a fun, fast-paced story of interplanetary intrigue and humor in old gumshoe pulp detective story style. I enjoyed it even if I was able to predict the plot.

The Rocket Raising by Frederic Himebaugh

An Amish space colony is called upon to send genetically compatible young men and women to another colony far away. Those selected must choose to answer the call if it is God’s will, leaving everyone and everything they know behind, or refuse and pass the burden on to another. One young woman must also abandon a hoped for betrothed in the process… but how can she choose?

A great tale with some insight into the Amish way of life and thinking. (Accurate? I don’t know.) I really enjoyed this one. It’s the second ‘Amish Sci-Fi’ tale I’ve read and been surprised by.

Star-Crossed by Julie Frost

A werewolf detective sets out on a mission to help a vampire avenge the death of her lover from a rival vampiric clan, but things get… complicated.

An intriguing story from an intriguing world where vampires, werewolves, and who knows what are a real thing that the world deals with on the day-to-day.

Honeymoon in Fairyland by L. Jagi Lamplighter

This tale from the Prospero’s Daughter universe (I think that’s right.) high-lights the issues with being married to an elf, especially one with power and influence. Despite promises, becoming involved in even the smallest of details of the Gods is often much more complex than mortals can handle… especially when you are on your honeymoon.

I find the stories in this series to be quite enjoyable. The one from the Mercury anthology was, to me, the best in the collection. This one is also quite entertaining.

Thirty-Seven Shades of Yellow by J.D. Beckwith <– Yep, this one is mine 🙂

You might not think anyone who keeps repeatedly stating that ‘romance is not my genre’ would actually write a romantic tale. Au contraire, mon frere… that French talk right there… I wrote an action story about planetary colonization with a love interest twist to it… because Venus. I hope you enjoy it!

The Fox’s Fire by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

The Fox Spirit, Ryoko, is lured to primitive America by Coyote, the Trickster God. There she sees a Native American man, and—as is the way with spirits—falls madly in love with him at first sight… just as Coyote hoped.

A nice folklore type tale. I was a bit confused at the start, having never heard of the fox spirit and its powers before. Once I caught on, the story unfolded in a way that kept me interested in the outcome. It is over-verbose at the start, but that fades into the background once the setting and plot is in full swing.

Smiley The Robot by Amy Sterling Casil

A woman of extended years has lived alone for a very long time. Her only company is a robot police officer, Smiley, who visits on Tuesdays.
This story is a tie for ‘Best In Book’ for me. It pulled my heartstrings and made me wish my grandmother was still around so that I could give her a big ole hug! Read it, and keep a tissue handy!

Stones In High Places by Jane Lebak

The long lived Venusians have grown complacent, letting robotics handle all their needs. So much so, that they can no longer innovate. When the twin planet to their own is threatened by a rogue planetoid, they are left with a hard choice.

This is a great conjecture story of ‘what might have happened’ in our planet’s past. It posits that even in alien cultures, the greatest love is self-sacrifice. It was a great ending to a great series of stories.

Now for a little self-plugging. Check out the books I’ve published!

If you like intrigue mixed with humor, get my technothriller, eConscience Beta on Amazon.

But, if Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

Happy Reading!

Free Story Friday (11-23-18) – That Last Step

Free Story Friday – 11-23-18 (That Last Step – A Mimic War Story)

Sorry this has been so long in coming. It has been many many sleeps since I last posted a short story here. This one has been rattling around in the brain-pan for a few months, and I finally decided to get it done and put it up for free. At the last minute, I decided to tie it into an existing universe that I had created for a submission earlier in the year. It was born from a joke I made in a Facebook post involving the planet Uranus, hentai, and Space Mimics. That story is still floating in submission limbo, and if it doesn’t get some traction soon, will get yanked back and turned into a novella… because I gots idears!

Anyway, Enjoy the story! Stick around for some research stuff at the tail end of the post, and leave me some comments!


