Book Review of “Triplanetary,” the Beginning of the “Lensmen” Series

Image captured from Amazon

Over 50 years ago, when all the other guys in Junior High were reading E.E. “Doc” Smith‘s Lensmen series, I was reading his Skylark series, and loving it. I tried re-reading Skylark of Space, the first novel in the series, several years ago, going so far as to buy a paperback copy. It was tough to swallow because it was originally written in the 1930s (the stories were originally serialized in the ’30s and then published in novel form in the 1940s – they had a resurgence in the 1960s and became incredibly popular with teenage males), and comes across as extremely dated. I didn’t notice it when I first read the book, but then I was only 14 at the time.

I’ve owned a copy of Triplanetary, the first in the “Lensmen” series, for years, but every time I tried to read it, I never got past the first few pages. I think it was our hero and heroine enjoying a ballroom dance aboard a spaceliner that put me off. Very 1930s.

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Book Review of John Scalzi’s Novel “The Collapsing Empire”

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Cover art for John Scalzi’s 2017 novel “The Collapsing Empire”

I recently downloaded a free copy of John Scalzi’s novel The Collapsing Empire from TOR.com. It was part of a promotion of the third novel in this series The Last Emperox being published later this month (as I write this).

Scalzi comes with a rather stellar reputation and background, having won two Hugos and been nominated for other awards, but the proof of an author is in the writing, not the rep (as least as far as I’m concerned), so I thought I’d give him a whirl.

But first, the kudos I gleaned from Amazon:

“John Scalzi is the most entertaining, accessible writer working in SF today.” —Joe Hill, author of The Fireman

“Fans of Game of Thrones and Dune will enjoy this bawdy, brutal, and brilliant political adventure” —Booklist on The Collapsing Empire

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“Spring Into SciFi 2020” Available Now!

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Cover at for “Spring Into SciFi 2020”

As promised the Cloaked Press science fiction anthology Spring Into SciFi: 2020 Edition is now available for purchase on Amazon. As I’ve been mentioning (a lot) lately, it contains my short story The Colonists which was recently reviewed.

I know these are difficult times, when fact and real life seems stranger than fiction. Believe me, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing any number of stories that address life under COVID-19. I actually did write and submit two (so far) that directly address the “lockdown” and a population held hostage by a virus.

We all want this to go away quickly, but must be prepared to hang in there for the long haul. Anxiety is high as is uncertainty, and we all need do to things that make us feel even a little bit normal.

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Announcing the Anthologies “Fantastic Schools 1 and 2”

 

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Found at superversivesf.com. No image credit given

L. Jagi Lamplighter has just announced at the magic schools page for Superversive SF, the upcoming publications of Fantastic Schools 1 and 2.

One of the two volumes, I don’t know which one yet, will feature my fantasy short story “Sorcery’s Preschool”. I very, very loosely based the main child character on my four-and-a-half year old granddaughter, which was a lot of fun. However, she won’t really appreciate the story until she gets a bit older.

According to Jagi, volume one will come out this spring, but as I said, I have no idea if my tale will be in the first or second tome. I guess she received so many great stories that she decided to spread them out.

This is the first official announcement and it’s pretty general. In part, it states:

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Book Review of Iain Kelly’s “A Justified State”

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Cover art for Iain Kelly’s novel “A Justified State”

I’ve been following Iain Kelly‘s writing online for a few years now. He and I (along with a bunch of other folks) met while participating in a series of internet writing challenges such as this one. That’s where I found out that he’s the undisputed master of murder mysteries, only in his case, he actually created a series of novels in that genre to prove it.

Finally (given my meager budget), I was able to download a free promotional copy of A Justified State, the first novel in his “The State Trilogy”.

It was amazing.

The story is set slightly in the future in the UK, known as the nameless “state.” The nation is in a conflict with unrevealed adversaries in “The First Strike War,” which is the backdrop for everything that follows.