That Last Step – A Mimic War Story

© 2018 by J.D. Beckwith

The sound of his shoulder and helmet slamming into the rock face echoed eerily around the chasm walls. Valentine struggled to regain the breath that had been punched from his lungs while straining to hold his place on the belay line. He swung in a wide curving arc on the end of his rope. The narrow view of the sun-lit valley blinked past his vision in an ever slowing pattern as he spun. The adrenaline pumping through his system was the only thing keeping him from a full-on barf as the gray-brown of the rock face swirled around him. He looked down to try to get his bearings, but the height itself—jagged rocks jutting from below and along the sides of the narrow chasm—made him dizzier.

He closed his eyes and focused on drawing in a slow deep breath. The oxygen in the air at this altitude was thin enough without struggling to make his diaphragm remember how to do its job. Once it did, he forced himself to inhale as deeply as possible before letting it out. Soon he was feeling less like he was about to pass out or throw up.

Climbing the peaks of the Davis Mountains back home had never been this interesting. And Valentine, Texas—the source of his moniker—was nothing like rural China. Someone had to dig the last of those godforsaken shape-shifters out of the planet, though, so that’s why they were climbing this peak. Or, at least they had been, before the mountain decided to fall down on their heads. Everyone else had retreated down to the valley, but he was the Ranger Team’s Corpsman, and he had a man to save.

He opened his eyes again. He was still spinning and swinging, but he could finally focus on what was left of the ledge below him. “Aww, crap.”

The voice of his sergeant, Gil Martin, squawked in his ear. “Valentine, we have eyes-on from below. What’s your status? Do I need to turn the chopper back?”

“Negative, Sarge!” Valentine gave a grunt a he lunged for the trailing line still attached to the crumbling mountain-side above. A large-ish stone smacked the side of his helmet loudly as his efforts shook it loose from the pile that now covered the perch from where he had begun his descent. “Everything just fell in up there. There’s no place to even offload anymore. It’s too dangerous to try that updraft again anyway.” He used the second rope to stop his swinging spin.

“Copy that, Valentine. How’s Andrews looking? We can’t see him from here.”

Valentine looked down. Rubble now covered the outer portion of the ledge he was headed for. He could see the prone form of Ranger David Andrews where he lay just inward of the jutting flat spot. He had crawled away from the crumbling edge where he’d landed when the first rock slide had knocked him off the side. He had been unresponsive for the last few minutes, and Valentine could see the newest debris had landed on his legs.

“He hasn’t moved, and it looks like he took some hits from that last rock fall. I’ve got to get down there fast.”

“Roger that, Valentine, but don’t be stupid. I don’t want to lose both of you.”

“Aww, Sarge! You DO care!” Valentine hoisted himself upward on the ropes, placed his knees under him, then his feet. With a bouncing push he stood horizontally from the overhang once more. Small stones from the ledge above continued to bounce past him. He looked down to gauge his position one last time. “Hear that, Andrews!? The Sarge really does love us, man! So you can’t die until you give him a big ole hug!” There was no response.

Valentine bounced sideways a fraction then took three deep breaths. One last look down, and he sprang outward with as much force as his legs could exert, letting the rope sing through his gloves as he sailed into empty space. The freefall lasted only a split second before he judges that enough rope had played out. He gripped it hard below his crotch and applied the gripping brake to the line above him. The heat through his gloves was just noticeable as the rope stopped sliding.

The swing inward began. The ledge sprang toward him as if he had been shot toward it from a cannon. As he curved inward, he saw that he had misjudged. He was going to hit below the ledge instead of land on it. A split second’s thought of breaking a leg made him tuck up into a ball. His speed increased as he flew over the ledge into the shallow cave mouth. He let go of his grip on the rope and hit the rough surface, bouncing to the rear and colliding with the in-sloping rear wall. His helmet smacked against it, deflected him backward. Off balance, he fell backward and smacked his head against the floor as well.

Prone and panting, he took stock of himself. His bell had been rung, but other than that, he didn’t seem any worse for wear. Panting, he forced himself to roll over onto all fours and slow his breathing. The cave-like ledge was dim compared to the outside, and it took his eyes a moment to adjust. A small crack running through the ceiling above projected a jagged pattern of light from the noon sun above through to the floor of the cave. Valentine followed it toward the outer edge right up to the prone form of his fellow Ranger.

“Valentine, report!”

“I’m here, Sarge. Eight ball in the side pocket!” He moved toward Andrews to begin assessing his condition. He couldn’t stand in the tight space, so he crawled. His pack snagged on a small stalactite almost immediately, so he shrugged it off and pulled it behind him. Once he reached the other man, he quickly checked for a pulse. It was present but weak. “Sarge, I’ve got Andrews. Weak pulse. I’m unpacking the kit.”

“Copy that. We’re setting up the PUMP, now. Relay vitals when you can.” The PUMP—Pop Up Medical Post—was a rapid deploy, light-weight, hardened cloth facility with built-in instrumentation for detailed medical diagnosis and surgical needs. Each deployed Ranger Team had one with them, thanks to their alien benefactors. They could be unrolled, set up and tied down in a matter of minutes. They had seen routine use since the clean-up effort in China began. Mimics were nasty critters, and if they weren’t dealt with quickly after latching onto a victim, they were invariably deadly.

Valentine was zoning in on his patient, so he didn’t spare much brain activity for a distracted reply. “Roger that, Sarge.” He cleared away stones that had piled up around Andews’ legs and ankles, tossing them over the edge. Rocks continued to clatter down from above, so he pulled the man back into the cave, cradling his neck as much as possible. He sat up, cross-legged, and began unpacking his kit.

Frist, he slapped a velcroed wrist-band onto his left arm which began beeping and calibrating itself as it took vitals like BP, heart rate, body temperature, etc. Next, he hauled a gray two-handled device about the size of a small briefcase out of his pack and swept it over Andrews’ body from head to toe. The screen on its side lit up with a display of Andrews’ muscular system, skeletal structure and internals. It linked with the wrist band and immediately began to highlight trauma areas. It showed a skull fracture, a broken ankle, two broken fingers and a dislocated left shoulder. It also began to beep urgently that the patient had internal bleeding somewhere in the lower abdomen, but could not pinpoint it.

“Crap. Sarge, you got a copy on these vitals?”

“Roger, Valentine. Can you stabilize?”

“No clue. I’m going to go for the Gut-Leak foam. You better send the rescue UAV. There’s no way we can wait for the slow ride down via rope.” Valentine pulled out a Y-shaped syringe from his kit and two vials. He popped one vial into each side of the syringe and then pulled back Andrews’ tack vest to expose his midriff.

“Copy that. RUAV will be on its way in five.”

Taking care to get his angle just so, he pinched the upper side of his belly-button and sank the needle into his abdomen. Once in, he slowly forced the central plunger downward, injecting the contents of the two vials to mix together internally.

Valentine monitored Andrews as the skin of his stomach begin to tighten and crawl as the foam activated and expanded. It would flow around all his internal organs—intestines, liver, kidneys—then hardening into a stiff plate-like shield that would hopefully put enough pressure on the location of the bleed until surgery could be performed to fix it. Val had to get him off the mountain first though.

Satisfied with the progress of the foam, Val took out two induction plates and put them on Andrew’s temples. Once activated, they would keep him asleep. Waking up right now would be most unpleasant. He adjusted the wrist-band and synced it with the induction plates.

The next order of business was that leg. Val turned to get a splint for Andrew’s ankle pack, but before he could the mountain began to shake again. The crack that let in the narrow jag of light suddenly widened, and the ledge titled sickeningly before stopping. He swung himself over Andrews, acting as a body shield for the loose rocks that fell from the ceiling.

“Valintine! I just got word from the captain! Those damned Shifters booby-trapped the mountain! They set off three nukes under our asses, and that last one collapsed the surface. We have fall-out incoming! Repeat! Fall-out imminent!”

“Copy, Sarge! I’m afraid I forgot my lead undies this trip, so I sure would appreciate some expeditiousness on that RUAV!”