Police Detective Danny Samson, who lost his twin newborns soon after birth, and his wife a year later by suicide, is mysteriously assigned to investigate the murder of a local politician, who was the victim of a professional assassination.

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Spring Into SciFi 2020 Reviewed!

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Cover at for “Spring Into SciFi 2020”

Spring Into SciFi: 2020 Edition just got its first review, but not on Amazon. Cheyanne A. Lepka reviewed the anthology on her personal blog five days ago (as I write this), giving it a four out of five star (which is pretty good).

Read the full review HERE.

The review calls out four of the contributing authors: Gary Wosk, Charles Venable, Elizabeth Houseman, and James Pyles (me).

She also included links to all the author bios on the “Cloaked Press” website. Here’s what mine looks like.

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Science Fiction Anthology “Spring Into SciFi” Available Friday, April 3rd!

Finished cover art for the Cloaked Press anthology “Spring Into SciFi 2020”

I just found out that not only is the Cloaked Press anthology “Spring Into SciFi 2020” available on Amazon for pre-order, but it will be delivered to your kindle device on April 3, 2020. That’s this coming Friday, folks.

The book features my science fiction short story “The Colonists,” which I’m absolutely thrilled about. This is a concept and a universe I’ve wanted to get out to readers for quite some time now, and I’m hoping SciFi fans will really enjoy it.

Previously, I mentioned that I would make free advanced digital (epub or MOBI) copies of the anthology available to anyone who requested one, as long as they agreed to write an Amazon review. So far, I’ve had no takers (which is surprising because, hey, free book).

The offer still stands. Contact me if you are interested. I’m extending the offer for another week, until Sunday, April 5, 2020 (which also happens to be First Contact Day), two days after the book becomes available for direct sale.

Here’s an excerpt I haven’t put online before:

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Video Promotion of the “Sol” Planetary Anthology

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Screen capture from the Sol planetary anthology promotional video

As with the Mars planetary anthology, the Sol planetary anthology now has its own promotional video.

“Sol” features my science fiction short story “The Pleiades Dilemma,” the tale of an interstellar interloper into our solar system that not only seems piloted, but is on a direct course for our Sun. The question is, will this probe save humanity or destroy it?

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Review of the Zombie Pirate Publishing Fantasy Anthology “Witches vs. Wizards”

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Cover art for the Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology “Witches vs. Wizards”

I just finished Zombie Pirate Publishing‘s 2018 anthology WITCHES VS WIZARDS: A Fantasy Anthology, and I must say I was exceptionally impressed. Typically, indie anthologies are a mix of terrific, good, and okay stories, with one or two stinkers, but this one surprised me.

I can’t say I found a story I didn’t like. A few of them were on themes I don’t naturally resonate with, but in each and every case, the writing was solid, and they all had an interesting, if not always unique take on the world of magic.

Derek Paterson’s “The House of Magus” was a compelling tale that could have come out of the pages of a Robert E. Howard “Conan” short story, although with more thought and a bit less bashing.

Adam Bennett’s “The Apprentice” was somewhat predictable, at least at the end, but getting there was half the fun. I had hoped for a happier ending for the hapless protagonist, but sometimes that’s not how magic and quest to slay witches works out.

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Excerpt from My Untitled WIP Novella

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Novaraptor – image found at multiple sources

I’ve been doing a lot of writing on my two days off, and as of today, submitted two pieces to different anthologies. My WIP (one of them) right now is a Novella between 20,000 and 40,000 words long. I’m in Heaven, well, sort of. I’m around the 13,600 mark for the first draft and hoping I can tell a story that makes sense. My normal tale is anywhere between 3,000 and 7,500 words in length.

Decided that since I’ve been posting mainly book reviews and self promotional stuff lately, and too little of my actual writing, that I’d share this Novella length WIP, well, a small part of it. Keep in mind, you’re coming in late in the game, so a lot of the character and situational details have already been covered.

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