Valentine tapped out a few commands on his wrist-comp, activating the built in Geiger counter. The Squids—Hexapoids being the official designation—had really done wonders for the human tech infrastructure since they arrived. That include the Medi-Blade he had used before, and his wrist-comp. Sub-micro-miniaturization had made life much easier for the survivors of the human race to haul all the tech they needed to take the fight to the Mimics around the globe.

The tell-tale click of rising radiation levels told Val that his time was extremely short. He had to get Andrews and himself down to the PUMP and its radiation-proof walls ASAP. The rocks stopped bounding through the widened cleft above, so he shifted back to the side and continued to hunt for the splint. He hurried to get Andrews ready for the incoming ride as the sound of clicking grew more and more insistent.

The humming electrical-powered rotors told him the RUAV was getting close. There was no place to land it, so he was just going to have to slide Andrews into the unit’s maw as it hovered. To do that, he needed to spin him and get a board under him for the retraction winch to pull inside. By the time he managed to do both, the unit was floating just outside the ledge with its hatch lowering like a hungry dragonfly. The six rotors growled like a planet full of angry hornets as it wobbled back and forth in the gusty updraft.

“Sarge, keep the controls until I get him hooked up.”

“…K, but… getting a lot …ferrence from the …diation.”

“Copy choppy coms boss. That’s OK, I’m in a hurry myself.”

Val scooted sideways toward the far end of the ledge pulling the strapped down body of Andrews behind him. He grabbed a cable from the inner lip of the RUAV’s ‘jaw,’ released it, and pulled it to the small hook on the portable travois. A sudden gust blew the craft sideways, sliding Andrews outward to hang off the edge. Val grabbed the travois handle with one hand and a stalagmite with the other. “No you friggin’ don’t! You still owe me fifty creds, Andrews!” He pulled, straining harder than he ever remembered, possibly tearing something in his shoulder in the process. Still, he managed to hang on until he finally won the life-or-death tug-of-war as the craft swung back into position.

He wasted no time hoisting Andrews’ travois up onto the tracks in the vehicle’s mouth and hitting the ‘load’ button. He guided the rear until the RUAV’s engines revved even higher as they took the full load of the man’s weight.

“Alright, he’s on, Sarge! RTB is all you!”

“…gative… too much …control to you… opy? Re….t… Vehicle control…. you!”

“Crap! Copy, Sarge! RUAV control to me!” Val tapped his wrist-comp and requested linkup to the RUAV. It quickly synced, and Val sat and guided it away from the ledge. He was worried about more falling rocks. As he moved it away from him, the signal strength rapidly decreased. He instantly knew the reason as his wrist-comp began to flash a radiation warning at him. He had less than ten minutes at current levels before decontamination was going to become an issue for both himself and his patient.

“Only one thing left to do then.” He started unzipping seams along the insides of the thighs of his jumpsuit, exposing rolled up flaps of cloth which he quickly zipped together along a central seam. He repeated the procedure with seams along his outer thighs and inner arms. Next, he split his medical pack into two pieces. One he strapped onto his chest, but the other when onto his back. All this took him about three minutes, a record even for him. Finally ready, he stood at the ledge and put the RUAV to follow mode.

He placed a set of goggles on his face and took one last deep breath. “God, if you’re there, don’t let me screw this up!”

He jumped.

##########################

“Rads are still climbing, Sarge. Should go wait in the entry hall?”

Sergeant Martin watched the dust plume—originating from the venting of the underground explosion to the west—slowly grow closer to the mountain in front of them. The orange material of the PUMP with the red cross on its top and sides fluttered noisily in the rising winds. “Negative, Ranger Dawson. Hold here. When he hits ground, we’re going to have to get him and Andrews hustled inside PDQ.” He shot a quick grin at the woman at his side. “You’re not gonna lose that pretty hair of yours, don’t you worry.”

He put his binoculars up and focused on the ledge where Valentine stood just in time to see him leap away. He watched him fall a short distance before spreading his arms and legs to reveal the web-like materials of the wing-suit conversion of his tac-suit. As the updraft of the narrow cleft caught him, he shot upward and outward away from the sheer face he had been standing on moments before.

“Here he comes. Hell, he might even have a minute to spare before he can’t have kids anymore.”

The ground shook again, and everyone swayed. The entire side of the mountain shifted and began sliding downward. Gil could just see the yellow-green tint of the wing-suit webbing against the backdrop of dust and rock that roiled like thunder down the side of the shrinking mountain face. The RUAV matched the form of Valentine motion from motion as he rode the churning air. Then the dust plume overtook the craft, and eventually Valentine as well.

Gil held his breath as he waited for a glimpse of the man. The dust from the mountain slide billowed toward the encampment at a rapid pace. He wasn’t certain if the RUAV could handle that much debris through its turbines. And Valentine was still nowhere to be seen.

Gil mumbled under his breath as he continued to scan the skyline. “Come on, Valentine. Don’t you make me have to tell your wife you died out here.”

“Yeah, she’d probably kick your ass, Sarge.” Valentine’s voice sounded clear over the comms, even though it had a harried tinge to its usual smartass tone. The bright colors of the wing-suit flashed as Valentine cleared the dust cloud. He glided toward them hanging from beneath the expanded canopy of a red-white-and-blue parasail chute with a huge Texas Ranger star showing clearly in the afternoon sun. Behind it, the RUAV with Andrews burst forth as well. “Any chance you could get them to stop setting nukes off under me, boss? I’m starting to feel a bit put upon.”

Martin hid a grin, but didn’t bother replying, he just ushered the other Rangers forward toward the probable landing site. He turned his head toward the PUMP tent and yelled inside.

“Alright, folks, I’m going to need your A-game! We got incoming hot and bothered Rangers, and it looks like the sunset’s going to be just beautiful!”

~~~~ THE END ~~~~


Some of the research for this story came from…

Numerous wingsuit flight videos… and then I ended up not putting the swooosh in the story… sorry. But watch this and you’ll get an idea of what Val ends up doing.

The RUAV was originally thought of when I read about the Dubai police getting some new hoverbikes.

But looking for ‘rescue drones’ brought up a more practical design for moving a disabled person.

And then, in case you doubted it, the internal bleeding foam really does exist and is currently undergoing clinical trials in the U.S. in 2018. It is called ResQFoam.


If you like this story because new technologies mixed with adventure is your thing, you should really check out my Science Fiction Space Adventure anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

Oh, and if you happen to like intrigue mixed with high tech and a good bit of humor, you can also get my techno-thriller novel, eConscience Beta on Amazon.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

State of the Wampuscat – November 2018 (Week 46)

State of the Wampuscat

Week 46 of 2018

I don’t do this often enough. Blog about myself, I mean. I will attempt to correct that by forcing myself to type up some BS each week from now on.

If any of you have looked at my bio, you may remember that I’m an Engineer by trade. That’s the day job. By night, I’m a creator of elaborate schemes for writing books and becoming famous and then finding ways to avoid doing any of the actual things it requires to accomplish that. Procrastination is my favorite hobby, and I’m good at it!

However, I know that my dreams of being a writer with a legacy of well appreciated word-smithing that spans the generations is not going to happen without some buckling down. I’m turning 45 in a few days, so the clock is ticking if I want to get that bibliography nice and plump. It would also be nice to eventually see money flowing a direction other than AWAY from me in regards to the publishing of my stuffs. That means creating more stuffs, talking about stuffs, and doing marketing (yuck!) for my stuffs.

So, with all that in mind, I invite you to see the man and peruse the plan, as it were, of what I’m working on at the moment.

If you’ve followed the blog this year, you have seen mention of my anthology, Horizon’s Unlimited, as well as the 3 Planetary Anthologies from Superversive that were released with stories of mine in them. The summer was long and work went mostly full-time again–I do contract Engineering currently–so there was not a lot of new creation happening. The work schedule recently went down again though, so I have some free days now, but I’ve been playing catch up on postponed (pronounced procrastinated) projects around the homestead. Those are almost done(ish).

Between catch-up projects (and weekly D&D games) I have had some recent accomplishments. I was working on a submission for an anthology in Daniel Humpreys’ Z-Day series for a long while. [I just posted my review of book #3 in that series, A Place For War, on Friday, go read it!]. When I finally got some free time I managed to finish it. It suffered from the same struggle I always seem to have with short stories… keep them short! I submitted a whopping 22,099 word missive for that and hope that it can, and will, be used. Fingers crossed!

At the same time (first week of free time), I got word that my story submission for the Jupiter Planetary Anthology was on the ‘we like it’ table. I did some tweakage on that one, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be part of that anthology.

Earlier in the year, I did manage to write a few other short stories. I have a submission out for the Uranus (snicker) Anthology that I have not yet heard back from anyone about. It’s a funny one, and if they decline it, it may just get expanded into a novella and put on Amazon. I also have one submitted for the Luna Antho that I actually managed to keep short. I also have one that was rejected for the Saturn anthology that I plan to expand into a full novella for Horizons Unlimited Volume 2 or 3, and one that I wrote for Pluto that I plan to make a stand alone novel, possibly with a sequel/prequel setup that is still TBD.

So, there are ideas and plans. I do not have a shortage of things to write about. Unfortunately, I keep locking myself into a rut. I feel that I need to continue with the Horizon’s Unlimited series. I have several ideas and partial story plots in my mind, but they are for Volume 3 or even later. The part I need to write NEXT (Earth based events after Xolotl Ressurrected, but long before Quicksilver & Escaping Aurora) are just not fully fleshed out. I COULD finish writing the stories planned for much later in the timeline, but I’ve found that keeping track of what happens later and making sure what happens before doesn’t interfere with it are a bit of a challenge. For me, it’s better to write things in chronological order so that I don’t get confused or contradict myself by accident. So…

While I hate unfinished projects, I think I’m going to have to let those rest a while and just jump into something completely new until I can think the idea out.

The one thing I need to do at least once a week is post something here. This post was supposed to be done on Sunday, but I got side tracked with a Veterans Day picture post on Facebook (I do genealogy and have lots of military pics from family members that I wanted to share). So here I am in the early AM of Monday finishing out this thing.

I may not (probably won’t) be able to keep up with this, but here’s my rough plan for writing:

Blog:

Sundays: State of the Wampuscat (this is the first one)
Every 2nd & 4th Wednesday/Thursday: Book Review
Every 3rd Wed/Thurs: Short Story

Novels:

Horizon’s Unlimited Vol #2 – March 2019
eConscience Beta Anthology – July 2019
Horizon’s Unlimited Vol #3 – Nov 2019

In the mean time, inflate my ego and help me make progress by buying & reviewing my existing stuffs!

If you like intrigue mixed with humor, get my technothriller, eConscience Beta on Amazon.

But, if Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

Happy Reading!

P.S. Please enjoy this random cat pic…

Jinx-in-the-box

Review: A Place For War (Z-Day #3)

Today is the official Release Day for this book. Daniel Humphreys is kicking it off by having a $0.99 sale on his first two books in the series at Amazon.com, so don’t miss out!

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

A Place Called Hope (Z-Day #2)

Now on to the review of Book #3!

A Place For War (Z-Day #3)A Place For War by Daniel Humphreys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A spectacular conclusion to a series that puts the Zombie Apocalypse trope on its head.

I had the privileged of being a Beta Reader for this novel, so I did get a free copy. Nevertheless, the 5 stars are all earned.

A Place Outside The Wild & A Place Called Hope were great ZA books about making the best of the worst of situations and scratching to find a way to live.

A Place for War pushes past the survivor aspect straight to the in-your-face, take-back-what’s-ours, kick-those-zombies-in-their-teeth action of a mil-sf novel. Plot points are resolved, secrets are revealed, and the struggle reaches its climax. You won’t be able to put this one down, trust me.

I highly recommend this book, and the entire series to anyone who likes apocalyptic fiction, science fiction or just some good ole zombie fights!

Get a copy from Amazon. It’s in KU if you are subscribed, and you can read it for free on your Kindle (one book per month with Kindle Owner’s Lending Library) if you have Prime.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.


Oh, and if you happen to like intrigue, you can also get my book, eConscience Beta the same way.

But, if Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.